So, yeah, I decided to run a redemption race this fall. I feel like I left a lot out on the course at the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon, being sick, and all. And my body felt a lot better in the days that followed than it sometimes did after my long training runs. So I decided that I still had a marathon left in me, and I was going to go for another race to get a "win" under my belt for this year.
I'm running the Rails to Trails Marathon in Norwalk, WI, on November 7. It is a small, low-key race, put on by a small town. It's run on a former railroad bed turned bike trail. It's claim to fame is a 3/4 mile tunnel that we get to run through. Lots of nice positive comments about the race, from what I've been able to tell so far, even though it's only the third year they've done it. I'm looking forward to a better race, with a more conservative time goal, and hoping to be able to run it like a marathon should be run.
So I couldn't wait to start running again, and started on Monday last week. Did 6 miles, and in retrospect probably shouldn't have started out with that, since I'd just taken an entire week off. It felt good, though. Tuesday I ran three miles. I found a training plan by Hal Higdon for "between marathons." He's got plans for two weeks between, four weeks between and six weeks between. So, I am doing his four weeks between plan. Relatively low mileage, especially the first couple weeks. So Tuesday is when this plan is supposed to start, and I was only supposed to do 2 miles. Well, that wasn't enough in my mind, so I did 3. Wednesday was 3, Thursday was 4 and Friday was 6. Then today was 1-2 hours. I did 10 miles (approx. 1 hour 40 minutes).
I must say, this week was a little tough. I felt sluggish and slow. It felt like an effort to maintain 10 minute miles, when a month ago, 10 minute miles would have felt fairly easy. But I did just go 26 miles not two weeks ago, so I was okay with the struggle. I think perhaps I would have been surprised if it had felt easy. It may not have been a good strong effort, but it was 26 miles, and my body knew it, if my brain didn't.
So it was a little sluggish. Today was my 10-miler. Which I was going to go 12 until I started thinking about it and decided yesterday that maybe I shouldn't push it, and only go 10. In retrospect, now I'm thinking maybe I should only have gone 8 or 9. I'm feeling it tonight. I went easy and slow and the first mile felt great, but then it started to get hard. I had to struggle and push it to maintain my pace. I probably should have just slowed down. It is a "long run" after all, and you really can't run them too slow, but I'm stubborn and in the middle of a run sometimes you don't think. I did feel some twinges in my knees today. Which I wasn't expecting. Friday my right knee hurt, right on top of the kneecap. It was a new location for knee pain for me. I iced it friday night and saturday, and this morning it was gone, so I knew resting it was good. I was hoping not to have it come back today during the long run. There was a shadow of discomfort at times, but the surprise came when my left knee started twinging. I was probably inadverdantly and unconsciously favoring my right knee. But tonight my legs feel sore and my knees too, but there is no pain to speak of. I'm feeling okay, still confident. I think perhaps I should either not have run monday, or else gone shorter than the 6 miles. My body hasn't run 5 days in a row in a very very long time (trying to think of the last time, actually, and can't- it's been months). So I probably jumped back into training a little harder than I should have.
But, I'm on a plan now, and I'm feeling pretty good about it. I expect this next week to be better than last week, but I won't be surprised to find myself still feeling tired and slow. The key will be to continue to do my runs at a slow pace, and to continue to monitor my body. I have to slog through this initial discomfort, but I think things will only get easier and my body will be back to its normal training form within another week. I'm hoping for a good strong third week, feeling good and not tired, and then a taper week to build up some energy and restore the glycogen stores. And then hopefully, a strong race in Norwalk. That's the plan anyway!