Shamrock Marathon Training: Weeks 12-14

I have fallen really behind on my Shamrock training recaps, and I have gone back and forth on whether I even want to post them or not, but I think that I do. Rather than breaking up the 3 weeks I've missed in separate posts, they're all rolled together here. In the last 3 weeks I've:
  • run two 20-milers;
  • run almost 100 miles (97.3);
  • gotten sick;
  • skipped a run for the first time during this training cycle (8 miles);
  • run my longest weekday run (10+ miles after work!);
  • joined a tri club; 
  • registered for two races (Kinetic Half Ironman and Mountains of Misery century ride - more on my races this year soon!); and
  • ridden my bike outside! For fun! 
Maybe I'll get back on track and post them regularly, or maybe I won't, but for now I'm caught up!

Training for:
Shamrock Marathon
Virginia Beach, VA
March 19


Week 12

Monday 1/30
Rest Day
I've been fighting off a cold the past couple days and all I could think about all day was going straight home after work, eating some soup, and going to bed. So that's what I did!

Tuesday 1/31
6 mile run @ 9:17
I really wasn't in the mood to do this today, but after a little pep talk from Alyssa and knowing that even my mom ran today (day 2 of C25k!) I convinced myself I could handle it. I didn't plan a specific route and ended up at the Jefferson Memorial for the first time in a long time, and maybe the first time ever at night? Since it was easy run day of course I had to take a little break - couldn't miss this photo op!

Wednesday 2/1
30 minutes strength + 1 hour trainer ride
I raced home after work to get to the gym before my tri club orientation! I don't know if I have mentioned it yet, but the Y where I swim has a tri club/training group that I decided to join. I mainly decided to do it to get used to swimming with other people, but there are group runs and spins/rides as well, and I'm kind of hopeful that I'll meet some longer distance training partners for when Ironman training time comes.

I haven't been great about getting on the trainer lately, but if I'm not motivated after listening to triathlon talk for an hour and a half then when will I be?! My speed sensor has recently stopped connecting to my watch so I have no distance/speed data, but that honestly might be a good thing. It's been nice to just spin for a little while without worrying about how fast (or not) I'm going!

Thursday 2/2
6.5 mile run @ 8:53
Tonight was speed night on the treadmill and, as always, I was both looking forward to and dreading it. I had a 1 mile warmup, 7x800s @ 7:47 with 400m of recovery in between, and a few minutes of cooldown (cut that a bit short but I had to get home). I was seriously questioning how I was going to get through them, and I did have to walk for a bit during the recovery intervals, but somehow I nailed my pace for all of the 800s.

Friday 1/27
5 mile run @ 8:54
I ran after work tonight and decided to try to do the whole thing without stopping at any stoplights. I did a whole bunch of zig-zagging and running up and down blocks when the light was red, but I did it!

Saturday 1/28
Unplanned Rest Day
I wanted to get in a long ride on the trainer this morning before road tripping home, but my legs were a little sore when I woke up, and I thought it would be stupid to wear them out before my 20-miler tomorrow.

Sunday 1/29
20 mile run @ 8:57
First 20-miler D-O-N-E! I drove home yesterday so that I could run with my Shamrock training partner, Carl, at the beach today. This run I was like okay, time to cut the shenanigans and actually try out some smart pacing. While I'm proud that I've now done several weeks worth of long runs at faster paces than I ever thought I'd run them at, I also recognize that my pacing strategy of dialing into a pace early and trying to hang onto it for the duration of the run hasn't been the best, and isn't going to work for 26.2 miles. Carl and I discussed our race strategy today and landed on running just ahead of the 4 hour pace group at around 9:00/mile to start, and speeding up if possible (something tells me I will be LOLing at that around mile 17 on March 19, but I'm going to try). That pace translates into a 3:55 marathon and gives us some cushion for water stops, bathroom, stretching, etc. 

Since I have been running just a hair faster than 9:00 it was a little hard to dial into it, and to be honest it never really clicked. I really had to think about my running, which is like, the opposite of what I've been trying to do on long runs, but having a buddy today really helped me stick with it (both when I was too fast and when I was falling behind). 

