Heather (Nichols) Knight marathon journal: Two weeks and counting

My name is Heather (Nichols) Knight, a former Hillcrest High School distance runner.  Although, while I am getting ready to run my first marathon, a 5K cross country course doesn’t seem like so much distance anymore.  I am three weeks away from the big day and about to begin my tapering.  I will be keeping a journal of my experiences/training from now until (and slightly beyond) my race.  I will be running the Nike’s Women’s Marathon in San Francisco with Team in Training on Oct. 19.

Sept. 30 interview with Knight

Sept. 29
I woke up at 5 a.m. to do the usual 60-minute bike ride this morning, after completing my last 20-mile run this past Saturday.  I was a little tired because I stayed up later than usual to watch some Sasquatch special on the History Channel.  I don’t recommend that before bed.  I am glad and also a little sad that I am done with my long runs.  I’ve heard that tapering is the hardest part of marathon training; I guess I’m about to find out!  I plan on going to my usual 90-minute yoga class tonight and then starting all over again at 4:45 tomorrow morning with 8 x 800-meters!  I am feeling more and more optimistic everyday, as an injury I have been struggling with since May, is beginning to feel much better thanks to the advice of a wonderful physical therapist!

Sept. 30
Up at 4:45 a.m. to go to the gym to do intervals and core work.  I have been doing intervals on the treadmill since my hip/quad injury.  Running on the track irritates it.  Treadmill running is not something I usually enjoy, but it beats not being able to run intervals at all. The workout was 8x800 at 3:10 pace with 1:30 rest interval.  I must have still been a little fatigued from the 20-miler on Saturday, because this workout was harder than I thought it would be.  I was hoping to pick up the pace on the last few, but it was all I could do to finish them.

Oct. 1
Another 60-minute bike this morning.  I have chosen a training program where I cross-train on all of my easy days.  I have actually enjoyed the program (called F.I.R.S.T.).  The runs are usually pretty hard, with the long runs being run slightly faster than most programs suggest.  As I mentioned the other day – I have an interval workout, consisting of three to five miles of speed, a tempo run (five-10 miles), and then a long run.  On the other days I either swim or bike.  I’ve been biking more lately after an incident with a snake in the neighborhood pool…haha..  I chose the program because it looked interesting, and I’m one of those people who have a hard time running ‘easy’ on easy days.  By cross-training, I am able to rest my ‘running muscles’ and still get a cardio workout.  I guess we’ll see how well it actually works (for me) on Oct. 19!

Oct. 2
It was chilly this morning!  Wonderful running weather!  I did a five-mile tempo with one-mile warmup. It was a little challenging at first, but three miles into it I had finally gotten comfortable with the pace.  I think it took a little longer for me to warm up because the temperature was a good 15 degrees cooler than I’m used to in the morning.  It’s harder to even get out of bed on chilly days; but once I’m up, I usually feel great.  People always say I’m crazy for getting up at (or before) 5 a.m. to run/workout; but it’s probably my favorite part of the day.  It took a while to get used to it, but now I wake up before the alarm goes off almost ever day.  Off to the gym tonight for some core work and then home to enjoy some T.V. time!

Tomorrow is my day off and I’m a looking forward to it.  I used to not enjoy having to take days off, but now that I realize they are as, if not more, important as your toughest workouts, they aren’t so bad.  It’s nice having an excuse to be lazy (but just for a day).  

Oct. 4
I definitely enjoyed the rest yesterday.  This morning I had a13-miler at MP (marathon pace).  Felt pretty good, except my leg injury seems to be creeping back.  After the run, I did my usual ice bath for 10-15 minutes.  Before I started doing ice baths, it would take the whole day for my legs to feel recovered after a long run. Ice baths are very effective for recovery.  After about two to three minutes it starts to stop hurting.  It never really stops hurting, it just becomes more bearable.  I usually try to occupy myself by reading or calling a friend to get my mind off of it.  My dog usually sits outside the tub begging for ice cubes, which also helps occupy me.  Post-long run meals usually consist of a small protein shake and a black bean burrito.  The closer to the end of the run I eat, the better I feel.  I usually can’t eat for a good 30-60 mins after a run, but I can drink as much as I want.  I found that a protein shake is great when I don’t feel like eating.

The rest of the day was spent relaxing on the beach with friends; fall in Charleston is wonderful.

Oct. 5
Slept in today (7 a.m.!) and then took a short easy bike ride to yoga (20 mins.) and back.  Another beautiful day! Upper 70s, low humidity and sunny!

Oct. 6
I’m starting to shorten my cross-training workouts, finally.  50-minute ride today with short (one min.) intervals at medium-hard effort.  Felt pretty good..  I will probably make Wednesday a 45-minute bike and then cut to some pretty easy 30-minute sessions next week.  Less than two weeks and I’m starting to get a little nervous.

Photographs courtesy of Gwinn Davis of Tribune-Times.