Rome Marathon Week 11 Training Recap

All the weeks can’t be amazing. This past week wasn’t bad, it just lost a bit of the luster thanks to the weather and a lovely head cold that still persists.

Monday easy run
I felt okay through this run even though I did forget about the hill intervals near the end. Whoops. I’m beginning to get a bit concerned about my right hamstring. It was pretty tight throughout the run so I took it easy for the rest of the day, stretching and backing off from my daily hamstring exercises for a few days. Hopefully it’s just all the work I’ve put in lately.

Tuesday 30 min easy
I switched Wednesday and Tuesday’s workouts in the hopes that I’d be able to get something in with the ice preventing travel but woke up with a horrible sore throat. I ended up taking the entire day off.

Wednesday tempo run
I had to shorten the tempo by 5 minutes so I could get to work but I’m thankful the gym was open so I could get the workout in. I was a bit nervous (for nothing it seems) about my hamstring but everything went well and I loved pushing it.

Thursday stationary bike
This ride felt good but somehow I took it too easy in the first half of the ride? I checked the RPMs halfway through, discovered it was too low and kicked it up a notch. I still had to sprint at the end (and add an extra minute) just to get to 15. Sometimes the mileage I get on the bike baffles me.

Friday tempo intervals
These intervals were really, really hard but I absolutely loved them and felt great the whole way through.

Saturday long run
I can’t say that I loved this run. I struggled mentally for the first 7 or 8 miles, mainly due to the end stages of a head cold that I’ve been battling this week (so much coughing and sniffing). At that point I wondered how on earth I would finish the run with 50 minutes at an 8:10-15 pace and wondered if this would be the first long run of this cycle that I would have to modify. Thankfully after mile 8 things started looking up. I finally got into a rhythm and started to feel strong, strong enough that a downed tree (completely blocking the path but there was enough room to step off on one side and duck under) and a stray dog that started to run with me (seriously, one of my worst nightmares) couldn’t bring me down. Granted, my heart rate did spike a little with the dog encounter but that didn’t last long. Then came the last 50 minutes. I stepped up the pace and settled right into it. I could not believe how strong I felt running that pace at the end of a long run. All this work is paying off. I kept reminding myself of my goal to focus on the long runs and not slack off.
This may not have been my favorite long run of the cycle but it was still good. I’ll take that.

Sunday rest
I really love my Sunday rest days. There aren’t that many more ways I can say that. :)

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Rome Marathon Week 10 Training Recap

I am absolutely loving this training cycle. If every marathon training cycle went this well I might just run marathons all the time. Oh wait, I already sort of do.

Monday easy run
My legs definitely were still recovering from Saturday’s effort. Once I got going I was surprised with how good I felt.

Tuesday tempo intervals
These tempo intervals were tough but doable, tougher on this run because my legs were still recovering from Saturday’s half. I loved getting in a double digit run on a weekday.

Wednesday recovery run
My legs definitely felt all the work I put in. Got it done.

Thursday stationary bike
I misread the training plan and managed to switch Thursday and Friday’s workouts. That didn’t seem to matter come Saturday.
I took the ride nice and easy as prescribed. It was also nice to see Running Times acknowledge the issue number decrease even if I’m not happy about it.

Friday short, hard intervals
The hard intervals were hard, as they should be. I loved this run! I did wonder how this would affect the long run but it seems like back to back efforts such as these aren’t as difficult as they used to be.

Saturday long run
I am so happy that I finished yet another long run strong and hungry for more. I felt great throughout this entire run, although my hamstrings felt a bit tight at points. (That’s likely due to all the work I’ve put them through lately.) I also could not believe how good I felt on the pick-up intervals at the end of the run. I kept having to tell myself to slow down even during the third (and last) interval when I was counting down the seconds. That one definitely felt hard. I loved this run!

Sunday rest
With three consecutive hard efforts on Saturday I took a deliberate step back Sunday and took the entire day off, as easy as I have in quite a while.

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Rome Marathon Week 9 Training Recap

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’m going to start this post with the statement that training weeks that end on a high note (race or long run) are simply the best.

In the case of this week, all of the training through the week felt pretty good too.

Monday tempo run
I was a little concerned before starting this tempo since the pace I was supposed to run is the pace I’m aimed for in the half on Saturday. The tempo portion went great so I had great hopes. I even liked the short, hard intervals at the end.