We ran the first 5 miles south along Pacific Avenue and the boardwalk. It was an overcast morning with the sun just barely peeking out from behind the clouds and so beautiful! Running the boardwalk can admittedly be a little boring since it's just straight up and down but ugh, give me those ocean views all day every day. Those first few miles, while beautiful, felt like they took for.ev.errr. It was kind of starting to worry me that my pace wasn't clicking and I just felt a little off and the miles were going by slowly...I just didn't know how I was going to get through the whole run. But I didn't let it stress me too much and just tried to focus on running the mile I was in. 

We made our first bathroom stop at the end of the boardwalk at mile 6 and then continued back to the car. Those miles ticked by a smidge faster and I think it helped that we had a little wind at our backs. I hadn't realized how much wind we'd been fighting going the other direction. We made our next pit stop at the car at mile 10.5 - over halfway! I ditched the vest and one of the long sleeve shirts I had on because the sun had come out and I was getting really warm! From there we continued north along Pacific Avenue to Shore Drive for about 2.5 miles before turning around. I have run Shamrock 5 times and literally never before today did I notice that Shore Drive is on a slight (very slight - it's Virginia Beach - but still) incline uphill. And when we finally turned around to head back we caught some wind, so it really wasn't a whole lot easier! I looked down and saw a 9:20 average so far for the mile we were in and I was my watch broken? Lol. 

Once we got off Shore Drive we picked up a pace to the bit until we got back to the car at 15.5 miles in for our last water stop. We talked about going back out to Shore Drive again but it's so boring, so instead we went further into the park. Those last 4ish miles had little rolling hills (emphasis on I said, it's Virginia Beach) and I actually felt better during those miles than any of the previous ones so I think the little changes in elevation actually helped me a little bit. I really felt great by the end, and we finished just under our 3-hour goal!

Week 13

This definitely wasn't the week of getting back on track. After my 20-miler on Sunday my cold came back full force, and I spent the week unsuccessfully fighting it off. I even missed my first run of this training cycle. The bright side is that I started YTri training this week, so I at least got in some workouts through that. There were a few moving parts this week that I couldn't really coordinate ahead of time, and I anticipated that, so luckily I had planned to kind of play it by ear anyway. I didn't plan to get sick so that threw a bit of a wrench into the little bit I could plan for, but I think I still managed to get through a decent amount of training while allowing my body to rest and recover for the week coming up.

Monday 2/6
Rest Day

With my new YTri schedule starting this week, including swimming on Fridays, I've decided to try Monday rest days again. I used to do Monday rest days when I was training for my first half Ironman since the plan I was following put them on Mondays, and I've always had a love/hate relationship with them. The break is nice after long training sessions over the weekend, but it also makes me nervous to start the week out with them because it doesn't leave me a lot of wiggle room in my schedule the rest of the week. 

Tuesday 2/7
45 minute YTri Spin / 7+ mile run @ 9:33
I ran a couple miles to meet my brother-in-law at his hotel after work so that we could get in some miles together. I didn't map out a route beforehand so we ended up doing a little more than I had planned. I had 6 on my schedule but ended up with almost 7.5, oops! We hit the Mall at night which was nice because I hadn't been out there at night in a while. Today was my easy run day and I made sure to stick to that. Not only was I coming off a 20-miler and fighting a cold, but I also have had a little knee issue over the last couple weeks that I didn't want to aggravate too much.

Wednesday 2/8
Unplanned Rest Day
I took off early from work to meet my sister- and brother-in-law for a tour of the Capitol. I had planned to get in a run that evening, but we were at the Capitol for longer than I thought we'd be and then we went to dinner. I was feeling pretty run down because of my cold so I just scrapped the idea of a workout. I've been getting in bed around 7 or 8 every night this week!

Thursday 2/9
1 mile run (YTri time trial) @ 7:33
Today was the first day of YTri group runs, so we just did a one mile time trial at the track to establish a baseline. We met at the Y first, jogged over two blocks to the track, did 2 laps to warm up, the 1 mile time trial, then jogged 2 blocks back. It was probably close to 2 miles total but I only had my watch running during the time trial. I think the fastest mile I've ever run was somewhere around 7:30, but that was during a 5-mile race. I've never actually run just a mile to see how fast I could do it, so I was hoping to be a little faster than that. I was a bit disappointed when I settled into the 7:30s, but it was a cold, windy, drizzly morning and I was sick, so I think it was solid, all things considered. I was actually surprised at how well I paced myself and how in control I felt. I pushed myself, but it wasn't the hardest mile I've ever run. We'll do 2 more throughout the season so I'm looking forward to improving. I'd like to get under 7 minutes, for no other reason that the idea of running a 6:XX sounds absolutely crazy to me!

