OMG I’m running a half marathon in 18 days

To say that this half marathon training cycle has been less than ideal would be a total understatement. I’m just about 10 weeks in and so far I’ve managed to miss 2 weeks due to a stress response in my left shin and another week with a sore calf muscle – same leg. So that’s probably not the best way to prepare for running 13.1 miles. Oh well. I can’t back out there are pancakes at the end. Pancakes.

Last time I checked in I had successfully run a longish run – 8.75 miles of awesome feeling running. The new plan was to run every other day and start lighting candles to the patron saint of running miracles. Well, the good news is that I’m still running. The better news is that I have finally gotten around to watching the Gilmore Girls during my treadmill runs and it is awesome. The less good news is that I still don’t feel right. It’s a little hard to explain. Some days my calf will be a little tight. Other days I think I’m fine but still feel a little off and I’m not sure if that is my head expecting to fell sore or actual discomfort. Oy! Overthinking¬† is not helping.

So what’s been happening?

Monday 3/21: 6 miles at 8.35 pace on the treadmill

Tuesday 3/22: 7 miles on the stationary bike with some strength work.

Wednesday 3/23: 6.5 miles progression run on the treadmill starting at 8.35 and finishing a 7.55. BTW this run felt amazing.

Thursday 3/24: Rest

Friday 3/25: 6 miles at 9.13 pace.

Saturday 3/26: Some light strength work.

Sunday 3/27: 10 miles outside at 8.36 pace.

Monday 3/28: Rest

Tuesday 3/29: 7 mile progression run on the treadmill starting at 8.35 and finishing at 7.55.

Wednesday 3/30. 7.45 miles on the bike and some core/leg work.

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So that 10 miler…..it went pretty well. A few aches and a little discomfort but nothing short and stabby (which is my signal to stop ASAP). My husband dropped me on the actual half marathon course and I followed it for 8 miles. The course is pretty fun to run. It starts with a short but steep uphill (which I skipped for this run) and then it’s pretty much downhill until mile 5. And I mean a fast downhill – I managed one mile at 8.08 pace without really trying. There is a mile of gradual climb before another slight downhill section and the last quarter mile steep section just before mile 8. Then it’s flattish until the finish. I like the variation – it keeps things interesting but I think it would be pretty hard to run this as a negative split.

I was pretty happy to hit double digits now that my half marathon is just 18 days away. Holy crap! But first, I have to finish a 15K. This will be the last in the tune-up series and will be my long run for the weekend. It will also give me a pretty good idea of a time goal for the half. I just hope my left leg cooperates. Fingers crossed.

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Time out

FYI – if I don’t post for a week it’s not usually a good sign and this time was no different. But first, let me recap what’s been happening for the last couple of weeks.

Monday 3/7: 4.1 miles on the trail at 10.03 pace and 493 ft elevation gain. I love this trail and want to run it as much as possible now that the worst of winter is over.

Tuesday 3/8: 3 miles at 9.30 pace with my favorite girl. We’re still working on running by my side and not trying to trip me up.

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Wednesday 3/9: 4.8 miles at 8:17 pace. 10 minute warm up, 20 minutes at 7.51 pace, 10 minute cooldown. This was my first tempo run outside in forever and on a part of the actual Salt Lake half marathon course – including a b*tch of a hill – 114 ft gain in less than a quarter of a mile (!). I actually finished this run feeling great, and just a little excited for my race.

Thursday 3/10: Rest. Oh my. I did not wake up feeling good. In fact, my left calf was decidedly unhappy. About a year ago, I had a serious strain of this muscle and was completely out of running for six weeks while I waited for it to heal. So now, it’s a weak link. It wasn’t the sharp pain of a pull (that hurts like a mofo!) but definitely tweaked.

Friday 3/11: 5.55 miles at 8.39 pace. Commute home to practice some downhill running. And no my calf hadn’t healed fully so the last part of this run was not fun. The weather was great and I enjoyed it, but running it was a mistake.

Saturday 3/12: A huge mistake. I woke up on Saturday in even more pain. My calf was not ready to party. I headed to the gym to spend some time on the stationary bike and managed to get 20 miles done but I knew that I needed a break from running (again).

Sunday – Wednesday: Rest. Complete rest. No running. No biking. No gymming. Nada. And it was great! Work was crazy this week and looking back at the last couple of months of training I had to admit that I needed rest. A lot more rest. I had been feeling super tired and run down. Doing too much too soon and my body isn’t ready for that right now. I need to scale it back a little to get my energy levels back up.

