CHM Training update: T-4 weeks – (Less than) 30 days in the hole


Another week has passed, and I have noticed the strangest fluctuations in my mood: I alternate from breathless anticipation (Oh boy oh boy oh boy, it’s almost here!) to exasperation (Man, will I be glad when this is over!), sometimes within a single day…of course, that can happen during a single run, too 🙂 I felt much the same before my first half-marathon, so I know it’s just part and parcel of facing a challenge: the daunting job still to be done balancing against the preparation that has gone into getting to this point; “Look how far you have come!” pushing back against “You ain’t seen nothing yet!” Probably every runner deals with these emotions as they approach a milestone event, so I’m not unique – but that doesn’t make it not happen, either! That’s why training is so important, both physically and mentally…you need enough miles and hours on your feet AND in your head to overcome the fear of the unknown. So here are this week’s additions to my anti-fear stockpile:

Sunday 12-15:  Long run – 2:49:26, 15.02 miles My longest run to date, both in distance and duration! I approached this with some anxiety, because I attempted this run 6 weeks ago, just after completing the Houston Half Marathon, and it broke me then…but not this time! Everything was different: new shoes (with less than 100 miles vs. over 600); new route (out-and-back on the bike trails along two of Houston’s larger bayous vs. laps on the Memorial Park running loop); different weather (cool and clear vs. hot and muggy); running without music; running without a specific pace goal – amazing what learning and adapting can do for you, isn’t it? I felt strong and confident the whole way: enjoying the sights and sounds, people-watching (discretely, but I do it 🙂 ) and generally just having a great time while running. I did not need to walk any of this distance, but I did anyway…mostly the last half-mile or so, because I had made it back to where I parked my truck, but wasn’t quite at the full distance, so I circled the parking lot a few times as a cool-down, and to let my legs adjust back to not-running…which affected my overall pace;  my splits hovered around my “acceptable” target of 10:00-10:30/mile, about 4:30:00 marathon finish pace.

Monday 12-16:   2.1 miles, 21:51  I waited until after work to get my #RWRunStreak workout done, and I was really curious to see how I would feel on “the day after”; I surprised myself by extending the planned single mile to two, because I felt really good!

Tuesday 12-17:  Resistance run – 6.4 miles in ankle-high grass, 1:09:53 I revived an old route with a new purpose for this workout. My street dead-ends at a toll road, with a wide grassy verge for several miles. The county mows this occasionally, transforming it from a waving sea of grass into a stubbly field of…well, shorter grass. I used to run right along the retaining wall, where it’s mostly dirt and gravel, because it was easier there; but today I chose to run in the thickest parts, where I had to pick up my feet a bit more and push through the fresh-cut debris. It was an awesome combination of high resistance and low impact, perfect for my needs!

grass runAnd the trail shoes performed brilliantly!

Wednesday 12-18:  Walked 1.05 miles, 21:07  Another day where I am grateful to be participating in the streak challenge, because otherwise I would have skipped a workout completely. As an added bonus, I talked my wife into going with me! She is adamantly NOT a runner (her favorite line: “I will run only if there are zombies chasing me, and then only until I can trip somebody!”) but she does support me whole-heartedly, so it was nice to take her on a tour of my usual around-the-block one mile running loop. We went at her pace, but it wasn’t about running, it was about being together…and isn’t that what’s really important?

Thursday 12-19:  Shakeout run, 3.54 miles, 39:25 I had intended this to be a much more intense workout, with 6 miles of overpass repeats sandwiched between some steady miles…but alas, ’twas not to be; I had been having some stomach issues all day, and I was distracted mentally by other issues. Sometimes I can lose myself in the run, and leave the day behind; but sometimes the day will not go quietly into that good night, and this was one of those. I settled for a plodding 5k and a resolve to clear my mind for the next time.

Friday 12-20: Walked 1.02 miles, 5:27  The office Christmas party came today, and as always the food was most excellent. We have some championship-quality barbecue chefs in our organization, and they out-did themselves: spoon-tender brisket; ribs sliding off the bone onto the plate; spicy venison sausage links; there were all the standard side dishes, and a table filled with pies, cakes, and tarts, and I ate myself into a stupor! Somehow I made it home and collapsed into a food coma nap for most of the afternoon. When I woke up, I knew actual running was out of the question, so I power-walked my mile for the streak; as long as I break a sweat and keep my heart rate above 100, that is good enough for me.

