Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fall Four: Weekly Round-Up (15)

Okay, this is it – it’s time to get my taper on!

It’s been quite a while since I ran more than 20 miles, and I kind of forgot what that does to the human body/brain function.  Stef and I started at my apartment, headed toward Silver Spring, and down back through the trails into the city.  To be honest, I felt solid for the first 18 miles…well, I felt as solid as a person who’s running that distance can feel.  By mile 19, I was still able to run but moving and thinking proved slightly harder.

After the run, Stef and I headed out for burgers, which were so deserved and so delicious. I have not moved from my cozy position on my sofa since returning to my apartment and throwing on my PJs (it helps that there’s Sunday night TV).

So, here I am at Week 19 – the first week of my taper.

Monday: Rest (I may try to get in some yoga and weight training)
Tuesday: Speed Work – 40 minutes
Wednesday: 5 Miles
Thursday: 3 Miles, Strength Training
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 5K Race – Race to Representation
Sunday: 6 miles

Let’s go! 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fall Four: Weekly Round-Up (14)

I felt great last week during training, even after running the Army 10-Miler and the Baltimore Half-Marathon in a little less than a week.  I had a great speed workout on Tuesday and a fantastic long-run on Saturday.  I'm down to the final four weeks.

Monday: 3 miles 
Tuesday: 5 miles
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: 50-minute speed session 
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 22 miles
Sunday: X-Train and Strength training

After this week, it'll be taper time.  Whoo! 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Baltimore Half-Marathon Race Round-Up

A year ago today, I was on my way back from running my first marathon in Baltimore.  I was tired.  My legs ached in ways that I didn’t know was possible, and I wanted to curl into a ball and sleep until my legs felt less like cement.

Still, I was hooked and running became a huge part of my life.

Yesterday, I went back to Baltimore to run the half marathon with Nicole, Jason, and Ned.  I hadn't planned on running Baltimore when I set my race calendar, but when Ned mentioned that he wanted to run the race in honor of Steve - who was diagnosed with cancer shortly after running the marathon last year - it became something that I wanted to do for our friend.

It was incredible to be back in the city and lining up for the race that started it all, and I was surprised at how much of the course – including the exact locations of each of the water stations -- I remembered.  I also remembered exactly where I felt like crap and where I wanted to give up but had no choice but to get myself to the finish line. 

The race went so much better than it did last year.  (My guess is that my progress as a runner and choice a race that was 13.1 miles shorter had something to do with that.) 

Being familiar with the course, I decided that the first few miles should be run at a comfortable pace (9:00-ish).  When things start to get hilly, I would slow my pace but exert the same effort until the downhill portions came; then, I could fly.  I stuck to my plan and made it up all of the hills with no trouble – at least compared to last year when my internal monologue was screaming for me to stop.

The wind picked up around Lake Druid, making things a little more challenging. It looked like I had plenty of time to pick up my first sub-2:00 half.  Around Mile 10, it hit me that I’d run the Army 10 Miler the previous Sunday and was nowhere near 100% recovered.  


It wasn’t a huge deal, but I started to feel the miles enough to slow down a bit.

Heading into Camden Yards, I ran into friends who had come up for the race (and post-race beer and crab cakes) before crossing the finish line.

Gun Time: 2:12:49
Chip Time: 2:05:48 (New PR)
Pace: 9:36 mile

I didn’t look at my times yesterday or compare myself to my previous race, but I just looked while I was typing this post and saw that this race sets a new personal record for the half-marathon.  I get that I’m training, but really?  Even though I ran a race six days prior and had nothing but hills for about three miles on the course?  Are you sure?

Okay then.  I'll take it!

Week 17:
Monday: Stretching, very light cross training and strength training
Tuesday: Speed Workout – 45 Minutes
Wednesday: 5 Miles
Thursday: 3 Miles
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 18 Miles
Sunday: 3 Miles (easy), strength training

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Your Daily What

I'm always impressed by women who are able to continue running during their pregnancy. I've been following this blog for a while and met a pregnant woman briefly during the National Half Marathon.

This news story from the Chicago Marathon is incredible:

As marathons go, Amber Miller's time of 6 hours and 25 minutes in the Chicago Marathon is not that impressive.  What is noteworthy, however, is that she was 39 weeks pregnant and gave birth to a daughter a few hours after crossing the finish line on Sunday, the Daily Herald reports. -USA Today

Thank you, Jane, for the link!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fall Four: Weekly Round-Up (13)

I modified my training schedule for this week.  The original plan was to run the Army 10-Miler hard, take it easy during the week, and enjoy being back in Baltimore for the half-marathon.  Now that I'm running Baltimore with the intention of running hard (sub-2:00 half or bust, baby!), I'm going to do a bit more running this week than originally planned.  

