Just For Thought: New Year Inspiration

I recently saw this video on Cup Of Jo and thought I’d share it here. The lesson of “what would you do with your life if money were no object” can seem kind of tired at times (especially with everyone asserting their New Year’s resolutions in January), but I think it really is true. Just more food for thought, I suppose!

A Reflection on What Worked: 2012 Edition

Last year I wrote a Reflection on What Worked for 2011. I’ve realized lately that my blog is a really great way of celebrating how I’ve changed and what I can truly celebrate as I’ve become a more competitive runner.  If I didn’t write this stuff down, I’m not sure I would feel quite as accomplished. (So there is an advantage to furiously typing these thoughts!)

2011 was the year of “firsts”:

  • First marathon (and first BQ).
  • First year of 1,000+ miles.
  • First time running to both ends of the Lakeshore trail.
  • First time truly committing myself to racing regularly.

It was a big year. 2012 (thank goodness) has been much more manageable in terms of work-life balance and the frequency of races.

So, in my opinion, I think this is “What Worked” for me in 2012:

I raced half as much in 2012 as I did in 2011. 

In 2011, I raced 12 times. That’s a LOT in 12 months. Granted, I was ambitious and very excited about training for my first marathon. Every race I ran was to prepare me for the start and finish line of the Chicago Marathon in October. This year, I wanted to put an emphasis on training as opposed to racing. And, in doing so, I challenged myself more during my long runs and ran with high intensity each week of Twin Cities training. After the 2011 Chicago Marathon, I let myself rest, recover, and reset before jumping into training for the Rock ‘n Roll DC Half in March. I was rewarded with a 5-minute half marathon PR, despite a business trip to Madrid the same week. Then, my focus was on Carmel. I wanted another PR. If it wasn’t in the cards, I’d have another shot at Bayshore.

I think I gave myself a schedule that was pretty ambitious but not impossible. It was ‘smart’. I raced less and focused on finding some sort of rhythm after having started a *new job* in March. In 2011, I wanted to race all the time. I couldn’t get enough of it. In 2012, I decided training could be just as fulfilling but I stepped up to a start line whenever I felt the urge/need to.

I celebrated those “little wins”, but didn’t get caught up in #s.

I ran 4 half marathons, 1 5k, and 1 marathon in 2012. And I ran PRs in each of those distances. I didn’t go into each training cycle with a specific goal in mind. I followed Coach’s orders, kept my head on straight (some of the time), and realized those small changes in paces on tempo or speed workouts as I progressed (I’m not data-driven, but I would revisit my Garmin data from time to time and realize how much faster my mile repeats or 800 m Yassos were, compared to months’ past.)

2012 was also a fun year especially because of how competitive I was in my age group. Out of 6 races, I came away with 4 age group awards (one of which was a badass beer glass!). This, of course, was a complete surprise to me. I’m completely oblivious during races. I have no sense of where I am within the entire field and the only focus I have is running my own race. I couldn’t care less about collecting ‘awards’. [The surprise of having won an award was fun, though!] The time on the clock was always the ultimate reward and the age group award was the icing on the cake. [I’d like to say that 2013 will be a year of even more age group awards but now that I’m slotted in 25-29, it will only continue to get more competitive. There are some seriously speedy women in my new age group!]

2012Successes

I ran solo no more than 4 x per week.

I’ve always been a solo runner. It’s not that I don’t like to run with other people; I’d just rather run by myself. (“It’s not you. It’s me??”). I like to run on my own time and stay in my own head during tough (or easy) runs. I ran every single one of my long runs during Twin Cities training by myself on the lakefront. It was really tough, but I figure that I’m only racing against myself during a marathon and I might as well train the same way. [Note: I’m not ruling out a few group runs in 2013. A fun run to ‘cool my jets’ with other runners sounds nice every once in awhile!]

On the same note, running more than 4 times a week makes me feel sluggish and unmotivated. I’d rather allow myself enough recovery and dominate each workout than recovery less and run more ‘junk miles’. Every single workout has a purpose and I like committing to that goal week-in and week-out. Everyone is different and I’m happy to have found a good run/recovery balance that works for me. This might change at some point, but 2013 will likely be the same way!

Carmel 1

2012 wasn’t the year of firsts. It was more like the year of “Ok, I did all that last year. What can I possibly tackle in 2012?”.