Tuesday stationary bike + easy run
stationary bike: I decided to add a little bit of stationary bike to the workout but took it easy since it was supposed to be a recovery day. I enjoyed the ride.
easy run: nice and easy, just like it was supposed to be.

Wednesday tempo intervals
I had to drop one of the intervals to get to work on time. That made me sad. The intervals were on the easier side of tough but definitely still tough. I enjoyed them thoroughly.

Thursday easy run
Weird night sleep + 4th day of running in a row = sluggish, tired legs, Other than that, the run wasn’t too bad. Got it done.

Friday stationary bike
Took it nice and easy on this ride in advance of the half Saturday. Nothing extraordinarily good or bad, average.

Saturday Hilton Head Island Half Marathon
I have no words for how perfectly this went according to plan. This might just be my best executed race.

Sunday rest
With a 4 hour drive back to Greenville, rest was not hard to achieve.

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Hilton Head Half Marathon Race Recap

Race #89
Half Marathon #28
SC Half Marathon #20
Hilton Head Half Marathon #5

Before I left the hotel room this morning I tweeted “Headed to the start of my 5th #hiltonheadhalfmarathon #sub140orbust

“Bust” didn’t happen.

This race was an excellent tune up/fitness test leading up to Rome. (Scary thought for the day: Rome is only 6 weeks away!)

After racing hard in San Francisco last summer and snagging a PR but failing to get that 1:39:xx, I really wanted to try again. I haven’t been training for “shorter” speed lately but knew that Hilton Head would be my last chance to try until the end of the year if that depending on which fall marathon I choose.

So…I put it out there, told my coach that if he thought it feasible, I wanted to go for that sub 1:40 again.

I looked at my training plan at the beginning of the week and saw 7:35/1:39:30 typed for today. That scared me just a bit. I hadn’t done any tests ahead of time to see if I could hold that pace for 13 miles. I still wasn’t sure when we walked up to the start line for the race today.

I kept telling myself to aim for 7:35 for as long as I possibly could. I would gain nothing from wimping out and taking it easy.

Since people have no concept of lining up according to pace I lined up as close to the start as I dared. All three race distances started at the same time as well. (They may have fixed one of my big pet peeves and put the race name on the bibs but they still have not addressed this issue.)

I did not really have to deal with much congestion at all, thankfully. Instead, I kept looking down at my Garmin trying to figure out just exactly what a 7:35 pace felt like and trying to stay there.

The course starts with a mile out and back so at the turn around it was nice to get an early look at the standings. (The 5k runners were still part of the group at this point so I did not bother counting.) I loved seeing how close to front runners I was when I made the turn.

The mental battle started early this race. As I look back on the race, I realize that none of the miles (even the last few) felt nearly as hard as the end of San Francisco and I was running a similar pace. I am simply amazed by that. However, my mind made me doubt myself and wonder if I would be able to hold a 7:35 pace for 12 more miles.

This lasted for a few minutes. I kept telling myself to aim for that 7:35 and hold it as long as my body cooperated. I kept getting frustrated. I would feel like I was holding the right pace and look down to see 7:40 or 7:45 or even 7:50 on my Garmin. This would also usually happen after I’d tucked in behind some windblockers (aka other runners) while on the Cross-Island Parkway.

I wanted to keep pushing though so I made a move and passed them each time.

Then came mile 5 and the bridge. This is my 5th time running this race so the bridge is no surprise. No amount of preparation can make it suck less. :) Running any hill at that pace or faster is bound to be hard. Plus, this time over the bridge we headed up the long, slow incline.

I knew this would be my (potentially) slowest mile. It was. 7:45.

(Side note: My first time over that hill 5 years ago, Katy Perry’s song “Firework” came on my iPod. To this day I think of the bridge when I hear that song. Today? My bridge crossing song was “Roar.” There’s something about Katy Perry and that bridge. ;))

Conquering the hill somehow helped me win the mental battle. That part of the struggle was done after that.

Another thing that made me forget all about it? For the first time in 5 years, they changed the half marathon course. I have no idea why they did it. We get off the bridge and head into a … parking lot. Seriously, a parking lot for one of the local parks. Not only that, we ran through almost the entire lot, up one way and down the other. To add insult to injury, we also had a small segment on hard packed trail. It wasn’t bad. They marked every slightly protruding route with something being white. However, with some much paved trail on the island, I see no need to change the course as they did. I think at one point while on the trail I said out loud. “Why on earth did you change the course? This is stupid!”

