Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon Training {Week One}

This reset was just what I needed! You know how long my long run was this week? Seven miles. SEVEN! It was so amazing not to have to wake up at 4 am to get ready to go for a double digit run. Could I go out and run 13-16 miles? Sure, did I want to or have to? Nope! Gah, I should train for half marathons more often. Lightbulb: Maybe that’s what I’ll focus on after Boston.

Anyway, this week was the start of getting myself back in gear. It was also the last week before I send my baby off to kindergarten. What? How did that happen? Tear. More like lots of them. She’s so ready, but I’m just having a hard time believe it’s almost here. Back to running. There was not much of note this week, other than my weird knee burning flared up during my tempo run. I just slowed a bit and was good.

From my coaching class (more on that later), I realized I hadn’t been warming up or cooling down enough for my intervals. So this week because my intervals were really short and fast, I added an extra mile to both warm-up and cool-down. When I was done I felt great and fully recovered, rather than feeling like I may keel over.

Here’s how it went:

Monday – Rest (not really planned, but that’s how the cookie crumbles)

Tuesday – 2 mile WU + 4×400 @ 6:07 min/miles (first one was actually at 5:59) + 2 mile CD

Wednesday – Orangetheory

Thursday – Rest

Friday – 1 mile WU + 3 mile tempo + 1 mile CD

Saturday – 7 miles + 2.5 mile hike with the fam

Sunday – 30 min elliptical + 20 mins weights

The Burnout & Remedy

After Wobegon I was ecstatic. I had qualified for Boston which meant two things, I achieved a running goal I never thought possible back when I was struggling to run a sub-5 hour marathon, and I had a summer free of required training! Though I was already registered for the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon which is the first week in November. With a pretty comfortable cushion under my qualifying time, I decided I’d switch to the half. Even doing that I wouldn’t really have to start training until later summer/early fall. But then I seemed to lose my marbles.

Somewhere along the line, I started doubting whether my 5:32 cushion under my qualifying time was going to be enough to get me in. I starting thinking, oh shit, I need to start training for the full even if I do get into Boston. After all, registration isn’t until September and if I fail to gain entry, I’d be so behind in training for a full, I’d hate myself come race day. So I started training for a full as if I was going to run it in November. I even ran a 16 miler with my BRF.

I put on a good front while on those long runs but the truth is, I was feeling burnt out. I was putting off my weekday runs as long as I could and often cutting them short or opting out of my tempos or intervals in favor of a ladder or just a nice easy run. I wasn’t sleeping well, was irritable, getting achy and sore, and other that loving the company, I dreaded the long run. Nothing about my running felt good, easy or satisfying. Deep down I knew that even if I don’t get into Boston (which I’m sure I will), there is no way I WANT to run a full in November. So why was I forcing myself to training as if I was? It was putting me in a funk that may be the worst running downer I’ve ever had.

So last week I decided to make a change. I had to re-examine my motivations. First was not getting into Boston leaving me with no spring full on my calendar. I will get into Boston when I register on the 16th. I get to register the first week and I don’t think the minutes under qualifying times are going to double. Second was feeling like I had to do a fall marathon. When did I start feeling like I needed to do two marathons a year? That’s just silly. Since we moved to Minnesota just over two years ago I’ve done four marathons. FOUR. While that’s not a lot to some, that’s a lot to me. I just needed to give myself permission not to feel like I have to do two a year.

Starting this week I’m starting my new training plan, for the half that I’m going to run. No more extraneous long runs or 10+ mile tempos. It’s unnecessary and was making me unhappy. And after Boston…I think I’ll take a break from marathoning all together, at least for a little while.

What’s Next?

I no longer want to crawl up and down the stairs. In fact, I’m itching to do more than just go for a walk. Not running feels so boring. I almost don’t know what to do with myself. Since the marathon I’ve done nothing. I’ve walked up to 2.5 miles at a time, spent a lot of time stretching and foam rolling. Oh and eating. I’ve been so hungry. My friends have been kind enough to bring me all sorts of treats from quiche to cupcakes, booze to gelato. Needless to say, my body has had plenty of calories to help it recover.

I am planning a very easy, no time, distance, or pace goal run Saturday morning with Amy. I’m looking forward to a chance to hear in more detail how the race went for her, other than the obvious setting of her new personal record. I’m also really looking forward to my first Orangetheory class in three weeks on Monday.

Looking forward to this summer and fall, I have a few things on my calendar. First up, the Rock N’Roll Chicago half marathon in mid-July. While I’m going to keep my fitness up, I’m not sure how much I will actually train for this race. We will see how Orangetheory goes on Monday before I decided whether or not I want to jump back into speed work so soon after a marathon. I’m more just looking forward to that being my first girls weekend away since before kids. It could also be the first training weekend for Indianapolis (see below).

