Category Archives: Half Marathon

Playing Catch-Up: Running, pets, and Boston

Hello! Long time no talk. How is everyone?

It’s so exciting that fall racing season is in full swing—it’s been fun to hear about everyone’s super long runs, tapering, and race results! I’ll admit I’m a tad jealous that I’m not doing a fall marathon (ahem, Chicago), however it’s made scheduling more relaxed and gets me even more excited for whatever’s next.

For now I thought I’d just give some updates—on running and otherwise.

Lately, I’ve been running between 40-50 miles a week, and recently it’s been closer to 50. It’s been fun, and feels surprisingly manageable. A year ago this would have been really high mileage for me, but it’s starting to feel a little more “normal” I guess you could say. I feel like I’m developing a really good base, and by alternating between speed, long runs, cut back weeks, and easy runs, I’m hoping that my base will be really strong by the time I gear up for my next marathon.

This is what a typical week has looked like lately:

M: rest, always

T: ~10 miles, no watch

W: ~8 miles, some kind of speed work, mostly tempos, and Maximum Sculpt class

T: ~8 miles easy

F: 6 miles slow and Maximum Sculpt class

S: 14-18 mile long run. I did do one random 20 miler last weekend, but otherwise I’m normally around 16

S: cross-training, normally swimming

My Wednesdays are Fridays almost always look the same, but otherwise things float around a lot. I’m starting to switch my long run days to Sunday for the fall/winter because the only thing better than finishing a long run is finishing a long run and laying on the couch watching football for the rest of the day.

Football season=Sunday long runs

So, despite the “not training” higher mileage, I do have some method to my madness—in the form of fall half marathons where allegedly, I’ll be testing my fitness.

Full disclosure/honesty: I’m 99% sure I’m not ready to run The Big Goal Time at the Bellingham Bay Half, which is two weeks from now. I could ramble away on a variety of excuses, but instead I’ll just take ownership and admit that I haven’t put in the amount of work necessary. Yes, I’ve been running and I’ve been diligent about workouts and miles, but I never feel like I jacked things up to the level I need to be at. It might have been fear, laziness, burnout, etc—but whatever the reason, the result is that I’m not feeling prepared to attempt a 1:35 half marathon in two weeks.

However, I do feel like the work I have done could be worth something, and I think I’ll use Bellingham as a fitness test and benchmark race as opposed to an A race. There is the chance of a PR (my current is 1:38:25), although I won’t be all that disappointed if I don’t break that either.

Do I want to be in shape to gut out 7:15 miles at Bellingham? Absolutely. Do I feel guilty for not being there yet? Not really. And here’s why:

I spent the summer having an incredible time running spur-of-the-moment races, spending hours in a van and on the road in two ultra relays, and generally living a life that didn’t revolve around A-race training. And it was fantastic! I don’t regret it for a minute. It was so good for my hyper-competitive self to take a break from the grind and live life a little less strictly. However, my summer didn’t come without some hard work—and in fact it left me more exhausted than I anticipated.

So, I suppose what I’m trying to say is that while I don’t feel ready for a 1:35 just yet, I do feel like with a little more time I’ll get there. I have a few more half-marathon plans up my sleeve this fall, and in no way have I discounted those as opportunities for fast races. I’m also secretly hoping that as the temperatures drop, all my hot weather training will have miraculously made me faster without changing anything else. 🙂 Point blank, my goal to get faster and to be a better runner hasn’t changed one bit, it’s just taking a little more time in the short-term than I originally hoped for.

In other news…

In case you haven’t seen on my social media posting spree:

image

We got a kitten!!!

His name is Jasper, he’s 11 weeks and 5 days old, and he’s perfect.

He’s completely stolen our hearts, and every day I love him even more. I’m also a paranoid kitten owner, and I’m chronically afraid that something’s going to choke him, electrocute him, or that he’s ill with some rare kitty cancer. This definitely bodes well for how I’ll be with a baby.

Nevertheless, he’s a happy, healthy, curious little kitty and makes my day brighter.

image (2)

He is also very helpful at drawer organization.

He is also very helpful at drawer organization.

And lastly…

photo

Stay tuned folks! Boston registration is still open for all us “barely there” qualifiers, and this morning at exactly 7:08 AM, my registration was sent in. I’m guessing we won’t hear until the end of the week, but I do know that if space does fill up…every second counts. Let’s hope that my -2:54 minutes helps me!

I do have my hopes up, admittedly, but even if I don’t get in, it felt so incredible to even have the chance to register. Two years after I ran my first marathon, I never imagined I could be on the Boston Athletic Association website hitting “submit” to my very own application. It was awesome, and I can only imagine what it will be like to actually run the race, whenever that may be.