I improved my 5k time by 2:22 min,

my half marathon time by 7:40 min,

and my marathon time by 15:06 min this year.

I raced in Chicago, Indy, Batavia, Traverse City, Twin Cities, and DC.

It’s really easy to forget about your accomplishments, I think. I’m determined to keep perspective on these kinds of things and realize that the tiny ‘baby steps’ you take usually turn into giant steps that you didn’t realize you were capable of.

Outside of running, 2012 was challenging both in my personal and professional life. I started a new job that took me to Madrid, D.C., Dallas, and San Francisco (totally over 30,000 miles in 9 short months) and I think I managed to stay focused while working at home 50% of the time. I went to Montana on vacation with my mom and sisters. My Grandma Eleanor passed away (love you!). My twin sister married her high school sweetheart. I had my wisdom teeth removed and endured my first root canal (gross). Manny (the boyfriend) started a new job (and we celebrated 5 years together). Annnnd I drank a lot of beer (DUH) 🙂 It was a crazy, fun, exhilarating, busy, interesting, hectic, and a completely silly year.

Now, I’m setting my sights on what I want to accomplish in 2013.

I’ve hovered around a 1:36 half for far too long. I know I can run a faster pace for 13.1 miles.

Before that happens, though, I’m looking forward to having fun in Boston in April. I don’t know what I’m capable of accomplishing just yet but if it’s a PR, it will be more than enough.

I will stay healthy and rest when my body tells me to.

I’m going to become a stronger runner in 2013.

Beyond that…who knows?!

-J

A New Challenge

I’ve been struggling with one fussy left hip the past few weeks. I can feel it ache when I lay on my left side in bed, it’s vocal during portions of easy runs, and it, in general, feels like it needs some TLC. Like most runners, I don’t like to rest. I feel like that’s all I’ve done since the Twin Cities Marathon over two months ago. My mileage is somewhat laughable and enormously inconsistent. All I want to do right now is jump into a solid training cycle and challenge myself again. My heart says yes but (right now), my body is saying no.

So, this week. I am going to NOT run. I am going to cross train and strengthen. I went to a 90 minute vinyasa yoga class during lunch today and felt incredibly challenged. Lunges that I did two days ago are still locking up my quads and there are definitely muscles that needs to lengthened and strengthened. I feel like I’m going to go stir crazy, break down, and hop on the treadmill for “just a few miles”. I don’t want to. I want my hip to be kind to me and stop bumming me out.

I foam rolled and stretched right when I woke up this morning. Foam rolling the area seems to help for a bit, but then the muscles lock up again (I sincerely hope this is a muscular issue, as opposed to a skeletal one). I’m more conscious about how I sit when I’m working. I’m hoping this is something that a deep, sports massage can take care of.

Ok, I lied. I might go for a birthday run this weekend. But it definitely won’t be the 12-13 I was hoping to log.

Self-imposed challenge accepted.

Climbing My Way Out of Sloth Mode

It’s official. I’ve determined that “sloth mode” is a condition that can be diagnosed and is considerably difficult to cure. It’s been 5 weeks since the Twin Cities Marathon and I think it’s safe to say that I’ve taken full advantage of some down time. I’ve run a total of FORTY-EIGHT miles in 5 weeks, with my longest run being 10 miles. That number seems laughable to me, considering I ran the same mileage during peak week this past training cycle. Numbers really do put my sloth mode in perspective.

The guilt didn’t settle in until yesterday. I spent the weekend in Milwaukee, eating and drinking like I was still in full training mode. Liquid carbs were the highlight, of course (it is Milwaukee, afterall). Note to self: next time someone suggest butter burgers for lunch, it might be a good idea to politely decline or suggest something that will not automatically clog my precious arteries. That is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime kind of meal (although I’m sure there are a lot of Milwaukee locals that would beg to differ with me). After 5 weeks of essentially sitting on my butt and not challenging myself, I could probably sit down and come up with a long list of self-imposed excuses why I didn’t head out the door for more runs, but it would be too easy to continue to psych myself into laying on the couch every evening.

I was in DC last week for three days working with clients. And only one of those days did I manage to MOVE my body. I hopped on the bike for 20 minutes and the elliptical for 20 minutes in the hotel fitness center. It was enough to break a sweat, but not enough to make me feel accomplished.

