An unexpected PR on a perfect fall morning! {NCR Half Marathon Race Recap}

You know what’s cool about today for me? It’s the 2 year anniversary of when I ran 13.1 miles for the very first time. And now today I get to recap my new half marathon PR! 

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My very first half marathon in 2013!

Earlier this year I started setting some goals for myself for the fall. These goals did NOT include running a marathon, but rather focusing on shorter distances. Ultimately I wanted to do more halfs and possibly run myself a new PR. My best time of 1:45:27 happened last September at the NCR Half Marathon, a small race that is part of my run club’s Grand Prix Series. I also did not intend to compete in the Grand Prix Series this year, but now that I have 3 of the 4 necessary races under my belt…hey why not.

This year the NCR Half just so happened to fall on the day when my training schedule told me that my long run should be a very convenient 13.1 miles. And even better? The race is on the very same trail as the upcoming marathon so I would be able to practice on familiar terrain.

100 people showed up to run on Saturday morning and as usual I loved seeing some familiar faces, especially my friend Michelle who I’ve been doing my long runs with lately. The Baltimore Road Runners are a fun and welcoming group and the weather was absolute fall perfection. In my tank top and shorts I was more than a little bit chilly as we walked to the start, but after jogging around for a half mile I felt warmer and knew I’d be comfortable for the race. It was set to start at 8am and right around that time we all lined up on the trail facing north. The course is a double out and back, which I remember really disliking the idea of last year, but it ended up not being so bad.

PR thoughts had been in the back of my mind, but during the first several miles they all went out the window. I wasn’t feeling particularly well and even though I was coming off a couple days of rest my legs felt like lead. I even debated calling it quits when I got back to the start. In hindsight, I should have considered that it just takes me a lot longer to warm up now that my long runs are getting into the mid-teens. By the time I was three miles in and nearing the first turn around, my energy level had started to improve.

Then I realized as the leaders were passing me going in the opposite direction that I was the second female. I got way excited and as a result mile 4 was my fastest at 7:25. After that I had to remind myself to rein it in because I still had a long way to go.

From mile 4 until mile 11 I was feeling pretty great. When I race I like to pick out another runner up ahead, pace with them awhile, and then try to pass them because it gives me something to focus on when I’m getting tired. No one had passed me so I knew I was still the second place woman, but this was reinforced by several people who screamed it at me as they passed me going the other way. Even though I already knew, it still gave me a boost to hear it.

There were plenty of water stops with friendly volunteers, but I hadn’t stopped at any of them until mile 12 when I was suddenly very exhausted. I drank about 3/4 of the cup and dumped the rest of it over my head; it was freezing cold and helped a TON. The trail was crowded with people out enjoying their mornings, but there wasn’t anyone from the race that I could follow for the last couple miles; the guy who finished in front of me was like 2 minutes ahead. Because I run that part of the course all the time and know it like the back of my hand, I entertained myself by running from one landmark to the next. When a familiar bend in the trail appeared up ahead, I knew I was almost done and when the red, digital readout of the clock appeared I literally said “OH THANK GOD” and sprinted as fast as I could to the finish on tired legs.

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So I PRed by nearly 2 minutes, held on to second place and first in my AG which is great for the Grand Prix Series, but then this is also the first time I’ve run a half marathon with my average pace under 8 minutes. I don’t know which of these things is most exciting for me. All of them, I guess.

After sharing high fives and congrats with some of the guys who had finished at around the same time as I did, I visited the table that was set up with snacks and drinks. I helped myself to Gatorade and water and then there was also bagels, cookies and bananas which I appreciate for other people, but can’t eat without dire consequences. I had a lunch date and couldn’t hang out long, but it was nice to catch up with friends and cheer for other runners crossing the finish line.

Such a great day. 🙂

How do you pass the time on long runs? Did you run or race last weekend? How is your fall season going?

xo,

Salt

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NCR Marathon Training Week 4: That time I jumped in to marathon training during week 4.

I was doing the whole weekly workout recap thing for awhile and then I stopped. Why? Well mostly because there wasn’t any real reason for me to be writing it all down. I wasn’t working toward any specific goal so who cares if I missed a run on some random Tuesday?

Now that I’ve unexpectedly thrust myself back into marathon training, for my own accountability and sanity I thought it might be good to make Mondays my recap days all over again. This time I’m starting in week 4 and I’m basing all of this very loosely off the same Hal Higdon plan I used for New Jersey with a couple major differences:

  1. I will actually be racing during this cycle. I enjoy it and yet I pretty much entirely held off last time thinking that it would cause problems when in the end it did me zero favors. Also…
  2. I will only be running one 20 miler. I fared waaaaaaay better in the first marathon when I kept my milage lower leading up to it. Live and learn I guess.