That’s all for now! I think it’s safe to assume most people are as excited as I am about the upcoming crunchy leaves and cooler weather. And as much as I scoff at all the “scarves!” and “boots!” and “OMG PSL!!!” yammer, I have to admit that fall is seriously my jam, and I plan on soaking it up to the fullest.

Happy Monday!

So about that half-marathon goal…

Remember that big, scary goal I wrote about a while back? The one I was over-the-moon ecstatic and horrified to starting working toward?

Right. Well, in case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t done a lot of talking about how the steps toward that goal are going. This is partially because I haven’t had any time. Between working, running, relaying, traveling, and the life in between, my blog-updating time is limited and I’ve had to focus on the current happenings rather than the far-out goals.

So here’s an update on the 1:35:xx half-marathon goal I’m pining for before the end of this year:

I’m not feeling great about it.

It’s not that I don’t want it, and it’s not that I don’t think there’s potential in it. But the commitment and enthusiasm I felt when I initially began this scary endeavor hasn’t really been there recently, and frankly…I’m not surprised.

I don’t think I gave the magnitude of two ultra relays in the same month the credit I should have from the onset. They both required a lot of slow and long miles to prepare for, a week of taper beforehand, and a week of recovery afterward. I suppose I felt like the relays would simply “fit into” my training for my goal half. Instead, it became the other way around; I was trying to fit half-marathon training into preparation and participation in two ultra relays. And let me just tell you…the training regimens for each don’t necessarily fit together.

It’s the same reason why it’s really hard to focus a lot of attention on speed work during the peak weeks of marathon training. You can try and bust out a few tempo miles, but ultimately it’s the mileage count that reigns supreme, and we must abide by the desires of our already fatigued legs.

With that said, after a weekend of running over 35 miles in 24 hours, my legs were not going to be okay with 800 repeats, or goal paces, or anything other than a humble jog for that matter. And that happened to me twice.

Ultimately, I was more concerned with recovering adequately from the relays than checking off every half-marathon specific work out. And IMHO, this was definitely the right way to go. Sure, long term I probably care more about increasing my speed and my half-marathon PR than I do about relays. However, I definitely care more about running injury free above anything else—so it was in the end a matter of maintaining health.

The other part of this whole training-not-training deal (the part I’m more embarrassed to admit) is that the paces are ridiculously intimidating. It feels like I’ve just become mostly-comfortable with the idea of a 7:30 half-marathon pace (my old PR), and all of a sudden I’m supposed to be working on a 7:15. Those numbers, “7-1-5,” have kind of been haunting me, and it’s become obvious that I need to not only up my mental game, but I need to practice this pace to the point where it’s a little less daunting.

With that said, I have been practicing! What’s funny is that I “wrote” this post (in my head, on an easy run) on Monday , and then yesterdays run kind of changed my perspective on the whole “lack of confidence” theme. Which subsequently changed the ending of this post…as you’ll see below.

For me, tempo workouts at goal pace are my favorite way to gain some confidence about a goal race. Before Eugene, I practiced the feel of 8:00 miles so much that I guarantee I could have done them without a watch. So for Bellingham (the next half-marathon on the horizon), I’ve been playing with 7:15. Not a lot, but just enough to where my lungs and legs can start to know how it feels.

On Wednesday, however, it was time to step it up: I set out for 5 tempo miles, sandwiched between a warm-up and a cool down. The goal of those miles was to simulate a race plan (start slower, finish faster) and mimic the pace I would ideally hold for a 1:35:xx finish. I was nervous, I was unsure, but it had to be done:

Here are the results:

8:20 (w/o)

7:19

7:19

7:13

7:13

7:07

8:20 (c/d)

I’m not calling it a game changer, but that one workout gave my self-doubt-filled brain a jolt of inspiration. Maybe, it turns out, this goal isn’t too far-fetched. It might take a little more time and more races than just Bellingham (9/29), but I’m starting to feel a little more like that giddy, speed-hungry girl from a few months ago.

And yes, it really only took one workout. I can’t explain it, but yesterday—those paces that have felt way too fast and way beyond my capabilities felt a little more like mine. Instead of thinking those paces belonged to more experienced, faster runners that weren’t me—I felt like maybe I’m a little more entitled to them than I previously thought.

The goal now is going to be to really embrace that “ownership,” and I know I might need to be patient. From the onset, I had it in my head that Bellingham was going to the *the* race to make that 1:35:xx happen. There’s still a chance, but instead of putting all my eggs in that basket, I’m going to work more toward really getting stronger and more comfortable at those paces than just gutting them out for one race. The ultimate goal is to improve my speed overall, that’s what my goal was for this fall, and while a half-marathon PR is a good tangible step during that process, it’s not the end-all finish line.

