JC Marathon Training Week 13: Starting the Taper While On the Road

At the start of this week, I had two weeks left until the Jersey City Marathon. And that means it’s taper time.

Usually, that’s also the time that you get ansy at end of a training block. After weeks of running so much, it seems strange to cut back. And it gives you a lot of time to overthink things.

But as luck would have it, we’re traveling. It’s spring break, so we’re taking some time to visit family up in Minneapolis.

So less running fits into my schedule great. I can still wake up every morning, go for a run, and explore the land of 10,000 lakes. But I don’t need to worry about a long workout or a long run while we’re there.

However, I did have one last long run to get in. This Monday was my last long run workout before things really started to taper off.

So how’d it go? Let’s find out

The Plan for Week 13

My plan had been to do a short long run workout this week to close things out – something like 16 miles with 8 miles at marathon pace towards the end.

But with the cancellation of last weekend’s race, I was able to do that long run workout last week. So I decided to build on that a little bit this week.

However, I also had to shuffle things around a bit due to the holiday. Sunday was easter, and there was no way I was going to do a 2+ hour workout before church.

So here’s what I ended up with.

  • Sunday: Easy 8 miles on the trails
  • Monday: 16 miles, 2×6 miles at marathon pace (1 mile recovery in between)
  • Tuesday: 4 easy treadmill miles
  • Wednesday: 8 miles easy
  • Thursday: 8 miles easy
  • Friday: 10 miles, 4 x 5 minutes at threshold
  • Saturday: 6 miles easy

And here’s how things went.

Sunday’s Easy Trail Run

Sunday was Easter morning – and that meant church with the family followed by dinner at my parents. Luckily, church didn’t start until 10:15, so I still had a decent amount of time in the morning for a run.

I woke up early enough and hit the trails. It was a beautiful spring morning – still a little brisk, but not cold.

The trails were in pretty good condition. Despite some light rain the night before, they weren’t too water logged. There was only one big puddle on my route, and I managed to hop across some rocks and stay mostly dry.

Saturday had been pretty slow and stiff, following Friday’s workout. But today was nice and easy. I was still a little slow, but it didn’t feel like a struggle.

The birds were chirping, and I heard a woodpecker banging away on a tree. The forest is definitely coming alive with the sounds of spring.

Monday’s Final Long Run Workout

Since I couldn’t do my long run on Sunday, I had to wake up early and get it out of the way before work Monday morning. But I was working from home, so my schedule wasn’t too crazy. And with the bulk of the run being at marathon pace, it should only take about two hours.

Last week, I was able to dip under 7:00/mi for 8 miles at marathon pace. I was hoping to target a similar pace today. But I was also cognizant of the fact that I ran a tough workout Friday – and I’m probably still not quite at 100%. As long as I could hit 7:00/mi, I wasn’t going to try and force 6:50-6:55/mi.

The forecast had called for a steady rain all morning, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that it had passed us by. I enjoyed my coffee, loaded up my pockets with some gels, strapped on my water flask, and hit the road.

Unfortunately, my luck with the weather wouldn’t last. I wasn’t but a couple miles in when a light rain started. It wasn’t heavy enough to really bother me, but I could have done without it.

The nice thing about the weather, though, was that there wasn’t any strong wind. There was a light breeze across the reservoir, but it wasn’t really hitting me like it had the last few workouts.

After my warm up, I launched into the first 6 mile stretch of MP work. I wanted to go by feel, so as long as my watch didn’t beep at me I wasn’t overly concerned with the pace. I felt great, but the first mile came and the spilt was 7:09. A little slow.

It was just a warm up, though, right? It should get better. But then a minute or two into the second mile my watch beeped to warn me that my pace was too slow. Eugh. Not starting off, great.

I picked up the pace, and the second mile ended up being spot on: 6:59.

From there, things improved. The distance passed quickly, and it seemed like as soon as I finished one mile I was halfway done with the next. The third mile was 7:02, the fourth mile was 6:52. This was starting to feel pretty easy.

