Pittsburgh Marathon Training – Week 9

Week 9 is done, and I completed my longest training run since October of 2013! The weather was messing with me this week – the REALLY nice days were my non-running days (Monday and Wednesday) and the not so nice days fell on my run days. To be honest, I kind of like that because it toughens me up and gets me used to running in less than ideal conditions. If I can make it through those runs, race day should be A-OK. And, if we get shitty weather for race day…then I’m ready for it!

Monday – It was SO nice out that I almost considered going for a run, but, decided to stick to my plan and made it a rest day. I also decided, along with everyone else, to get my car washed; there were at least a dozen cars in front of me and another 7 or 8 in line behind me! I knew it was going to rain in the next day or two but I HAD to get all of that salt and crap off of my car. Then as I sat in line, I started to wonder: am I really getting the wash that I paid for? I went to Get Go and picked the high class $12 wash, but there were so many cars and they were really pushing them through the line that I had to wonder if each car was getting something different, or were all getting the same thing? To be honest, I can never tell the difference between washes; the $12 one is supposed to come with tire shine but my tires never look shiny. And really, as long as I’m getting the undercarriage cleaned I’m happy. Please tell me I’m not the only one who thinks about this in such great detail…? Just me? Good talk.

Tuesday – It was cold and rainy, but still a nice day for a run. It felt nice to get my legs moving after some hard workouts the week before and being cramped in the car all day Sunday.

My mom is so proud

My mom is so proud

4 miles 46:22 (11:35 pace)

Wednesday – Strength.  I’m almost finished with Stage 1 of NROLFW and I’m not sure what to do next. Continue on to Stage 2, using low to medium weights/higher reps or just repeat of few more weeks of Stage 1 until after the race when I can really focus on adding weight and (dear god hopefully) start to actually SEE a change in my appearance. Maybe if I put down the cookies I would see some results now, and could stop bitching about it but….cookies.

Thursday – Speed Day. I tried to make this a tempo run, but with all of the hills around my house that can be tricky so I while I know my pace will creep up a bit, I try to make sure that my effort is still hard. My first mile (warm up) already felt challenging, so how are 3 at a faster pace going to feel??  To be honest, I wasn’t sure that I would be able to sustain the pace for very long but aside from mile 3 I did OK.

That 3rd mile got me, but I pulled it together for my last mile

That 3rd mile got me, but I pulled it together for my last mile

It felt like a lot of work though. I even mentioned on Daily Mile that it’s amazing to me that one day I can average a 10:00 min pace for TEN MILES and on another day I can barely maintain a 10:50 pace for 3 miles. I know there are a lot of factors that go into it but it’s still fascinating!  5 miles 55:12 (11:02 pace)

Friday – Strength. The usual.

I knew they were calling for lots of rain for Saturday morning, and I’m sure there will be plenty more in the coming weeks, so I decided to splurge and get myself a nice new rain jacket.

It wasn’t quite a shell jacket, but it marketed as “storm gear” so I thought it would be great. I’m a total cheapskate so I was a little hesitant at the $80 dollar price tag, especially when I knew that I had seen other shells at a different store for half the price, but I got it anyway in BRIGHT ASS orange. They didn’t have the pretty mint color, or I would have picked that over the ‘road cone orange’.

Saturday – 10 miles in the pouring rain. In my spiffy new jacket.  I figured if the jacket didn’t work as a shell and keep me dry, it was still nice and BRIGHT (seriously, you can’t miss me in this thing) and would be good for chilly days, or days when visibility isn’t so swell. Anything to justify the price.  Since it was a longish run and I didn’t eat well the night before (looking at you, Miller Lite), I decided to eat a Clif Bar for breakfast but that particular flavor (Gingerbread) was not as delicious as I remembered so I couldn’t even finish it. I packed a gel and a water bottle to stash along my route just in case and set out. I was so excited to get back on the roads (all of my normal roads were free and clear of snow and ice!! YAY!) and the first few miles were great! I was dry, the miles were ticking by and life was good! I got to the first challenging part – this section of road is always hard. It’s a loooooong gradual incline that doesn’t look like much but it’s HARD! Since it’s been at least 3 months since I’ve run it I decided my only goal for that stretch was to not walk. I managed that, and kept a decentish pace. I looped back around, past my stashed water bottle/gel and decided to keep going. I felt OK and really didn’t want to carry it if I didn’t need to so I skipped it. In hindsight, taking the gel wouldn’t have been a bad idea – I hit the back half of the loop around mile 5 and the big hills, which are just as tough as I remember, start around mile 7.

Not too shabby...

Not too shabby…

My pace really suffered for the last 3 miles,  but overall I’m still really happy with this run.