Saturday 12-21: Maintenance, 5.05 miles, 49:21 Houston’s weather is living up to its erratic reputation today – after days of 70 degree highs, there are two different fronts moving through the area, bringing rain in the morning, high winds in the afternoon, and falling temps overnight; we won’t see snow for Christmas, but it will feel much more like winter and less like late spring by the time the holiday gets here! I got my run in during one of the lulls…it was wet, sticky and breezy; I can only wonder what I will encounter tomorrow for my next attempt at a distance PR of 18 miles – on the trails, at that! No matter what, I’ll be out there… You can either make excuses, or you can make progress.

Total for this week: 7 runs, 34.2 miles

Total for December: 21 runs, 100 miles (Woo-hoo!)

In other news, I made positive steps toward two of my goals for 2014: first, I registered with USATF and got my number, listing Houston Area Trail Runners as my club; now, whenever I compete with them, the club gets points for my efforts. This was the first step on my path to being a trail/ultra athlete; next up is to register for the 25K at Bandera on Jan 11; hopefully I can afford that before it fills up, because I am NOT ready to do a 50K, especially one week before my first 26.2! Second, I signed up for Jill Conyers’ 14 in 2014 Challenge (see the pretty new badge on the sidebar?) This adds another layer of accountability, which cannot be anything but helpful as I progress through the year. There is still plenty of time to join in, why not push yourself to get out there and do it?

What challenges have do done in the past, or are doing right now?

Did it make a difference in how you approached running/training?

Would you recommend them to others?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments!


  1. Fawn

    I’ve never trained for anything longer than 5 miles and my mind was all over the place! So I can imagine how you’re feeling! Keep pushing and you’ll do great! Looks like 2014 is going to be an awesome year!

    • Nick

      Thanks for the vote of confidence! Training for a long race is REALLY stressful, but there is a lot of self-learning to be had in the process…that makes it worth the effort, I believe!

    • Nick

      Hope that 15 went well for you; I did 18 last week, and got 21 on the plate for this weekend…longest run before the marathon; I will be recapping it soon…thanks for stopping by!

  2. Crystal

    Way to go on the new long run record! I get nervous/excited/anxious as the days dwindle before my next race. Part of the fun! Enjoy it but don’t freak out My challenges for 2014 are to shave mega time off my marathon PR and to run my second 50K. I love trail running! Can’t wait to do more of it in 2014. Have you heard of Trail Runner Nation? I absolutely love their podcasts. Google them! You won’t be disappointed.

    Happy Holidays!

    • Nick

      Thanks for the tip, I will check them out! BTW, if you are looking for a new race, HATR is sponsoring a race in April in Brazos Bend State Park, there will be details on the blog when they are available!

  3. Kristy

    Congrats on a new long run record! It’s so exciting when you’re training for a distance, that you have not yet conquered. I still remember my long runs from when I was training for my first marathon.

    Keep it up!

    • Nick

      Mostly at Memorial Park…there is a fairly extensive set of bike trails on the south side of the park, behind the softball fields and along the bayou. The bike guys are really courteous and share the space very well…and there are some trails we have carved where even the bikes can’t go!

      • Nick

        I live on the fringe of the city’s north side, but I joined the Houston Area Trail Runners, and we meet there every weekend, Saturday and Sunday, at 6AM to run together…you should come join us one weekend! We do loops about 5 miles, and come back to the parking lot in between to get water, and drop off/pick up runners. I plan on doing 18 miles tomorrow, you wanna meet up at some point?

      • The Sky Runner

        i would definitely be up for 5 miles, but not 18!! i’m not sure if i can tomorrow, because I’m actually heading to my grandparents’ in Ft Worth. But I’ve never heard of houston area trail runners – I am SO interested in that!

      • Nick

        the weekend runs are standard, but they have a blog, just Google “Houston area trail runners”. We are going to Bandera in January, you ought to come along! And five miles would be a great way to get to know you!

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