The first thing I did when I came home last night was start up my gym membership again. I can’t justify a gym membership when I’m in full training mode between May and October , but I depend on it to get my through the winter. Luckily, they offer a no-contract option and a ton of group fitness classes. This morning, I printed the schedule and decided what I can commit to this week.

It feels good to put workouts on the calendar again, as opposed to running when I feel like it. It’s really easy to tell myself that I’ll swap a run for sloth mode because I “will run tomorrow”. If this past month proves anything, it’s shown me that I need to challenge myself in order to feel confident, healthy, and motivated. Running always puts things in perspective and lately I’ve been lacking the latter. I’ve allowed the post-marathon blues (or whatever you want to call it) to eat up my energy. Running a PR in Boston in April won’t happen if my couch continues to win out over my running shoes.

I’m going to focus on cross-training and strength training, as opposed to the number of miles I run each week.

I’m going to drink more water—another reason I’ve been sluggish!

I’m going to try new things.

I’m going to continue to appreciate the little things.

2012 Twin Cities Marathon: Race Recap & Shiny New PR

Usually, I don’t have a lot of words to describe my race experiences. But I think the Twin Cities marathon is an exception because I feel like I was incredibly aware of how my body was feeling and the thoughts that were running through my own head. I’ve been thinking about ‘what happened’ since 11:18 AM last Sunday morning when I crossed that finish line with my fists in the air and tears in my eyes. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

I ran a 3:17:47 marathon on Sunday, which was a 15+ minute PR from my Chicago Marathon 2011 time of 3:32:53. Twin Cities was my second marathon and I know that my ability to run the distance is only going to develop more in the coming years. It’s mindblowing to think about the miles I’ve run and what my body was able to do on Sunday morning.

The Prep: Race Week

To say that I had the most ideal prep in body & mind for the marathon would be a lie. I spent the early part of the week resting as much as possible in advance of a business trip to San Francisco on Thursday and Friday. I slept 11 glorious hours on Monday night and my body thanked me, but each consecutive night consisted of at least an hour less sleep leading up to Race Day. A Friday afternoon flight back to Chicago meant that I would arrive home around 9 pm before my flight to Minneapolis the following morning at 9:30 AM. Unfortunately, my master plan of arriving one night and departing the next with plenty of sleep in between trips didn’t work out as I’d hoped. Two things happened. One, my flight from San Francisco was delayed by 2 hours, which meant that I didn’t get to bed until 12:30 on Friday night. And second, my flight to Minneapolis was changed by the airline from 9:30 AM up to 7:45 AM. Because of both of these things, I slept for just under 5 hours on Friday night, which arguably is the most crucial night for pre-marathon rest.

I was nervous and tired and frustrated that I couldn’t do anything to change my schedule or to squeeze in a few more hours of sleep.

Within 8 hours, I had landed at O’Hare, arrived home, unpacked, packed, ate a huge bowl of pasta, slept, and made the commute back to the airport for yet another flight. And before I knew it, I was in Minneapolis. The pre-race nerves and anxiety suddenly hit when the wheels touched the runway.

So much had happened in the previous weeks, days, and even hours, that I didn’t even have the time to get nervous, much less think about the marathon. In fact, it wasn’t until the Wednesday of the same week that I even thought about “strategy”, pacing, hydration, nutrition or otherwise.

After devouring some hashbrowns, eggs, bacon, toast, and a liter of water at the airport while I waited for The Man to land (yes, we took separate flights), we went straight to the expo to pick up my bib & chip. I was determined to get in and out of that expo as fast as I possibly could. I’m not a huge fan of expos, mostly because I don’t need to spend time sampling random energy drinks, gus, or performance products that I know I won’t buy or use. I was there long enough to meet up with Brady, grab some Gus, and decide that I didn’t want to buy anything (thank goodness).

The first thing I did after checking into the hotel was to close the curtains and black out the entire room. I texted Coach earlier that day and asked him if he had time for a pep talk. He called me right as I laid down to rest. I was in this weird physical and mental state that involved exhaustion, apathy, anxiety, and nervous energy.

All week, I wrestled with an internal debate that went something like, “Wow, why am I so calm? I’m not even nervous. …Wait, that’s weird. I should be nervous about my second marathon! Am I not nervous because I doubt myself? Because deep down I know that I can’t run under a 3:20, or 3:18 for that matter?!” All week, I played this game with myself and questioned whether or not my calmness was a symptom of extreme confidence or incredible self-doubt. [I feel like a lot of runners probably know what I’m talking about. But Lora put this feeling into words in a way that I simply cannot in one of her latest blog posts. She called it the chicken vs. egg debate between confidence and self-doubt.]