The reason I’m not running a fall marathon this year is two-fold: one, I’ve run a marathon during the past four racing seasons, and I want to stave off burnout while resting my legs for a (potential) Boston Marathon run next spring. The second part, however, is to focus less on mileage and focus more on speed. So far, that hasn’t necessarily been the case considering the distance I had to put in for the ultra relays. And that’s fine! I had such a fun time at those relays, and I feel so fortunate I was able to participate in them.

However, it’s time to get back to work. Kind of like school starting again, it’s time to get a little more regimented if I want to get serious about improving my speed. It was hard to say no to a fall marathon this year, even though I knew it would ultimately keep me healthier and keep me moving toward my goal of getting faster.

That said, I don’t want to waste this opportunity. I’m a big believer that our comfort zones are meant to be broken, and our limits are supposed to be tested, and it’s time to practice what I preach.

Fall is here folks, and it’s time for this birdie to put on some big girl wings.

See Jane Run Half-Marathon Race Recap

Never before in my running career (except in high school) have I raced as much as I have this summer. It was 100% unintentional, but somehow I have found myself at several start lines (with more to come…). It helped that two of these races were free. Actually who am I kidding…that’s more or less the reason I’ve done so many. But free or not, I love racing, and I’m really happy to get the chance to do more of it.

As I wrote in my last post, I like to have intentions behind my races—even if those intentions have nothing to do with time. So with the See Jane Run half-marathon on Sunday, I definitely had some “guidelines.” Including (roughly):

1) Save your energy—conservative start

2) Fast finish

3) Make it hurt (a little)

I’m really trying to use the chance to race in the heat to my advantage, despite how much I dislike it. I’m 100% a cold weather racer, always have been, and I have always felt defeated a little when the temperatures rise and my speed and energy decline. But, I’m trying to turn this into a positive and hopefully by doing the hot work now, it will make the cooler temps all the more luxurious.

So let’s get this race recap started already, shall we?

Pre-race mirror selfie + dirty room.

Pre-race mirror selfie + dirty room.

I did something I have never done before a half before this race—I warmed up. Not far—just a little half mile jog with a couple of strides to get my legs warm and my turnover going. I was a little wary of not storing all my energy, but I actually really liked this and I started the race feeling more ready to go than usual.

After said warm-up, I scuttled my way to the first corral and right at 8 am, we were off.

I immediately felt really happy to be racing a half on such a beautiful day with a bunch of runner gals. Despite how competitive I am (which would be proven later on), there was something great about racing among a (primarily) all-female group. There’s this unspoken sisterhood between ladies who run, and I could definitely feel it crossing the start line on Sunday.

Moving onto the nitty gritty:

Miles 1 and 2:

7:39, 7:40

Well, my “guideline” number 1 was kind of blown, but I figured that this would just make guideline number 2 even tougher and thus make guideline number 3 a success. I couldn’t help starting this way—I felt so good! But eventually, once reality settled in, I dialed it back a bit and focused on getting into a groove.

Miles 3 and 4:

7:48, 7:44

The beginning miles of this race are all along Lake Union and the canal, so there was a lot of shade and a nice breeze. It was very comfortable running, and once the crowds thinned a little I really felt in a groove. There was an out-and-back after mile 3 or so, and I quickly realized that the mile markers were very off. I verified this when I heard some gals around me comparing their own measurements, but I figured it would all settle itself eventually.

Miles 5, 6 and 7:

7:45, 7:50, 8:10

These are the miles where a half-marathon starts to get more real for me—kind of like miles 14-18 of a marathon. The middle miles. The miles you forget about until you’re in them and you realize you’ve already run for an hour or so but you still have the harder stuff left. Luckily, I was still feeling good—a little hot, but luckily we were still reasonably shaded. I was also having a grand ole time targeting and leap-frogging with other runners. I knew I was in the top 30 or so women, meaning that it was safe to assume that everyone around me was down for some racing. I definitely noticed a little sass between runners during this race, especially when I would pass someone— but in a good competition kind of way. Anyway, it made it fun and offered some distraction. Around mile 7 I felt like I was primarily passing people as opposed to getting passed, which gave me some hope that all my goals going into this race weren’t lost. Around mile 7 was the dreaded “super steep” hill on the course. It was definitely steep and slowed me down, but it wasn’t awful.

