Run for the Run

I exist as I am, that is enough. – Walt Whitman


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Harrisburg Marathon Race Report

img_0049This past training cycle was a challenge. Originally I was planning on running the Wineglass Marathon on October 2, but after encountering a summer injury that set me back three weeks I decided to defer that race and try a November marathon instead. I had always wanted to try Harrisburg, a small marathon that’s only about an hour and forty minutes from where I live.

After my foot injury was healed, however, I developed a knee injury. I found out that what was causing the pain on the inner side of my left knee was pes anserine tendinopathy. It surfaced after an impromptu trail run in late August and was pretty painful to run with. I thought that perhaps my chances of running a fall marathon were gone. I obsessed over how to get over this. I went to my chiropractor who thought it was just a matter of my leg lengths being out of wack. He fixed that, but then the pain still persisted. I started going to a PT and it turned out that I had weak glutes and weak hip stabilizers. I diligently did my exercises and also continued to see my chiropractor for ART and Graston. It got better, but there was still some pain. I ran the Rock n Roll Philly Half Marathon September 18 to see how my knee would react. If felt better afterwards than before the race, surprisingly. Based on that, I decided to go ahead with my Harrisburg marathon training.

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The view of Susquehanna River from City Island

My knee was still a bit sore, but definitely better. I was hopeful. Because it seemed better, I stopped my PT. Then after a 10 mile run one day, it came back. And it hurt. UGH! Of course the next day I ran a 16 mile long run, because I’m a genius. It REALLY hurt after that. I found another PT and went back to my chiropractor. My chiropractor scraped the heck out of it using Graston technique. The tendons had developed a lot of scar tissue and were really tight. He really lit it up! My knee started to get better with each run after that session. I continued my exercises and could feel my glutes engaging a lot more when I ran.

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On City Island at the expo

I spent my whole training cycle doing rehab, going to PT and my chiropractor, and wondering if I’d make it to the marathon. I missed a couple key runs and cut a few runs short. It wasn’t my strongest training segment, but I had a lot of solid workouts. Quite a few of them left me in substantial pain afterwards.When I look back at my training, I’m amazed at what I could actually do while rehabbing my knee. I use the Hansons marathon method (I have a coach), so I was averaging 60-mile weeks, each with both a speed workout and a long marathon pace run, in addition to the weekend long run. I remember going to my PT and telling him that my knee was still a little sore and that I had just finished a 61 mile week. His eyes kind of popped out.

It was about two weeks prior to the marathon that my knee started to feel back to normal, despite a twinge here and there. I was set to run Harrisburg. Woohoo!!! Wednesday before the race, however, I started to feel off. I had a low grade fever and cut my Thursday run short. I was exhausted and didn’t feel well at all. I tried to sleep as much as I could to get better. Saturday I did a 3 mile shakeout run and it went ok, so I thought things were good. On our way to Harrisburg, I started feeling queasy and developed a pain/malaise in my chest. It worked its way down to my stomach and my GI tract. It wasn’t all that bad though, so I thought maybe it was nerves. But then it started to really hurt around 9 or 10 at night. I tried to relax and managed to fall asleep, but then my stomach hurt so much it woke me up at 1 a.m. It was a pain that kind of went through my system, even around my chest and ribcage, and my heart was really pounding. It was the kind of pounding where you know your body is fighting off some kind of bug or something. I was really nervous now that I was going to end up at the starting line with this nasty stomach bug. UGH!!!! Would I even be able to run the marathon? However, by 4 a.m. it started to subside and I fell back to sleep until 6 a.m. When I woke up it was completely gone. Hallelujah!!

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We at at Bricco, just a few minutes walk from our hotel. The food and atmosphere was top notch.

We were staying at the Hilton in Harrisburg, just a little over a half mile to the start and two blocks from the finish line. It was fantastic. It made logistics so easy. The morning of the race my husband walked me to the start. I was nervous. We didn’t leave the hotel until 7:30 and the race started at 8. I forgot to ask him to take a picture and at this point he started to feel the bug as well. Oh well. No pictures here. The race started on City Island, which overlooks the beautiful Susquehanna River. The weather was perfect: clear blue skies, low wind, and temperatures in the upper 30’s (fahrenheit). Ideal for running a race.