But Coach laid all of these thoughts to rest with his pep talk. He’s the king of analogies (most of them corny as hell) and he probably gave me four or five that made me feel comfortable in my preparation. He also reminded me that, this past March, I returned from a business trip to Madrid just ten hours prior to Rock ‘n Roll DC and managed to run a 5+ minute PR. I was, in fact, prepared for a challenging travel schedule coupled with an “A” race weekend.  It was old territory for me and I needed to remind myself of that experience. I was in Minneapolis, I had sufficient time to rest, and the hard work had already been done. All I had to do was allow myself to soak up the experience (or so I kept telling myself!).

So, I slept. From 12:30-5:00 PM on Saturday, I put my legs up and closed my eyes. I think I managed to get about 2 hours sleep but I felt like myself once I woke up and showered to get ready for dinner with the crew. There were 8 of us running Twin Cities and I was excited to enjoy a good dinner (and one good beer!) and some fun conversation before calling it a night.

Race Morning

5:30 AM alarm set. I slept SO well the night before the race—it was probably the deepest sleep I’d had in over a week and my body soaked it all up. I wake up, throw everything into my gear check bag, drink my coffee, eat my oatmeal, bundle up, and head over to the Metrodome where the runners were free to relax and prepare before heading to the corrals at the Start. It was so nice to see friends and laugh to calm my nerves before heading to the start corrals. I felt like my heart was pounding fast and I kept sighing to slow my breathing. I was excited and HAPPY about getting to the start line. We dropped our gear backs and headed into the coldI. It was something like 30 degrees when we started, so I wore a few light layers. I had a Saucony singlet on with Nike armwarmers, topped with a super light long sleeve throwaway shirt, and a cheap windbreaker jacket from a previous race. I’m a wuss when it comes to the cold, but I knew I’d warm up quick and I’d be able to take off the jacket and the throwaway shirt pretty quickly. I had a pair of cheap gloves that I’d wear the entire race.

Race Strategy

Let me just preface this section by saying that I can be pretty technical when it comes to pacing, fueling, and hydration strategy. I like to have a firm plan going into any race, but I have to know it’s achievable. Throughout this past training cycle, Coach determined a conservative and stretch time goal, but we never talked about it in our phone conversations leading up to the race. Because Twin Cities was only my 2nd marathon, I still feel like I’m in ‘fresh territory’ and my body will continue to surprise me until I reach times that are extremely competitive (and maybe even then?). Once I ran my 10 x 800s at an average pace of 3:13 (while my goal was 3:18 for each repeat), I knew that I was in a good spot and I began to become comfortable with 3 hrs, 18 minutes as a time that I could fully commit to. 

….But then I sat down to actually write out my pace strategy. I’d begin with a conservative 8:00-7:50 pace in the first few miles. I’d get comfortable and remain patient. I’d let those people pass me because I’d be back to catch them in a matter of miles. Runners could rush past me in their early-mile excitement because I’d be doing the same thing at miles 22-26. But as I kept entering paces and recalculating, the paces seemed unreal. Could I really run a 7:00 min/mile that late in the race?! Would my legs be able to carry me that far, that fast? I didn’t give myself any excuse to recalculate the numbers again, I printed the spreadsheet, and took off for my business trip to San Francisco.

I carried the spreadsheet with me, but didn’t take one look at it until Saturday when I arrived in Minneapolis.

I split the race into sections just as I did at Chicago last year. I’ve become really comfortable with a negative split racing plan over the past year and I always seem to find that kick at the end. Every race that I’ve achieved a PR has been because I’ve been able to negative split by at least 1-2 minutes. Mentally, it’s easier for me to remain patient in the first miles knowing that I will be running much faster paces later on.

I made sure I had 4 fields on my Garmin home screen: time, distance, lap pace, and average pace. I printed my pace band and ‘laminated’ it with packaging tape before wrapping it around my wrist right next to my Garmin (see? pretty technical). I kept my eye on my splits at each mile marker and let the miles come to me.

