So…Now What? Or, Accepting that Chicago is Over

This past weekend I went to cheer on my dad (and a bunch of other people I know/don’t know) at the Duke City Marathon.  I came bearing big race signs and I wore my Chicago marathon shirt so people wouldn’t think I was a non-runner just because I wasn’t racing! (just kidding…sort of…).

My dad had a great first half and finished in 2:06:something! AND he wasn’t even sore the next day! Pretty sure an addiction was created.

I rarely spectate at races (I know I should probably be volunteering more), so it was interesting to experience it from the other side.  For one, cheering is kind of awkward.  I have the same two phrases, and I was stressing the whole time that I was saying the wrong things and causing runners to lose motivation in the home stretch.

I was also pretty stir crazy, standing there with my race signs watching all of the runners coming into the finish line area.  I wanted to be racing!

But two weeks after Chicago, I’m still not able to run.  I have nagging issues in my calf/shin area.  As far as I can tell, it is just muscle tightness, but it is pretty annoying.  I’m doing all the usual rehabbing efforts, but I have to keep in mind that supposebly it will take 26.2 days for me to be all better.

Luckily, I don’t have anything to train for until the second week of November, so I’m able to not run without affecting any future race times.

I’m trying to really enjoy this time off, but boy am I really taking it off.  My workouts have included walking the dog, “weight lifting” (and by weight lifting I mean squats and curls), a single elliptical workout and my 1st swim lesson (attempting to put my head underwater without plugging my nose with my fingers…I think progress was made!).

I’m amazed at how sluggish I’ve become just from not working out regularly.  I always feel tired and I can feel my body slowly getting more lard-esqe.  Luckily I think I’m over the post marathon blues because of the excitement over the upcoming holiday season (OMGSOEXCITED), otherwise the combination of not working out and depression might have driven me to eat lots and lots of ice cream and potato chips.

On the plus side, all this lack of activity has given me the chance to reflect on what I’m going to do now that Chicago is over and establish what my goals are for my upcoming races.

First, in mid-November I will start half marathon training for Rock n’ Roll Arizona (January).  I’ve decided I want to train into running a fast half (1:35 or 7:15 average pace).  9 of my marathon miles were sub-8, so I feel like this is a reasonable goal to reach for.  It will require a lot of speed work (more 400’s instead of 800’s! Hooray!), but it is nice to have a base established.

I will start training for Boston the week following Rock n’ Roll.  I want to have a completely separate training plan for each of these races.  Instead of the 16 week training cycle, I’m going with a 12 week cycle.  After a training into a fast half, I should have the speed, so I’ll just have to work on re-building the endurance and focusing on becoming a strong downhill/uphill runner.  Unlike Chicago, Boston is not flat.  That little tiny hill felt epic at the 26 mile marker at Chicago.  I’m dreading the Newton Hills.

I’m not quite ready to call my Boston time goal.  I obviously want to put in my best effort and train hard.  EVERYONE is fast at Boston so I’d at least like to not feel like the one slow person in the bunch.  But now that I’ve qualified, I don’t know if I want the same pressure to hit a certain goal. I kind of want to see how Arizona goes before I start thinking about whether I’m ready to prepare for a sub 3:30.

I do also want to learn to swim by the end of the year, per my bucket list.  Saturday showed that I really have a looooong way to go.  But with coach Aaron leading the way (did I mention he’s also an accomplished swimmer?) and a new-found confidence that I can do anything I put my mind to, I think it can be done.  I’ll consider myself sufficiently schooled in swimming if I can make it across the pool and back using proper free-style stroke, and employing a solid breathing strategy that doesn’t include keeping my head above water at all costs.

I also want to get back some of that muscle definition that I’ve lost ever since I started running half marathons last year.  It was near impossible to do any quality weight lifting while training for a marathon because my muscles always felt fatigued, but now that we’re back in half marathon land for awhile, I want to focus on a supplementary workout program.

I’m also excited (surprised but excited) to see most of my marathon buddies signing up for a second round! We must all be nuts.  But it will be awesome to follow everyone’s training again come spring!

What’s your winter/spring race schedule?  (or, if you’re in the southern hemisphere…your summer/fall schedule!).  

I hope everyone is having a fantastic week!

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Training Tuesday Week 11 and a First Half Marathon

On Sunday, after running 13.1 miles and for a little more than 1 hour and 45 minutes, I sprinted across the Duke City Half Marathon Finish Line!

I ran without music, without any gels, and without a timing device.  I didn’t really get bored and I didn’t ever feel like I was going to die.  I was amazed at how easily my body took on the challenge and went with it.

The race itself was fairly well organized.  Parts of the trail were pretty narrow, the styrofoam cups at the water stations burst at the bottom when you squeezed them, and the 5K walkers seemed to be finishing about the same time, so both Aaron and I got stuck behind some slow people at the very end, but the experience was mostly all good. The course was beautfiul, there were plenty of water/aid stations, milage was clearly marked as was the course, other runners were polite, the volunteers were doing their jobs, and the crowd was encouraging. 

Aaron, trying to finish despite the walker people

Except for the results.

I know it happens every race.  Someone who crossed the finish line doesn’t end up on the results page. I’ve always assumed it was through some fault of their own.  For this race I was that person (and according to the DCM facebook page, there were at least 5 others).

