I could actually say that not just lessons were learned, but HARD lessons were learned this past week! I have to rewind for just a moment though and tell you about LAST weekend's adventures.
So as you know I started my Marathon training on the 21st of April so last weekend was actually the end of Week 1 of training and it had been a great start! My diet was going great and I got in the 4 runs on the schedule with the long run of 8 miles on the weekend.
I've talked many times on the blog about some local areas I use for hiking and hill repeats. We visit the North Hills Trail somewhat regularly off and on and then when I need some hill training we visit what I have (lovingly) dubbed The Beast. It is a fairly steep hill in our little flat valley that is perfect for doing repeats on. And if you are crazy enough you can actually run from the bottom to the top for a really great workout!! (I've done it once but haven't been brave enough to do so again...yet.) Okay, so now that we have the location out of the way, let me go back yet one more week to when my Mom, sister and I headed out to hike the North Hills Trail. I ran portions of it, but mostly we just hiked it especially since I hadn't actually started marathon training yet. But my bright idea was that I wanted to do a majority of my training on that trail because even though my marathon is a flat course, hills work wonders on your endurance, core and lower body strength! Right? So we had a lovely day out on our hike...it was slightly cool and the weather was perfect. We went to the highest point that overlooks the lake and then turned around to head back. So while we are sitting there taking a break looking over the lake we see some runners on the trail below and were like "duh...why have we never thought to do our run on the trail down there?" Then my sister says "I think you can buy an annual pass for the trails". And a bright idea was born right then and there: Let's get the annual passes and then alternate our weekend long runs between the lake trail and the North Hills trail! You see, the lake trail is mostly flat with some gentle hills, while the north hills is a little bit flat with some challenging hills. BRILLIANT!!!
So last week was our first time doing the lake trail and it was absolutely mahvelous daaahhhling!! We loved it!! Like the wind was strong and cold, but we didn't care because we were having so much darn fun! I was able to complete 8 miles between the climb up The Beast as a warm-up, running out and back along the lake, and then the return down to the car. I was on Cloud 9 as I returned home and my son and DIL had just arrived to spend the weekend. My DIL says "where you coming back from" and I reply "just did a great run around the lake!" She asks how many miles, I say 8...I ask if she did her long run already, she says no, she has to do it tomorrow. I say how many miles on your schedule, she says 8. Oh darn!! Why didn't I just wait and run with you tomorrow?!?!? She says something along the lines of "if you love me you won't send me out there all alone to run 8 miles all my myself...you might as well just throw me to the wolves!"* So seeing how I do love her I (foolishly) say that I'll go out with her tomorrow, she can run and I'll walk but we'll at least be out there together. NOT SO BRIGHT IDEA right there. I'm pretty exhausted from my first week of marathon training, but being the super trooper MIL I head out with her and my son anyways and climb The Beast again and then let her take off while me and kid walk a fairly easy pace along the lake. Well, close to 6 miles later we are finally done and back home. But with the kids visiting you know we didn't just sit around and do nothing. It meant I was cooking, cleaning and entertaining throughout the day.
* okay, so she might not have said any of that...she may have only said "well, I guess I'll have to do it myself" and then I might have volunteered to go out with her.
That was my first HARD LESSON LEARNED (I just didn't know it yet): Rest days really ARE important!!!!
So I start my second week of training and it's got some good runs on the schedule. 2.5 easy miles on Monday, 4 miles on Tuesday with 2 at race pace, strength training on Wednesday, 5 miles on Thursday with negative splits, 3 easy miles on Friday (so if you are adding up that means that I had 4 run days already totaling up at about 14.5 miles and I hadn't even gotten to my long run on 10 miles yet. HA!! This was all during a very stressful week at work. We had extremely high winds for 3 days (T-W-Th) that even required us closing our campus down for part of Wednesday and all of Thursday. I don't like winds...they bug me a lot. But on top of it, these were hot, dry winds. And on top of that, I have a workload that could crush a small person right now. Not a good combination. Oh and add on to that the fact that I was PMSing! Sometimes...
HARD LESSON LEARNED #2: you must factor in outside considerations like stress, workload, Mother Nature, etc.
Okay, so let's continue the story: Since last week was the lake trail, that means this week was North Hills. I was well prepared for the run and the fact that it was going to be a very warm weekend. I filled up my Nathan hydration pack the night before and froze it, I had a flask of Nuun that I also froze, I had a fresh can of sunscreen, my body glide applied in all the right places, some shorts and a tank top. I was totally ready...except for those darn hills!!! As soon as I started up the first big hill I knew that we had a problem...my legs were exhausted!!
HARD LESSON LEARNED #3: No rest day, followed by more miles and more speedwork and more stress than usual means your legs and body WILL be fatigued!!
But I was bound and determined to do my run and I was not going to quit. I knew that I just had to get up the big hill then I could run down it and on the other side it was mostly flat lands for a long time. So that's exactly what we did...we pushed on. I ran down the hill, turned on my music and prepared myself to get in the groove of nothing but flat through a meadow along the base of the hill. HA!!
HARD LESSON LEARNED #4: It's good to know ahead of time if portions of the trail are poorly maintained.
And that was the case here...the trail was so overgrown with weeds it was hard to even see where the trail went at times and never mind being able to see rocks and holes and other ankle breakers. Here I pictured myself running a la Little House on the Prairie through a meadow of soft grasses...in reality I was running through dry weeds growing out of hard rocky ground in the middle of the sun beating down on me and vultures circling over head. Okay, so there weren't any vultures...but whatever. It was horrible!! And I finally decided that if I didn't want to break my ankle out there I probably just needed to surrender defeat and walk back up the hill. But oy vey...what seemed like not so bad of a hill coming down was ridiculously steep going back up!!
I know I might over exaggerate a little bit, but I felt like I was wandering alone in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights. It was hot, it was lonely, and I was miserable. I kept wishing that it was a race and that the straggler wagon would come along and rescue me! If I could have called for a pick-up I would have. I wondered more than once where my knight on horseback was and why hadn't he come to rescue me from this personal hell yet! hahaha
But eventually I did make it back to my Mom & Sister waiting for me at the top of the hill and it was then that we decided to break some rules and hopped the small guardrail to finish up on the lake trail instead of the North Hills trail...and it is one of the smartest things we have ever done!! Oh what a difference...it was still hot and I was still exhausted and I can't say that I did a whole lot of running...but it was FLAT with only occasional hills! And there were occasional people! And occasional shade or benches! And a pretty lake to look at!
I was the first one back to car, so I cranked up the air conditioning and became the straggler wagon! It was SO tough, but we got it done. I was supposed to do 10 miles, but ended up with 9.4 instead. It took me HOURS to do those 9 miles, but we figured that there must be some kind of equation that says that hills + heat x exertion = 1.5 x actual miles run. So in that case, I actually did MORE than was on the schedule. hahaha ;-)
So I learned some hard lessons and I'm definitely glad for that. I learned that rest days really are crucial. I learned that I need to do some kind of reduced mileage the week of my hilly mountain 10k on June 7. I learned that the North Hills trail will NOT work at all for the long runs I need right now. I learned that having a pretty lake to look at can make all the difference. I learned that freezing my water bladder was a really smart move because still having cold water was so refreshing. And so much more...
Next week I'm looking forward to my 11 miles along the lake! No really...I am!