The chronicles of 30 half marathons before my 30th birthday...
So this week began my second stint helping to coach/train someone for their first half marathon (welcome to new guinea pig Emily Hyatt!)
It’s funny, because I find this bizarrely fun (and not in the Jillian Michael’s trainer type of way… I am not getting pleasure out of their pain). There’s just something about helping someone train for a distance they’ve never done before and being a part of them feeling accomplished in doing that distance that gives me a lot of satisfaction. SO PROUD of Elyssa’s half marathon debut last month at Disney Princess (which has become a planned girls weekend a year in advance now - come join us!), where she actually beat my first half marathon time!
EmHy’s training for the Colfax Half Marathon is going to be a little different - the race is 7 weeks away and she did her first 5 miler outside yesterday with me. It’s an aggressive training schedule - though on the other hand, barring no injuries she also only has to do a handful of long runs before race day, so maybe it actually will seem easier than a standard 3 or 4 month plan.
In any case, it’s what I always say about racing and training for something: you can do it if you have the desire to. It’s about putting in the work and training miles and keeping mentally strong about your goal. But it’s also about realistic goals —- I can’t expect, for example, that I am going to break 1:50 anytime soon given the training I am putting in. If I wanted that goal to be realistic, I would probably need to move from my easy 20-25 mile training weeks to something like 30-40 miles a week, and add a track workout into the mix (which I really should do anyhow). Being realistic, I am shooting for 1:58 at the Platte River Half in 2 weeks.
The Canyonlands Half Marathon was this past Saturday (half #11 for anyone counting).
Old F4 training buddies were there, and I was excited to find someone who was maybe racing my pace, even though I wasn’t necessarily trying to break a PR. Even in my self-competitive head, I know that if I run 8-9 half marathons this year, PRing in each is nearly impossible. But it didn’t hurt to try…
The group I decided to run with was going for a finishing time of 1:55 - a time I KNEW would be next to impossible for me, and clearly shaving 5 minutes off in 2 months of training is not likely. But I figured I would keep pace with them for a bit and then back off and be smart about it. THEN…. my self-competitive streak kicked in and I decided I might as well go for it—- I figured it would be a test of my limits. If I couldn’t keep up, and I bonked halfway through, that would be a lesson in how fast I can realistically expect to go out. I’ve finished quite a few races still feeling like I had some energy left, and this would give me a chance to see what would happen if I pushed it beyond what I thought I was capable of. My competitive side got the better of me and I wanted to do the opposite of playing it safe.
I stuck with Heather and the F4 group for around 5 miles - looking back at my splits on my watch (which I haven’t uploaded yet) they average around 8:45 for those first 5 miles. After mile 5 I was feeling pretty confident about my decision, because even though I knew I couldn’t keep up with them anymore, I felt like I had enough in me to just slow down a little and still make a good time. Another F4 group caught me, and said they were aiming for under 2hours so I tried to stick with them - keeping them in sight (sometimes just barely) for another 3 miles, and hitting approx 9min splits, even after a killer hill (and some killer headwinds!!) at mile 8.5. My splits were getting slower, but at mile 10 it all went downhill.
I remember trying to tell myself to just keep pace around 9:20. I would be pacing at 9:25 halfway through a mile and just keep reminding myself to give that extra push and try to get the mile to average out to a 9:20 - I was still on track for maybe a few seconds or a minute of a PR if I was lucky. My splits slowly went from 9:20 to 9:30… mile 13 was something like 10:30. It wasn’t so much that I was hurting (not any more than usual), but I literally couldn’t get my legs to go faster. Even the last little stretch before the finish when I can normally sprint through to the finish line, I felt like I wasn’t able to really finish strong. I clearly had reached a limit.
I finished in a respectable 2:02:07, my second best time so far (after LA in January— at sea level though so not a fair comparison). Funnily, my muscles can feel those faster miles and I am in more pain (even 2 days later) than I usually am after a race. But I think this race gave me some good perspective on where my limits are currently: I feel pretty confident I could’ve sustained a 9minute pace if I hadn’t started out so fast (which would’ve meant a PR by a couple minutes) —- so in 3 weeks for half #12, that’s my plan.
In retrospect, had I played it safe in this race and started a little slower, maybe I would’ve hit a new PR and finished strong, wondering as always if I could’ve gone just a little bit faster. At least now I know.
So —- T-20 days til the Platte River Half!