Holy shit, I forgot how hard this is!!

Holy shit, I forgot how hard this is!!

It’s my first time out on the roads since January, as I’ve been banished to the same 4 streets or the treadmill since training started and it’ll probably take me a few tries to get used to them again. The jacket? The $80 jacket? I was soaked by the time I was done. It felt heavy and bulky and my shirt underneath was drenched. I debated returning it, but I already took the tags off (and wore it…obviously) and like I said, it could work as just a lightweight jacket for spring/fall weather but I have plenty of those… and then I still have to buy a shell. I haven’t decided what I want to do yet, but I’m thinking I might try to return it; I’m not even sure they’ll take it since I wore it, but if it doesn’t work I don’t want to keep it. 10 miles 1:58 (11:51 pace)

Sunday – Jen and I decided that we wanted to try the second half of the marathon course so that I could get a feel for it. I have been to Oakland all of 3 times in my life and none of them on foot so I had no idea what to expect. Jen mapped out a 12 mile loop for us starting at CMU and covering a good bit of the Oakland/Shadyside.  I got myself together – the high for Sunday was supposed to be in the 50s and while it was still pretty chilly when I left the house, I figured that by the time I started running and covered 18 miles it would be warm enough to justify shorts. I loaded my fanny pack (now lovingly referred to as the ‘Kangaroo Pouch’), filled up my water bottle and set out to explore The Great Unknown.

The Kangaroo Pouch isn't as bad as I thought...

The Kangaroo Pouch isn’t as bad as I thought…

I found our meeting place with ease and as the wind whipped around my car, I started to worry that shorts and a long sleeved shirt wouldn’t be enough (spoiler alert – I was right). While Jen did her warmup, I decided to stash my phone in my car, because I was worried it would bounce around in the Kangaroo Pouch too much (spoiler alert – this was a bad idea). After a quick picture we were off! Right away, I was cold. My fingers were frozen, my ears were cold and I already couldn’t feel my legs (WHEN WILL I LEARN?!). Being so cold made me miserable, which made me a shitty long run partner. Normally, I never shut up but I was having hard time holding up my end of the conversation and that made me feel bad. Exploring a new area was still a lot of fun though! I will be honest -for a suburban/North Park runner getting used to things like crosswalks was tough. I never knew if I should stop my watch, or let it go…so I did a little of both.  Early in the morning, it wasn’t much of a problem but as the day went on and more people were out it could really throw off your rhythm.

This is the 2nd part of my run - lotsa stops for crosswalks!

This is the 2nd part of my run – all of those hits to the pace are crosswalks! There were a lot!


We went all over the place, and so did I as I managed to trip over anything and everything in my path. Seriously…if it was there, I tripped over it and it started to piss me off. I’m sure there are a lot of people telling their co-workers Monday about “that idiot running in shorts who tripped over a stick”. We also came across a couple walking their pet pigs! We stopped and Jen made a new friend (no picture, because no phone); I’m kind of afraid of pigs (the squealing scares me) so I hung back, but seeing them walk around on their leashes was ADORABLE.  It was around here that our directions seemed a little off, but because I didn’t bring my phone we had no way of knowing where we were vs where we should have been. Since I had no idea where we were vs where we should be, I honestly didn’t even notice something was wrong. We asked a lady walking her dog , and she (sort of) pointed us in the right direction. After that break, we were off again and this time we were both COLD! Stopping and starting again made it so hard to warm up and my hands were like ice cubes. I tried to tuck them into my shirt, but that didn’t do much especially when I was holding onto my freezing water bottle. We eventually found our way back on course and headed back towards CMU. I stopped at my car to get my phone, and Jen showed me where I could use the bathroom and refill my water before I set off for 6 more miles (technically 5.75 since we were a little over 12 when we stopped). After she left, I realized that I forgot to write down the directions for my loop so I wasn’t sure what to do. I thought about driving home and finishing 6 on my normal route, but knew that once I got home it would never really happen. I figured that if I stayed around CMU campus/Forbes I would be OK; I looped around some of the building and the back part of CMU, went aaaaaaaaaall the way down Forbes and back, up Moorewood and back down and was still a mile short.

Paces were kind of all over the place, but not much I can do about that.

Paces were kind of all over the place, but not much I can do about that.