Friday 2/10
2000yd YTri swim 
I'm used to programming my workout on my watch when I swim alone and wasn't used to manually starting and stopping it, so I only recorded about 1/3 of this swim and don't know my exact pace. This was my first time ever swimming in a group, and I was nervous because my swim time trial was a bit faster than I was expecting to be so I was worried I was going to be in over my head in my swim group. Fortunately I actually wasn't the worst swimmer! There were I think 5 other people in my lane and I didn't freak out at all - knowing that I was swimming at roughly the same pace as everyone else and that we were all doing the same workout made a huge difference.

As for the workout itself, this was the first time I've ever been coached or been to swim practice or whatever, but I think I did fine. It was definitely different than swimming alone since all of our intervals were based on the big swim clock and there was less rest time in between intervals. It wasn't my best or favorite swim ever, but I think it was good for me and I can tell that being in this faster group is going to push me more than I'd push myself.

Saturday 2/11
30 minutes strength training
I had hoped to get in a trainer ride today but just needed another sick day. Later in the day I was starting to feel restless though, so I did go down to the gym for a little bit of lifting weights!

Sunday 2/12
11.3 mile run @ 9:32
This run was just awful! I thought I was finally feeling well enough to attempt a long run, and since I had a step-back week this and only had 12 on my schedule, I thought I could handle it. I was so wrong. I felt okay for the first few miles but I started running out of steam around mile 4. I kept trying to push through but I was having trouble breathing and had to take a lot of walk breaks. By the time I made it up the huge hill that I try to run every week, with about a mile to go, I just couldn't hang anymore. Fortunately there was a bikeshare station about a quarter mile away, so I ran there, ended my run a little short, and biked the rest of the way home.

Week 14

Monday 2/13
5 mile run @ 9:04

I was finally back to feeling mostly human again today, and even though my easy run wasn't planned until tomorrow, I kind of felt like knocking it out, so I went for it. I have to say, I'm kind of loving having these easy runs with no pace goals, not worrying about stopping at 45 stoplights, etc.

Tuesday 2/14
45 minute YTri Spin / 30 minutes strength training
I stayed up too late and slept in a little later than I normally would before spin, so I didn't have time to  eat breakfast (other than half a banana) beforehand. Because of that I felt a little more tired than usual and my stomach hurt a little, but it was fine. I don't think I pushed myself super hard but honestly, just spending time in the saddle is beneficial for me right now.

Wednesday 2/15
10 mile run @ 8:22
Whew. I had "9-10 mile tempo workout" written on my schedule today, and even though I knew it was coming, I don't think I really started to process how huge that was until I was at work today. I really didn't want to do it and came up with a million reasons why I shouldn't even try. Even after I came home and changed into my running clothes and walked Bane before heading out, I still had half a mind to just stay inside when I took him in instead of going out to run. It was cold and windy and I just wasn't feeling it, plus my mileage was low last week and I just wasn't confident this was going to go as planned.

Luckily, it went even better than planned! I still have no idea how I pulled it off, but I managed to exceed my goal pace for the 6 tempo miles in the middle and finished over 10 miles total for the whole run. And I committed to zig-zagging so I only ended up with about 3 minutes of stopped time, which were all in the last 2 cooldown miles. I've never run this far on a weekday before and have never run 10 miles at that pace, so I felt pretty amazing when I got back home!

Thursday 2/26
4 mile YTri run @ 9:00
This was definitely not easy after my run the night before! We ran a route that was supposedly more downhill than uphill, but there was one long climb and one significant hill that made it pretty challenging.

I didn't ride one the trainer after work as planned - I had some chores around the house that I really needed to get done instead.

Friday 2/10
2250yd YTri swim @ 1:40/100yd 
This week I remember to start and stop my watch correctly, so I have the correct time and distance data. That is literally the only bright side of this swim. I don't really want to rehash it, so I'll just post what I put on Instagram and give the tl;dr that I totally sucked today and it was totally embarrassing.

