Virtual MCM Training – Week 4

I am training for the Marine Corps Marathon. It will be held virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. My race day will be on October 18 and this was week 4 of training…

Monday – Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred, Level 2; Ab circuit; 3 minute mountain legs

Tuesday – 4 miles easy

Wednesday – 5K time trial / 5.5 miles total (warm-up/cool down)
I was nervous about this run from the time I saw it on my training plan 4 weeks ago. And I’ve been thinking about it since finishing last week’s Wednesday workout.

It’s been awhile since I ran a 5K (my last legit road 5K was in 2014) and I wasn’t sure how to pace it. Standing on the trail about to start, I felt the same nervousness that you do on race morning. But also nervous because I knew this was going to hurt. After staring down the trail for several minutes, I finally bucked up and got going.

Mile 1 – 9:24 (I hope that wasn’t too fast)
Mile 2 – 9:30 (This is hurting, but at least I’m on the way back now)
Mile 3 – 8:50 (I think I’m going to puke)
Last 0.1 – 0:51 (I did it! Thank goodness that’s over. Ow)

I met my “secret” goal of sub-30, and finished my time trial in 28:35. I’m really pleased with how it went, especially since it was 80 degrees, sunny, and humid outside.

Thursday – 25 min. easy indoor bike
My hips and hamstrings were tight and sore from Wednesday’s workout. It felt good to get in an easy ride and then stretch.

Friday – 4 miles easy
My legs still felt a bit tired from Wednesday’s run. I wondered what that would mean for Saturday’s long run.

Also, it turns out that the map of my running route looked like Elvis. It do be like that sometimes.

Saturday – 17 mile long run
I met up with Kim for this run and it was our first run together in about a month. Good thing it was a long run because we had lots of catching up to do!

It was much cooler outside, but extremely muggy. The air temperature and dew point were actually the same. During the last 90 minutes I did more pickups, but this time they ranged from 1 minute to 7 minutes long. Some of them were on a gradual uphill section which made them even tougher!

One of my hip flexors was sore throughout this run and both of my hamstrings felt tight on the uphill section during the final 4-5 miles of the run. But it’s been a challenging week. And as I told Kim at one point toward the end of our run, “Aside from the things that hurt, I feel great!”

Sunday – 4 miles easy
My hip was still feeling really sore, but it seemed to loosen up some towards the end of my run.


Total miles: 34.5 miles
Weeks to MCM: 8

Virtual MCM Training – Week 3

I am training for the Marine Corps Marathon, which will be held virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. My race day will be on October 18. This week was week 3 of training.

Monday – Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred, Level 3

Tuesday – 5 miles easy
I ran at a nearby park where it takes 7 to 8 laps to get to 5 miles. I don’t know why I do that to myself. I actually thought I was going to be relegated to the treadmill. Luckily, I snuck this run in in between afternoon thunderstorms.

Rain in the distance towards the end of my run.

Wednesday – 6 mile fartlek workout
I went back to the section of trail where I did almost all of my run workouts leading up to Dam Yeti 50 Miler. It was fun to return to my “old stomping grounds” for another workout.

This week’s workout included a 1 mile warm up and cool down, and repeats of: 7 min, 6 min at half marathon pace; 5 min, 4 min at 10K pace; and 3 min, 2 min, and 1 min at 5K pace with rest in between each interval. It gets harder towards the end, but it’s also fun to push on those faster, shorter segments.

Next week I have a 5K time trial on Wednesday and I’m already nervous! Why is a 5K scarier than a 50K to me!?

Thursday – Ab circuit; 3 min. mountain legs; 25 min. stationary bike

Friday – 4 miles easy
I am so annoyed at the weather lately. I know it’s normal for this time of year, but I’ve had enough of these freaking thunderstorms every. single. day. Like Tuesday, I was able to get this run in in between storms.

Saturday – 5 miles easy
I flip flopped my Saturday and Sunday runs because the weather forecast called for thunderstorms all day Saturday. In hindsight, it looks like I would have been fine to do my long run on Saturday morning as usual. But you have to make decisions as best you can with the information you have.

Sunday – 13 mile long run
The trail had several downed trees from Saturday’s storms that I had to navigate. Thankfully, none of them made the trail impassable.

It was in the upper 60’s and cloudy during my run and I felt like a whole new person as compared to my recent long runs where it’s been in the 90’s. My run flew by and I felt great the whole time.

Total miles: 33 miles
Weeks to MCM: 9

Virtual MCM Training – Week 2

I am training for the Marine Corps Marathon, which will be held virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. My race day will be on October 18. Here’s how week two of training went…

Monday – Rest

Tuesday – 4 miles easy
Enjoyed some time on the trails in slightly cooler weather.

Wednesday – 4.5 mile workout
It started storming right when I got to the park after work. There was a bunch of lightning and I didn’t feel like waiting 20-30 minutes to start my run.

Instead, I headed home and did this run on the treadmill. My workout included: 1 mile warm up, 5 x 4 minutes at 10:30 pace, and a 1 mile cool down. Call me crazy, but I look forward to these workouts each week.

Thursday – Ab circuit; 25 min. stationary bike
I was really tired and tempted to skip my cross training. But one of my goals is to do my ab circuit at least once per week. I’m proud that I stuck to the plan and got this done.

Friday – 4 miles easy
Lately, it seems like there’s a thunderstorm every afternoon and today was no different. Luckily, I got off of work early and was able to hit the trails before the storm.

Saturday – 15 mile long run
Overall, nothing was wrong with this run. The temperature was cooler than it’s been – low 70’s at the start and low 80’s by the end. But I just wasn’t really feeling it until mile 11 when I finally found a groove. That took awhile! It do be like that sometimes.