So let’s take a look at what happened last week:

Monday, August 17: I raced last Sunday and on Monday my quads felt a little like they had gone through a meat grinder. You’re welcome for that lovely visual.

I downloaded this free virtual spin class app for my phone and hopped on a spin bike at the gym for a half hour. I kept the resistance really low and it felt nice for my tired legs. Then I went to Body Pump, eased up on the squats, but added some extra weight when we did upper body stuff.

Tuesday, August 18: 3 miles. My legs were feeling much better and I banged this one out fairly quickly at a 7:24 pace. I know in a couple weeks I’m really going to miss these short 3 milers.

Wednesday, August 19: 6 miles, pace. So I had already decided that I would be doing my long runs on the trail where I will be running the actual marathon and I wanted to try and do my pace runs there as well for obvious reasons. I needed to get this run done in the morning though and there’s no way that I’d be running 6 miles on the trail in the pitch dark of 5am. Instead I ran a pretty regular route around my neighborhood; 7:51 pace which is still waaaay faster than intended.

I seriously suck at pace runs. Luckily I have a quite a bit of time to work on this.

After work I had a bunch of free time because Betty was with her dad. I ended up taking half a spin class and then going to yoga for an hour.

Thursday, August 20: 3 miles. Treadmill (7:37 pace). Then I went to BodyPump again because the Thursday instructor is hilarious and awesome.

Friday, August 21: A marvelous day of rest and celebrating my mom’s birthday!

Saturday, August 22: Long run. The plan said 11 miles, but I have a 12 mile race in 2 weeks and even before signing up for NCR I wanted to get a 12 mile training run in beforehand. This was my longest run since April. The last time I did a long run out on the trail (10 miles) it couldn’t have been more fantastic. This time?

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And not because of my pace or anything. I just don’t know what was wrong with me out there. It started off well, but by the time I got to mile 6 I was completely checked out. All I wanted to do was get back to my car, but the problem was? I was 6 miles from my damn car.

Those 6 miles were a serious mental struggle bus. I was texting my boyfriend and my mom along the way to tell them how much everything was terrible. I told my mom that I was going to stop at mile 11 and just walk the rest of the way back.

Then I didn’t, which was the one thing that really saved this run from being a complete disaster. I made it all the way through even though I was nearly in tears at the end. I wasn’t necessarily in pain; I just hated everything in that moment. But I have to admit…I did feel pretty good about myself after that.

Sunday, August 23: 60 minutes of cross training. I went to BodyPump because awesome instructor was teaching again. Then I hung out on the elliptical for a half hour to get my legs moving. They were pretty stiff from the day before.

Total Mileage: 24.
Grade: B. 

This week I am scaling back my mileage and doing something of a mini taper before Charles Street 12 on the 5th. Also on the 5th?

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The Color Run Night comes to Baltimore!

BALTIMORE3 at checkout will still get a discount on registration if you want to run with me. Slowly. Because I will have already run 12 miles that morning.

Have you ever double-booked races on the same day before? How’s your training going?

I hope everyone has a great start to their week!

xo,

Salt

I’m a Trail Blazer!

I have some excellent or terrifying news depending on how you look at it:

Marathon #3. 

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And it’s only like 14 weeks away.

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On November 28, I’ll be running 26.2 miles on the NCR Trail which is one of my most favorite places in the whole world to run and also the location of my first marathon last year although that was the Pennsylvania portion of the trail and not the Maryland portion. I’ve already heard so many wonderful things about this race both from my local BRRC peeps and from Courtney who ran it last year so as nervous as I am, I’m also really amped.

Even better, I was chosen to be a Trail Blazer or Ambassador for this race which means that you can expect to see me talking about it a lot here and on social media as if I wouldn’t be doing that anyway because it’s a MARATHON. I had no real plans to do another one this year, but here I am. I have plenty of time to prepare for this right!? RIGHT!?

I guess it’s time to figure out how I’m going to train for this thing!

If you live local to me, I highly suggest that you check this one out. It was on my radar anyway because it really is the perfect time of year for a marathon with all the longest runs happening when it’s not so crazy hot outside and the trail is absolutely beautiful. Feel free to email me if you want any more details or just feel like listening to me rave about it!

So does anyone have a good training plan to suggest for me?? Who else has a big fall race coming up??

OMG I’M RUNNING ANOTHER MARATHON!

xo,

Salt