MOM & DAUGHTER Marathon Training: Which Wins Out - Youth or Experience?
Well with about 4 days to go until the Carmel Marathon, the s%i# is getting real for both MOM & DAUGHTER! MOM oddly loves this week because it is when things get super exciting. You know you are about to go that long distance YET AGAIN and at the end of that road is a finish line and a high degree of satisfaction and reward. It is something you really cannot explain to anyone else who does not run marathons. YOU are giddy with excitement that YOU are going to do something crazy like motor your body 26.2 freaking miles (without assistance!) or longer if you don’t run the tangents correctly (and that’s your own dumb fault). And you frankly don’t care if no one else gets it because YOU DO THIS FOR YOU AND NO ONE ELSE. You are about to go the distance, fight the fatigue, the obstacles, the achiness, the everything. Your body feels a little less tired this week, you are hydrating like crazy, eating and trying to sleep well despite the taper and low volume of mileage (which tends to mess you up a little).
The question of the day really is, “Who is going to run the marathon faster? Will MOM (32 years older than DAUGHTER) be able to keep up with the younger girls? (DAUGHTER’s friend Sarah is also joining us so the youth can join forces!) MOM has run 40 marathons to date. She knows what to expect, especially how anything and everything can go wrong at any given moment. The truth of the marathon is you can feel exhilaratingly awesome one minute on a runner’s high and completely awful the next. Then you can essentially spend 4 hours waffling between these intense emotions. Will DAUGHTER be able to overcome the incredible mental and physical tiredness during the last 6 miles of the marathon when she has never run beyond 20 miles in her life? There are so many questions to be answered and it is going to be so fun to watch this race unfold. Being the total running data geek that I am, I have been thinking about our training stats for so long now and it is time to summarize how our training has evolved.
For starters, by the time the marathon rolls around, MOM will have run 505.4 miles since January 1. DAUGHTER rolls in at 70% of that volume with 351.7 miles. You can see by the weekly breakdown, MOM regularly maintained a much higher weekly average than DAUGHTER. However, MOM hopes this doesn’t come back to bite her in the butt! The key is to rest properly and recharge during the taper. MOM cannot say for a fact that she is fully rested YET but is feeling pretty decent. Truth is, MOM does not feel really ready until the STARTING LINE, which can be scary the night before the race. Sometimes MOM wakes up and says to herself, "Am I ready to do THIS AGAIN?" LOL, total insanity.
MOM has taken 11 complete rest days while DAUGHTER has taken 40. (This surprised MOM a little bit. Oh no, did MOM not rest ENOUGH!?! We shall see!)
MOM and DAUGHTER each ran 11 long runs (anything greater than or equal to 10 miles) and the table below shows a breakdown by week of when those long runs occurred and how long they were. You can see that DAUGHTER ran her long runs consistently every week like a good doobie. MOM had a few gaps in her long run execution due to traveling, but hit 15 miles+ 3 times which has been better than other recent marathon training. For the volume of mileage ran during the 11 long runs, both MOM and DAUGHTER’s mileage was almost identical (140.2 vs 140). Sick! BTW, DAUGHTER crushed her 20 mile run in 3:06. MOM had to drop off at mile 15 because of her back hurting. Imagine what DAUGHTER can do when she is rested after a taper period! OMG, MOM hope you can keep up!!
MOM is not worried about the gaps in her long run training because she has run so many marathons before and survived no problem. Ideally, she would have inserted a 20 mile run during that travel week, but the truth is as well, that her back was hurting from weeks 9 through 11 so she welcomed the two down weeks. Although her best marathons have come when she has strung together 5 or more consecutive 50 mile weeks, she is not worried because she had high volume for 3 weeks and hey, she’s older now, so older people need more REST sometimes, right?
