Race Recap: Monumental Half Marathon

Ok – first things first: 1:53:31!! A new PR (by A LOT) and an awesome race overall.

The first cold snap of the season hit on Friday night; snow flurries were sighted, sleet came down and the winds gusted. Mostly I just tried to ignore the complaints over the weather; I had trained 15 weeks for this race and I’d be damned if ‘bad weather’ was going to detract from it. Cold temperatures are advantageous for so many runners anyways. This did force me to re-plan my race outfit though and I settled on a tank, arm warmers, long sleeve over that and mid-calf capris. I also opted for gloves and a headband which were essential for the moments waiting before hand. Overheating was not a problem at all during this race – I was actually really comfortable the whole way through but the second I stopped I though I’d get frostbite.

Scott and I arrived about 1 hour ahead of the 8 am start; it was still dark and we had a ~1 mile walk from the car to downtown. I was NOT enjoying the weather at this point. It was blustery and freezing. We mostly huddled in a corner and tried to maintain some heat while waiting. I eventually made my way to the start corrals; they were loosely seeded and not too many people really adhered to their seeding anyways. I tried to make it to the back where us non-seeded folks were relegated but I eventually gave up and just discreetly squeezed into corral 4.

After little fanfare we were off! There was much congestion in the first mile and I was really concerned about my pace but it eventually evened out.

Miles 1-3
These went by really fast; they had so many twists and turns through down town and the crowd was still considerably large at this point. Scott had given me pacing of 9:05 for the first 3 miles, 8:55 for the next 5 and 8:40 for the last 5. I noticed I was above pace for these miles and I tried to slow it down some, but I wasn’t too successful.

Miles 4-6
I was still feeling really comfortable in the 8:45 range here at these miles so I decided to just stick with it. The course had taken us out of the thick of downtown by now and we were running through the neighborhoods which were full of nice support.

Miles 7-9
By this point we’d split from the full marathon and were going through some more turns that I couldn’t really place in my head. I was still feeling strong and confident with my consistent 8:42-8:45 miles.

Miles 10-13.1
I had it in my head to try to pick up the pace at mile 10 but I wasn’t able to do it. Part of it was a small incline over a bridge but mostly I think I was still concerned about blowing up. By the time I’d reached mile 12 I really stepped up my pace (I guess I knew I wasn’t going to blow up then) and realized I could’ve probably done this a few miles back. Oh well. Before the start of this year I’d never had a race tactic at all so what can you say?

HalfMarathon

I can’t believe I ran such even splits. I never achieve this in training. You can see the first 3 miles I was still dealing with crowds and my last mile is WAY faster than the others. So I didn’t really follow Scott’s pace suggestions but either way I am super proud of my finish! I kept thinking during the race how hard my first half was (2:17, average pace 10:30) that I had to walk a bunch and how far I’ve come. I felt strong the whole way and never had any really tough parts.

My knees and hips were sore for the rest of the day but I feel fine after a good night’s sleep. Again compare this to last year where I could barely walk up and down stairs for days after. We celebrated with Ethiopian food, vegan cupcakes and my first beer post-training.

Now I have to set my sights on more races because I can’t get enough. Most likely next spring I will run the Mini Marathon and again try to take down my half PR. But for now… I’m going to enjoy a few days off from running.

HalfMarathon

40 miles

I’ve done it, I’ve finished peak week – and it surprisingly wasn’t as challenging as I anticipated. It’s funny to look back and see the small increments that brought me to where I am now – my agony over a 4 mile run has transformed into finishing 14 miles and feeling pretty fucking awesome. So mileage for this week was….

Monday: Off
Tuesday: 10 miles
Wednesday: Off – vegan family dinner!! Casserole, pie, soy whip.
Thursday: 6 miles
Friday: 6 miles
Saturday: 14 miles
Sunday: 4 miles

Total miles run: 40

I haven’t uploaded my runs from garmin yet, but I am pretty sure that my long run broke down to 9:00 pace. The goal I’ve been ruminating over in my head has been to run 13.1 in under 2 hrs. And Saturday I ran it in 1:58:xx.

So obviously I need a new goal. No, ok I am still going to be happy to just run under 2 hours. That’s a HUGE improvement off my first half, something around the 2:17 (blah) mark. And that was basically shuffling/crying/crawling the last 3 miles. Mostly I am proud of myself to have done the training. That is way more meaningful to me than a fancy finish time.

