Summer Racing Season Week 1: Hitting the Paces

I still haven’t fully mapped out my training for the summer and the fall. But I have a general idea of how I’m going to approach things.

The big looming date on my calendar is the Chicago Marathon on October 13. At some point, I’ll have to transition to traditional marathon prep for that.

However, I want to take some time to race some shorter races and develop a bit more speed before I do that. So I’m looking at a handful of races in June and July to let me do that.

I’m going to call this period my ‘Summer Racing Season.’ I’ll finish outlining the training and racing calendar later, but the gist of it will be to run 60-70 mpw, cap long runs at 16 miles, and focus on I / R workouts when I’m not racing.

I’ll continue that through mid July. July 21 is twelve weeks from Chicago – so I’ll use that date as a transition point to traditional marathon training.

The Plan for This Week

I’ve had a full week to recover from the RBC Brooklyn Half. I felt good throughout. That means that this week, it’s time to hit some paces and throw down some workouts.

Here’s how things ended up breaking down:

  • Sunday: 14 mile long trail run
  • Monday: 10 mile easy run
  • Tuesday: 8 mile easy trail run
  • Wednesday: 6 mile easy trail run
  • Thursday: 10 mile I workout, 5 mile treadmill double
  • Friday: 7 mile easy trail run
  • Saturday: 10 mile R workout

This deviated a little bit from my initial plan (which I’ll explain below). But I did end up hitting my mileage goal (70 miles) and both workouts.

Here’s the details.

Sunday’s Hilly Long Run in Boston

This weekend, we were out of town for a family birthday party.

We were staying in Quincy, Massachusetts – just south of Boston – at the Marriott Boston Quincy. Aside from the fact that the hotel was overrun by some kind of youth sports teams (baseball?), it was a lovely hotel and the staff was great.

I did my usual scouting for a running trail, and I found the Blue Hills Reservation. It’s a huge, hilly nature preserve southwest of Boston – and about two miles from the hotel. There are tons of trails, and I decided to try the Skyline Traverse trail.

It was described as moderately difficult, so I thought it would be runnable. Big mistake.

My plan was to head out eight miles and come back – for a total of 16 miles. But I was ready to play things by ear a bit. I didn’t want to be out much longer than 2.5 hours, so I’d cut things short if necessary.

I left the hotel and ran the two miles to the trailhead. So far so good. Once inside, the trails weren’t marked as well as I had expected, and I had to stop to check the map a few times. I’m glad I brought my phone in my Flipbelt.

Once I was headed in the right direction, I passed through an area with ponds on either side. The water level was high, and this flooded out the trail completely. There were wooden bridges, but they floated in the water. So as soon as I stepped on them, I was in 1-2 inches of water and my feet were soaked. Eugh.

Whatever. Keep going. A little further on, I got to the first hill. I had assumed the trail would climb to the top and then run along the ridge. Instead, it went up – very steeply. Then, it went down very steeply before climbing a second hill. The view was nice, but it wasn’t quite high enough to see over the surrounding trees.

This would make for a great day hike – but it was poor running terrain. I decided to take a trail that led down from the hills, and I connected to another trail that was much flatter. I followed that for a ways and it was much easier going.

Eventually, I crossed a road. There was a trail map, and I took a look. I was not nearly as far along as I thought I was. There was a sign about how the park was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and a cool tower type building. I picked a trail that headed towards the southwest and continued on.

After a while, I found myself climbing a hill. A really steep one. Then, I was on top of a hill. Somehow, I had gotten back on the Skyline Traverse Trail. Except now I was heading back southeast – towards where I had entered the park.

I followed it for a bit, and this time the views were definitely worth it. At the top of one hill, I had a nice view off in the distance to downtown Boston. In the gloomy weather, my camera couldn’t pick it up very well. But I stood there for a minute and took it all in.

When I was done admiring the view, I headed back towards the entrance. I had turned myself around anyway, so I might as well escape the reservation.

I left the woods at about ten miles. I wasn’t going to hit my 16 mile goal, but I wanted to pad my mileage a little bit. So I ran the other direction for a mile and then turned around. After I ran the final two miles back to the hotel, I hit 14 miles total in about 2:30.

It was hilly and it was slow. But it was fun.

After I showered and relaxed for a minute, we headed downstairs to enjoy a lovely breakfast at the hotel restaurant.

Monday’s Easy Run Along the Shore

I woke up Monday feeling tired.