I finished up the last two miles of that first rep: 7:03, 6:59. Overall pace: 7:01. I’ll take it.

As I eased up and jogged the recovery mile, I checked in on how I was feeling. Breathing was under control, legs felt good. Those six miles didn’t feel hard. It was definitely work … but I wasn’t struggling.

I was cautiously optimistic that the next six miles would go even better. But the first mile did not. It took some effort to speed up again after the recovery, and I split the first mile in 7:05. Slower than I wanted, but I could speed up, right?

I briefly considered whether I was going to struggle so hard in this rep that I’d have to quit, but I quickly put that thought behind me. I didn’t push it too hard the pace too hard, but I thought I was getting back in the rhythm during the second mile. Then that one ended in 7:03. Eugh.

And the third mile? 7:07.

At this point, I wasn’t really struggling physically … but I was struggling a bit mentally. Was I really that tired? Nah.

I put the pedal down and pushed it from that point on. Next mile: 6:59. Nice. Mile 5? 7:00.

In the final mile, I really dropped the hammer and powered through. Towards the end, my watch beeped and told me I was going too fast. That’s ok. I split the final mile in 6:48 – and averaged 7:00/mi for the full rep.

The workout didn’t go quite as well as I had hoped. In a perfect world, I’d have gone 7:00/mi for the first six miles and 6:50/mi for the next six. But it was still a pretty good workout.

It’s probably a sign that I should be a bit more conservative with my goal setting – and target 3:02 to 3:03 instead of trying to push under 3:00 – but I’ll spend the next week and a half mulling that over.

An Early Morning Tuesday Treadmill Jog

We’re going to Minneapolis to visit my family this week, and we had a fairly early flight on Tuesday.

The plane left at 9:15 – which left just enough time for a short jog on the treadmill.

I woke up a little before 6 and hopped on. The plan was to do an easy 40 minutes – about 4 miles. After yesterday’s long run, I definitely wasn’t looking to push it too hard or too far. So a short treadmill jog was just what the doctor called for.

After a couple episodes of Clone Wars, time was up. I showered off, threw my shoes in my bag, and off we went to the airport.

Land of 10,000 lakes, here we come.


Wednesday was our first morning in Minneapolis. We’d be there till Saturday – and that meant plenty of time to explore the area.

This morning, I decided to run by the Minnehaha Falls and then follow the Mississippi River north for a bit. As I passed by the Minnehaha Creek on the way to the falls, I’ve got to admit – I thought this stream looks small and these falls aren’t going to be impressive.

Boy, was I wrong! I got to the park, and the Falls were a great sight. I stopped to snap a quick picture, and I continued on to the river. Once I got to the western edge of the Mississippi, I turned north and followed it for about two miles.

There’s a paved path along the road as well as some dirt trails along the river. This is a great place to run. If it weren’t for the winters, I could really learn to love it here.

On the way back, I jogged out into the middle of the bridge so I could snap a picture of the Mississippi River. Just before I got to the bridge, a random woman walking by felt compelled to tell me it was windy on the bridge. And she was right!

It was a chilly, windy day. I really should have brought gloves on this trip, as the mornings were a little colder than I expected. But it was bearable, and I made it back to the house after a little more than eight miles.


I needed to put in another 8 or so miles on Thursday, so I mapped out a new route. I had spied Fort Snelling on the map, and it was just about the perfect distance from the house.

So I jogged east through town to the river, and I followed the park trail south along the Mississippi until I got to Fort Snelling. I spotted a wild turkey crossing the road, and then I passed by a woman walking with two dogs unleashed. I heard barking behind me – but I didn’t stop to turn around and see if the dogs were chasing the turkey.

The fort itself was at the top of a huge hill, and I jogged up to the top to snap a picture.

I ran back down the hill, and I continued a little further south. Just past the fort, there’s a small lake – Snelling Lake.