Also, this week: My body is a temple!  Wine? Maybe one glass of red.  Beer? Nope.  Fruits and vegetables? Hell yes!

Monday - X-Train and Strength Training 
Tuesday - Speed Workout
Wednesday - 3 Miles (easy) and Strength Training
Thursday - 3 miles (easy)
Friday - Off 
Saturday - Baltimore Half-Marathon
Sunday - Off

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Army Ten-Miler Race Round-Up

Today was a perfect day for a race.  It was beautiful -- one of those fall days that DC only experiences for a two-week window before winter weather prematurely sets in.  Overall, I enjoyed this race.  The course started and ended at the Pentagon and covered a lot of ground along the National Mall.  There are a few complaints about the race that I'll mention below; I guess most of them are just what happens when there are 21,000 runners on a course.  But, hey, I guess the race organizers can only do so much when the field is that large.

Miles 1-3 (Bunch, Bunch, Bunch)
The race organizers split the race into three waves to help with overcrowding on the course.  Wave 2 (my wave) started the race at about 8:15 AM.  My plan going into the race was to run the first half of the race around a 9:00 pace and the second half closer to an 8:00 pace.  Out of the gate, I started at a 9:00 (perfect!) but completed the first mile in 9:22. Even with the staggered start, there simply was not enough room for runners to find good space early in the race.  (In fact, I spent most of the 10-mile race bumping into people or being bumped into.)

During the second mile, I floated around an 8:30 pace and, to be honest, it didn’t feel like I was pushing myself at all.  (Hooray seeing improvement!)  The third mile was a little slower than the second, which was fine since I didn’t really want to push my limits until the second half the race.  I talked to a few people on the course, and it was incredibly humbling to run alongside active duty servicemen and women as well as with those who were wounded in combat.  It was a great reminder of the sacrifices that many men and women (and their families) make to protect this country.

Miles 4-6

I thought that the course might thin out a bit by this point in the race, but I was still locked in a pack. I didn’t feel particularly speedy during this portion of the race and, by mile 5, I started to become a little frustrated by my inability to hit 8:00 miles.

Miles 7-9

The crowd support along Independence Avenue (Miles 5-8) was great.  Miles 8 and took us across the George Mason Memorial Bridge onto Rte.1 into Virginia.  It was eerily quiet, except for the sound of thousands of shoes hitting the pavement.  But, there is something appealing about that too.  I don’t think any description I write will do justice to the fact that this type of unity is truly special.  

The Finish Line

Once I cleared the highway, I started my final surge toward the finish line.  There was a slight incline toward the bridge, but I was in a great place.  (The crowd support in this area was the best.)  Weaving around runners was an added challenge – as it had been for most of the race – but I was able to do it without much problem.  I sprinted across the finish line, making an abrupt stop before hitting the wall of runners that were bottled-necked in the corral.  It took forever to move across the finish line to the celebration area. And, unlike most races where you’re almost immediately showered with water and bananas, the water station was an eternity away from the finish line.  (Okay, maybe not an eternity but when all you really want is water and a banana -- never mind. Oh hey, first world problems.)

Previous Record: 1:36:39, 2011 Cherry Blossom 10-Miler 
Gun Time: 1:51:32
Net Time: 1:33:10
Average Pace: 9:19
Division: 239/627

Instead of a medal, each finisher receives a commemorative coin, and I think it's snazzy.

Side A

Side B

Plans for Baltimore

Baltimore is six days away, and I had been going back and forth for months about my strategy for running two long races in one week.  To be honest, I think I didn’t run this race as hard as I wanted to or as hard as I could have.  But, this might actually be a blessing.  At this point, I've made the decision that Baltimore is going to be my hard race. More on that later.  

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Fall Four: Weekly Round-up (12)

Holy smokes, it’s October!

I missed last week's round-up.  To quickly fill you in, my first 20-mile run with Stef was fantastic.  (Who uses “20-mile run” and “fantastic” in the same sentence?) After the run, I thought about what it felt like to run that distance during last year’s training for Baltimore.  I was in shape enough to attempt to run 20-miles, but when I hit 20-miles I was done for the day.  This year, I felt like – if I had to – I could run more 6.2 miles and not really have a problem.  It’s so incredible to see my progress over the last year.  Knowing what I can do in a year is also motivation to keep working and improving as a runner.

Last week, I ran a total of 26 miles: three on Monday, four on Thursday, 15 on Saturday, and four this morning.  This week, my workouts will be more intense at the beginning of the week and slowly let up as the week goes on.  It’s hard to believe that the Army 10-Miler is next Sunday, and the Baltimore Half Marathon is on the following Saturday.

Monday: X-Train and Strength Training
Tuesday: Speed Session (I’ve been terrible about speed work lately)
Wednesday: 5 miles
Thursday: 3 miles
Friday: Off
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Army 10-Mile Race