This morning I went to my second ever group swim practice, swam 2300yds faster than I have ever swam any distance...and have felt bad about it ever since. I was doing okay keeping up until about halfway through when we started practicing breathing on both sides (I have only ever tried breathing to my right side for probably 5 strokes total), and it just went downhill from there. I struggled to keep up, held up some people in my group, and finally just moved to the end of the line. When we got to the last set of 5x100s and our coach told us we should be able to do them essentially faster than I have ever swam in my life (1:45 including rest), I almost got out of the pool. Lovely Friday morning reminder that I'm not a natural athlete 👎🏻👎🏻👎🏻#ironmantraining #imlou #everythingidoidoitforimlou
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Saturday 2/11
20 mile run @ 9:16
I drove home after work on Friday to run in the Tidewater Striders 20-miler on Saturday morning! This was another "competitive training run" in the Shamrock prep series, the same one that the 15-miler I did a few weeks ago was a part of. This one was at the Dismal Swamp Canal Trail, which is an 8-mile long road that's been closed off and converted to a multi-use trail. I have biked and run on the trail a lot so I'm really familiar with it, which isn't a huge advantage because it is B-O-R-I-N-G. It's completely straight. Seriously. This is the map from the 20-miler:

I've run this race/run/whatever you want to call it 3 times now, and the first time I ran it it was 7 miles out, 7 miles back, then 3 miles out, 3 miles back, but for some reason last year they swapped it so that now we do the short loop first and the long loop second. I personally prefer to get the longer loop out of the way first, but sadly, I am not in charge.

The weather forecast showed that it was going to be just under 50 at the start and approaching 70 by the finish, so I literally packed every length of top and bottom that I own. I ended up going with shorts and a short sleeve shirt and arm warmers and, for once in my life, I deserved an A+ for my wardrobe choice. I chucked the arm warmers after about 4 miles and then my shirt after about 12 miles, and I was perfectly comfortable the entire run. It helped that it was a gorgeous day!

As for the run went okay. We immediately started off slower than I was expecting due to the congestion - it's a smaller race but it's not seeded at all, so it took half a mile or more for people to start spreading out - and that seemed to set the tone for the whole run. I ran with my Shamrock partner, Carl, and the first few miles were a hair behind pace. When we made the first turnaround at mile 3 I got a burst of energy that carried me through back to the start of the trail (mile 6), and we were back on pace. As we set out on the 14-mile loop, I tried to keep my head in the game, but I was having doubts about the whole thing. My stomach wasn't feeling great and all I could focus on was making it to the aid station at mile 8.5. I felt a little better after that, but my stomach just felt a little funny all day. I actually texted Ben during that walk through the aid station because I really wasn't feeling that confident about the 20 miles going as planned. I knew I could and would make it through, and I figured I could run a decent pace, but it hadn't been a stellar day so far and I didn't see that changing.

And...I was pretty much right. I was feeling pretty dehdryated by the halfway point and really all I remember from the last 10-12 miles is focusing on getting from one aid station to the next. Our pace was still slightly behind - even though we had mostly sub-9 miles, they weren't enough to make up for the bathroom stops and aid stations. I stopped at the bathroom again around mile 16.5, and then there was another aid station at 17.5 where I drank I think 4 cups of water and Gatorade. I was really, really thirsty and seriously considered just staying at that station and drinking all the fluids they had. I don't know if this happens to other runners, but during the last 6-7 miles my bladder (I think?) was really hurting, like that burning feeling you get when you're dehydrated, like you have to pee but you don't. I've only ever had that happen one other time, actually it was the last time I ran the Shamrock Marathon, but it didn't hit me until after I finished. This time I felt it coming on slowly (and it really hurt when I finished). Sorry for the TMI but the point is that I was definitely dehydrated and that sucked.

Carl told me he was going to pull ahead the last couple miles and I'm glad he did because I already felt bad enough about slowing him down. My stomach was still bothering me but I was determined to finish. By the last mile I really, really wanted to be done and I successfully picked up my speed - mile 20 was my fastest by far at 8:11. In the last half mile I came up on two women I really focused on running down, although the second one wasn't quite as easy and I really had to gut it out to the finish! I gave the last couple minutes everything I possibly had left. In the end, I came in about 5 minutes over my goal, and if it had been marathon day, I would have missed 4 hours by about 3 minutes.

