Saturday, April 30, 2011

Top Five Reasons I Should Have a Good Iron Mom Half-Marathon Next Week

1. I've been in half-marathon training for almost 6 months. I originally started training for the (terrible) Tom King starting in early December. I've done TONS of double-digit runs. Before Tom King, I think I'd done 3 or 4. I'm at 9 now, including two 16-milers. When you're used to struggling through 14-16 milers, 13.1 isn't so bad.

2. I feel strong from doing Crossfit. It has added a whole new intensity to my strength training. While CF alone isn't enough to guarantee a great half marathon time (some would disagree), CF plus 25-30 miles a week should.

3. I've been hitting all the high points of training a person is "supposed" to hit: intervals, tempo runs, hill work, long runs and I've had a one-mile time trial PR recently. Hopefully, it's a snowball effect.

4. I've been eating clean for the most part and I'm at my goal race weight. Can't hurt. :-)

5. I have no major expectations/delusions. This is KEY. I am going to go out conservatively and see what kind of day I'm having. I'll know by mile 4. At that point, I have 3 choices: slow down and just relax and enjoy the day; pick up the pace; or just maintain. I am NOT making the same mistake as last time when the McMillan Running Calculator said I should be able to run a half at a 9:40 pace. A 10-minute pace is more my ability level, at least to start.

I'm feeling strong these days, but not FAST. Strong is good though. I just want to have fun this time. If I finish strong (and not beaten down like last time), I think I'll be happy.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A New Kind of Training

I have been reading recently about splitting long runs in marathon training. Since, in my opinion, the WORST part of marathoning is the 20 mile runs, I thought it sounded like a plan. My interpretation of the plan is to run 2-4 miles on Friday night, then get up on Saturday morning and run no more than 16..... a bunch of times. There was a recent article in Runner's World about the Hanson Brooks Training group and how they never go over 16 in training. They start their long 16-mile training runs on tired legs. And on the facebook page for Marathon Nation, there was an article posted about training runs over 3 hours doing more harm than good. Since my marathon pace is about an 11-minute mile, I can do exactly 16 right at 3 hours.

Last week, I ran 16 miles without a walk break. I did stop for one potty stop and to empty rocks out of my shoes (6 miles were on a trail), but I never said, "Hey, I need to walk a minute or two." My body just did it. It amazed me. The whole run averaged an 11:00/minute pace. This week, I did my 4 miles on Friday night and felt extremely tired during those miles. (That did not bode well for today's run.) But I got my 16 miles in . It was hard. I suffered. After about 12, I hit a major wall. I had not gel'd until about the 70-minute mark--far too long without carbohydrates. I never quite caught up after that. At the 13-mile point, I started walking frequently. Miles 14 and 15 were in survival mode. My legs were just done. After mile 15, I had to drive to my daughter's soccer game 15 minutes across town. I got there with about 14 minutes to spare, so I got in that last mile--mile 16. I felt good in that mile after the brief rest while driving (and the chocolate milk) and averaged a much quicker pace with only one walk break. I got in a total of 20 miles within a 15-hour time period. Theoretically, that should be the same as about an 18-miler, training wise.

So, with two 16-milers under my belt, I'm feeling OK about the marathon. Some of the excitement has worn off, in all honesty. The long runs are just plain hard. They are not fun after about 13. I always used to say anything after 14 is just not fun. Now, I think it's more like 12 or 13. They take so much out of your body. My hamstring is finally healed, and I want to be cautious about re-injuring it. And the long runs make it hurt.

I'm much more excited about these 3 upcoming races than the marathon:

May 7: Iron Mom Half Marathon in Paducah, KY
May 14: The Adairville Strawberry Festival 5K in my home town (also my 4-year old's first one mile fun run afterwards)
May 21: The Scenic City TRAIL Half Marathon in Chattanooga, TN

I just decided to do the trail one. I've been doing about 6 miles on the trail lately and LOVING it. I still don't have trail shoes though.

I am really enjoying running again, but I still love a good Crossfit workout. I do about 1.5 Crossfit workouts a week-- one whole one and a short mini-one after or just before a run. I love doing hand release push ups and pull ups and sit ups and squats and lunges and wall ball throws and burpees! I'm so glad I discovered there is more out there than running. I think there's room for both.

How I Found My Mojo

After the wheels came off in my last half marathon, I went into a running funk for a few days. Then at some point that week, I got a crazy idea. If I can’t run FAST, I’ll just run FAR. I decided I wanted to have a running adventure. A friend of mine was thinking the same thing, and we found ourselves booking a room in a tiny little town in West Virginia for the Hatfield-McCoy Marathon on June 11. It is a no-pressure deal. It’s hot, extremely hilly, and partially unpaved, including running over a swinging bridge at one point--- meaning I hold no illusions of getting a PR. A race without pressure is my kind of race right now.

So, the Saturday after the Terrible Tom King, instead of taking a recovery week from the half, I ran a 10-miler and it turned out to be at a faster pace than the half! That’s when the mojo started to come back. The following week I had an ok 12—not great, but not terrible. I was hurting a little at the end because it was sort of hilly. The next week I had some good speed work including a new one-mile time trial PR at an 8:12 mile. (I still think I can hit 8 in the next few months.) I did a couple of hard Crossfit workouts, too, and ran 28 miles in all. My 14.5 miler went just fine. I didn’t break any speed records, but I finished and recovery was quick. By the next day, I felt really good. I had a drop down week with a few short runs and some great 800’s.

I love running again.