It was a quiet morning out by the lake, and I enjoyed the view while I went for a loop around it. Once I got back to Fort Snelling, I headed back along the river. The path along the river was a little more crowded, and I passed by some people out for a walk. One couple told me they were out watching for eagles, but they hadn’t seen any yet.

I made it back to the house at a little under nine miles. A little further than I had initially planned, but I can trim some miles on Saturday to make up for things.


When I got back to the house on Thursday, my uncle told me a story about a small island in the area – Pike Island.

It’s right next to Fort Snelling, and apparently his dad was a pilot during the war. During a training flight, he had a problem with the plane and he ended up crash landing by the island.

I’d passed by the island the previous day, so I decided to head back that direction. I also did some reading about the area, and the island is a place of spiritual importance to the Dakota people who historically lived in the area. The eastern tip of the island is at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers, and the area features prominently in their myth of creation.

I took the same path as the previous day to get to Fort Snelling, and instead of continuing south to the lake I turned east over a small footbridge to get to the island.

The path wasn’t paved, but it was well packed dirt. It didn’t matter that I only had my road shoes with me. The island itself was quiet and serene – the sounds of traffic and civilization faded away as I got further in.

The forest was pretty gray, still. Spring hasn’t sprung yet in Minnesota, and so everything was still dormant for the winter. But the view of the river was great.

I got out to the confluence, spied a few guys enjoying the quiet morning in their row boats, and snapped a quick pic. Then I continued along the north side of the island to head back home.

Across the Mississippi, I noticed an odd looking building. When I got closer, I figured out it was some kind of boat marina with a dock and a gas station. Minneapolis is full of these quaint, vintage looking buildings that are still in active use.

By the time I made it back to the house, I’d put in a little over nine miles. I also ran two of them – one towards the beginning and one towards the end – at a faster pace. I didn’t want to do a real workout, but I wanted to toss in a little threshold running to keep up my speed through the taper.


Saturday was our last day in Minneapolis. We had a late morning flight, so I didn’t have too much time.

Thankfully, I only need about 5 miles to round out my 60 mile week. Lake Nokomis is only about a mile from the house, so I chose that as my final destination.

I ran over to the Lake and took a clockwise loop around. This is part of the course of the Twin Cities Marathon – although I was going in reverse. The marathon goes counterclockwise around the lake before heading east along the Minnehaha Parkway to the Missippi River and over to St. Paul.

It was a beautiful spring morning – warmer than the previous days. The lake was buzzing with activity, and there were plenty of other people out walking their dogs or jogging along the trail.

At the end of my loop, I took a detour north to Lake Hiawatha. From there, I followed the Minnehaha Creek a ways and then took a final turn back south towards the house.

It was a beautiful backdrop for a run, and it was a great way to round out our vacation.

I logged five miles, and I finished out this week of my taper with 60 miles. Right on target.

Reflections and Looking Ahead

This week marks the conclusion of my training – and the beginning of my taper.

My long run at the start of the week was my last real workout, and it went well. I had hoped to go a little faster, and I might dial back my expectations a bit because of it. But in retrospect, I was also coming down with a mild cold.

I thought the congestion was allergies – but it stuck around for the rest of the week after we left town. Hopefully, it gets better before the race. It’s not terrible, and I can definitely race through it, but I’d rather not have to deal with nasal congestion and a runny nose during the race.

The trip to Minneapolis was a great way to start out my taper. In these last weeks, it’s tough to just run easy miles. But being in a different city with places to explore gave me something else to focus on. I was happy to jog along at an easy pace and stop to take a few pictures without worrying about hitting my splits.

The Twin Cities Marathon has been on my bucket list – and after this trip I think it moved up a few notches.

From here, it’s just one more week until Jersey City. I’m starting to watch the weather forecast, and things look pretty decent. I just need to keep myself calm, rest up, and log a few more miles next week.

I also need to think about my nutrition and pacing strategy – but I’ll save that for next week.

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