Now that I've made it sound like this was a terrible run, it honestly really wasn't. No, I didn't feel great and I missed my time goal, but I was okay. I only got a little emotional once, and for the most part I just focused on getting through the miles, one by one. Even though this wasn't my best 20-miler ever and wasn't exactly confidence-boosting, I do have to say that I am getting better at them. I never fell apart during this run, mentally or physically. I did have some physical issues but I think I handled them well. I don't know, I keep going back and forth on this one. I'm disappointed I was a little off my time target, and I HATE making excuses, but I know there were a lot of factors at play here - having a hard swim workout the day before, then going to work all day, then driving 4 hours and having Taco Bell for dinner, then going to bed at midnight, then getting up to run, to name a few - that obviously affected things. And while this was 6 minutes slower than the last 20-miler I did, this one included all water stops, 2 bathroom stops, etc., so it might not have been as far off as I think. I don't know. I don't feel great about it, but I don't feel badly about it, and either way I'm happy to have another 20-miler in the bag.

Sunday 2/19
20 mile OUTDOOR(!!!!) ride @ 11.9mph
Hello gorgeous! When I got back to DC Ben and I got our bikes in order and went out for a ride together. It was SO beautiful out and the perfect day for a fun Sunday ride. The idea of riding my bike just for fun is very foreign to me, but I enjoyed this more than I've enjoyed being on a bike in a long time! We went out on the Mount Vernon Trail until we felt like turning around, and it was just the best. It was so nice not being in training mode, not worrying about hitting a distance or speed, not getting annoyed at all the people out or the approximately 238 times we got stuck behind someone walking or whatever, etc. It was just nice to get out and enjoy the day together. And the pitcher of margaritas we stopped for on the way back didn't hurt either.

After over 2 weeks of being sick, it was really nice to finally feel better this week! And I was super thankful this week to have YTri workout commitments because I am 100% certain I would not have gotten even one morning workout done, let alone 3, if I'd been on my own. It was harder for me to get to the morning workouts this week (I guess the novelty of the first week had worn off), but I really had no choice and I'm weirdly glad about that.

I have 4 weeks to go until Shamrock and planning on getting up a post going more into detail about how I'm feeling at this point of training and about this whole training cycle. One day I feel confident about my goal and the next day it seems totally out of reach, so I'm really not sure exactly where I stand. I'm also trying to figure out what to do this week - this recent 20-miler should really have been at 3 weeks out instead of 4, in my opinion, and I'm not quite ready to taper yet but I'm not sure I have another big peak week in me either. We'll see - I just hope that either way I'm ready to go in 4 weeks!


  1. i know you just joined a triclub, but if you're interested in meeting even MORE awesome training buddies around NoVa, let me know. :) it's all women, we have a private facebook group, and it's free. no structured plans or workouts or coaches but great moral support, a forum to ask questions, and a place to find workout buddies. we had at least one person do IMNC last year. and i think at least one doing IMLOU this year.

    1. Good to know! I did a lot of solo training for IMNC out in NoVa on the W&OD and would have loved company!

  2. That's awesome that you joined a tri club! Looking forward to hearing more about your training.

  3. Fab weeks of training! Im super impressed with the 20 milers, Im in awe!

    Looking forward to more of your training posts if/when you post them :)

  4. I hope you have great weather during Shamrock! Looks like your training is going very well!

  5. Kudos on the twin 20-milers. That's solid. Good luck on your training ahead!

  6. I think I'm most impressed with that 10 miler that you did after work one day! The long runs during the week are always the hardest, especially when you're dealing with trying to find areas to run in that are well lit after the sun starts going down. Hope you're having a good week of training this week!

  7. You certainly have kept busy these past few weeks! Despite a few minor hiccups and battling illness, you've done a fantastic job with your training! Reading about your 20-milers almost makes me miss marathon training...ALMOST!

  8. 10 miles after work is amazing, you go girl!and congrats on your 2 20 milers, and joining a club! sorry you've been sick :( can't believe it's 4 weeks till shamrock!

  9. Congrats on getting in two 20 milers! And congrats on your first weekday 10 miler as well :) That is my least favorite weekday run of marathon training by far (even though it really isn't THAT different from a nine miler - only like 10 more minutes). Out of the four marathon training cycles I've gone through, I know for a fact that I skipped the weekday 10 miler twice, and I might've skipped it three times (I can't remember for sure if I did it in 2014 or not). So props to you for getting it done!