I did a little warm up jog and then lined up with the 3:35 pacing group. I was much better trained for Boston than I was for Harrisburg. I had had a perfect training segment for Boston, but I fell apart during that race because of some unexpected factors (70 degree start after training in cold all winter, too much time on my feet the day before, and not adjusting my pace for the warmer temperatures). I ended up running Boston in 3:35, which was about 10 minutes slower than what I felt I was trained for.

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Running along the river. (What’s up with those leg warmers?!)

Now that I was at the start for the Harrisburg marathon, I wasn’t sure how I’d do. I had a good training segment, but not my best since I had been struggling with injuries. My knee felt good, but I wasn’t sure if it’d flare up during the race and slow me down to a hobbling pace. I had been up most of the previous night with a stomach bug. Still, I told myself to relax and enjoy the race. I decided to stick with the 3:35 pace group for a couple miles and see how I felt.

As we ran the first two miles, the famous Keith Straw paced us in his pink tutu and kept everyone entertained with his British banter. It was a crisp, clear morning and I could feel that my body was responding well. I decided to try to pick it up a little and maintain closer to an 8 minute pace for a while. I settled in with a few other runners who were pacing for a 3:30 marathon and listened to their conversation for a while. My goal was not to bonk and not to feel horrible the whole race like I did at Boston where I was pushed the pace too hard too early in the race. I kept a solid pace here, one that felt comfortably hard and that I was confident I could maintain for the long haul. I’d hold it until mile 18-20 and see how I felt.

The first nine miles or so we ran across a bridge, through parts of the city and then through some gravel trails in a park. After that we ran back across a bridge back onto City Island and did a tour of the island. There were a bunch of turns during this first part of the race. Still it was pretty enjoyable. After we exited City Island and we crossed another bridge where we had to run on the sidewalk because the bridge was made of metal grating. That was odd, but the views were beautiful and there were a lot of spectators here. I was enjoying myself and the course. After this we were then running along the river on a sort of concrete river bank. Around the half marathon mark or so, we turned away from the river and went through parts of a neighborhood and then near the underpass of a noisy highway. We then made another turn and were back along the river, but on a road this time. There was the view of the river behind some trees on one side and on the other side were large stores and restaurant signs like Taco Bell. It was an out and back, so we saw the leaders pass us on their way back. Mile 18 was the turnaround. There was some headwind going out, but nothing major. On the way back there was some tailwind and then some side gusts and again some slight headwind. Still nothing too bad.

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Despite how tired and gross I look, I am enjoying myself!

At one point a runner who was going the opposite direction yelled out, “Every female you pass here is a Boston Qualifier!” That was pretty cool. We were all running a sub 3:35 at that point. Around mile 19 I tried to pick it up a bit. That’s about when I started passing people. A lot of runners were starting to get tired, with some slowing down. I felt solid. I didn’t slow down, and sped up for one or more of those miles. I was averaging just under an 8:00 pace I guess. My mile splits varied from 7:47 to 8:07, with most around 7:55.

I spend the last 6.2 miles passing a bunch of runners while pretty much running on my own. When we hit the concrete path along the river, I could only maintain around an 8:00 pace. The concrete felt difficult to me. At then end of that path, we had to do a sharp turn and then go up a steep hill to get back to the street level. That was in the last mile and it hurt. My pace slowed, obviously, on that hill, making mile 26 my slowest, an 8:11 pace. The final .29 (my Garmin was over, as usual during races) I averaged a 7:14 pace. I passed another runner, made a right hand turn to the final .1 or .2 stretch to the finish. The young woman who was pacing for a 3:30 (she was very young, around 22, and I believe this was her first marathon) blew past me to finish a few seconds in front of me. A second runner passed me as well, a woman who had also started with the 3:35 group and who I had no idea was behind me. She finished ahead of me, but my net chip time was ahead of her. Ha!

I crossed the finish line with my long awaited sub-3:30 time of 3:28:18. Woooohoooo!!!!! I

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The final push to the finish line!!

had always said I wanted to eventually run an hour faster than my first marathon. My time for my first marathon seven years prior was 4:28:19, so I ran Harrisburg exactly one hour and one second faster than my first marathon. YES!!!!!!