Yes, I could have done that CMU loop one more time but the thought of going past my car again almost made me cry. Yes, I’m being serious.  I was in a strange place, alone, cold, tired, was sick of tripping over everything, tired of crosswalks and am more dramatic than a 15 year old so there were almost tears. I had checked my phone, saw how late it was, and decided that 17 was enough. Despite all of that, this was a really good run. I have been so nervous about the 2nd half of the course and this showed me a good bit of it, and that I am (or will be, rather) ready to tackle this in 45 days! A HUGE THANK YOU to Jen for mapping this all out and being our navigator!! 17 miles 3:24 (12:00 pace)

45 days until race day feels like a long time, but when you take the taper into consideration, there are only a few long runs left! Up next are 2 20 milers, a step back, then a 22 miler and then taper time!! Holyshit. My biggest concern now is really nailing down my fueling strategy for race day. Unless they are forecasting a hot day, I’ll be relying on the course aid stations for water so I need to work on getting my gels down the hatch before I actually get to the station (and getting the water IN my mouth, not down my shirt). I also have to work on pre-race food too…I always have a cinnamon raisin bagel w/peanut butter, but given the time between eating that and the race starting I’m thinking I’ll need a little bit more. Probably a Clif Bar on the ride down to the race; don’t worry, I’ll make sure it’s a good flavor this time 😉

How is your training going? Do you rely on race aid stations or are you a BYOW person? How are you at drinking from the paper cups – down the hatch or down the shirt??


10 thoughts on “Pittsburgh Marathon Training – Week 9

  1. Besides my watch, I always carry my hand held water bottle. I prefer to always have water with me and the hand held stopped annoying me a year ago. I used to hate carrying it. But I also always seem to choke on anything and everything so I if I got water naked I’d probably swallow a fly and accidentally die. Good job on your 17 miler!

    • Thank you!! I always used to carry a water bottle with me, but after two bad races in a row where I wanted nothing more than to chuck it in a garbage (but didn’t because it was 35 bucks) I stopped carrying them. I swear I run better with out it, lol!! Hopefully it’s not hot on race day so I’m not forced to carry it!

  2. I don’t blame you for stopping at 17 miles at all after all that. Oh, and I’m an anal retentive watch-stopper at street crossings… unless I can see before I get there that I’m not going to have to stop and can just blitz through. Other than that I stop/start, stop/start.. yeah it’s a pain, but that’s my pace we’re playing with here! lol! You still had a really good week – no doubt there!

    Previously, I’ve been a strict “rely on the fluid stations” runner – until the Spring Thaw, where I used my handheld. After the great experience I had with it there, I’m honestly leaning toward using it for the marathon. I wrote about this in my blog, but I am such a reject with aid stations… I slip, trip, splash most of the fluid out of the cup as I grab it, and then of what’s left most of that ends up all over my face/neck/shirt or choked on. I suck.

    • I started out stopping my watch, but forgot to restart it one time so I finally just gave up and let my pace suffer!! I totally agree though – don’t mess with my paces!

      One of the reasons I don’t like to carry fluids anymore is because if I’m having a bad day not only do I want to throw the damn thing away but I start drinking waaaaay too much and the get sloshy belly. It’s a vicious cycle. As long as it isn’t sweltering, I think I’ll be ok…I think. I hope.

  3. Great job getting your runs in! I hate when nice days fall on my off days, and then I get crappy weather. And yes, it can get really hard getting used to running on city streets. I’m used to it, so running in the park or around North Park is a luxury for me!

    • Thank you!! I never realized what a luxury it is to not have to worry about street lights, crosswalks, etc! I just have to worry about cars running me over…but at least my pace doesn’t suffer, and I don’t have all of that stop and go! LOL!

  4. I bring a hand held bottle and I rely on that for early in the race then I switch to cups. I have become a pro at grabbing water on the go.
    Way to get in all your runs and hitting a 17 miler..you are going to do awesome race day

    • Thank you!! I hope I’m ready for race day…the more I think about it, the more nervous I get!! Some days I think I have it in the bag, and other days I worry that I won’t make it to the halfway mark.

      I am such a mess at water stops – the worst is when I get it up my nose. Gatorade BURNS!!

  5. Geez, when you put it like that, you’re right that the race will be here before we know it. Eeeeee! It’s so true about how you can do a faster pace easily one day and then it feels so hard the next. I’m always looking back through my running logs and amazed at that. I bet your jacket would do fine in lighter rain. If it said “rain resistant” that means it won’t work in heavy rain. “Rain proof” is for heavy rain. The challenge I’ve found is that the rain proof jackets are heavier so aren’t good for warmer weather. I have heard good things about The North Face rain proof jackets for heavy rain, but my guess is that they’ll be heavier.

    • I can’t believe that it’s just over a month away. I start to panic when I think about it!!

      They did have a North Face jacket in the kids section that looked a little better suited for heavy rains, but it was definitely heavier and I worried that it would cause me to overheat. I’ll keep the road cone jacket, but I’m still going to keep my eye out for other options!

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