Miles 8, 9, and 10:

8:10, 7:42, 7:53

This is where the only hills in this race were, but they didn’t bother me too much. With every uphill comes a downhill, and as much as the uphills can drain my energy, I always gain momentum on the way back down. We passed back by Gasworks and the finish line on the way to the final out-and-back, which was a little deflating, however I was prepared for it and didn’t actually mind as much as I anticipated.

I should also note that the mile markers were still off, and I was pretty certain around this point that the course would end up short. Kind of a bummer, although ultimately we would all be running the same distance. Good thing I wasn’t going for a personal best, but this seems like something that should definitely be fixed next year.

I was getting warmer and my stomach started to squirm a little around mile 10. Heat does this too me—especially if my fuel isn’t sitting properly (which it wasn’t). I tried sucking on a Honey Stinger gel packet around 8.5, and despite my best efforts it wasn’t going to happen. I need to get better at fueling somehow.

Nearing mile 11, I was dreading my self-proclaimed “fast finish,” but I was also excited to try and gut it out with a few of the girls around me. This part was also exciting because we were able to see the lead ladies coming back by us, and the first gal (who was crushing everyone) was SO YOUNG. I think she may have been 14-16 years old? Ridiculous. I gave her an obligatory, “You go girl,” as she sprinted by me.

Miles 11, 12, “13”

7:52, 7:31, 6:17 (final .86 mile)

I was happy I was able to punch it up a little in the end. I didn’t feel great, but I didn’t feel completely depleted. It was right where I wanted to be—a little pain, but not all out. The final mile was fun as we entered back in Gasworks with lots of people watching and a nice final path to run down. About 200 meters from the finish line, I was around 1:39:30, and I did all I could to keep that 1:39 on the clock. It was probably the fastest sprint I’ve ever done at the end of a race. Seeing BF and high-fiving him right before crossing the end was fun too 🙂

My watch read 1:40:06 when I finally finished, which was too bad, but since I was sure the course measurement was wrong anyway, it didn’t matter too much. Also, duh, this wasn’t a goal race, so I was mainly just happy to be done and to have (mostly) accomplished what I wanted to.

Half-marathon number #8, check!

The finishing area was fun, with lots of samples and not enough hands to hold it all. My stomach was still waging war, so after one failed attempt at a donut hole I had to refuse all the other goodies. I felt better after two bottles of water, but I just don’t think my system will ever get used to racing in warmer temps.

It’s all part of the training though. And this race was exactly what I wanted in terms of race practice and getting into a manageable pain place.

Oh and I started wearing sunglasses when I run. LOVE.

Oh and I started wearing sunglasses when I run. LOVE.

Final results:

Time: 1:40:08

Overall: 26/975

Age Group: 6/171 <— homegirls are FAST! The next closest girl to me ran a 1:34.

Pace: 7:38 (if the course was 13.1, if it was 12.86 like I clocked, pace was 7:47)

Overall, I was happy with this race. It felt challenging but not too hard, and while the thought of averaging a pace 30 seconds faster than this in just over two months is still horrifying, I’m thankful for the opportunity to practice racing the distance.

I also know there’s lots of time before Bellingham, and I have some strategies up my sleeve to help my 1:35 goal become a reality. More to follow later on. See Jane Run will, however, more than likely be my last half before that goal race, which I’m hoping will help to kindle some necessary race-day fire.

Special thanks to RoseRunner for my entry to this race!

And now…let’s run some ultra relays!

Did you run See Jane Run? How did it go??

The Races Are Coming, The Races Are Coming!

Happy Friday!

We are officially one week away from Ragnar NWP, and I’m actually getting really excited!

I didn’t really mean for that to sound like I’m surprised, but I suppose I’ve just been feeling a little more daunted by the idea than jazzed for it. Part of that stems from the fact that I’ve never done a relay before, so while I know all the hearsay about how awesome they are—I don’t really have a good concept of what to expect.

All that seems to be going away, though. Now that the final details are getting sorted and we have an established start time, drivers, runs times, etc., it’s all becoming more real and super exciting!

I’ve accepted that there really isn’t a “right” way to prepare for an ultra relay, and I feel like I’ve done everything I could have. I’ve also accepted that it’s going to be hard, no matter what, but it’s the hard aspect that makes the whole experience memorable.

Plus, my team is pretty awesome, and I’m excited to hang out with these ladies for over 24 straight hours 🙂

Team Six Pack with a Rack

(in running order, because why not, right?)

Bethany

Lauren

Rebecca

Jessey

Rira

ME

We’ve got a great mix of personalities, experience, ages, and all with one big thing in common: a lot of run love. I can’t wait!

But, there’s business to tend to before Ragnar. And so continues my summer of endless activity and racing…

This Sunday, I’ll be running the See Jane Run half-marathon as my final long training run for Ragnar.