So now we taper. I have a few more 8 mile runs, but nothing farther. Scott and I signed up for a 5 mile race this coming weekend, which will be a fun assessment of how much speed I’ve gained through training. I’m also going to spend these last two weeks really focusing on nutrition. Last week gave us little time to prepare sound lunches and I mostly foraged through the hospital. (aside – we’ve been watching the Walking Dead so everything is now seen in terms of the impending zombie apocalypse).

Oh, and Wednesday we are going to see NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON give a lecture. My nerdiness will not be contained.

3 weeks from Monumental

A quick recap on training this week – I am basically just putting my head down and powering through. Things are still going surprisingly well and I keep feeling amazed at how much I am enjoying this. Who knew running all the time is fun?

Monday: 5 miles
Tuesday: 9 miles
Wednesday: Ashtanga yoga
Thursday: off
Friday: 6 miles
Saturday: 8 miles
Sunday: 4 miles
Total: 32 miles

I didn’t have a particularly long run this week, but the 9 miles on Tuesday was definitely a challenge. I for some reason started out really fast and got my heart rate up super high – to the point where I had to walk for a minute to calm down. I eventually settled down and finished all the miles but I probably had a look of desperation on my face the whole time. Saturday’s run was the best of the week. I was able to keep ALL of the miles below 9:00, with two at 8:30 and an average of around 8:45. I can only hope to feel so good come race day.

Today we got up early to watch the Chicago Marathon and two (elite) friends run PRs. One just 13 seconds shy of an olympic trials qualifier… I can’t believe the pace they keep. I’m already starting to think ahead to my next goal race after Monumental, part of me wants to sign right up for the Mini but I will most likely take a few weeks to decide what’s next. I have to say though, I really am liking these long runs that no longer feel so long and 30 mile weeks. Who am I?!

Crisp fall air…

Things are still moving along. I have two more weeks until I officially start tapering. This week was confidence boosting for a few reasons. More of my weekly runs were ‘long’ runs which in my mind means things over 6 miles (though that is starting to evolve) and for the first time I did an afternoon run preceding a morning long run. I for some reason have it in my head that I don’t do that and there’s no way I could recover in that short of time.

Those two runs were surprisingly great. Friday I did 7.5 miles on the Monon Trail – it had rained all day and was promising to rain more but there was a small window of clear skies when I started. It did eventually rain on the trail, but not too hard. This weather meant that I was one of the few people out there (also that it was Friday afternoon/evening) which made for some really beautiful views of the changing leaves on the path. Towards the end of the run I caught up to a woman that was running a quick pace (8:30ish) and my ego got the best of me so I passed her and maintained a 8:10 pace. I also came across the Crossfit studio that is on the path doing about 100 m sprints. Again – I let my ego get the best of me and ran my last mile in 8:02.

On Saturday I had my long run, 12 miles. The temperature had dropped, it was fucking windy and the sky was threatening to rain again. The first 1.5 miles it seemed crazy to me that I was going to run 12 miles in those conditions on legs that were still tired from the night before. But I surprised myself and kept a.. mostly constant pace for the whole run. I failed again to actually run 12 miles. The canal towpath is 5, so down and back is 10. Meaning I needed to run two more on the Monon Trail but I turned around too soon and only ran 11.5. Regardless, I definitely tapped in the deep fatigue of a long run.

Screen Shot 2014-10-05 at 4.39.13 PM

(Mile 11 involved stopping at traffic lights).

On my way back down the towpath during this run I encountered what appeared to be a loosely organized color run. I avoided getting covered in dye thankfully.

This change in temperature has been really welcomed and only made me more excited about running. I hope it lasts for a few more weeks before we start getting forecasts for snow!

6 weeks from Monumental

I’m now 6 weeks out from the Monumental Half so that puts me at about the half-way point in this whole training cycle. Things are starting to feel routine; like I’ve gotten into a rhythm of running and I’m feeling progress in my endurance. I still think I’m solidly in the ‘base-building’ stage of running (see this article in the Running Times) even though I am anxious to see improvements in speed.

Which is probably why in my run yesterday when I was feeling sluggish I felt the need to throw in speed work in the last two miles.

0918

I also got a new Garmin this week. Hooray for birthday money! When I was setting this new watch up I opened my old database that had most of my runs from last year; my first year really ‘committing’ to running. Whoa. Ok. I’ve come pretty far.

