Welcome back to the Way Back Time Machine! This is Part 2 of a blog post compilation tracing my first marathon training program. Read Part 1 with the introduction here.

Last we saw, I had run my furthest ever at 16 miles, but still struggling with recovery mistakes and even falling apart on a 12 mile run due to poor nutrition.

First Marathon training long run

First Marathon Training, Pt 2

First Marathon Training Schedule

Part 2 covers the last 6 weeks of my 18 week training program. I’ve added some commentary in bold to pull the posts together.

We begin (as always?) with an injury.

Week 13: Precautionary Sideline

Oct 3

First Marathon Training Oakley


My knees have felt stiff going up and down the stairs for at least the last week. Maybe longer? I haven’t really been paying attention. After that 9 mile run, the stiffness manifested more as slight pain on the knee laterally (outside of the knee). Classic IT band pain symptom.

I was originally scheduled for 5 miles today, which I’m skipping. I’m going to ice, stretch, massage, and drink beer. It’s truly just a small soreness, but now localized and not a “general stiffness”. I have a high pain tolerance, and I’ve realized its very important for me to take “small pains” seriously before they sideline me for months (April-June of this year).

My 18 mile long run is up in the air. If I’m not pain-free, I’m just going to make it worse. I really, really want to run 18 miles though. Dang, I really want to go run now. It’s beautiful outside. But the goal is obviously a marathon, and I don’t want to shake off a small pain now, go run, and be forced to sit couch-side as the marathon runs past my house (TWICE) in November.

Minus 5 miles now means nothing November 8th. Plus five miles where I affirmatively injure my IT band means everything November 8th.

Yes, this entry is mainly me convincing myself to take it easy…

One More Day

Oct 4

First Marathon training Oakley


Oakley and I are going to go crazy. Insane. In the membrane. Today is absolutely the best weather day this year – 70 degrees, breezy, and sunny after so many overcast days. I could literally cry it is so pretty. But we are resting one more day (and banking that tomorrow is just as freakin’ fabulous).

I hope to run 18 miles tomorrow. Well, actually, I hope to have the wisdom to cut it short if needed — run slowly, break often, and really feel it out. Instead of mindlessly running too fast and never giving my body the opportunity to say “HEY, DUMMY!”

The side of my knee feels good today, but now the hip/buttock on the same side is bothering me a bit (improperly stretching probably). I don’t know. I just know if I decide I need a break, not running on Thursday and then running 18 miles on Saturday is not the answer. Running 18 miles on Sunday is the answer!

This was definitely the correct decision. I did not have any IT band issues after this. 5 miles did not make a difference in my plan. 

Week 15: 20 mile long run

Oct 20

First Marathon Training 20 Mile route

20 mile route

In the last 7 days, I worked 10 surgeries (tied for the most I’ve ever done in a week), ran 40 miles, and cooked 5 dinners (including this delicious ham and butternut squash pasta with mascarpone sauce). I’m not sure how I did all that, but I did.

I was a little nervous about the run, but today’s weather was fantastic for running, mid-50’s and a breeze.

I ran through so much of downtown, most of the squares (there are 20 or 22 squares), River Street, Forsyth Park, and Daffin Park. Traffic wasn’t bad and I only had to stare down one idiotic driver. I looked for signs of Magic Mike 2 being filmed, but found none.

I didn’t start hurting until the last mile and a half, so here’s hoping I won’t feel like death until the last 4-6 miles of the marathon. 4 hours and 8 minutes, averaging 12:24/mile, which is pretty much in-line with the pace I wanted for this long run (my goal is 11:30/mile during the race). All in all a great run. And now for the scariest part. The taper…

Week 16: Taper Struggles

October 24

First Marathon Training Sunset

Sunset at Lake Mayer

I did end up running Tuesday, despite the wonderful weather. Wednesday, I ate tacos and took the traditional Wednesday multiple hour nap. I’m sure in the past, I learned that tacos and 8 mile runs don’t mix, but I forgot. Thursday, I tried running after drinking a couple of beers, which was also not the best idea.