I have had this race on my radar for a while, and luckily won an entry to it, but I’m finding myself a little lost when it comes to my approach to it.

Full discretion: I am physically incapable of “fun running” a race. I don’t always all-out race, but even in cases where I don’t have an A-goal, I still like to have a race plan or some sort of structure as to how I’ll try and run. Racing is a really important part of running for me, and I like to try and take it seriously whenever the opportunity presents itself. Even if the opportunity is to practice pacing, practice racing, or practice going slow.

Back to See Jane Run. I’m in a weird limbo between wanting to work hard and wanting to hold back. This will not be an all-out effort, as I’m saving that energy for my actual A-race this fall, but I still want to try and practice racing a half.

So, although I’m not entirely sure of my exact plan, I know I do want to practice finishing strong. I have never really had the opportunity to tap into stored energy for a great finishing kick at the end of a race (seeing as I normally go out too fast). So, I’d like to give this approach a try. I suppose it will be a practice in patience more than anything else and trying to hold back in the beginning so I can let it rip in the last 2 miles or so.

I’m trying really hard to not let the races I run now affect my confidence for attempting a 1:35 in a few months. Slowly I’m getting it into my head that it’s a BIG goal, and just because I’m not ready now doesn’t mean I won’t be ready then. So, I’m going to try my best to not let numbers on Sunday take away from the experience. I’ll be happy with a solid effort and enough juice left to start building the energy and excitement necessary for some Ragnar miles.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Who’s running See Jane Run this weekend? Who’s racing? Who’s doing something summery/outdoorsy/exciting?

Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Half-Marathon Race Recap

Surprise! I ran a half marathon on Saturday.

This literally is "proof" I was there. No timing chip= ghost runner!

This literally is “proof” I was there. No timing chip= ghost runner!

Early last week, I was hit with the overwhelming desire to do a half that weekend. It just sounded fun—and I knew there was trail half I’d considered earlier this year, so I went to the website to check it out. Alas—the race was sold out, and so I decided to shelve my race desire and hold off until See Jane Run in July. That was the last I thought of doing a half marathon that upcoming weekend.

Then Friday morning came around. A coworker sent out an email to my office’s runner distribution list (yes, it exists) asking if anyone wanted her bib for Saturday’s Rock ‘n’ Roll race. She is/was injured and didn’t want her entry to go to waste—essentially, the bib was up for grabs.

It took me all of five minutes to consider the offer, and after deciding that sacrificing a morning of sleeping in was definitely worth running a free race, I emailed her back and presto…I was running the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll half! I had been planning on doing a long run that day anyway, so I figured I might as well get a medal in the process 🙂 Plus, I’d never done a Rock ‘n’ Roll race before, and I wanted to see what all the hype was about—especially if it wasn’t going to cost an arm and a leg to do so.

It was definitely a low-stress race eve and morning. I didn’t do much to prepare ahead of time other than stretching a bit more on Friday night. And, considering that I’d run three days in a row already at that point, I wasn’t expecting much in the way of fast legs. But, that’s the price you pay for an impromptu race, so I went into it without much of a strategy other than to have fun and enjoy the race atmosphere. I also decided to try racing for the first time without headphones, mostly to see how it felt, but also to soak in some of the “rock ‘n’ roll” atmosphere.

Sleepy eyes but excited to run!

Sleepy eyes but excited to run!

BF dropped me off with plenty of time to meander around, find some blogger peeps, and get set in my corral without any stress. Luckily, I didn’t need the porta-potties because they had perhaps the longest lines I have EVER seen at a race. Yikes…happy to have dodged that potentially very stressful situation.

Photo courtesy of Stacie!

Photo courtesy of Stacie!

I was in corral 6 so it didn’t take too long before we were shuffled to the start line and were sent off. Woo, race time! I wasn’t wearing a timing chip, just my Garmin, and it was kind of fun to feel like a phantom runner. The beginning was crowded, and per usual a lot of weaving happened. It was inevitable, but apparently my pace was more panicked than I thought because once I was able to get past the crowds I was looking at a low 7:00s pace. Holddd up there homegirl, this is supposed to be fun.

Miles 1-3

I dialed in and tried to find my rhythm. To tell you the truth, those first three miles were kind of tough. My breathing was distracting me, and although I run without music a lot of the time, it’s normally at a slower pace, and I think race-day conditions got the better of my heart rate—consequentially increasing my breathing. Also, I was already hot—definitely not my favorite racing conditions. And by not my favorite…I mean absolute least favorite.