Tomorrow Scott is taking me to Chicago for my birthday! (Which is actually on Monday, 27, gah!) I’m pretty excited to try all sorts of delicious vegan food and run on the lakeshore. But before we leave I will be running 12 miles on the towpath. Gotta get in that long run.

I’m starting to really enjoy being in training.

Qualitative vs Quantitative

I think have been measuring my progress in running by one metric; speed. I feel that success is only a sub 8:30 pace on every run. Obviously…that’s absurd.

Today was mid-week long run on the Monon. 7 miles. Not too bad.

I worked almost 9 hours today and presented a poster for 2, wore heels, ran errands at lunch time… when I got home I didn’t feel like turning right around and going out for a run. But that just wasn’t an option. Whereas I used to use those things as an excuse to skip my run, this time I just put on my shoes and was out the door.

I ran the first 5 miles on the Monon (2.5 miles north, 2.5 miles south) and could have easily stopped back at the car – what I would’ve probably done last year. Five is enough right? No, I had seven on the calendar. So I ran past my car again, down the other direction of the Monon and finished my last 2 miles.

And tomorrow is a rest day, but I plan to go to my friend’s yoga class to keep my muscles loose and work on my flexibility.

So no, maybe I didn’t knock out this run at 8:30 pace (more like 9:00), but it only felt like a 4 mile jaunt. And I didn’t succumb to excuses. I’m also looking at my running more holistically by incorporating stretching and yoga, and watching my nutrition by cutting out alcohol and eating to best fuel running.

So I feel like I actually made a lot of progress today. And none of it was speed.

Week 9/1-9/7

This week was a lot like last week in both running quality and emotions. Still a little tightly wound, still logging lots of runs. But I am making progress on the first point, at least. I think. I have plans.

Monday: 5 miles
Tuesday: 8 miles
Wednesday: off
Thursday: 5 miles (supposed to be 6)
Friday: off
Saturday: 10 miles (!)
Sunday: 3 miles

Total miles run: 31

So this is kind of a new milestone for me. 30 miles a week. I have been hovering around 25 miles a week for a good couple of months now so this really feels good. Saturday’s run was my first double-digit run since probably last year and it felt really… solid. Not easy, not hard – just exactly how I wanted it to be. Other things about this week:

1. I’ve been paying less attention to pace lately and it’s been easier on my mind. But most of these were anywhere from 8:30 to 9:20 pace. I think my whole 10 mile run averaged out to 9:18 pace. I feel pretty satisfied with that.

2. On Thursday I had some motivational issues and skimped a bit on my milage. Not cool.

3. I also feel like I could be eating more green things.

A dynamic equilibrium

My project at work is done, Scott is home from the hospital, and things with running are reaching an equilibrium. I’m now 1/3 of the way into my half-marathon training and I really am feeling much stronger and confident about it. This week I really committed to my training schedule after flaking a little the 2 weeks prior and it. feels. good.

This week involved 7 miles on Tuesday, easy miles for the rest of the week, and 8 yesterday. I felt absolutely shot yesterday by the 3rd mile, I didn’t know what was happening. Rethinking in my head, I concluded that my dinners this week have been mostly soup (excellent for Scott! maybe not enough for me) and that the fatigue I was feeling was due to under fueling. Or the humidity. Or just increase in mileage. Anyways, I was STRUGGLING, but I knew I had to do all 8 miles, so I just did all 8 miles. It felt like my legs were full of lead and anytime I had to stop at an intersection I feared I couldn’t get going again. But I made it, and even might run some more today though I have nothing on my training plan.

And a bit of an aside: I have about had it with my neighborhood running route. It is a nice enough route visually (plenty of trees and interesting houses to check out) but I tend to get yelled, whistled, ‘complimented’ way more frequently than in the middle class suburban areas of Indianapolis. Yesterday was so out of control that I almost reacted to the last person by throwing out my middle finger but I was too damn tired. In the course of my 8 miles I was ‘hey beautiful’ ed by one overweight man on his bike, honked at by two cars really close to me, told something possibly lewd by two teenage boys, leered at noticeably from two men in a service truck and to put the icing on the cake – ran past two men getting arrested. I have occasionally gotten shouts of encouragement – one memorable one from a woman on her porch to ‘get it girl’. But yesterday it was all negative. I was feeling frustrated and unsafe yesterday. Gah. I think it takes nothing more than a ponytail and running shorts for some men to need to express gender domination. (I discussed this some with Scott, fuck the patriarchy).