Afterwards, I felt fine. My knee felt a little sore, but I never got ravenously hungry like I usually do. I never felt depleted and I never hit the wall during the race. I think what really helped was that I started to fuel early. Harrisburg had Honey Stinger Gels at EVERY water stop except for the first one. I had a pack of Honey Stinger Chews 15 minutes before the start and then I had a gel at miles 4, 8, 12 and I think 18 or so. Later in the race I had gatorade. It worked like a charm. Usually I’d wait for mile 5 or 7 and I wouldn’t be able to stomach more than 3 gels during the race.

img_0044All in all, I loved Harrisburg. I’m gluten free, but if you’re not, they had an amazing spread afterwards: sandwiches, hot mac n cheese, coffee, hot cocoa, bananas, chips etc. I’m never very hungry anyways after a marathon, so I just had a banana and coffee and gave the sandwich and mac n cheese to my husband and our daughter.

After the race we walked a couple minutes back to the hotel, I took a hot shower, and then we walked back to the start for the awards ceremony. I won 2nd in my age group, so I got two medals, which was fun.

Now that I have my PR, I can relax and enjoy my next training segment: Boston Marathon!

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Here’s that final .1 mile stretch to the finish where the runner blew past me just before the finish. A pretty cool shot.

Here are my splits for the race:

1-8:05

2-7:53

3-7:52

4-7:46

5-8:03

6-7:55

7-8:07

8-7:42

9-8:03

10-8:03

11-7:47

12-7:55

13-7:55

14-7:56

15-7:54

16-7:50

17-8:00

18-7:53

19-7:54

20-7:43

21-7:55

22-7:47

23-8:01

24-7:57

25-8:00

26-8:11

.3 7:14


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A Dark Morning Run

 

 

All night I told myself I didn’t want to get up so early to run. But I knew I had a busy day ahead. My cat threw up at 4 a.m. and, since I was up anyway on my hands and knees wiping up hairballs, I got dressed and headed out the door. Soon I was standing with everyone else in the dark at 5 a.m. with my headlamp on, ready to run.

We started out at a shuffle pace. After 2 miles I started my tempo session of 3 x 6 minutes at about half marathon pace. I broke away from the group and was running alone in the dark. I knew everyone was behind me, so I wasn’t too concerned. That is until I hit the really, super dark stretch. My headlamp light reached far ahead of me, but rather than reassuring me, it accentuated just how dark it was. That’s about when I saw an ominous mist moving across the trail. Was it foggy out? Or could that be . . . ghosts? Of course, since I watch Ghost Adventures, it had to be ghosts. I immediately turned around and ran back to the group. Everyone asked if I was okay. “I’m just spooked!” Ah, safety.

The rest of the tempo run went pretty smoothly. I hit my pace without the same strain as the previous week, I’m sure because it was cooler and less humid. Still, it’s a nice feeling not to have to work so hard to hit your paces.

I had 8 miles on my training calendar, but ended up running 10 with a few others. I think I’ll sleep in tomorrow and cut my run by 2 miles. I can only handle extra miles and ghost sightings once a week.


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Beyond Boston. What’s next?

IMG_0027I’ve finally come to terms with how tough Boston felt for me and am enjoying having another Boston in the books and another one to look forward to next year. So what’s next now? I took a couple weeks to recover after Boston so I could start fresh for my next segment. I told my coach about the races I’d like to do and he drafted up a plan for me. After tomorrow’s long run, I’ll have run about 52 miles this week. I guess 50-ish miles per week is my new base.

I have some 5k’s, a mid-Summer half, a fun 5.25 miler and then the Wineglass Marathon planned over the next five months.

Here’s the schedule:

May 21 – Berwyn Victory 5k (the last mile is uphill. ugh.)

June 4 – Oy Vey 5k

July 4 – Good Neighbor Day 5k

July 16 – Pottstown Half (This will be warm! Not expecting a PR, but it’ll be good training before I start the marathon specific stuff.)

August 6 – Irish Pub 5.25 Miler up on the Cape (I’m really looking forward to this one.)

September 18 – Philly Rock n Roll Half. I had signed up for this one before I had decided to do Wineglass, so I’ll just use this as a regular training run. Should be fun. Maybe I’ll take pictures on the course!

October 2 – Wineglass Marathon. Will I finally get my sub 3:30 marathon time? Or better?

