Boston Marathon Training Week 12: My First 20 Miler of the Season

Boston Marathon TrainingSpring is coming! Even though it’s still cold and icy out, there’s that subtle change in the air that signals warmer things are coming. Finally!

Week 12 of Boston Marathon training was a little different because the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge group long run was scheduled on Sunday this week instead of the usual Saturday. That caused a little shift in how I planned my workouts (as well as an unfortunate drop in Saturday night fun).

DFMC Team Singlet 2015!
DFMC Team Singlet 2015!

This was also an exciting week because my DFMC singlet arrived! This is the jersey that all DFMC team members wear to actually run the marathon. It includes our team name and logo and a very cool print down the sides representing Boston’s skyline. I have a Pacesetter patch to put on mine because I have raised over $8,000 for cancer research (thank you) and plan to further personalize my singlet with my name (so people can cheer for me). I’m also thinking about other ideas that I’ll share when I have more clarity.


This week I crossed the $12,000 mark in fundraising, bringing me very close to my ultimate goal of $12,750! Thank you so much to everyone who has contributed. Please know your money is supporting important basic cancer research at one of the world’s best cancer institutions. If you haven’t donated yet and would like to, you can do so at my personal DFMC page.


Me trying to be optimistic last Wednesday.
Me trying to be optimistic last Wednesday.

I hit a Flywheel class Thursday morning, after struggling with a stomach bug on Wednesday afternoon (I took a rest day on Wednesday, for obvious reasons). I felt ok when I got up Thursday so decided to go ahead with the class. Well, you know what? Stomach bugs dehydrate you! I have never been so thirsty in spin class before. I definitely didn’t turn in my best performance, unless you’re judging me on how quickly I can empty a water bottle into my belly. Lesson learned!

On Friday morning I hit a Power Burn Class at Burn Fitness Studios before work. I’m noticing some improvements in my strength from when I started taking these classes, and would love to regularly go twice per week. It’s challenging with all of my work travel, but I’m going to try to be better about it.

Other people's post-workout selfies are cute. Mine are . . . special.
Other people’s post-workout selfies are cute. Mine are . . . special.

Finally, on Saturday I went to Hip Hop Yoga at Back Bay Yoga. If I may complain for a moment . . . they really oversell some of these classes. We were crammed mat-to-mat in the room, making it hard to do certain moves without touching other people. And I’m ok if I have to brush up on someone but putting my head in your butt is a little beyond my comfort zone.  The woman on the mat ahead of mine full on kicked me in the head at one point, which really hurt and is the opposite of how I want to feel in yoga class. I like the yoga there, but it’s not really appealing to go to a packed class like that. Aside from the crowd, it was good stretching out in preparation for my long run.

Mid-Week Runs

It's not as easy to see in the photo as it was in real life--there's a snow cloud being kicked up by the wind ahead of me on the path.
It’s not as easy to see in the photo as it was in real life–there’s a snow cloud being kicked up by the wind ahead of me on the path.

On Monday, I ventured down to the Charles River for a 6 mile run. I wasn’t sure what I’d find–the conditions have been hit-or-miss with the storms–but the section I picked to run ended up being ok, with just some patches of packed snow and mostly plowed. The snow piles along the running path are quite tall, equal in most areas with my chest, and initially I thought that would probably be good because it would protect me from the wind coming off the river.


What happened instead is that the strong winds picked up the loose snow on top of the piles and whipped it around in the air at about, oh, chest height. Right where my face is. There was a short period of time where I ran with my eyes closed until I realized how stupid that was.

Quick stop by company headquarters on my run.
Quick stop by company headquarters on my run.

On Tuesday I was in New Brunswick for work, and got up for an early morning run before my meetings. I was initially optimistic because they didn’t have a lot of snow on the ground, but the sidewalks were actually much icier than at home. There’s a park I normally run through when I’m in New Brunswick but when I got there I discovered it hadn’t been plowed or shoveled at all, so I cobbled together 4 miles through the Rutgers campus with a brief stop at the mothership for a photo. You can see how plagued they are by snowbanks.

Just a bit too treacherous for me, especially the day before a long run.
Just a bit too treacherous for me, especially the day before a long run.