But I tried to relax, got excited when I saw the Oiselle/Nuun/runner gals a little after mile 2, and finally found a comfortable pace.

Here’s also where I admit that while I definitely didn’t have a set time goal, I still wanted to use the race as an opportunity for pacing practice. So while shooting for another ~1:40 was tempting, I decided that aiming for just a sub-8:00 average would be both more feasible and more constructive.

1-3

Find the up and down hills!

Clearly, I was all over the place, and I really wanted to work on just getting comfortable and cruising.

Miles 4-8

We circled away from downtown at this point and headed on a long stretch of road. I started feeling much better—more relaxed and in control—and started enjoying the atmosphere and the scenery. I thought the whole band element was kind of fun, and even though I was kind of missing my music, it was nice to hear all the various sounds of the race. I got more than one “Go Ducks!” which I realized was due to the Eugene pride I was sporting 🙂

The course veered left during these miles and took us along the water on Lake Washington—easily my favorite part of the run. Lots of people cheering, lots of enthusiasm, just generally a happy running ethos.

4-8

You can't really tell, but I'm happy here!

You can’t really tell, but I’m happy here!

Miles 9-11

I was definitely feeling the increasing temperatures, but it was encouraging to know that we’d shortly be headed back toward downtown. Not so encouraging, however, was knowing that all the hills on the course were still to come.

A STEEP ascent lead us up into the I-90 tunnel, which is never my favorite in Seattle races, but there was a band inside which made it a little more tolerable. We were nearing the 10 mile mark when I felt a tap on my shoulder, and it was a guy who goes to my lifting class who said he “recognized the back of my head.” Kind of fun.

He passed me pretty quick, and it gave me a bit of a jolt to keep treking toward the finish. I loved exiting the tunnel and eventually flying down the I-90 ramp back toward downtown. I recognized the same place I picked up Nicole last year when she was running the full, and it felt really good to actually be running the race this year.

9-11

It was very noticeably still getting hotter, and running on the highway gave no relief from the sun. Still, I tried to start some mental math and garner some energy for a solid kick at the end.

Capture4

Miles 12-13

Alas, no kick was had. Not sure if it was the heat, the hills (of which the end had way too many), or the fact that I was running on very un-tapered legs, but I was toasted. However, I was still excited for the finish line and did what I could to get there with a smile. The crowds at this point had also thickened and provided a lot of encouragement.

12-13

The finish line chute was definitely exciting, and despite feeling hot and tired, I was really happy crossing at the end. Two weekends in a row of finish lines, I feel lucky.

As for time, my Garmin showed a 1:43 and change for 13.2 miles. I’m not sure if the tunnel threw off my distance calculation or if the course was long, but it doesn’t really matter.

I was a little sad I wasn’t closer to 1:40 for a bit, but then I knocked myself off my high horse and decided to be satisfied with the run. A 7:50 average on tired legs and a dehydrated/not carb-loaded stomach isn’t anything to complain about for an impromptu race.

Ultimately, I had a great time at Rock ‘n’ Roll. It was a beautiful day with a ton of fun people and a fat ole medal to boot.

I feel really grateful for both the opportunity to have run this race (for free!) and also for the physical ability to do a half on a whim. It’s definitely not lost on me that I was injured a year ago and could only run about 3 miles at a time. A lot can change, and I only hope the healthy legs will continue!

image

The Fall Goal

Without really meaning to, I somehow came up with a fall racing schedule that I instantly fell hard for—as in, head-over-heels obsessed with.

I commiserated to all of you about how I felt goal-less, restless, and lost after Eugene. I think the post-marathon blues hit a bit harder than expected. Okay, a lot harder—and I can admit it now.

I’m finally coming to terms with the fact that while I was really excited to have accomplished a big bucket list goal, it was actually really hard to wave goodbye to that goal and look out into the great beyond. Qualifying for Boston had been my baby for so long, and I think I had this idea in my head that once I’d done it, all the running happiness would be mine forever and ever. That’s exaggerated—but you get the point.

But I didn’t feel like that, and it wasn’t just because I had a hard, less-than-perfect race. Yes, Eugene wasn’t as satisfying as I might have hoped, but I’m realizing now that it had less to do with the race itself and more to do with my lack of direction afterward.

I know I should have let my unrelenting goal-setting brain kick back and take a break, but that’s not really how I work. Even when I’m between training cycles and running less frequently, I still like to know that a new possibility is out there, waiting for me to take it on. Without a defined goal, I was left with a very jumbled mess of potential ideas, and consequentially a very blank drawing board.