The Race

After saying bye to Matt and Chanthana in our corral, Mile 1-3 flew by, as they always seem to in a distance race. I looked down at my Garmin and realized I was running a lot faster than I should have been (surprise surprise…). I kept telling myself that I’d be back to get those people later and that my patience would pay off in time. I was relaxed and listening to my music, although I couldn’t tell you for the life of me which songs were pumping through those headphones.

Near mile 4, the course runs alongside several small lakes and the roads narrow. I remember thinking that it was more congested than I anticipated but just tried to stay steady. At mile 5 I took my first Gu and grabbed a few sips of water. At that point, I couldn’t believe that we were already 5 miles in. (I planned to take a Gu every 5 miles I had in every one of my long runs and thought “wow, only 3 or 4 more Gus to go!” It’s always helpful for me to split the race up into sections, not only physically but mentally).

Around Mile 9, I realized that I’d likely have to make a pit stop in order to get to the finish line without peeing myself. And this marks the beginning of the section about peeing your pants and the crazy thoughts that can go through a runner’s head. I’m no stranger to peeing my pants. I did it during the Chicago Marathon, my first marathon, last year. My decision to say ‘yes’ to my body doing something that I likely hadn’t done since I wet the bed at age 3 came out of pure determination that day. I HAD to get to the finish line in under 3:35 and I didn’t care what I had to do to make that happen.

But at Twin Cities? Let’s put this decision-making process in perspective. It was THIRTY DEGREES at the start line. There were periods of light wind. And I was wearing booty shorts. So, let’s be serious. Those last 14 miles would have been pure cold torture if I had decided to pee my pants.

Next stop: an empty port-o-potty around Mile 12-13. I can safely say that the pit stop took all of something like 14 seconds because I have never been more determined to pee faster that I did on Sunday (and my splits help prove it too!).

After jostling through the first 11 miles through rolling hills and winding roads, I was so happy when things started to open up at Mile 13. I didn’t feel like I had to move around anyone and the crowd had thinned out so that I could just run my own race and not worry about the possibility of tripping over someone. (I had taken off my windbreaker layer at Mile 10 after the sun peaked out). At this point, I felt amazing. I felt like my legs wanted to go faster than my pace band told me to. I was supposed to be running 7:35s, but my watch consistently rattled off 7:2x miles. I tried to slow myself down and remain patient. But something clicked near Mile 15. I realized that I only had ~10 miles to go. TEN MILES!? “I can totally do that!”. And that’s right when I saw the best spectator sign of the entire race. It read: PAUL RYAN ALREADY FINISHED. It made me and the other runners around all laugh. I agreed with the woman next to me that said, “that is the best sign…by far!”. I was so happy to BE so happy at this point in the race. My legs weren’t giving me much grief besides a slight niggle in my left calf (which is the opposite of the one that’s bothered me a bit this past training cycle, oddly enough). I felt like the miles were going by quickly and I was able to pass more people the closer I came to the finish line.

I continued to take my Gus at 5-mile intervals and sipped on water at stations that weren’t overly crowded. I think I stopped at 5 water stations during the entire marathon and each time I only took a few sips. I had hydrated nonstop since the previous Wednesday and felt comfortable with what I’d taken in. The water I sipped on made the dry throat (from the coldish air) disappear.

I don’t really remember Miles 15-19, to be honest. It’s like someone came in and erased them from my brain. I know they happened, but I couldn’t tell you a single thing about that run by the river until I reached the bridge at Mile 19, when I finally shed the final throwaway shirt (I told you I’m a wuss when it comes to the cold!). Once you cross this last bridge, it’s a straight shot into St. Paul and the finish line. Those last 6 miles are all mental and I told myself that there’s no way I’d stop or slow down. At worst, I’d continue running a 7:2x pace. At best, I’d gradually increase the pace until the last mile when I’d give it everything I had.

I had planned to take my last Gu at Mile 23, but my stomach was on the verge of giving me problems so I opted to skip it. At Mile 22, I knew I had to conquer the biggest incline of the entire race. It’s not actually that steep (you only climb 175 within about 1.5 miles) but it seems much bigger than that so late in the race. This was the first time that I saw people start to walk. I knew that I wouldn’t be walking. All I had to do was keep my legs moving and stay in my own head. I was running step-by-step with this one dude for about a mile at that point when I gave him a high five. It’s so much easier for me to maintain a steady pace when I’ve been doing it with someone at my side (mind you, that’s the only time I actually like to run with people!) and I think it gives the other person a boost too.