Between the hard run, being out late at the party, and enjoying a few beers, I wasn’t feeling 100%. But what better way is there to recover than with a long, leisurely run?

I scouted out a different route for Monday. I went north from the hotel, through downtown Quincy, towards the beach on Quincy Bay.

The first couple miles were uneventful – other than being dreadfully slow. It took two or three miles for me to really loosen up and wake up.

I passed through downtown Quincy, and there were some interesting sights here. I saw a particularly beautiful old church. There was also a little pavilion near the historic town hall, with some statues and historical markers.

It looked like a nice place to visit for a day, if and when I had the time. But today, I breezed through on my way to the shore.

About three and a half miles into the run, I turned out of downtown and towards the water. I could smell the ocean, although I couldn’t quite see it, yet. It was still kind of overcast and foggy.

I passed some other runners and walkers out trying to enjoy the weather, and I eventually got to the beach part. There was a nice breeze coming off the bay, and it felt nice out despite being a little warm. I passed a couple of yacht club buildings – which looked decidedly unimpressive for ‘yacht’ clubs.

A little further on, I hit the five mile mark. I turned around and started heading back towards the hotel.

By this point, I was finally warmed up. I was still tired and running a little slow – but my pace was a more typical 8:30-8:45/mi. As usual, it just took a good run to start feeling more like myself.

On the way back, I missed a few of the turns and almost got lost. Thankfully, I had used the trackback feature on my Fenix to route me back to the hotel. Each time I missed a turn and went off course, it helpfully buzzed to remind me.

I don’t often use the navigation features on my watch. But it’s times like these that I am super thankful to have it.

Once I got back to the hotel, I showered and relaxed for a bit. We went downstairs to enjoy breakfast, took a short nap, and hit the road for home.

We detoured through Narragansett on the way. It was a little bit out of the way, but we wanted some good seafood. And road tripping is for detours, right?

We stopped at Aunt Carries for the seafood. It didn’t disappoint. The chowder was a little underwhelming, but the scallops were amazing. My wife loved the lobster roll. And – never having been to Rhode Island before – we got an order of clam cakes. They were much bigger than we expected, but they made a great to go snack for the ride home.

Afterwards, we stopped at Point Judith Lighthouse. It was about a mile down the street. We sat by the water for a moment. The coast guard crew at the lighthouse was having a good time out back, playing volleyball. They had a dog, who wandered out of the compound and out by the beach to say hi to use. Then he ran back to the house and went inside.

Eventually, we hit the road and made our way home. Traffic was bad, but it was Memorial Day. What are ya gonna do. We got home late and promptly went to bed.

Tuesday – Back to the Routine

Tuesday, it was back to the usual routine.

I woke up early and went over to the Reservoir for my run. I had to drive to a lunch meeting, and my car needed some extra charge. There’s a fast charger in the parking deck by the Reservoir – so it’s a perfect place to plug in if I need to charge quickly while running.

When I got there, though, part of the path was closed down. Apparently they were repaving. So instead of doing the usual 1.75 mile loop around the entire Reservoir, I had to double back along the one side. A little annoying, but it worked out ok.

The first couple miles were pretty slow. I was still feeling it from the busy weekend and from the long day in the car. But I eventually loosened up.

Five miles in, I stopped by the car to unplug it. Then I ran back out to finish my eight miles. Back to the house to shower and then it was off for work.

Wednesday: An Easy Trail Run and a Foiled Track Workout

My plan for Wednesday was to do an easy run in the morning and meet my running group for a track workout in the evening. I was going down to the office for the day, but I should be able to get home in time for the 6:30 workout.

So I cut the morning run short. I did six easy miles on the trails. I ran my usual out and back – nice and easy, not too many hills. I felt ok, although it was a pretty slow run.

I went down to the office and planned to hit the road a little early to make it home in time. I checked the map, and everything looked ok. I got caught up in a last minute task, and left about 15 minutes later than I expected. But I still should have been there by 5:30 or 5:45 – plenty of time to change, relax for a few, and warm up for the workout.

But something happened on the NJ Turnpike, and that outlook changed. Traffic was horrendous, and I wasn’t going to make it home until well after 6pm. I eventually took some local roads to avoid the Turnpike. I don’t know if it saved me any time, but it at least saved my sanity because I wasn’t sitting still on the highway.

I decided to ditch the workout, and I pulled into my house right around 6:30. I’d make it up in the morning instead.

Thursday: A Solid I Workout

The plan for Thursday was to make up the I workout I missed on the track the night before. My first race coming up is a 5k in a couple of weeks. So it’d be good to get in some race pace training.