In late August I have our local Esprit de She 5k. It will be my first 5k since the Bolt for the Heart on Thanksgiving. It’s always a fun night, but now that they moved it up to August, it could be a really hot one! They also dropped the 10k distance after the course measurement fiasco. Hopefully this year the course will not be a quarter mile short.

Back on New Years Day, I registered for the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon in November. Originally I did so because it was 50% off and it was to be my Boston qualifier back-up plan. Luckily I don’t need my backup plan. I’m not make a decision just yet, but I’m considering dropping down to the half. It’s about 23 weeks before Boston. That means I’d have about 6-7 weeks ‘off’ before training for Boston would start. That’s really not much time between training cycles. I have two fears, first that I’ll get injured, two, I’ll be so burned out that my training for Boston will suck. We will see how I am feeling in a few months. I could always start training for it and if I feel like it’s going to be too much, back off. Regardless I’ll do the race at some distance.

That will take me until the end of the year. There will likely be a turkey trot or another small race thrown in there for fun, but I don’t like racing too much. It’s expensive and hard on my body. More running for fun. That’s just what I need.

Urban Wildland Half Marathon {Race Recap}

Until the Friday night prior to the race, I wasn’t even sure that I was going to run it. We were flying out to Colorado around lunch time and unless we had the help of our friends Peter and Rachel, there was no way I could make it work. Luckily for us, they are awesome friends. We decided that Josh and the kids would meet me at their house which was about 10 minutes from my race site and only 15 minutes or so from the airport. From there someone would take Josh to the airport (he was on an earlier flight) and then the kids and I would go later.

I woke up about 4 am to get myself ready for the race. I ate my chocolate chip cookie dough Larabar and grabbed some graham crackers for the road. The race was about 35 minutes from our house and I had to do day of packet pick-up so I gave myself plenty of time. My favorite thing about small races is how easy it is to pick up your stuff and get to the starting line. It took me all of 15 minutes to pick up my packet, hit the bathroom and drop my stuff in my car.

This was supposed to be a training run. A nice break from the really long ones, my shortest until taper. I wanted to see where my speed workouts were getting me and had some unspoken goals: A. Run sub 1:50 (most likely to achieve goal), B. Run 1:45 or faster, C. Run a sub-8 pace.

I lined up with the 1:45 pacer and called it good. We started almost right on time and were off. I’d say this race was a mixture of road and trail. In the first three miles I felt pretty good. The first two miles were sub-8’s and felt pretty easy. It was around the third mile that my knee started feeling off. I’ve been having some pulling thanks to a little bone fragment from fracturing my femur when I was 13, that has been floating around near my knee cap. Every once in a while it lodges itself in what feels like a ligament and causes a pulling sensation. I worked it out and got back on track.

The first thing I did wrong was not bring my own water. As we passed that third mile, the high school billboard noted that it was already 76 degrees. I grabbed a water at the stop and drank it quickly. Mile four was fairly shaded which was nice but I was getting hot. By mile five I was starting to overheat. At that water stop I grabbed two cups. One to drink and one to pour over my head. I was trying to do all I could to bring my core temperature down.

From about that point on I was basically running from water stop to water stop. When I got to the next stop just after the seventh mile, again, I poured water over my head and drank some as I walked for a minute, not wanting to spill any drop of the much needed water. I also took a gel to give me some energy. It don’t know if it didn’t work or I was just so damn hot that nothing was going to make me feel better. I knew the next water stop was around mile nine and then there would be a stop every mile until the end. I told myself to keep those feet moving. The faster I ran, the sooner I would be to the next stop.

Mile nine came and I wanted it to be over. I got some ice cubes to put down my shirt and hold in my hands. It helped momentarily. This was the first race, other than my first marathon, that I thought about dropping out of. That is how awful I felt. When I was running, I was killing my pace. My slowest mile of the entire race was an 8:30 and five of the 13 were under 8. I kept walking through the water stops, taking my time drinking water. I new I’d be worse off it I tried to skip it.

When I could see the finish line I sprinted the best I could to finish strong. I was so happy it was over.

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Official Results:

Time: 1:46:32 Avg. Pace: 8:08 min/mile

Even with all the walking I did, I was pleasantly surprised by my time. I was 16th out of the 126 women in my 30-39 age group and 173 out of 718 people who completed the event. I know that a sub-8 half is in me. Next time I’ll pick a half in cooler weather!

Birdtown Half Marathon – Race Recap

One of my favorite things about small local races is that we can arrive a half hour before the start and have plenty of time. That’s exactly what Josh and I did yesterday in Robbinsdale. We got to the park where we’d be starting about 7:30.

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We both had time to hit the porta potty and meet up with a couple of the Mother Runners who were also doing the half, 8k or 4k.

MRTT Pre-race

Once we snapped our picture we walked over to the starting line. It was on a bike trail at the park. Just a simple spray painted start line with a timing mat. After the national anthem we were off. I had lined up near the 1:50 pacers just so I didn’t go out too fast and I thought it would be feasible for me to keep an 8:24 pace at least until the hills. I was told the course was hilly which I thought would probably make my legs want to fall off.