I feel like after long run after long run on the weekends (which also generally means I have at least one day on the weekend where I don’t get enough sleep), I kind of enjoy tapering. After my *killer* run on Sunday with my cousin Randy — I needed some taper… I am still feeling a little overtired and it’s WEDNESDAY!
Just to give you a little perspective on the hills in this run, let’s compare:(http://connect.garmin.com/activity/73055414 if you’re interested)
check out that elevation map! One of the biggest hills overall, at around mile 2.5, went up a total of 151 feet over less than a mile. That doesn’t sound like a lot here, but compared with my normal 7th Avenue parkway run (which I personally think is *a little bit* hilly) - here’s a recent run there, take note of the very flat elevation map:
The elevation gain TOTAL for the whole run is 125 feet - Sat’s run at the res was 735 feet total, with lots of small hills going up over 100 feet each. Ouchie.
The other thing I am pondering, aside from why my my stomach muscles are still feeling Sunday’s run, is why runners often complain about tapering… they have too much energy, they overeat because they aren’t running as much… but tapering to me is a healthy, crucial time to relax before a race. I still get in a few shorter runs, but they are relaxed and I am not worried about my weekly mileage (let’s be honest… I am rarely worried about weekly mileage). Don’t get me wrong - I LOVE racing (hence the goal that led to this blog), and I love training for races, but it can be exhausting! Whoever realized that tapering was helpful for race performance is not only a genius, but I think it keeps you from getting burned out. I have done a much shorter taper than stardard for my last two halves, simply because my training schedule and conflicts made it necessary to do one more long run the weekend before—- but boy have I enjoyed those tapers!
Looking forward to my spring racing season which means that with races about once a month, I get to spend half the time tapering!!
Race day is on the 10 day forecast—- low of 41, high of 67- sweet!!
Kara Goucher (via RW quote of the day)
Of course I wanted Elyssa to borrow the watch - SO PROUD of her for her amazing first half marathon at Disney Princess this weekend! - but I didn’t realize how much I would miss it. For those of you who don’t own a GPS watch, let me tell you how much I love mine.
I had thought about it for a while - it seemed like a great thing to have: a watch that can track your speed, distance, route (yes - google map of where you ran once you computer sync!) and even heart-rate if you wear the strap. All of them seemed so *big* though… so when I saw the new Forerunner 210 (https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?cID=142&pID=83280 in case you’re interested…) at the Denver Rock n’ Roll expo AND it was on sale… it was just too much to pass up.
The 210 is smaller and sleeker (still not something I would wear out at night!) and it had most of the features I wanted: intervals, heart rate options, and it was a GPS. It didn’t auto sync to your computer like some of the other models, but I figured I could live with that. I used to use Nike+, but I found that even if I calibrated it really well, if my stride changed (say, I was really tired and not managing to lift my feet as high off the ground with each step, ala Philly Marathon 2009), it wasn’t so accurate. I wanted GPS!
Boy, do I love it. Yes, ladies and gents, I have become a GPS snob. You may have another watch, or a Nike+ (sorry Elyssa’s friend Jess!) or think you know how far a course is (the Highline is not totally accurately marked, btw). But you can’t argue with the GPS. So yes, I am addicted.
Critics have said things like “don’t you sometimes just want to go out and enjoy running, not worrying about your speed?” - OF COURSE. But for me, having the pace on my wrist is actually helpful then too - sometimes I speed up for no reason and if I didn’t look down, notice my fast pace, and realize to take it easy, I would probably burn out earlier than I wanted to on that run.
It’s also 150% what helped me break my 2hour goal in LA in January (check that out here and see how cool the maps are: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/64414110) because I knew what I was pacing for at every mile, and could calculate water stops and what pace I needed to hit my goal. As you can see, I cut it pretty close - but am SO HAPPY to have met my 2011 running goal this early in the year. THANK YOU GARMIN.
I do forget it once in a while - and ran a 12 miler without it this past weekend while Elyssa had it - but I know that my run tonight, I will be happy to be strapping it back on and hearing that lovely little beep that lets me know I just completed another mile.
The giant thing of milk and my tummy didn’t agree. I blame Russ for letting his lactose intolerance rub off.
A big tall glass of milk and a banana. Mmm. 12 miles with the DDs (Distance Divas running club) on a warm sunny Denver morning.
Forgot to pack lunch yesterday and had to scrounge to find stuff at work (microwave mini meal and popcorn does not a lunch make). Then I was surprised that I didn’t have the energy for my treadmill intervals? Food=fuel. Lesson learned.
I have eaten 3 meals worth of hummus, challah and brisket. Kist thought you all should know (all 3 people who read my blog).