I remember looking down at my Garmin at Mile 24-25 and seeing 6:58 flash as the lap pace. I was right on target (or faster) and all I had to do was hold on to it through the finish. Brady, who lives in Minneapolis, had given me a ride from the expo to my hotel on Saturday and told me she’d be standing at the cathedral just 400 m from the finish line. I reached the cathedral and looked for her (no luck!) before heading into the final downhill section. I felt like I was Roadrunner and I couldn’t stop my legs. The downhill actually hurt my knees and ankles and I felt like I had to make me legs move faster than they actually could. I clenched my fists as I crossed the finish line nd began to cry immediately. My pace when I finished was 6:27….and I looked at my watch. All 4 numbers were good.

LET THE FREAKIN’ WATERWORKS BEGIN! I was speechless. I put my hands on my knees, tried to breathe through the tears, and…..I didn’t know what to do with myself. The finish line had been pulling me toward it the entire race. There wasn’t ONE mile when I felt like I couldn’t achieve a 3:18 time. It was a mixture of the weather, the months of hard work, the pre-race meals, and the extreme determination and grit to run the paces listed on my wrist that allowed me to run at 15 minute personal record on Sunday. Once I reached the start line that morning, there was NO WAY it wasn’t going to happen. I had worked too hard to not see sub-3:18 on my Garmin.

 

I passed 600 people from the 5k mark to the finish. My patience in the first 3 miles really paid off. I literally remained steady between miles 4 and 20 (that’s just insane!!!) And then? Then it was GO TIME! I just had to run straight to St. Paul and have a volunteer put that medal around my neck.

 

There were only a few miles that I didn’t run at pace or faster according to my pace strategy. Mile 7 was off by two seconds, I made a pit-stop at Mile 13, and Miles 22-23 were only off by a few seconds following the ‘big hill’. I don’t think I could have run a better race.

It’s hard to think back to last Sunday and not be happy. I’ve been reliving the moment all week through the finish line videos and the few photos Brightroom was able to capture of me.

 

All smiles and tears at this point.

Well….that’s HAWT. #not (200 m from the finish line)

 So fresh!

Twin Cities was my 2nd marathon. I think I’ve learned a lot about racing in the past two years. And so far, my body hasn’t given up on me. Most importantly, I think my mental strength always seems to give me that boost on race day, whether or not it’s there for me in the months leading up to a race. Next up is Boston 2013 and I’m already looking forward to it. I’ll remember my Twin Cities finish line moment when I’m training in the bitter Chicago cold. The hard work is always worth it when you reach that finish line (and drink a post-race beer!). Cheers!

-J

First Gold: Marathon Inspiration

I can’t believe I hadn’t seen this video before this week! If you or someone you know is running a marathon this weekend (ahem…) or in the future, you should definitely watch this. Talk about grit, discipline, and internal motivation to GET IT DONE!

-J

Race Recap: Batavia Half Marathon 8.26.2012

I’ve seriously been slacking on writing race recaps within a few days of the actual race. After getting a text from my sister saying, “You haven’t blogged about the race yet!”, I thought I’d sit down and do it tonight. (Because apparently SOMEONE is reading this!)

This past Sunday was a really good indication of how well my training is progressing this cycle. The goal was not to PR, but if it happened then I would be a happy girl. Coach and I chose this race because of its hills, which are seriously lacking during my runs along Chicago’s lakefront (as beautiful as it is). Because I can’t usually get out west to train on the weekends, I was looking forward to challenging myself in Batavia.

And challenging it was! As all of my runs are on flatland, the elevation chart below definitely got my heart rate going:

 

Despite the elevation changes, the goal was to run the entire race as a progressive and run the last 6 miles at 7:00 min/mile (or as close to 7:00 as I could manage!). I was a bit nervous about hitting that mark because that’s my tempo pace and those have been no easy feat in a normal training week.

Miles 1-5 went by really fast and I knew I was running too fast. I was supposed to target a 7:50 first mile and progress to a faster pace each consecutive mile afterward. Instead, this is how I started:

 

 

Definitely too fast. The last half of the race would likely have been much easier if I had given myself the time and distance to relax and enjoy myself a bit. Once I worked through miles 5-6, the elevation began more of a challenge.