Rant over.

We exited the trail and rejoined the normal course just before mile 7. I was a bit frustrated because even though I felt great, I could not get my mile splits down to 7:35 or below. I kept hovering right above with 7:39 and 7:36.

Then we came to a point where we had a brief out and back. I counted the women in front of me and saw just 4. I knew I was close to the front but some other women could have passed before I had a chance to count them.

At that point, feeling good, I decided to see how many I could pick up and how close I could possibly get to the top of the leaderboard. I also could not believe how good I felt at that point, holding that pace. So weird.

Miles 7-9 were fairly uneventful but tinged with the thought that the reverse bridge crossing still lay ahead. I told myself to keep pushing over the bridge, that we had the short, steep incline this time with plenty of decline afterwards to gain the time right back.

During these miles I came up with a new mantra “settle in and pick ‘em off”. I spotted a woman ahead and decided to try to pick her off, to try to pick off as many as I possibly could without putting it all out on the course too early.

I slowly reeled her in and passed her but she would not let me drop her. Loved this. It was just the motivation that I needed. I told her (in my head), “you want to race to the finish? Let’s do this!” She was on my heels until the end of the race.

Then came the bridge.

Again, that bridge nearly did me in. (Garmin says that the elevation changed only a few feet but I definitely do not believe it.)

Once I crested the top of the bridge, I knew that I was almost done. The run was starting to get hard but nothing like how I felt at this point two years ago when I snagged a 1:43:xx.

The woman I had passed earlier was still just a little ways behind me. On top of that, I saw another one a little ways in front of me. Could I reel her in too?

These miles on the CrossIsland Parkway are anything but scenic, distracting or motivating. I’m glad I had something else to think about.

Somewhere around mile 11.5 I passed the other woman and slowly but surely dropped her. I felt like I was picking up the pace a lot more than my Garmin testifies too but that last 5k was my fastest of the race. Miles 10-13: 7:31, 7:28, 7:25

After mile 12 I did not look over my shoulder. (If I had I would have seen that first woman I passed closing the gap. She finished just over 10 seconds behind me!) I kept pushing and tried to pour on a sprint. I guess I came close, especially for that point in the race.

As I entered Jarvis Creek Park I had done the math. Sub 1:40 was mine! All I had left to do was determine by how much. Those last few tenths hurt but in an oh-so-good way.

Result?

Race summary

Hows that for hitting my prescribed average pace on the head?

So amazing.

Another amazing thing? The results company/page that the event (and go-green) use had the results available almost immediately.

My stats

Then it was back to the course to wait for Mom.
In an almost identical time to last year (missed her PR by 2 seconds!) here she came!

Mom finishing 26

(She had her hands raised in celebration but I didn’t get the picture in time)

Mom finishing 14

Since the awards were an hour away we made a quick trip to Starbucks where the fabulous drive-thru barista gave me my drink free because I was a “champion.” :) (Mom mentioned that I had won my age group.)

We made it back right on time for the awards. Just like I predicted. He struggled with my name. I am now “Jeannie Enjunen.” After saying “Jeannie” (not the name I expected him to get wrong) he actually paused and asked the girl next two him how to pronounce my name. I had already started to walk forward and say “Enjaian” properly as loud as I could. Good for a laugh.

Phew. That was a long one.

I am absolutely thrilled with this race and with my results. Blown away is more like it. I think I’m still in shock.

Six weeks until Rome!

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Rome Marathon Week 8 Training Recap

This week consisted of a step back of intensity but not mileage culminating in yet another fabulous long run. I am really loving the long runs this cycle. (That’s quite the opposite of Twin City.)

Monday easy run
This was a pretty average run. Everything went according to plan and I felt pretty good throughout. I still don’t like running in the dark and cold but that will change eventually.

Tuesday easy run with some intervals near end
I felt really, really good throughout this run. I bumped up my easy pace just a notch and really pushed the pace on the short, hard intervals at the end. (I forgot to do these on hills. Whoops.) I absolutely loved it.

Wednesday easy run with some hard intervals near end
My legs were a little more tired at the start than Tuesday but other than that this was a good run. I loved the hard intervals at the end.

Thursday stationary bike
I felt fabulous during this ride. Somehow I was also able to keep the RPMs up. Maybe the fact that I was on a different bike? Whatever it was, I loved it.

