Today marks the 1-week countdown to the Marine Corps Marathon, my first fall marathon on the line-up. Allow me to back up for just a moment, the first half of 2017 was littered with uber long distance running and training as I kicked up for the Dirty German Endurancefest 50-miler in May. Though that was the culmination of what I was working toward, there were a handful of marathons and ultras along the way to aid that 50-miler training, and the schedule was really overwhelming and grueling. As a “reward” to myself for the hard work and dedication it took to pull all that training and mileage off, I made a commitment to listen to my body and rest for a few months once that was wholly out of the way. January, training hunkered down and I got serious about a plan. February held my first ultra as a training run and test to see where I was sitting with the Mid-Maryland 50k. March was the Seneca Creek Trail Marathon (suuuuuuuucked, check out this post-race Facebook live video for candid thoughts about that run!). April, I was part of a Ragnar Trail running ultra team at their Richmond Ragnar Trail Relay race as the final training long run for the 50-miler. May, myself and two of my best running friends set out and accomplished the biggest goal we had ever set for ourselves and crushed the 50-miler in 12 hours and 15 minutes! June brought Grandma’s Marathon, which was moreso just icing on the cake for me, as I just love that race and being back in my hometown! It wasn’t a record breaker, but it was a stunning day to run!
July and August, as promised – even though I knew I had committed to a few fall races – I allowed myself the opportunity to recover. If I felt like running, I went and ran. If I felt like doing yoga, I did yoga. I did keep my diet pretty structured (minus the time I spent indulging during my trip to Chile, but come on!!!! 😉 ) so as to not completely derail, but I honored the amount of trauma and training I had demanded of myself and really took all of the pressure off to perform.
Upon returning from Chile, I knew it was time to start looking at those long runs, start some double-digit weekend love, and get a little more structure into the mix. I started with the Annapolis 10-miler the weekend after we got back into the country, as a friend needed a bib-transfer and I thought “huh, why not!?” It was a beautiful run, I kept the pace comfortable and enjoyed the course.
Slowly each week following, I found higher mileage while tweaking my week-day workouts to complement my training schedule and incorporating yoga and regular chiropractor appointments to keep my alignment and keep me running well. (I know not everyone loves the Chiro, I SWEAR by mine and have found an enormous amount of help in taking care of my body with regular appointments and various therapies such as ART, Graston, and occasionally dry needling).
My marathon training plans are probably considered unconventional by most distance-running standards. I run twice a week and focus on cross training and strength training as a vital supplement to keeping me strong, healthy, and off the injured list. This round, a typical week for me looked like this:
Monday – 60-90 minutes of yoga and meditation and/or 45 minutes strength training
Tuesday – two 45 minute rounds of aqua spin: 7am and 7pm
Wednesday – short, sweet, and ugly run… typically puke-worthy intensity!
Thursday – 45 minutes of aqua spin, gentle intensity (active rest day)
Friday – mostly rest, every once in a while a 45-minute strength training day
Saturday/Sunday – long run one day, rest the other
My long runs gradually increased starting with the Annapolis 10-miler, then 16 the next weekend, 14 the following Saturday- followed by an 11-mile Sunday, a 16-miler, 17 miles during Ragnar (at a puke-worthy pace and in puke-worthy heat), peaking with 18 miles before tapering down to 11 miles and finally a 90-minute hike yesterday to top it all off.
What I loved this time around? I took all the pressure off myself and enjoyed the journey. I had a few really shitty runs that I found strength in and pushed through regardless…(with the help of friends of course!!!) and I had a lot of amazing company and conversations throughout the last 8 weeks. Ideally, I would have loved to have a few more higher mileage runs in there; however, the goal for my Marine Corps Marathon is to enjoy the experience and run it for my dear friend and fallen Marine, LCPL Levi Angell (more to come on his friendship and honor in my race recap next week!!!).
So now that you got a glimpse into what my fall marathon training has looked like, what does this race week look like? What are my goals? And what’s next?
This week will be a lot of foam rolling, yoga, and a few lower intensity strength training sessions. Monday will be my final high-intensity workout, Tuesday will be yoga, Wednesday will be my final run – a super slow 4-ish miler, Thursday will probably be restorative yoga and Friday will be rest! Saturday = EXPO DAY!!! I love walking the expos for marathons and really ramping up the energy. Feeding off the excitement and anticipation is one of my favorite parts of prepping for a big race like this! I have two of my BRF’s that are running and we’re sharing a hotel in DC to make logistics on race day a little more simple so having friends to share the experience with will make it even more meaningful and fun! Like a mini-girls’ weekend that ends in us crushing our goals!
Speaking of goals, my goal for this run is pretty loose. I’m actually using the MCM as a final training long run for the Richmond Marathon on November 11th in Virginia. Yea, yea, yea, cliche to say but I used races as training runs for the Dirty German Endurancefest 50-miler in May and found it was a great way to work out the kinks and get the jitters out. So the MCM will be about experience and comfort… enjoying every step, soaking in the sights and honoring not only Levi with every step but all fallen soldiers in every single step of this race. I’m nervous for the Blue Mile – a mile considered to be the most powerful 1,064 steps of the Marine Corps Marathon – only because of the emotion and the power behind it, and knowing and anticipating Levi’s photo being along that mile is a stunning honor (eeek, I’m already getting choked up!) that I’ve been waiting 13 1/2 years to accomplish. My goal is to finish and enjoy the run, no matter the time it takes.
So then, what’s next? A big, fat PR hopefully! The Richmond Marathon in Virginia has been called America’s Friendliest Marathon and I’m working toward crushing my goals at that run while enjoying an amazing weekend with my family and friends!
Thanks for reading – stay tuned into my Instagram account for all the up-to-date training and prep details, and swing back next week for my Marine Corps Marathon race recap!