 

Miles 9-10 were not part of the plan, but I’m proud of myself for keeping such a strong pace despite the hills that I was climbing. It was the first race in a long time where I saw people walking up the hills, especially considering they looked like people that would dominate the course. After mile 10, my legs fired up again (in a good way). I felt like my legs were moving smoothly and I was keeping up my momentum. My lungs weren’t especially tired from the pace I was holding and I knew I just had to hold it through mile 12 before trying to push the pace even more toward the finish line. About 800 meters from the finish line, the course crosses the river and you run over two arched bridges (I didn’t appreciate that!) and then it’s the last 150-200 meters to the home stretch. This is really the first time in awhile that I felt like I really had a kick at the end of a half marathon. There was one dude ahead of me and I knew I could catch him before crossing the line. It felt good to run through that chute giving everything I had.

I finished with an official time of 1:36:21, which is 13 seconds from my PR at the Carmel Half this past April (1:36:08). My last three half marathons have been within 13 seconds of each other (Rock ‘n Roll: 1:36:18). Consistency isn’t really what I was going for, but hey–I can’t complain.

I won 2nd place in my age group. Check out this awesome beer glass award! (Beer tastes especially nice out of a glass like that)

But, the greatest award of all was seeing my race photos and submitting one really beautiful one to Ugly Race Pics. Here it is in all its glory:

See? I told you it’s special!

Luckily, there were a few more redeeming ones in the bunch:

Running my 2nd 20-miler tomorrow morning before seeing family for the holiday weekend. Feeling great and looking forward to the next few weeks of training!

-J

The Beginning: Increasing the Mileage

Last week was Week 12 leading up to the Twin Cities Marathon in October. And, surprise surprise, it was my highest mileage week of the year so far!

 
I have had some really great runs lately. Last weekend, I felt like a badass with a 16 mile run at 8:09 average pace. Coach told me to do a 3 min pick-up after every third mile of this run and I felt amazing. My legs didn’t want to stop and I finished the 16 mileage with energy left. After my (unexpected) strong 5k last Thursday and my long run on Saturday, I felt so strong.

And I went into this past week with a great attitude.

Monday: Easy miles

Tuesday: REST

Wednesday: Speedwork (2 x 1200 and 4 x 800)

Thursday: Easy miles

Friday: Tempo (5 tempo miles at 7:10 or faster)

Saturday: REST

Sunday: 18 miles at 8:20 average

I hit my target paces on Wednesday and Friday and enjoyed the miles on my easy days. I didn’t know how many miles I was going to run on Thursday and left my apartment thinking that I’d run 4-5. Instead, I ran 6 just because I felt good and didn’t really want to stop. (The overcast skies and the cooler temps likely had something to do with this.)

I need to work on incorporating my strength routine into my schedule. I have the tendency to squeeze my workout in where I can and then I don’t have time to do my core, lunge, or Myrtl routines. I have to get better at that.

This training cycle is already starting out lightyears beyond where I started in my training for the Chicago Marathon last year. I’m still trying to take it day by day and try not to get too ahead of myself. I know that the results won’t come immediately and that I have to continue to work hard. My 18-miler this weekend was the first really tough long run I have had in awhile. I need to be patient with myself and prepare mentally for days when I don’t feel invincible.

11 weeks to go!

 

 

Bar Charts of Hard Work & Happiness

I’m having one of those days. Ya know, those days that you spend on the couch in your PJs eating chocolate, listening to music, and reading random things online? Well, I found the perfect remedy for the impending guilt resulting from eating that second candy bar–Dailmyile mileage charts!

I looked at my weekly and monthly mileage so far for the year:

Weeky Mileage Jan-June 2012

Not too shabby considering I was only focusing on the half marathon, I’d say. Looking back on the past 6 months, it doesn’t really seem like I was consistent but that’s the good thing about numbers—they don’t lie.

Monthly Mileage June 2011-June 2012

Now, THIS is cool. Last summer I was focusing on training for my first marathon and peaked at 144 miles in September (likely ran one mile extra just to beat August’s total!). But I’ve come fairly close to that number this spring even while training for half the distance. I started my Twin Cities marathon training cycle this week and Coach says I’ll be peaking at 50 miles per week. Can’t wait to see that tiny little blue bar inch upward to reach 200 miles/month mid-summer!

How do you track your workouts/mileage? Are you a paper or online (or both!) person?

-J