Friday easy run
My legs were a bit more tired but that’s becoming normal for Friday. Other than that this was a pretty good easy run.

Saturday long run
This was the best 20 miler I’ve every had. The long runs of this cycle have all gone really well. I ran the first 11 with Mom at a slightly slower pace. I felt great throughout all of those miles. (I did manage to lose a glove somewhere along the way. Oh well.) Mom pushed ahead at the end of her 11 miles only to have some random guy stop her to ask if she had seen a Swamp Rabbit Trail sign a little ways back. Seriously? I kept going and felt fabulous until about mile 15. I started to feel a few small (normal) aches and wallowed in wondering if I could finish strong before setting those thoughts aside and pressing forward. After that point I felt fabulous until the end. When the final 20 minutes of the run came and it was time for me to push the pace, I really pushed it. My final mile (mile 20) was 7:19. Seriously. That means one (or both) of two things. Either I had way too much leftover in the tank or my fitness level has seriously increased. I am loving this training cycle.

Sunday rest
Definitely done. Not much to say about rest days.

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Rome Marathon Week 7 Training Recap

This ended up being a pretty great week of training. I had my doubts when it first started thanks to a really tight hamstring after week 6’s six days of running culminating in a hard effort at the Greenville News 5k. I took a step back on the daily hamstring strengthening exercises I’ve been doing and added extra stretching. That seemed to do the trick.

Monday easy run
I took it easy after a week of fairly intense training culminating with a lot of running Saturday. I felt pretty good except for my right hamstring. It’s tight, like a sore muscle.

Tuesday tempo intervals
I was a little concerned about my right hamstring. It’s probably just a sore muscle because it was less tight than Monday. Other than that this was a pretty good run. The tempo intervals were a little bit tougher than I expected but I got them done.

Wednesday easy/recovery run
This run was nice and easy like prescribed. Thankfully the hamstring thing I’ve been concerned about seems to be just a sore muscle, not injury. Overall it was a pretty good run.

Thursday stationary bike
I tried to keep the RPMs at 90 or above but did not meet that goal for a significant portion of the ride. (I’m not sure why.) This obviously translated into less distance than I wanted. Other than that this was a good ride.

Friday medium intervals
These intervals were crazy fast and hard (6:55 pace!) but I loved them! I loved the entire run and felt great.

Saturday long run
I felt absolutely amazing throughout this entire long run. I ended up running inside using a guest pass to Anytime Fitness. (The combination of super early, dark and rainy made this a necessity.) There was not a single time that I felt overworked. I loved it, even the moderately hard intervals towards the end. I actually thought about how great I felt at that pace even at the end of the run. This was a great run.

Sunday rest
I had no trouble getting this done.

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Rome Marathon Week 6 Training Recap

I always love weeks that end on a high note aka a strong race performance. This was a tough week though with six days of running, a first for me. Thankfully I have just 5 in week 7. (They’re not easy of course.)

Monday easy run
I absolutely loved this run. I felt amazingly strong throughout the entire run and loved the hard intervals at the end! The week got off to a great start.

Tuesday tempo run
I actually enjoyed a tempo run. What? On top of that the tempo portion didn’t feel quite as hard as I expected. (Don’t get me wrong. It was definitely still hard.) Maybe I could go faster? Whatever the case, I loved this run.

Wednesday easy/recovery run
I felt pretty good through this run. It was nice and easy like it was supposed to be.

Thursday stationary bike + easy run
stationary bike: I felt really, really good and actually got a bit of distance.
easy run: This ended up being my first brick workout ever. I now understand why they’re called bricks. My legs felt pretty sluggish and my glutes were a bit sore. (That may be because this was also the fourth day in a row that I’ve run.) That being said, the run was pretty good anyway.

Friday easy run
It took a little while to get going this morning. The run felt okay but I had no pep in my step. I’m not so sure about this six days a week running. It may need an adjustment period.

Saturday warm up + Greenville News Run Downtown 5k + long run
warm up: this was just enough time for me to get properly warmed up both mentally and physically
5k: see linked recap
long run: This was not as pretty as I could have hoped thanks to going out (probably) too hard in the 5k and dealing with general “achiness” (yes, I’m aware that’s not a word) unrelated to running. I got it done and felt pretty strong while doing it despite the “achiness.”

Sunday rest
I had been looking forward to this day all week so the rest was well enjoyed.

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