FREQUENCY & TYPES OF WORKOUTS
MOM (and maybe it is an age thing) believes MOST of your workouts have to be easy. You cannot run HARD all the time, or you will burn out. The main bread and butter of MOM’s marathon training were long runs, tempo runs and short intervals. Even if MOM did a few short interval sprints or a short tempo run on a given day, the rest of the run (sometimes as much as a 6-8 mile run) was very easy and slow. MOM always tried to keep a good balance in her daily workout. The workout is either going to be super hard, a mix of hard and easy, or super easy on alternating days to ensure proper recovery.
DAUGHTER, on the other hand, usually busted out an 8-9 minute per mile pace every time she hit the pavement or the treadmill. Hey there is nothing wrong with this, BUT her slow runs were perhaps not slow ENOUGH. However, MOM is not worried about this for DAUGHTER because she is young enough to recover quickly. An older person, OK, OK such as MOM, needs a true recovery pace because it takes so much longer to recover and bounce back from a hard workout.
TAPER WEEK MILEAGE:
As noted by the first chart above, MOM logged 75 miles during her 3 week taper while DAUGHTER logged half of that at 36 miles. It is important during the taper to significantly reduce mileage as you get closer to the race but also keep sharp and still do segments of speed work to build confidence and “know” that you have still got it before race day. MOM continued with her “spot check” 2 mile tempo runs every few days along with ~100m sprints just to keep the legs turning over at a high rate of speed. DAUGHTER continued with short 2-3 mile runs hovering in the 8 minute per mile pace. What was really cool is yesterday, our watches say we are both in RECOVERY and we both finished the day with an 8:22 pace. Weirdly, we are a little too in sync!! How does that happen on the EXACT SAME DAY, huh?
So, there you have it! A complete breakdown of MOM and DAUGHTER’s training for the Carmel Marathon. You decide. Who do you think is going to have a better race? Will experience win out or youth? Will we cross the finish line at the same time? It is hard to say. Only time will tell! Check back for a post-race update!! The one thing MOM can say for certain is this: how successful your marathon is depends on how hard you worked during training. There are some marathons where you are cruising at the end and you feel “wonderfully awful” but you are able to continue busting out an 8-minute something pace. You are focused, your body is in overdrive and it is just “going” because your mind is so locked in to what you NEED to achieve. It is the holy grail of training and racing. You are overcome with emotion and you are just giving it all that you got. You find a way to dig deep into your body and soul to keep every stride longer and faster knowing that each step propels you closer to that glorious end of the race. That is what MOM is hoping for on race day and to be there to watch DAUGHTER cross that beautiful marathon finish line!
The post race update is in!!! Wow, what a fun day!! It was so much fun to go away with the girls and experience the anticipation of the race and the journey together. It is nice to hang out with people who get why you do what you do and we can talk on and on about the marathon (the beast that it is) and as much as I can, try to relay any pointers on how to get through it! We thoroughly discussed how we would tackle the race. For the first 20 miles, we would try to maintain a 9:00 minute per mile pace and hopefully hit 20 miles around the 3 hour mark. (I knew this would be challenging for me, but I have done it before, just a long, long time ago - I hit 20 miles at 2:52 in my best marathon.) I really didn't think I would be able to hang with the girls until mile 20, but I was hopeful! So the good news was we had a strategy and if anyone felt better than that, to just go run their race and we will meet you at the finish line!