Here’s what I did for training the last two weeks after I finished my post-marathon recovery:

5/2-5/8

Monday: 8 miles

Tuesday: 6 miles

Wednesday: Fartlek-2 mi warm, 4×6 mins ON (tempo)/2 mins OFF, cool to 8 miles

Thursday: 6 miles

Friday: 8 miles

Saturday: 12 miles

Sunday: 6 miles (Only supposed to do 4 but I felt like running more)

5/9-5/14

Monday: 8 miles

Tuesday: Fartlek-2 mi warm, 8 x 1 min ON/2 min OFF, cool to 8

Wednesday: 8 miles

Thursday: Lactate Threshold: 2 mi warm, 2 x 10 mins @ tempo effort with 2 mins jog recover, cool to 8

Friday: 8 miles

Saturday (tomorrow): planned 12

My coach left out the specific paces since he’s going to use what I do this month to set next month’s training paces. I felt good the first Fartlek workout with the 4 x 6 mins, but I was kind of sluggish for yesterday’s 2 x 10 mins tempo. The first 10 mins interval I ran a 7:30 pace, and the second a 7:20 pace. It was warm and I had done squats the night before. The previous week my paces for the 6 mins tempo effort intervals were 7:12, 6:56, 7:13, 6:49. So you can see what I mean when I say I was a bit sluggish yesterday.

Next week I have my first 5k post marathon, so I’m excited to see how I do. It’s a bit hilly, so I don’t expect to be exceptionally fast. It’ll be fun to do some fast, short races this Summer.


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Boston 2016 Race Report

IMG_0018Boston 2016 was a strange race. Almost everyone I know fell apart or ran a slow time, including me. Even the elites ran slower times than usual. A sunny, warm 70-degree start and a headwind later in the race when the temperatures started to cool down as we approached Boston all made for difficult race conditions. It doesn’t sound that warm, but after training through cold weather, it threw a lot of people off.

I was feeling so confident and excited before leaving for Boston. I had had my most amazing training ever for the marathon. I ran a half marathon PR at the end of a 70-mile peak week. I had amazing marathon pace runs. I felt like I was on fire the whole time. I just had so much fun training. I had really high expectations for race day and then . . . race day hit.

Here’s what happened. On Saturday, my friend and I took a plane from Philly to Boston. We stayed in a really nice guest house in a room with two full beds and a little breakfast nook to ourselves. Downstairs was a full kitchen we could use for breakfast and coffee, or to make dinner if we wanted. We could use the fridge. It was nice. And cheap. It was on a quiet street in Cambridge just a few blocks to the T in Central Square.

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Gorgeous Boston Public Garden on our way to the expo

Sunday we had a late morning, stopped for a coffee and sat in the sun on our way to the T. We got off at Boston Commons and took in the sights. We strolled through the Boston Gardens and watched people on the swan boats. It was gorgeous. We finally made our way to the expo.

We ended up spending a couple hours at the expo from maybe 11:30 to 1 or so. It got so crowded at one point I couldn’t move, literally. I was stuck in a crowd of people like a sardine in a can unable to move. At first the expo was fun. We bought our awesome jackets. We took our pictures with our bibs by the marathon signs. But by the end I was frazzled.

We finally got out and walked around with a couple friends and had a late lunch. My lunch was a plate of fries . . . not the healthiest. We had dinner reservations for 4:30 in the North End, so I didn’t want to fill up too much. By 3 I was exhausted and my back hurt from standing and walking. I took a 15 minute power nap and then we went out to dinner. We stood in a long line for canollis in the North End. Then we walked back to the T and walked some more . . . too much.

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How painful it would be to cross that finish the next day!

By the time we got home my legs were burning and my back was sore. I was freaking out mentally because I knew I had just sabotaged my race. We went to bed early, maybe 8:30 or 9. I thought I could maybe make it up with sleep. I was happy to be in bed so early. I tossed and turned, punched my pillow several times, and finally fell asleep around midnight. I woke up at 3:25 and couldn’t fall back asleep for the rest of the night. So much for sleep.

We got up and I had my oatmeal, nuts, banana and coffee. We walked to the T and took it to where the gear check was. We walked to Boston Commons. It was a gorgeous morning. The sun was out, the temperatures were mild, maybe in the low 60s or high 50s, just gorgeous. We talked to another runner who was running his 21st Boston Marathon that day. I thought to myself that perhaps I could still run a decent race. My legs felt okay.