On Saturday, I did another easy 4 miler on the river to shake things out before my long run. I was also getting nervous because I’d gone three days in a row without running, which felt like a lot. The good news on Saturday was that the snow is definitely melting. The bad news is that it’s in that messy in-between stage where there’s a lot of slippery ice and dirty slush, and some sections still not well-cleared.

Long Run with DFMC–20 miles!

So as I mentioned, our long run was moved from its usual Saturday to Sunday so that we could use the Mt. Auburn Club as our home base. The DFMC folks figured that the change of scenery would do the runners good after however many weeks we’ve spent pounding the same stretch of pavement over and over. Plus, the management of the club offered us a continental breakfast and use of the club facilities following the run–sweet!

In addition to the other reasons moving the run to Sunday was rough, it was Daylight Savings time. This meant I slept badly, waking up several times in a panic that I’d overslept or made a mistake with my alarm.

However, when I did wake up for real, I found a wonderful, wonderful surprise on my weather app:


My dream of finally running in a temperature higher than my long run mileage came true!

The other great thing was that although we did end up back on Commonwealth Ave and Heartbreak Hill for some of this run, we were able to do a mostly out-and-back route for 20 miles.  I hate having to turn around and repeat sections of a course in order to make up mileage. There’s something so psychologically difficult to me about that. I’d much rather run to a designated end point, turn around, and return to the start. There are fewer decision points for me to be weak and cut the run short.

So why did I want to run 20 miles? The training plan I used for LA had only one 20 mile run in it, which is plenty physiologically speaking. The intermediate DFMC plan calls for two 20 milers. I decided to take on the additional challenge since this is my second marathon and other runners have told me that having two very long runs on board is a psychological help going into the race. Since DFMC was supporting the distance with the route planned for this run, I went for it.

DFMC runners at the furthest water stop. This week's theme: Red Sox. Look, I didn't have to wear a hat!
DFMC runners at the furthest water stop. This week’s theme: Red Sox. Look, I didn’t have to wear a hat!

The run was hard, like you’d expect 20 miles to be, but not as hard as I’d feared. The time passed fairly quickly and although I was tired from very early on, I was able to keep moving. I did miss the amped up crowd energy from Saturdays when most charity teams do their Heartbreak training, but at least we had our small band of DFMC runners to exchange smiles and cheers. Oh, and I am now 0/2 on 20 mile training runs NOT stepping in deceptively deep icy puddles and soaking my feet.

Extra bonus: The last few miles of the run were downhill!

Route and elevation
Route and elevation

When I arrived back at the Mt. Auburn Club, I had time to grab a really quick shower and change into dry clothes before my carpool buddies arrived back from their run. This was fantastic, since I’ve been struggling with shivering and numbness after the long runs due to my Raynaud’s. Not being able to get out of my wet stuff makes staying warm difficult; I’ve been bringing a change of shirt, gloves, and hat, and my winter jacket to pop on, but that still leaves me with wet underclothes, pants, and socks. Today was 1000% more pleasant due to having a locker room available.

One thing I was sad to notice is that my old foot issue from the LA Marathon flared up again today. When I was training for LA, the tops of my feet would be very painful (almost hot, though not to the touch, and throbbing) as if my sneakers were way too tight on top. I ended up lacing my shoes differently and eventually switching to Lock Laces, both of which helped but did not eliminate the issue. When I crossed the finish line in LA, my top order of business was getting my shoes OFF MY FEET. Today my right foot started flaming in that familiar way, which means it’s probably time to re-lace my current sneakers with the Lock Laces I bought just in case. I was hoping to avoid it, since the overall looser shoe fit the Lock Laces cause isn’t my favorite, but I’d rather have loose-feeling shoes than painful feet.

So . . . I didn’t take any photos on the long run today. In apology, I offer you a photo of what my laundry looks like after a week of marathon training:

This is only some of my workout laundry!
This is only some of my workout laundry!

This is just some of the stuff that doesn’t go in the dryer (e.g. anything with Spandex like my running pants or sports bras). You are looking at five pairs of workout pants, seven sports bras, three long sleeved running shirts, and one pair of compression socks. Not shown are the running jacket, headband, gloves, two additional pairs of running pants that didn’t fit on this radiator, and all of the stuff that goes in the dryer. Marathon training is taking over my life and my laundry.