The one side of the Reservoir was still closed, so I circled back on the other side. I started off with a four mile warm up, followed by some leg swings. I felt pretty good – although my pace on the warm up was slower than usual.

The workout plan was a simple 7 x 3 minutes at I pace. The target pace was roughly 6:10-6:15/mi – give or take a few seconds. Each rep would be followed by a 2 minute jogging recovery.

I started the first rep, and I felt amazing. Although I’d been a little slow on the warm up, I was fully awake and activated now. I glanced down at my watch towards the end of the rep, and saw 6:10 or 6:15. Right on pace.

The next couple of reps went well. I wasn’t looking at my watch much – just checking towards the end to make sure I was on pace. As long as my watch didn’t beep at me to tell me I was too slow, I was happy.

The fourth rep, I did slow down a little bit. At least towards the end – when my watch said 6:25/mi. But looking at Garmin Connect later, the rep was on pace overall.

For the next two reps, I decided to leave the running path inside the Reservoir and take the path outside. This involved some mild rolling hills. I thought it would be good to mix up the terrain a bit. How much could hills matter?

A lot, it seems. Those two reps were much slower – ~6:30/mi. I wasn’t sure if it was the hills or the fact that I was tired. But I ran the final rep back on the flat path, and I hit 6:08/mi average pace for that rep.

Overall, it was a strong workout. The five good reps averaged under 6:10/mi, and I didn’t slow down at the end.

While I was running, I did some mental math on my weekly mileage. I figured out if I did a double in the evening, I could still hit my 70 mile goal for the week.

So after work and a short nap, I hit the treadmill for an easy five miles. I felt good, despite having run a solid workout in the morning.

Friday: Back on the Trails

Friday morning, I hit the trails for an easy recovery jog.

I started out slow. Really slow. I eventually loosened up a bit, but my overall pace ended up being a little over 10:00/mi. That’s the slowest I’ve done a trail run in a while.

I tried out a slightly different loop today, hoping to hit 7 miles. I ended up about a half mile short towards the end, so I through in an extra bit to hit my mileage goal.

Other than seeing a fox running on the path in front of me, it was a fairly uneventful morning.

Saturday: An R Workout to Wrap Up the Week

My final run of the week was a 10 mile R workout.

These are usually some combination of 200’s and 400’s for a total of 2-3 miles. Today, I planned on doing 24x200m – adjusted to be 40 second reps run on the path instead of the track.

Just as I was heading out the door, I looked at the weather. It was already in the mid 60’s and it would be in the 70’s before I was done. Thankfully, I noticed this in time and grabbed a water bottle on the way out the door.

I ran down to the Reservoir and did two loops to warm up. I was thankful for the water, because before the first loop was up my mouth was a little dry. I dropped the bottle in a shady spot, and I stopped each time around to take a few swigs. As a result, I was able to finish up and not feel dehydrated at all.

After the warm up and some leg swings, I launched into the first rep. I felt great, like I was flying.

The first eight reps were awesome. Looking at the data later, I averaged ~5:30/mi.

But as the workout went on, I was starting to feel a little tired. My legs were a little heavy, and I didn’t have quite as much pop. I wasn’t looking at the pace while I was running, but I knew I was going a little slower.

Looking at the data in Garmin Connect, the next eight reps were ~5:45/mi. Still ok, but not ideal.

At this point, I also realized that 24 reps would put me over my goal distance (10 miles). Rather than do an extra loop around the Reservoir and hit 11-12 miles, I decided to wrap things up a bit early. I cut it down to 20 reps and then called it a day.

Those last four reps were also the slowest of the day. By the end, I was only hitting ~6:00/mi. That’s disappointingly slow.

So the workout started great and it was ok in the middle. But it didn’t end on a high note. I’ll chalk it up to a combination of heat and fatigue and hope for better times in the next workout.

Looking Ahead

Overall, this was a solid week of training.

I’m fully recovered from my spring races and feeling good. I got back to my goal mileage – 70 miles per week – that I intended to hold for the next few weeks. Both of my workouts went pretty well, although I faded towards the end of the second one.

At some point this week, I plan to sit down and finalize my race schedule and training plan for the summer. But in the meantime, the next big date on my calendar is the Fitzgerald’s 5k Lager Run on June 9.

That’s one week from tomorrow.

So I’ll do a regular long run and a shortened workout this week, and then it’s race time next weekend.

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