When we got to Athletes Village the sun started to get warm. We waited in the port o potty line for about 40 minutes and I peeled my throw away clothes off. It was so crowded. You had to tip toe around people sitting on the grass to get anywhere. I didn’t remember it being this crowded the last time I was there in 2013.

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Boston Commons!

They finally called our wave and we lined up to be corralled out of Athlete’s Village and make our way to the start. On the way they were giving out free sunscreen, so I put some on. There were a bunch of port o potties on the way that people had told us would have no lines, so I made a quick pit stop and made my way to the start. For some stupid reason I threw my water bottle away. I thought we couldn’t bring it, but by the time they said it was okay, it was already in the trash.

We stood for quite a while in the hot sun. I tried to stand by the edge under some shade. It was warm. I was thirsty. Our wave started.We were running down the tree lined street and all I kept thinking was where the first water stop would be. I lifted my shirt up to cool myself off. Not a good sign. Still, I kept going with my original pace plan. Not smart either.  We finally got to the first water stop and I poured water on my head and drank some gatorade. Every water stop afterwards I would pour water on my head and take a couple drinks of gatorade and water. I surprised myself, because for the first time in a race I could actually drink while still running. I seemed to have perfected the art!

As each mile went by, though, my pace fell off by a couple seconds. I remember by mile 9 saying to myself that I wouldn’t be able to keep this pace, because my legs already felt tired. That never happened in training, and it didn’t happen in the half marathon where I was running faster for 13 miles. My legs felt much better both at my half that I ran at the end of a 70 mile week and during my marathon pace runs in the middle of 70 mile weeks. And here I was at mile 9 after a nice taper and my legs were beat. Warm weather and the stupidity of too much time on my feet the day before I’m convinced were the culprits.

Anyway, I kept pushing myself, but after feeling how poorly my legs already felt compared to how wonderful I felt during my training, I felt pretty demoralized. My mantra for the rest of the race was, “I’m having a bad race.” I tried to snap myself out of it, but I couldn’t.

The crowds were amazing. Because of the warm temps, more people were out than ever. There was tons of support and lots of kids handing out ice, which was wonderful. Then the hills hit and all that hill running I did during training seemed to vanish. They felt really, really tough. I was much less trained my first Boston and this time the hills felt so much harder.

I had envisioned myself picking up the pace after the hills and taking advantage of the slight decline and the huge crowd support by Boston College, but I just couldn’t. I was hitting a wall. I never hit a wall like this since using Hansons Method!! WTF!!! And I had had the most AMAZING training EVER!!!!

By the time I turned right on Hereford I was done. Left onto Boylston was even more painful. The finish line seemed to be getting further and further away. I started feeling really nauseous, but kept pushing. I finally finished in 3:35:31, a respectable time. Everyone afterwards told me how well I did. But during the race I thought it was just me having a hard race. I thought it was because of me burning out my legs the day before. I had been in shape to run a 3:25 marathon, and I just kept seeing that time getting farther and farther away with each mile. It was painful, both physically and emotionally.

I sat down on a curb after I finished and a medical tech person came over and asked if I was okay because I looked really pale. If you look at my finish picture, I look deathly ashen and pale. I was pretty out of it. My friend and I were supposed to meet at the letter E in the family meeting area. When I got there she called me and I couldn’t think clearly enough to understand where she was. I felt overwhelmed and alone. I finally found her and she told me she had a really bad race too and really needed to go back to our room because she wasn’t feeling well. When we got in touch with our friends, we slowly started to realize that everyone (almost everyone) had a really hard race. We actually didn’t do so bad, considering.

We both started to feel better. We got back to Cambridge and passed a flower shop that has one of those signs on it that invites you in for a free rose if your name is so-and-so. My friend wanted to look to see if it was her name that day, and it said, “If you ran the Boston Marathon today, come in for your free rose!” That made us feel so much better. We got our picture and the woman that worked there asked if she could post it to their twitter feed.

That night we went to a restaurant that had amazing hamburgers and I had my celebratory margherita and my friend had a beer. We got to finally wear our gorgeous pink and green Boston jackets with pride! We decided that we were coming back next year!

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We’ll be back!!

