NCR Marathon Training Week 9: HALFWAY THERE!

Between the more relaxed approach I’m taking this time and the fact that I jumped in a few weeks late, this  training cycle is FLYING. Because I’ve already done this twice, it’s kind of nice to not feel crushing dread when looking forward to my bigger long runs. I will say that I have 16 miles scheduled for this weekend and I’m NOT looking forward to that because

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Hashtag OHHELLNO. Even without the hurricane hitting yet, the forecast for Saturday morning is sideways rain and 30 MPH winds. I always said I’d never run that long on a treadmill again, but I think I’m going to have to make an exception.

I’m getting ahead of myself. Here is a recap of what happened last week even though I am already well into week 10:

Monday, September 21: I had a very bad day and sometimes when I have a very bad day, I don’t exercise which is counter-intuitive because exercise always makes me feel better. Hal Higdon would have told me to rest anyway, so I did.

Tuesday, September 22: 5 miles in the rain in the early morning washed away some of my anxiety. Then later in the evening I went to spin class and after that I felt about a billion times better about life in general.

Wednesday, September 23: 7 miles on the treadmill at marathon pace and then in the evening I went on an easy 10 mile bike ride with the Dude and his friend.

Thursday, September 24: With the NCR Half marathon coming up and two days where I had done doubles behind me, I decided to take two rest days beforehand to give my legs a break. Does 20K+ steps count as a rest day? Probably not.

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The Dude and I spent the day in NYC visiting the 9/11 Memorial and being a couple of tourists. I hadn’t been up to visit the city for a decade. It was really the best day.

Friday, September 25: I actually rested. It’s amazing how tired your legs can feel just from walking around all day!

Saturday, September 26: NCR HALF! Recap here. It’s nearly a week later and I’m still on cloud 9.

Sunday, September 27: My legs didn’t feel nearly as bad as I expected them to post-race and the weather was absolutely gorgeous so I headed to the trail with my bike for a 25 mile ride.

One of my favorite parts of this day was that the NCR 20 Miler was happening on the trail and headed south as I was going north. I love being a cheerleader and I was able to encourage the runners as I passed them. I kind of wish I would have volunteered at a water stop or something.

Total Miles: 25+
Grade: A

I guess my biggest focus for the rest of this week should be staying dry? Ugh this weather stinks!

How is your training going? Any good runs in the rain lately?

xo,

Salt

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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

NCR Marathon Training Week 8: I promise Week 7 actually happened too.

I’m just going to come out and say it…I have been kind of a train wreck lately. Life hasn’t been particularly wonderful to me and now I’m trying to refocus my energy. I won’t bore you with any icky details, but at least two things have remained constantly good: my awesome kiddo who loves me so much that sometimes I wonder what I did to deserve her and marathon training. At first I was on the fence about signing up for a big fall race, but now I’m so glad I did. Without the training to focus on, I feel like I might be a lot worse off than I am.

Anyway, Week 7 went just fine and week 8 went even better albeit the fact that I ran on the treadmill more than was probably necessary. It was my biggest mileage week since right around New Jersey. The amount of stressed out I am usually corresponds directly with my mileage total. Here’s how it all shaped up:

Monday, September 14: 3 easy miles on the treadmill and about half of a BodyPump class.

Tuesday, September 15: One of the highlights of my week: my first intervals since the middle of the summer! Half mile warm up, 6×400’s with recovery at 7:17 overall pace, and a half mile cool down.

Wednesday, September 16: 7 miles on the treadmill. I told you it was a lot of treadmill this week. This run was solid and I was pretty proud of myself for getting it knocked out before I had to be at work.

Thursday, September 17: 4 miles (treadmill yet again) and then another half of a BodyPump class. It kind of sucks that I can only stay for the first part during the week, but at least I get to escape before lunges. The only thing I hate more than lunges is burpees. And bacon.

Friday, September 18: My regularly scheduled rest day.

Saturday, September 19: 

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Foot selfie of epic proportions! This was my 12 mile long run with three super great friends and hanging with them on the trail that day was perfect for my soul. I laughed and smiled so much that not only did my legs hurt afterward, but my face kind of did too. Smiling and laughing and running rocks. I need more of all three of those things in my life.

Sunday, September 20: I FINALLY got to take an entire BodyPump class, but before that I ran 2 miles and then followed the class up with 2 more miles on the treadmill. This was definitely a workout combination that I want to try again.

Total Mileage: 34
Grade: A

My main focus this week is a half marathon on Saturday, but I also want to work on being a more relaxed person in general. More happy, less worry. Not only will that be better for me in the long run, but for everyone else around me too. This sounds like something that I’ve said before (on here and in real time), but it’s about time I really took action on it.

Do you tend to run or work out more often when you’re in a funk? When was the last time you had a great group run?

I hope everyone has had a great start to their week!

xo,

Salt