We weren’t even to the first mile when we saw a huge group of runners coming back towards us. Turns out they’d missed the turn! I didn’t see Josh in the group so I was worried he’d dropped out due to hip pain. I later found out, he and about 10 other people that were in the lead (he was fourth at the time) never turned around at the missed turn and kept going none the wiser.

We made the turn and kept on chugging. Luckily from then on the course was fairly well marked with volunteers who were paying attention. Just before mile three we turned into another park where we had to run on grass for about a quarter mile. I was not excited about that. Once we were off of it, we were on a beautiful, tree-lined gravel path. It was humid out and I was starting to get hot so the gentle breeze through the trees felt great. My watch was telling me I was about .15-.20 miles off of the mile markers. When we hit the fourth mile, I was showing only 3.88 miles. I figured either I was working my tangents well or the course was going to be short. (First four mile splits: 8:15, 8:19, 8:30, 8:19)

Somewhere around our grassy area, I had lost the pacers. I was feeling good at the pace I was holding and decided to just go with it. If I had to slow down at the end so be it. We hit a big hill about mile five. It just kept going. My head was telling me to walk but I ignored it and powered up the hills. Because it was rather humid, I was taking water at every water stop. I was carrying a gel with me, but decided that I better wait as long as possible to take it, not wanting to risk stomach issues. The nice things about big hills is you get to go down them. Unfortunately at the bottom of this hill was another hill. I was happy when the big hills were over. (Miles 5-7 splits: 8:27, 8:23, 8:18)

Around mile eight I calculated that I should get a new PR even if I slowed down to a 10 min/mile pace. I tried not to look at my watch at all until I passed mile markers. Apparently around this mile, Josh and another group of runners missed another turn. Again cutting the course short. I’ll get back to that in a minute. I had been chasing a woman for a few miles and finally caught up to her around mile nine. We chatted briefly until the next water stop where I lost her. When I got to mile 10 I thought about taking my gel. My energy was starting to lag but there was a serious lack of porta potties. I put the gel in my sports bra and decided I’d have to go without it. (Miles 8-10 splits: 8:22, 8:13, 8:19)

At mile 11 I caught up with another woman I’d been behind most of the race. It was just the two of us on the street for a few minutes. Again we chatted and lost each other at the next water stop. I will say this race did well having water stops every few miles. I never did see the stop where they were supposed to have gels, but that’s why I always bring my own. The mile 12 marker was just behind me and my watch was still telling me about .20 miles behind that. Now I knew I was going to PR. We had one more little hill before heading down to the finish line. I was able to pick up the pace in the last few miles, especially the last mile and cruise across the finish line. (Miles 11-13 splits: 8:20, 8:15, 7:48)

Jess and Josh post race

Garmin Stats:

Distance: 12.90 miles      Time: 1:47:04       Pace: 8:17 min/mile

So if I add the rest of the distance at my 8:17 pace, my finishing time would actually have been 1:48:35. Still a PR by a couple minutes.

Official Stats:

Distance: 13.1 miles        Time: 1:47:05       Pace: 8:12 min/mile

I was satisfied with my race and was thinking, I might even have a chance to place in my age group. Of course it wasn’t until I found Josh that I learned what a huge disaster the race was for the first 10-15 runners. Thanks to missing the first turn, Josh and at least 10 other runners skipped about half a mile. The second missed turn added another half mile or so of missed distance. Josh was running down the finish line, heard them say, here comes the 4th half marathon finisher, but he turned around because his watch only said 11.XX miles. He ran the extra distance and then finished, which put him in 10th place overall.

What this is all means is that the winners and some of the top age group finishers only ran 11+ miles, not even close to the 13.1 they were supposed to. Josh was pretty pissed. I can’t say I blame him. As we looked at the results when we got home, it’s pretty obvious that the winners missed an entire mile. I guess that’s a possibility in these small races.

My official finishing information put my as the 33 of 230 finisher. I was 5th in my age group of 54 and 7th out of 109 women. Still very good, especially since I just ran a marathon, but I’m irritated with the skewed results thanks to missed turns.

This race has the potential to be great. The course offered a lot of variety and was pretty. They need to measure it longer than 13.1 rather than right at it to prevent it from being so short. They also need to have more volunteers and mark the course better. A leader on a bike directing the front of the pack is a huge necessity. The race director could also use a public relations person or at least a lesson in appropriate tone and content of communication. It was awful.

Anyway, that’s the last of my races for a while. I think that I’ll find a half marathon to do some time late summer to gauge where my speed is at during the Chicago training cycle. Josh was encouraging me to do a 10k next weekend, then a 5k the next just as a step down every week in the month of May. It’s not going to happen though as he and I will be out of town the last weekend of May (first trip alone!) and next weekend there are a bunch of 5ks but not 10ks.