 

 


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Last long run before Boston

IMG_2711The last Boston I ran was in 2013. That was a perfect day, until the unthinkable happened. For a couple years I was afraid to go back, but here I am, just a week away from running it again. I have a feeling 2016 is going to be a really good year for Boston and I can’t wait to celebrate running the most distinguished marathon with so many amazing runners in what may be my favorite city. When I went up last time, I didn’t know anyone who was also running. This year, I know a ton of people and I’ve trained with a bunch of them, which just makes this year’s Boston so much sweeter and that much more exciting. Yesterday I did my last long run before Boston, a 12-miler, with a bunch of those runners and it was a ton of fun.

I’ve had the best training I’ve ever had for a marathon. In the Fall I only ran shorter distances to work on my speed so that I’d be in the best shape I could be in for the start of Boston training. I got faster and ran a PR for each race. This marathon training I had one 67-mile week and three 69 to 70-mile weeks. Through January I was running 50+ mile weeks, building up to 70 mile weeks by the end of February. Each of those weeks this marathon cycle had a speed workout, a marathon pace workout and a long run.

I hit every workout except for one that I had to cut short. It was a marathon pace run and I was excited to do it: 2 x 5 miles at MP, 13 miles total. I got out of my car, feeling strong, took my first running step and felt a pain at the side of my left glute, kind of going down my hip towards the side of my leg. It was a dull ache and I ran on it for about 10 miles. I got through about 2 miles+ of the second 5 mile segment and stopped. The pain had started to slow me down and I knew I’d just completely mess myself up if I forced it. I felt so defeated.

That night I researched and found out it might be from a tight IT band. I rolled it on a medicine ball to loosen it up. The next day that side of my glute felt fine running, but then the other side hurt. Ugh!!! I rolled the IT band on that side that night and ran the next day. Now my hamstrings were on fire!!! I couldn’t believe it. What was going on? I did some glute exercises to get them firing up, since tight hamstrings often actually aren’t tight, but are overstretched from overcompensating for weak glutes.

The next day the hamstrings were better, but my glutes were super tight, so much so they hurt and I could barely run over a 10 minute mile. I finally found a webpage that demonstrated trigger therapy and did that with a tennis ball. It really hurt, but it made my issue feel better and I could run normally again. I saw my Chiropractor (I couldn’t get an appointment until a week after my symptoms appeared!) who did Active Release Technique for my hips. He said I had super tight hips and they were what was causing the issue. I’ve had no problem since and I also got all my runs in, even though a few were super slow paced. Phew!!

Trigger point involves sitting on the tennis ball with your ankle over your opposite knee, then rolling on it until you find the painful, tender spot. You’re supposed to relax your whole body and hold on that spot for 30 to 60 seconds. It was painful and hard to relax. I tried breathing as if I were in a lamaze class and in labor. When it really hurt, I’d just think to myself, “How much do  you want this?!!” Then I’d move on to the next painful spot. It really worked.

This is what it basically looked like, except I was sitting up a little more:

517mykxKZeL

Despite that hiccup, I still got in 67 miles that week (instead if 70), 64 miles the week after, and 52 this week, which definitely feels like a taper. For my first Boston I barely peaked at 52 miles per week and missed a lot more workouts because of the flu and some injuries.

All I need to do this week is keep my paces easy and within range, eat and sleep enough and I should be ready to rock on the 18th!

 

 

 


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The Public Goal and the Private Goal

Boston approaches and that question keeps coming up more and more. You know the one: So, do you have a time goal?

Why yes, I do. I actually have two: one I tell people and the one I don’t tell people, the one that I really, really, really want to do, but that I’ve only told my husband. The one I tell everyone else sounds more realistic and much less cocky. The one I really, really, really want is actually realistic according to my training, but most people don’t know that. They also don’t understand how kick ass the Hansons Marathon Method is. It works and it gets you to your best marathon potential. I have a coach from Hansons Coaching Services, so it’s tailored for me, but his workouts are based on the same method and philosophy.

My PR is 3:31:33 from the Philly Marathon in 2014, so if I tell people I just want to break 3:30, it sounds doable. BUT, I’ve gotten faster. I’m also logging higher mileage than I ever have before and my training has been really consistent. I also ran a 1:38:03 half marathon as a marathon pace tune up race a few weeks ago. As far as race predictions go on those calculators, according to that half marathon time, I should be able to run (if trained right) under 3:25. And that 1:38 wasn’t my all out half marathon race pace.