Because about 3000-4000 runners were participating, we had to line up in the corrals 30 minutes before the start of the race. I knew this was going to be a problem for me because I would have need a pee break early in the race. Oh well. We felt packed like sardines and frankly, I was feeling a bit claustrophobic but I had to deal with it. The gun went off and we ran up a hill to start. I wanted to fly but I was trying to hold myself back to be in the 9:00 minute per mile pace. I usually do not start off that "slow" (and that is not a slow pace), just that my adrenaline is going and I feel rested so I can easily run a pace in the low 8's. Occasionally, I would get ahead of the girls - as if I was their pacer - but I would always try to pull myself back. I thought about scurrying ahead to find a porta potty, go and then catch back up with them. I elected not to visit the 1st set of porta potties but for the 2nd set, there were no lines, so I went in for a quick pit stop just before mile 3. My bladder was not going to hold up for 24+ more miles. I'm not as young as them. I have been through some life experiences, you know? Like childbirth 3 times over. Once I got out of the porta potty, I really didn't think I would catch the girls again. I picked up the pace and hoped I would find them but I thought to myself, "What are the chances me, the MOM in all of this, 32 years older than these KIDS, actually catches up to them in marathon while they are pushing a 9:00 minute per mile pace?" Um, slim to none. But I kept charging forward trying to be a little quicker to make up ground and then by mile 5, guess what? I saw their purple shorts with cows on them! I found them!! YAY! How the heck did I do that? I came up along the side of them and told them I went to the porta potty and Stephanie says, "How did you catch up to us?" I said, by running an 8:15 pace! LOL. We ran side by side until about mile 8. At that point, I swear the girls picked up their pace up the hill and I let them. Although I wanted to stay with them, I was ok with running my own race too. I crossed the half marathon point at just under 2 hours, which always feels good. It definitely was not one of my fastest half marathons within a marathon, although I was ok with this too. After the half mark, I stopped to hit the big bank of porta potties again just to check my hydration levels. I knew that I probably wouldn't sub 4 hour it today given my split and although it was chillier out, it is still important to stay hydrated. Well, I couldn't pee much, which was weird but I knew I had to drink more the rest of the way to survive, LOL. I still felt fairly strong but you know at the half marathon mark is where the race BEGINS for marathoners. It is important to be hydrated, giving your muscles as much oxygen as possible to reach the finish line and not cramp up. I plugged along on the course, figuring the girls were maybe a mile or so ahead of me. It was a nice paved trail we were on with sun and shade. It was still a bit breezy and I thought about taking one of my shirts off several times but elected not to because frankly it was too much work and would take too much time. I plugged along in the miles to the high teens and I crossed the 20 mile mark at 3:10; which isn't bad, but not my best. I was feeling fatigued and a little achy, but I was able to still plow through at a 10 minute pace (I took a little more time at the water stops to make sure I was hydrating well so that affected my overall mile pace.) I was at 23.72 on my watch when I saw Stephanie wave to me on the opposite side of the road. I asked her what mile she was at and she said 24.5. Cool! Seeing her gave me a little boost and I briefly wondered if I could catch her again before she finished the race. At mile 24, I picked up my pace and was just hoping I could hold it for another 2.5 miles. I was a little off the tangents, but I was trying to push it as much as I could for being fatigued. I still felt strong even though I was fatigued, which I attribute to training. I definitely trained better this time. So I never caught up to her, but I was just trying to go as quick as I could for being exhausted. I hit paces in the 8's and 7's in my last mile even though we had to climb some big ass hill. I just wanted to give it all that I had to finish the race - knowing that my next marathon is not until July (where I will run 3 in 5 days so I will NOT be running for TIME. I basically just want to SURVIVE!) I crossed the line in 4:15.09 and Stephanie crossed in 4:09.58. Sarah crossed in 3:56.39 for a nice sub 4 hour marathon. Well, youth beats experience on this day and I am totally ok with that! That's so great, I am so happy for Stephanie to have completed her first marathon. It is an amazing experience of determination, endurance, mental and physical toughness and guts. It is ALWAYS HARD, even if you feel better than usual in the last 6 miles. It is never easy and I know, I have run 41 of them. If you look at our detailed stats, you will see that I technically ran a longer race (26.4 miles) vs her (26.36 miles) and I ran that distance from mile 20 on in 1 hour, 4 min and 30 seconds and she ran from mile 20 on in 1 hour, 5 minutes and 46 seconds. So maybe you could say EXPERIENCE won for that segment of the race? I don't know! Nevertheless, it was an incredible journey yet again that I loved and cherished every step of the way. It was so special to go through it with my daughter and her friend. I mean these are things that make life so worthwhile to me. And now I have documented our special journey that I will cherish for the rest of my life and I cannot wait to make more memories like this!