I wish someone would take my marathon training seriously. Because I’m not.

As my taper continues, my legs feel stiff, but have I done any yoga, extra stretching, or even spent some time with the massage stick? Nooo.

So today I shall chase my beer with water and spend some time stretching and massaging my legs. Tomorrow is a 12 mile run, and I hope to do it well.

The last long run

Oct 25

First Marathon training Forsyth Fountain

Forsyth Fountain

Pretty uneventful long run, 12 miles at 11:28 pace. Tapers are not the time to speed up. But it’s hard not to pick up speed with the decrease in mileage.

I just tried to enjoy it, because it’s basically my last long run before the race. Next week’s long run is only 8 miles.

Doing some extra stretching today and eating well. This first week of tapering has left my legs feeling heavy and stiff. I mean, it’s not like I’ve been goofing off all week or anything… oh wait.

Tapering always leaves my legs stiff and heavy. The muscles are repairing and strengthening. It is important to continue to eat protein for your muscles and carbs for your race.

Week 17: Trust in the Taper

Oct 31

First Marathon Training Sunrise at Park

Sunrise at the park

I knew I would have to repeat to myself “Trust in the taper” many times these few weeks. This taper sucks. My legs feel heavy and tight. I want to take walk breaks constantly during my runs. I feel better when I kick it up a gear, speed-wise, but I know I shouldn’t run all of my taper runs fast. Three miles today.

I only take solace in the fact that every step-down week in my training felt awful. I’d have trouble getting through it and wonder if I’d be able to handle the increase in training the upcoming week. And that next week would come, and I’d feel awesome.

So here’s to taking a deep breath and feeling awesome next week.

I now try to keep my taper runs fast, throwing in some goal pace intervals in my runs. They keep your legs fast and yourself more confident. (Read: taper with some speed)

8 mile cold run

Nov 3

The race’s forecasted temperature lowers each day. So I made sure to run my 8 miles in the cooler temperatures that have arrived (35-45 degrees). 11:44 pace with a long sleeve shirt, jacket, running tights and a hat. Such a chicken.

I honestly feel better than I did last week, but still constantly repeating, “Trust in the Taper”. Augh, I’m so nervous. I don’t want to think about it now.

Fall marathon training is really warm since you start in July. But, they say it’s the speedier of the fall and spring marathons, because you train in the heat and often race in the cool. I’d never wear that much clothes now!

Week 18: The Lead Up

Nov 7

First Marathon Training Bib

Bib, shoe time-chip, and bag

Tuesday I did my 3 mile run and my legs felt great, but my stomach felt awful. Who knew a sweet potato and black bean burrito with salsa and Greek yogurt would be bad running fuel? Oh wait, I learn that lesson every few weeks or so. Maybe I should rename the blog, “Rebekah’s constant forgetfulness about Mexican food and long distance running”.

The beginning of the week was very stressful at work. Thankfully, I got Wednesday off and that gave me a chance to take a deep breath and reset. While I didn’t get the 4 mile run in that day, I think I got what I needed.

Yesterday was a “I am going to do whatever feels right” kind of day. After work, I ran 1.5 miles with Oakley instead of 2 by myself, we sprinted the last block or two before cool down, then I ate two dinners.

I also picked up my race packet.

The volunteer helping me said I was special because I was running the full. I didn’t know what she meant until she pulled out a blue bib out of a mass of green ones (the half marathon bibs).

The expo was, well, an expo. Full of booths and shopping. After walking through all sorts of running gear, I realized I was most tempted by a pint glass with the marathon logo on it. That probably says a lot about me…

Half marathons are the more popular of the two distances. I didn’t know because I’d never run a half marathon race. I bought the pint glass at next year’s event.

The Marathon

First Marathon Training Race

Savannah Rock ‘n Roll Marathon

To read about my first marathon race: Savannah Rock ‘n Roll Marathon Race Recap

I hope reading about my first marathon training journey has helped you in yours. If you have any questions email me at rebekah.casaceli@gmail.com or leave a comment below. You may also like to read 10 Things to Know before your First Marathon.