I came off the race, feeling great and wanting to know my time.  I didn’t have a timing device, they weren’t calling out times on the course, and I didn’t see the time when I crossed the finish line, so I literally had no clue how fast I was going.  Plus, I WAS SUPER EXCITED TO KNOW HOW I DID!

It was a little discouraging not to see my name come up on the computer at the event after all the anticipation.  It was downright devastating to not find my name when the results were posted online.  I was frustrated that after working 10 weeks to get to the point where I could run a pretty decent half marathon, it might not even count.

Finally this morning (more than 48 hours after finishing and more than 36 hours after they were initially posted) the results were updated online, and my name magically appeared! As much as I want to not get all whiny and complain about something not all that important in the grand scheme of things, the results of a race, especially a Boston qualifying one, are pretty important. In fact, they are pretty much the whole point for most people! Not knowing if mine existed was kind of scary.

*ANYWAY*

I ran the course in 1 hour, 45 minutes, and 38 seconds! In August I made a goal for myself of 1 hour and 45 minutes for a race at sea level, and I wasn’t sure it was going to happen. BUT I DID IT!  And it felt great! 1,196 people ran the race, and I beat 1011 of them!

Aaron did amazing as usual.  He finished in 1 hour, 30 minutes and 26 seconds, putting him in the top three in his age group (he gets a medal!), and the top 40 overall!

And seriously, this means if my poor couch potato butt that thought 3 miles was a “long” run less than a year ago can do this, I really think anyone can.

It also means that I will have to lower my goal time for the next half marathon coming up in 2 weeks since I met my goal with Duke City. The race directors just altered the course due to construction and we now have to endure a pretty substantial hill at mile 7 and a really narrow course for 2 miles, but I’m feeling ambitious and now that I know I can push myself a little harder, I want to aim for 1 hour and 40 minutes.  We’ll see if I can pull off a 6 minute reduction despite the course changes.  I’m kind of wishing I had more time to train.

Post race (my parents brought me flowers!)S

Since it is the last two weeks before our “REAL”‘ race, we are tapering.

TRAINING TUESDAY WEEK 11

Saturday: We rested, but should be a 5 mile run

Sunday: Half marathon race! (should be a 1 hour, 55 minute run)

Monday: Easy 3 miles, strength training

Tuesday: Hill Intervals: 1.5 mile warm-up, 6 sets of alternating hill sprints (half mile) and recovery, 1.5 mile cool down

Wednesday: Easy 3 miles, strength training

Thursday: Tempo Run: 10 minute warm-up, 20 minutes at half marathon pace, 10 minute cool down

Friday: Rest Day

Also, Giuseppe made it to the final round of Pet-a-Palooza! After this week, I won’t ever beg for votes again (until next year!)….We would appreciate if you would please vote for him HERE.  Thank you!

Training Tuesday Week 10 and a “Practice” Half Marathon

The finish line is in view.  In just a few short weeks, I’ll be running my first half marathon.

Well, that isn’t exactly true.

We’re running one on Sunday, so I guess technically that will be my first.

The Duke City Marathon just happened to fall right in the perfect weekend for a “practice half” for us.  Even though I think Duke City is supposed to be a more serious and higher regarded race than the “real” one we’re  doing, it is much cheaper and with about a fourth of the participants, so I’m ok using it as a dress rehearsal.

Even though this should be more of a training long run instead of a run-so-hard-I-want-to-die race, I’m incapable of not being competitive.  Based on my pace from Sunday’s 12 mile run (much of which was along the same course), there is no reason that I won’t finish in under 2 hours.  I would be thrilled if I ran my first (practice) half marathon in 1 hour and 55 minutes.  If I run it in 1 hour and 50 minutes I will buy myself a present (but we all know I will buy myself a present regardless). 

If I somehow by the grace of Apollo manage to do this half marathon in my overall goal time (1 hour and 45 minutes) not only could that put me in the top 3 for my age group based on last year’s results (yay medal),  but I will probably also insist that a holiday be created in my name. 

But really, the likelihood of me sustaining an 8 minute mile for 13.1 miles at this high elevation at this point in my training would be a miraculous best case scenario.  Though I never thought I’d run a 5-k in 21 minutes either.  So you never know. I’m kind of a nervous wreck already even though it isn’t until Sunday and it is a PRACTICE race.  Silly Amy. 

Aaron has run this race several times including last year.  He’ll do just fine.

Pre-race…he looks so happy!
Strong finish!

(Friend Dustin ran the 2010 race as Batman…which is pretty typical for him…)

Here is our training plan for this week (because we have a race on Sunday, we’re doing a modified taper week).

TRAINING PLAN WEEK 10

Saturday: 4 mile run (should be 5)

Sunday: 1 hour and 50 minute run (we got in 12.1 miles)

Monday: Easy 3 mile run, strength training

Tuesday: Intervals: 1 mile warm-up, 5 sets of quarter miles alternating between 5-K pace/recovery pace, half mile cool down

Wednesday: Easy 3 mile run, strength training

Thursday: 40 minute Tempo run:  10 minute warm-up, 30 minutes at 10-K pace, 10 minute cool down (should be a 50 minute run)

Friday: Rest day

Oh…and don’t forget to vote for Giuseppe today! (Please and thank you!)