What’s my secret time goal for Boston? I’d really like to do something between 3:22 and 3:24. If I get any time under 3:25, I’ll be happy. But I also tell myself to be happy with a sub 3:30. I hope I’m mature enough to be happy with that, but I know I’ll be like “meh” if I run a 3:29. How stupid is that? All my marathon pace runs have been 7:40 to 7:45 pace and I’ve been able to do that without much difficulty even on hilly routes.

There are only four weeks left until Boston. I just finished up a 70 mile week and my legs feel completely fine. My legs were really tired during my Philly training and I peaked at 62 mile weeks for that training (which is still high mileage in my book). This time I feel as though I’m reaching another level. It’s both strange and really exciting for me.

Now I just need to not get injured and not be stupid over the next four weeks. Can I do it?


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Half Marathon Tune Up Race: a PR!

IMG_2436

The calm scene at the start of my trail run

Since my last post I’ve run two 69-mile weeks, another hilly marathon pace run (in the pouring rain!), a hilly half marathon PR (whose mileage capped off a 69-mile week), another marathon pace run four days after my half marathon PR (9 miles MP, 14 miles total for the run), only to run another 10 miles less than 12 hours later, and then 15 miles of hilly trails the day after that. Whaaaa???? Evidently, I’m on fire.

Remarkably, my legs feel fine. Somehow my coach (from Hansons Coaching) has built my mileage and intensity up so that I’m not breaking down under all this. And I LOVE it.

The half marathon was in northern New Jersey, E. Murray Todd Half Marathon. It’s a small local (to people living there!) race that’s been going on for 40 years. It’s hilly and it’s beautiful. The course goes past horse farms and picturesque houses and fields. Despite some parts being open to cars, and the water support not being the best, I LOVED this race. I chose it as a tune up for Boston because of the hills and I think it was pretty much perfect in that respect. It was really well run, you could hang out in the community college to stay warm before the race and use the bathrooms, and the people were all very friendly. Afterwards there were awards in the big gymnasium. And did I tell you? I won 2nd place in my age group. Woohoo!

IMG_2399

Woohoo! I won an award!

The plan for the race was to try to maintain my marathon pace for the first 10 miles and if I felt good, I could pick it up. If I was struggling, I would try to maintain my marathon pace. My coach said if I could maintain my marathon pace at the race in the midst of this training, then that was A+. I did maintain my MP during most of the 10 miles, between 7:40 and 7:45, but a few of those miles were actually faster. It was a hilly course, so some miles may have had more downhills. At the 10 mile mark, though, I let lose. One of those miles was an average 7:00 pace. I just felt so great during the whole race. I never felt better during a half. I suppose higher mileage suits me. I ran that final 5k faster than a simple 5k race I ran last year this time. That’s 5k at the end of a half marathon, at the end of a 69 mile week.

I was passing everybody during that last 5k. It was amazing! I remember seeing a woman with arm warmers on way ahead of me (it was on a winding path through a park at the end, so we could see other runners who were both ahead and behind us along the course) and I didn’t think I’d be able to catch her because she was so far ahead of me. Then I noticed I was getting closer and closer. During the final turn and push to the finish I passed her. I remember her looking over at me as I did this and I felt a little bad, but I was just trying to make sure I got under 1:40, since my dream time was to break 1:40. It turns out she was in my age group, so I barely squeaked into 2nd place during that last .1 mile.

My final time was 1:38:03, over 2:30 minutes faster than my previous PR. I was ecstatic!! I couldn’t believe it! Did that really happen?

Here are my splits:

1-7:36 (slightly downhill)

2-7:43

3-7:45

4-7:36

5-7:23 (oops, too fast, but it was more elevation loss than gain here)

6-7:39

7-7:31

8-7:47

9-7:32

10-7:43

11-6:59 (letting loose!!)

12-7:16

13-7:07

.1-6:42 pace

1:38:03 official race time!

Here’s the week that led into the race:

(Week before this week, 69+ miles)

Monday: 10 miles

Tuesday: 8 miles

Wednesday: 10 mile VO2 max workout: 2 mi warmup, 8x800m @ 7:00  pace w/400 m recovery, 2 mile cool down to 10 miles

Thursday: 10 miles

Friday: 8 miles

Saturday: 8 miles

Sunday: 1 mile warm up, RACE!, 1 mile cool down.