Monday, October 29, 2012

Reflections on a Training Cycle

To say this fall has been busy is an understatement. Full-time teaching job + part-time bakery business + training 55-60 miles a week + random other activities that life brings... keeps me on my toes! I'm loving every second of it though. :)

To sum up this fall training cycle in a sentence - it rocked. It was the first time I really ever put a plan together myself (I usually just use SmartCoach on, but a girl can only take so many mile repeat workouts. Seriously, I think that's the only type of speed training they've ever assigned me.) 

Start of the Columbus Marathon - I ran the half.

I was nervous that it would be too much/not enough/not the right kind of speedwork/too aggressive/not aggressive enough. Ya know what I mean? Turns out, it worked for me. 

I topped out at about 60 miles a week, and most weeks had two speed workouts and a 12-15 mile long run. I made sure I got one solid speed workout, and if I happened to get the other one, great, if not, no big deal.

The first half of the cycle focused on SPEED. Lots of 400m & 1000m workouts at 5k race pace, alternating with 5-6 mile tempo runs about 15-20 seconds slower than 10k race pace.

The second half still had the tempo runs, but some more funky speed workouts. My favorite was probably the 4x200m, 3x1k, 4x200m. Enough excitement to keep me going! I also had a few GHMP runs, which were good confidence boosters.

About smack-dab in the middle, I raced the Pumpkin Classic 10km, and saw a huge PR. 

The last three weekends were full of races - Hands 4 Haiti Half Marathon, the Cheerfund 15km, and the Columbus Half Marathon. Not sure I will ever try to race a half, then a 15km, then a half, three weekends in a row again! It was a little insane!

At H4H, I really surprised myself with a 1:27:37 half-marathon PR (6:41 avg)... totally wasn't expecting that.

A week later, I ran the Cheerfund 15km in conjunction with my Business Man's annual college Friends' weekend get together. (And he ran his first 5k! Woot woot!) I ran a 1:01:54, a 2-minute PR.

Doesn't he look like such a natural?! Seriously... if I could only convince him to run more than twice a year, haha.

I was nervous for Columbus, because I knew I was going in on tired legs. Even with the taper, and running only easy the week before, I knew my body might rebel. I decided to just go out at a 6:40-pace and see how long I could hold it.

My Business Man caught me in action! So good to see him around mile 8ish.

Well, I ended up with about a 30-second PR, and ran a 1:27:09 (6:39 avg)! So, I was very happy indeed. I averaged 6:36 for the first 10km, and definitely hit a bit of a wall around mile 10, but still was so happy to finish where I did.

Post-race high :)

And then... I RESTED! Last week was full of resting up and sleeping in. Well until 6:45am, somehow I couldn't convince my principal to give me a week off to 'recover' from my fall training cycle... hehe. 

I got back into running this weekend, and had an awesome group run on Sunday morning with my run group. My legs are feeling great. I am very much looking forward to building up my base over the next couple months, and then hitting it strong for Boston at the end of December!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

That time I wasn't REALLY going to race... but you know how that normally goes

The end of my training cycle is coming near... just 2 weeks to go. That means RACE TIME!

I had three races scheduled for October:

  • Oct 6 - Hands4Haiti Half Marathon
  • Oct 13 - Cheerfund 15km
  • Oct 21 - Columbus Half Marathon
The original plan was just to run the Hands4Haiti Half as a training run. It's a really small, no-frills race here in the Bean Town, and I thought attempting a PR would be difficult. I was just going to go out and get my long run done (and maybe win. Seriously, last year the winning time was 1:35.) Then, I would taper, and race the 15km and Columbus Half all out.

Well, here's how it went down. I carb-loaded like a champ Friday night (mmmm, pizza) and woke up Saturday morning ready to roll. I warmed up and made it to the start line. After chatting with some of the other runners, the race finally started. (15 minutes late, whoops.)

Chillin' at the start. We thought it was funny that mostly women were at the front. Girl power!

Two women took it out fast, at least it felt fast. Not what I expected. I hung with them, and we went through the 1st mile in 7:47. "What?!" I said. "No way!" Fortunately, one of them had a Garmin, and that first mile marker was way off. We had actually gone through the mile closer to 6:40. At that point, I did a little mental freaking out, because OMG that is so fast! And I'm not supposed to be 'racing'!

I stuck right with the two women for the first couple miles, but eventually they pulled away. I kept checking my splits from mile to mile, because I couldn't rely on the overall time. I was consistently in the 6:35-6:40 range. "This is nuts," I kept thinking to myself. "How can I be running this fast? I am not tapered; this is 15 seconds per mile faster than my PR!"

But I kept rollin' with it. I guess I had decided to race, hehe. It was kind of a good thing that I couldn't really rely on my splits - it caused me to run by feel. And I felt good. I kept expecting to hit the wall, or majorly slow down... but I didn't.

Sprinting to the finish, thanks Business Man.

Even the last two miles didn't feel like death like they usually do in a half-marathon. Which makes me think I could have picked the pace up a bit. The next girl was far enough ahead of me that I knew I couldn't catch her, so I didn't have much motivation. 

We had to finish the last 0.1 or so straight up a hill, and I felt awesome! I cruised into the finish with a time of 1:27:37, a 6:41 average! That is an almost 3-minute PR, which is hard to believe. My previous best time was 1:30:14, back at the Get Lucky Half in March. 

Will I ever be able to clear this from the watch? Welp, already did. Had to get my recovery run in this morning!

I am so thankful for the two women who set the pace at the beginning. If they hadn't done that, there's no way I would have run as fast as I did. [Funny side note: Only one man finished in front of all three of us! The overall results went 1st male, 1st female, 2nd female, 3rd female, then the rest of the males. Isn't that awesome?! Girls rock!!]

Exchanging race stories at the finish... these girls are BEASTS!
I'm still kind of in a state of awe... I was not expecting to run that well at all. My goal time for Columbus was going to be to run 6:45-pace. Looks like I need to re-evaluate!

All smiles.

These next two weeks will be filled with lots of recovery miles, foam rolling, and getting lots of sleep so that I can recover well and hope for another PR attempt at Columbus in 2 weeks. I am still trying to decide whether to race the 15km this coming weekend or treat it as a training run. Suggestions?

My Business Man and I spent the afternoon after the race at a local apple orchard, picking lots and lots of apples. Such fun. :) Now what to do with the 25+ apples in the kitchen... apple cupcakes?!

Why are you so high up, apples??

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