Training has certainly taken an interesting turn! I'm glad this week is a rest week, because I definitely need it. While my legs are tired, the real reason I need to take an easy week is because my toes are about to kill me. Something changed last week (was it the treadmill? increased pace?), and now I'm most definitely losing one, if not both, of my big toenails. I won't elaborate too much, because you would all likely unsubscribe, but I can safely say it is the most disgusting situation I've ever witnessed on my own body. And it is NOT comfortable!
Last week was supposed to have two "easy" days, one 10 mile TT, and a 20 miler on Saturday. Due to the weather, I cross trained on both "easy" days — riding my bike on the first and skate skiing on the second. Since I had my TT on Wednesday, I was fine with taking both days a little bit easier. I ended up only doing 18 (again) for my long run, instead of 20, mostly due to the pain in my toes. I realize 2 more miles probably wouldn't make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things, but I was at an easy bailing spot and knew things were NOT happy in my shoes.
The TT, which I was really nervous about, went SO WELL. I killed it! Since we had quite a bit of new snow on the roads, I ended up doing it on the treadmill so I didn't have to fight the slippage and obsess about my pace being negatively affected. I had really conflicted feelings about it, as I think running on the treadmill is harder than running outside, but also knew I could just set the treadmill at a pace and zone out. Essentially, it became less of a TT and more of a LONG tempo run. Unlike most of my long runs, where I start slower than my goal average pace, I started (after a warmup) AT the pace I needed to keep (7:36). I was nervous enough that if I got behind at all I would have a hard time catching back up.
The first mile was the hardest: my brain was a continual "OMG OMG OMG" because I really didn't think I'd be up for the task. After that, I took a critical look at my breathing and heart rate, realized they were both totally in control, and kept running with ease. At mile 7, I decided I had a lot left, so I sped up. I ended up doing my last mile in 6:55, and averaging 7:30 overall — 1:15:00, beating my goal by one minute! Now I know I have to break 1:40:00 for my next half marathon!
I'll admit that successfully demolishing my TT goal was really satisfying — and a huge confidence boost. If I can run 10 miles at 7:30 pace, why not 26.2 at an 8:10 pace? Forty seconds slower will seem like a walk in the park! I definitely felt like I could have gone even faster, but even so, my legs were pretty tired for a few days after. My long run Saturday was intentionally a bit slower — probably just over a 9 minute pace. Three weeks in a row of 18 has me pretty comfortable with that distance — although I am slightly disappointed I didn't get my first 20 miler in.
I'm feeling pretty darn fit, especially if I go back to look at runs I was doing a year ago. One year ago, I was struggling to run 5 miles at a 9 minute pace (and I'm being generous with that statement). Now I'm running twice as far, a minute and a half faster PER MILE? It's amazing what some good training will do! I never though at a 3:34:XX marathon would be attainable, and had always arbitrarily though sub-4 would be good enough for me; however, it's becoming increasingly obvious that my body is capable of much more than I give it credit for. Re-training my brain to not limit myself has been the hardest part!
This week is a rest week, and due to my toes I don't think I'll be running at all, but I'll probably do 4 aerobic workouts (riding my bike, skate skiing, swimming), and a lot of stretching! Hopefully I can get my toe situation in order this week, so I don't lose any ground in my final 3 weeks of hard training. From everything I've read about losing toenails, it should at least happen before the marathon... but I'm hoping for sooner rather than later!