Like last week, during the last 90 minutes I did 1 minute pick-ups between 10K and marathon pace every 10 minutes. It feels good be plugging along and then flip the switch for a minute and pick up the pace.

I can’t wait to get a haircut in two weeks!

Sunday – 5 miles easy

Total miles: 32.5 miles
Weeks to MCM: 10

Virtual Marine Corps Marathon Training – Week 1

I wasn’t originally planning on documenting my training for the Marine Corps Marathon. But I think it’s been awhile since I documented a training cycle, so why not? Let’s lay a little ground work first….

The 2020 Marine Corps Marathon was slated for October 25. Unfortunately, like so many things this year, it has been canceled due to COVID-19. Barry and I were both registered to run, and we both decided to defer our actual entries to next year’s race. We also both decided to sign up to run virtually this year for the special 45th anniversary medal. I’m not usually one to run a race for the medal, but this one is supposed to contain volcanic ash (“black sand”) from Iwo Jima and that’s just plain cool.

MCM has given us a date range of October 1 to November 10 to complete our virtual run. I plan to run it on October 18 with some friends, which means I’m 12 weeks out from race day. Each week, I plan to post a recap of that week’s training. Here’s a run down of week 1.

Monday – Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred, Level 2

Tuesday – 4 miles easy
Even though this was at an easy pace, I kind of felt like I was running uphill the whole time. And it was hot. But I did find the “Whomping Willow.”

Wednesday – 4 mile fartlek workout
After a 1 mile warm up, I did repeats at 10K and 5K pace, followed by a 1 mile cool down. This run totally kicked my butt. I had a hard time locking in on my paces and I really suffered in the heat and humidity. When is fall??

Thursday – Ab circuit
My legs needed a rest, so I kept it light and just did my 20 minute core workout.

Friday – 4 miles easy
Nothing exciting to report on this run, but here’s a turtle I saw.

Saturday – 5 miles easy
I did this run first thing in the morning. The temperature was nice and cool, but it was extremely humid.

Sunday – 13 mile long run
I slept in a little before hitting the trail for this one. Fortunately, it still wasn’t too hot out (low 80’s) and I had a really enjoyable run. Thanks to the summer heat and humidity, I haven’t had a pleasant long run in awhile. So it was nice to finally have one where I didn’t suffer. I hydrated and fueled well, and my legs felt strong.

(there’s a fly on my hat, haha)

During the last 90 minutes of the run, I did 1 minute pickups that were between marathon pace and 10K pace. That was something new for me, and it was actually pretty fun.

Total miles – 30 miles
Weeks to MCM – 11

An Honor Run

At the 2019 Eastern Divide Ultra and 8-miler, our trail running community lost one of its own. Graham Zollman passed away on the trail while running the 8 mile race. I was not personal friends with him, but he was one of those people you would know if you were part of the local trail running community. Graham was kind and always had a ready smile. Although this year’s Eastern Divide had to cancel due to COVID, many still did an honor run in his memory.

The fine folks at TrailAdventure marked the 8 mile course on the trails at Mountain Lake. I don’t know those trails well, so I was really grateful for the extra help in navigating the course. On a gorgeous and unseasonably cool sunny morning, Cathy and I met up to run the course.

One of my favorite features of the Mountain Lake trails are the ferns, and we got a taste of that right away as we headed down the trail.

The trails were very overgrown and the tall grass made it hard to see the uneven terrain below. It made for a slower than usual run, but that gave us more time for photos and to enjoy the picturesque scenery. The overgrown nature of the trails made them hard to follow at times, but eventually we figured out that the best course of action was to follow the tall grass.

About two miles in, we arrived at Grahams memorial. Cathy and I paused here and had a moment of silence in his honor.

From there, we continued along the trail. Normally, when the shooting range at Mountain Lake is open, I don’t think you would be able to run the true course (hence the trail signs). Luckily, the shooting range wasn’t opening until July, so we were able to run the course.

I always forget how tough this loop is. But as we made our way towards the meadow, we hit the one hill that vividly stands out in my memory from running the race in 2016. It is tough and it’s part of the big spike on the elevation profile.

But the climb is worth it. As we made our way around the meadow, we arrived at the view from the Old Clubhouse.

Photo credit: Cathy

After taking a short breather and enjoying the view, we continued uphill for about a half mile to the high point on the course around 4200 feet. As I had mentioned, the course was marked. But it was only lightly marked- nothing like what you would have on race day. However, as long as we stayed on trail the markings were plenty. Except for one spot.

Cathy and I ran right past one turn we were supposed to make onto a trail. But the reason was those two large rock piles, which were not there when TrailAdventure marked the course! As you can see, the ribbon would have been clearly visible had it not been for those giant rock piles. But we didn’t get too lost and quickly found our way back onto the course.

Photo credit: Cathy

Once again we were running through trails that were barely there. But I think it all looked kind of magical- like a place where fairies would live or something.

Along the course, we saw lots of neat stuff including a couple of snails, pretty wildflowers, and some cool looking mushrooms. And it was cool to see even more water back in the lake, which we ran by with a little over a mile to go.

The last stretch of trail before the finish is pretty gnarly, and we hiked almost all of it. But we did get a little postcard view of the Mountain Lake Lodge – which, if you didn’t know, is where they filmed Dirty Dancing!

We had one last mean little uphill and then made our way back around to where we had started our loop at TreeTop Adventures. Upon finishing, I found that the overgrown trails had my legs looking like I had just completed a loop at Barkley. If you don’t know what that means, check out the Amazon Prime documentary “The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young.”

Overall, it was a great day to enjoy the trails with great company. I’m glad Cathy and I were able to run the actual course in honor of Graham, one of our own.

"I've opted for fun in this lifetime" -Jerry Garcia