Anyways, I feel like I really have reached a dynamic equilibrium with my running. If some source of change is thrown into the reaction, I adapt and accommodate for the change to maintain my current steady state. See the scheduled miles, do the scheduled miles.

As far as all the whining and crying I did in my last post… actually running makes me feel proud of myself. It makes me feel accomplished, in control and does a lot for my confidence. So I’m going to keep this ball rolling. And completing a week like this – with what I would call two ‘long runs’ – shows me I CAN do this. I can run that far.

Just go for a run

Part of me hates to admit that it’s come back to this, but I think my anxiety issues have reached a level that I can’t manage myself anymore. I first really considered I had…how do I say? issues last year and ended up seeing a therapist. Eventually I got out of a crappy situation, an isolated town and moved to Indianapolis where I had significant improvements with stress.

And that is still holding true for the most part. But this last month I’ve really let my stress go unmanaged and it is starting to affect me in ways I haven’t seen for the past year. Part of this is just due to a project at work I am trying to finish by the end of the month (ok, most of this), and part of this is due to lack of time (and sleep) I have at home doing regular things since I spend my evenings at the hospital. Surprisingly I don’t feel too much anxiety about Scott’s surgery and current recovery. I felt plenty before it happened, but now that the surgery is complete, was generally successful, and his recovery is going relatively smoothly; I feel totally at ease about it.

Mostly my stress and anxiety is affecting my running. I feel tired, I feel nervous, I feel doubtful. And I start comparing myself to other runners, to Scott, to fabricated ideas of what I should be doing in my head and I just. can’t. deal. And I start thinking I can’t do it. And then I don’t do it. And I prove that I’m right.

This really isn’t making running that fun.

So right now I am just trying to get back to a place where I enjoy running. Maybe I don’t worry about my pace anymore. Maybe I just run as a way to reduce anxiety, not increase it. I’m not sure. I am disappointed that I can’t seem to figure it out on my own.

I was sent a link to something called “just shut up and run” but I couldn’t even read it. Because I can’t just shut up and run. I know it should be that simple. But having it explained to me why I’m doing it all wrong just makes me feel worse about myself.

I say all of this as I am at work, on Saturday, in running clothes. So we’ll put this experiment to the test right now. I’ll just… go for a run.
 

Confidence Building

I often let self doubt take over my mind with respect to running. It creeps in slowly during a difficult run, then festers in my mind until I’m about to throw in the towel completely and walk home. The distance seems too far, my pace seems too slow, the weather is working against me, my body doubles in size and so on. Unfortunately, this tendency of mine to see only the worst case scenario isn’t exclusive to my running. Similar thought patterns emerge when I get stressed about work, relationships or my future. But… why do I jump to those possibilities? (Aside from that whole diagnosed anxiety issue). Couldn’t I equally consider the best case scenarios? I admit, that seems like a reckless way to live. So how about the neutral scenarios? The logical and most likely scenarios?

And this week just gave me further evidence that it is this last scenario that will happen. During my speed workout Tuesday I swear I could feel the increased capacity of my lungs and the springy turnover of my legs. My 5 mile run around the canal on Thursday made me think surely that my new shoes were giving me super powers. And today, my first official long run of 8.25 miles, I felt stronger and quicker after I was 5 miles in. Scott isn’t as surprised as I am when I come home triumphant. Having gone through multiple training cycles for half- and full marathons, he knows how this works. Put in the work, see the results.

So right now I am riding on what I think is actual confidence in my running. Fuck yeah.

With all this said, the next month is going to be an marathon, in and of itself. I have a big project at work that needs to be finished as quick as it can and on Monday Scott is admitted to the hospital for his second HIPEC surgery. He gave me strict instructions that I “better be in running clothes” when I come visit him each day, and I don’t intend to let him down. Tomorrow is pretty much the last ‘hurrah’ before he is stopped in his tracks and we’ll be spending it with friends and family at the More Fire run. The amount of people that didn’t hesitate to jump in and donate time, funds, and items to his run makes me fall in love with Indy even more.

Don’t forget to tag your running photos with #morefirerun on Instagram so Scott has things to browse while laid up in the hospital!