I went back and forth on running a fall marathon, on committing to triathlons, on working solely on speed, on jacking up strength training (no pun intended). Around and around it went, until all I had was more confusion, too many “potential” race options, and not enough enthusiasm to even make a decision. In retrospect, this is one of the reasons my blogging went down so much after Eugene (okay…one of the reasons). I felt like I had no idea what I was doing, so what was the point of lamenting those frustrations to others?

So I kind of gave up. Not because I no longer wanted a goal, but because I decided a “roll with it” approach was going to be more tolerable than orchestrating a race schedule that I wasn’t totally psyched about. Sure, I had races lined up, but none that had a sparkly “goal race” asterisk attached to them.

But now, approximately 48 hours after a light-bulb went off, all that’s changed. I think the light-bulb may have actually broken with how much intensity the idea came to me.

FYI, this is a very long-winded explanation for my decision making process. Sorry…there was just a lot of build up.

It all started with a little triathlon last Saturday. I had such a great time at this race, and it left me hungry for more. Admittedly, when it comes to triathlons, I’m more interested in the distances that have an “iron” in their name. But it was too soon for that. There is a chance that I could do the 70.3 distance this fall, but I feel like it would be a little half-assed. I’m not experienced enough on the bike or in the sport itself to have a real go at it, and it’s not really my style to commit to a serious distance without a decent training cushion to go off of.

But I still wanted more from the tri. I wanted to become a “bike rider” and get more acquainted with my beautiful baby bike. And I want to open the option for a half-Ironman next year. That requires more practice, more training, and less marathoning.

Which all ultimately brought up the idea of the Black Diamond Olympic Tri in September. Arielle first mentioned this race to me last year, and it seems like this year there’s a lot of blogger interest. It was also far enough away to get in some actual tri-specific training in—and far enough after my second ultra-relay to allow for some recovery time.

So yes, I was on board for Black Diamond. But it still wasn’t clicking. It felt like a means to an end; a stepping stone, if you will, toward what would be an actual goal race next year. Therefore, I still felt as if I was winging it in terms of training and racing, and I was okay with it. Black Diamond would follow a lot of summer running, and eventually I’d figure out some more fall/winter plans.

But then, THEN…an idea came to me. I shouldn’t take credit actually, in fact—credit goes to a Twitter conversation between Lauren and Larira two nights ago. I spotted them talking about the Bellingham Bay Half-Marathon this fall, and I had to chime in since it was my own first half-marathon almost three years ago. I started thinking then about how much fun I had at the race, how nice the course was, etc.

Somehow, then, after remembering how much I loved that race and how much I wanted to run it too—it all came to me: I want to run a goal half-marathon this fall.

And not just any goal. No—that’s the fun part. This goal would be hard, elusive almost, and perhaps the most intimidating training I’d ever have to take on.

And I was hooked. This is exactly what I wanted to commit the rest of the summer toward, and it seemed silly I hadn’t thought of it sooner. I have never done goal-specific half-marathon training, in fact—I’ve never actually done intentional half marathon training, and I figured why not start after already running 6? 🙂

I considered a few options for races, but Bellingham just felt right. It’s close by, it’s cheap, and it’s a PR-ready course. I considered a few other options, but after navigating a few scheduling plans, this was clearly the best option. The best part was that I could still do the Olympic tri as it’s a full two weeks before Bellingham, leaving enough time for recovery while still gaining the tri experience.

So basically, I’m obsessed. For a number of reasons, but mainly:

1) I’m sticking to my no fall marathon plan 

I really wanted to try and commit to saving myself for Boston next year (assuming I’ll get in), but I could feel that commitment slipping away when I felt completely goal-less. It would be easy for me to just plan another 26.2 training schedule, but that wasn’t ultimately what I wanted. This plan totally fits the bill for maintaining distance but without going all out marathon.

2) Speed!

I have been wanting to focus on speed forever now but never fully could because marathon training + excessive speed work is kind of a recipe for disaster. At least for me. With a goal for a half instead of a full, I’ll be able to really narrow in on speed workouts, which will be very new to me in some respects. I can’t wait.

3) Forced cross-training

By keeping the Olympic distance tri on the schedule, it will not only force me to spend more time on my bike and in the pool, but also off the roads. Cross-training, IMO, has a direct correlation to decreased injury risk. Double wins all around.

4) Tempering the sadness of no fall marathon

Despite my aforementioned goal of not doing a fall 26.2, I knew that when the time came and everyone was after their respective marathon goals and running 20 milers, I would be seething with jealousy. Having a distance goal of my own will (mostly) help offset that little green monster and keep me focused on the Boston end-game.

