I’d be lying if I’ve said that I haven’t had doubts during this training cycle.
On the one hand, I feel like I could be doing more every day. Every week. I haven’t doubled once this cycle. I haven’t done a long run workout yet at TCM is 6 weeks away. I also was told that I had to take both the Minnesota 1/2 Marathon and the Gustavus XC Alumni 5k races easy. What?!? This cycle is different from anything I’ve done in so many ways!
On the other hand, I did a 6 mile steady state this week at 6:30 pace with HR fairly controlled (around 185!), despite running at noon. I also listened to Coach Brimmer and did my 18 miler the day before the GAC race (talk about training through a race!), hopped into a couple minutes of my HS team’s 800m intervals Friday after the 18 miles, and then ran the GAC race the next morning very controlled. I won the race by 14 seconds and was almost a minute ahead of their lead woman. I just felt… STRONG.
I am feeling a strength that I haven’t felt in a while. Probably since 2011 when I started to really fly. My stride has a more pop: I feel like I’m hitting the ground & able to fly forward. Part of that is strength work and flexibility. A bigger part of it is Gary’s training. Workouts are specific and in a targeted zone. Not overtraining. If I had doubts, they’ve been quieted!
He doesn’t allow me to move training sessions around. Things are written the way they are for a reason! This was a good wake-up call for me. I had been doing too much of that under Jerry… it just became habit to think: today is less busy so I’ll go longer here, less on this day, etc. Now, if Gary says get an 18 miler in, and it’s a day I’m directing the NHS XC Alumni meet, I wake up at 4:30 and get 18 in before the meet even starts. Get ‘er done, headlamp style!
Back up a minute. At the beginning of August I ran the Minnesota 1/2 marathon in St. Paul, driving up with over 10 of my high school cross country athletes. It was a blast, just like the 2 other times that I’ve done it. Anna helped me get my racing outfit ready the night before:
The course is an honest course, not too flat and not too hilly. The race itself supports the Ronald McDonald House, which is so near and dear to our family’s hearts! I was told to keep my HR in the 180s, and did just that. I started behind a few women at the start, and worked up to 2nd place — 1st place looked really strong up ahead and I knew there was no way I could get her while running controlled. Heck, she looked so strong I don’t know if I could have raced with her had I been fresh! She finished 4th overall in 1:22:09.
Coming through half way, I thought: 1/2 marathons are just long. Especially when I’m running a little tired. But then I came through mile 9, not quite at the turn around point, and I started to feel that Nichole-strength come on. It’s either that I warm into the pace and start to float along, or my perception is skewed by those around me and I’m simply able to hold my stride while others fade. Who knows. I pretend that I get stronger most of the way through a long race :).
I finished in 1:29:05 and immediately looked back to congratulate my youngsters running the 5k, 5 mile, 10 mile or 1/2 marathon. So much fun. Then Greta, Anna, Nate and I walked through the race’s “Kids Zone” and bid on a few silent auction items. That was as much fun as the race itself. Way to go, again, RBC Race for the Kids MN 1/2 marathon, you put on another amazing race! Hopefully I can come back next year and truly RACE it all out! 🙂
Then, fast forward 3 weeks, where I’ve built training week-over-week up to interval work on top of threshold work (I still mostly bomb these, YIKES to short recoveries!) and long sustained steady state workouts. My first 18 miler was done before the Northfield High School Alumni race 2 mile. That long run went well, despite a 4:30 alarm/5:00 start time! I then hopped into the 2 mile and was amazed at how easy it felt to move fairly quickly (6:20s, on some good trail up/down terrain).
Again, I was told to run GAC Alumni easy, as I needed to get intervals in on Monday, steady state on Wednesday and an 18 miler in on Friday. GAC was on Saturday.
But, like I said above, I felt so darn strong starting out in the race! I hung back in about 8th place for just a minute and then thought, nope! This feels way too easy. I moved up and quickly took the lead. Marit S, who recently broke my 10k school record, followed along. I just sort of floated along the course — it was really fun! I felt the fatigue of the week during the last mile of the course, but honestly, it was nothing like I expected. I finished first overall in 19:22 (results here). Essentially, I ran just hard enough to win :).
I’m pretty darn excited for the next 6 weeks. Mileage will be lower than I’m used to – mid-70s to low-80s, but all on singles, and we’ll start some long run strength workouts, as well as some tempo intervals. Should be fun!
Then, some fun family pictures – just cuz 🙂
Pretty darn in love with our little family! G&A are at really fun ages – out of the baby stage, but still young enough where they want to experience everything with us, snuggle sometimes, and in general, laugh and play the days away. *love*