5) Lots of work to do

No sugar coating…this goal is a big stretch for me. It is going to require more discipline and probable more puke-inducing workouts than I’ve ever done. And while that probably sounds awful to some, it’s exactly what I need right now. Feel free to remind me of this at my 4:30 am alarms 😉

6) It doesn’t feel possible (yet) <— Biggest reason of all 

Here’s the honest truth about training to BQ in Eugene: I was nearly 100% sure I could do it. The required pace was something I was already comfortable with, and without the injury when I ran Chicago, I’m almost certain I could have done it there. Of course, I wanted to work hard and I wanted to secure my confidence, but I never really had a doubt that unless disaster struck—I could do it.

This goal? Not so much. In the name of full disclosure, let’s get real with numbers here:

I would like to run a 1:35:xx half this fall.

That would require dropping nearly 15 seconds off my current half-marathon PR pace. And here’s the biggest kicker: I’m still convinced my current half-marathon PR was a fluke. Yes I’m proud of it and I’m happy it happened, but I still, to this day, have a hard time believing it wasn’t a lot of luck.

Which makes shaving 3 minutes off that time even scarier.

So no, I’m not totally sure if I can do it. Do I believe with the right training it’s possible? Of course—which is why I can’t wait to dive into the horrifying place of having a very big reach goal.

This whole agenda, tri and all, feels like the perfect formula for all the things I was hoping to take on this fall season, and I can’t wait to get started.

In fact I did start, yesterday, with a 5-mile tempo at my previous half-marathon PR pace. It wasn’t the easiest, but it happened—7:30s on the dot. And it’s a start.

Time to get uncomfortable folks, I can’t wait.

 

Take a Little, Give a Little

…or something like that.

Happy Friday peeps! I wont’ even begin to apologize for all the showboating that’s been going on in the PNW regarding our weather. You better believe that once that big shiny star comes out to play, we’ll be talking about it. And it doesn’t look like it’s leaving anytime soon. Bragging continues!

Thanks everyone for your kind comments on my last post, via Twitter, Facebook, texts, telepathy, etc. I put everything I had into my Eugene training cycle and into that race, and while I had hoped it wouldn’t be as painful as it was, I am always comforted knowing that there wasn’t much more I could do.

I do feel like I have a better time in me, if we’re being honest. A better time that also feels a lot stronger, smoother, etc, but that’s a topic for a different day.

Right now, I’m not really thinking about any races in the near future. Running slow and running with friends is sounding a lot more enticing to me right now 🙂

This weekend will mark the one year anniversary of my second full marathon, also known as the Tacoma City Marathon, also known as “The time I unknowingly had a 105 degree fever and was too bullheaded to stop running.” If you’ve been around here for a while, you know that Tacoma sucked the life out of me (also the function of my IT band), and it scarred me a bit in terms of the dangers of the marathon.

Obviously, times have changed since then, and it’s hard to believe that it was only one year ago that I was a very different runner. Well, I suppose not that different, but I do feel much smarter and stronger since that incident. Silver lining I suppose.

Anyway, when I collapsed in Tacoma and spent a lot of time in the medical tent, I was surrounded by the most helpful and supportive volunteers. They did everything from carrying me from the finish line, squeezing my cramping muscles, ice-bathing me, and, um, “checking” my temperature. Actually no, I’m not thankful for that part. Besides the point.

The point is that those volunteers made all the difference in the world for me after that race. They cooled me down, put me back together, and saved me from what was a very bad situation. I felt such a debt of gratitude at the time, in fact I almost felt guilty. But that’s what they were there for, and as they said, “It’s our job.”

I wanted to do something to give back a bit to that race. To this day I remain incredibly grateful for those people that helped me, and I decided that I should try and return the favor. No, I am not an EMT and barely remember proper CPR protocol from my days as a lifeguard, but every race needs volunteers.

So I signed up! This will be my first race volunteering, and I’m so glad that I’ll finally be able to provide a service that I’ve used myself in so many races.

I ran the idea by Nicole, as I knew she volunteered last year, and she was in. Becky decided to join in on the fun as well, and after an email to the volunteer coordinator—the three of us will not only be stationed together, we’ll be MEDALING the half-marathon finishers!

I’m so ridiculously excited for this. There are few happier moments than when you receive your race medal at the end of a hard effort, and I love that we get to be the people that drape all those sweaty runners with their award. Nicole already dibsed the winner, but I get the female winner 🙂

Part of me wanted to be handing out water to potentially help another over-heated victim such as myself, but there will be others out there for that.

After this past weekend of running my own race, and with a day that promises clear skies and 75+ degrees, I can’t think of any place I’d rather be than honoring runners at a finish line.

Hopefully I don’t get too much stranger-sweat on me.

Have a great weekend everyone!