I was also thinking about the triggers for these little injuries and they seem to coincide with ramping up speedwork -> starting some interval training, and then some longer speedwork. My race is in a little over four weeks – actually the Saturday before Boston, and my plan is to only do easy runs until then. I haven’t signed up for anything else after this half so there will be no pressure to follow a training plan.

I also realized that there are more important things than this race -> which is no longer even a goal race. I want to hike, trail run, backpack and do fun things outside. This doesn’t mix with running injuries. I think it will be good for me to back off when I need to, so that I can say healthy.

Thursday: 3/17: 3 miles with Sophie at 10.32 pace. Awkward run but feeling so much better.

Friday 3/18: Rest.

Saturday 3/19: 8.75 miles at 8.52 pace. This run felt great. A couple of little aches but this was one of those runs that just feel amazing, where time flies by and you want to keep going forever. To be honest, if this run had gone badly (and I was really worried that this would be the case) I was ready to drop out of the half. But now I’m pretty sure that the race is doable – not a PR race but something to get back into the groove of racing.

Sunday 3/20: 4 mile hike with my best girl.

Monday 3/21: 6 mile at 8.35 pace. Back to the treadmill. The worry of another calf strain is now hanging over me so I decided to hit the ‘mill and not worry about hills – there is literally nowhere flat to run in Salt Lake – and get started on watching the Gilmore Girls. One and a half episodes in and I’m kinda liking it.

The one thing I’ve learned – and I feel like I’m always learning something new about running – is that I need more rest days. No more running consecutive days – at least not for the near future.

Any new running lessons? Or lessons you had to learn the hard way?

RUNSLC 10 K

Did you know that it’s possible to hit the wall during a 10K? I think I managed it on Saturday at the RUNSLC 10k. So you can tell it went pretty well LOL!

This race series is so well organized and managed to find the only flat 10K route in Salt Lake City. Packet pick-up took 3 minutes on Friday – I timed it! No medal or t-shirt but some cool aluminum pint glasses – although there was a delay in shipping so I’m not going to pick mine up until the 15K in April. Last year it was coffee mugs so it’s nice that they mix it up.

The race starts and ends at the running store which luckily is only two miles from my house. My husband dropped me there at 7.20 am and I did a two mile warm-up. This was pretty slow and my legs felt heavy but I hoped that I would feel better once the race started. But on the plus side – no shin splint issues. I got back to the store at 7.50 am and dropped my stuff (my running vest and an extra layer) at the bag drop and lined up nearish the front. At 8 am we were off.

And I immediately felt………….well, off. It felt hard straight away and I knew it would be a tough race. The route was an out-and-back which has it’s good and bad points. Personally, I like seeing the leaders at the turn-around and seeing who is in front of me. But knowing what is ahead of me can make the second half of the race seem much tougher. The first four miles went pretty smoothly (7: 39/7:25/7:39/7:37) but then things got hard. I knew that I was fifth woman and I was running pretty much running by myself so there was no real motivation to push any harder. I could feel myself slowing down (8:08/8:03) finishing in 47:52 (7:43 pace). But that was as fast as I could go for this race. About 90 seconds slower than my PR but 90 seconds faster than the same race last year. I kept my position as fifth woman and second in my age group.

This race was a bit of a wake-up call as to where my current fitness is right now. I had hoped that I could get all six miles under 8 pace but that’s not where my body is right now. I know that I should be happy considering I had to take two weeks completely off from running to recover from shin splints and my lack of long runs means that I just don’t have the endurance I need to get closer to a 45 minute 10 K. I need to be patient and know that if I’m consistent then those paces will come back, but it’s hard not to compare yourself with your best self. But I need to train with my current fitness and not my desired fitness. Ok. Enough with the pity party.

Here’s a photo from the awards ceremony (I’m on the left). The prizes are gift certificates for the store. So far I’ve gotten $50 which isn’t bad considering the registration was close to $80. I’m going to treat myself to some new shoes once my half marathon is over. And this race has given me a better idea of what my goal for this half should be!

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Half marathon training week 6

I’m not sure that I should even type this (or say it out loud) but I think that I am on the road to recovery. Although this week hasn’t been perfect, it was a huge improvement on last week and I’m beginning to believe that I will be completely back to normal in a week or two. I hope. Fingers crossed. Body – please keep it together.

Despite my shin splint setback (two weeks completely off from running) it still feels like I have plenty of time to get up to speed – both figuratively and literally. I’m still trying to keep from setting myself unrealistic goals but I do have one big goal – sort of a comeback goal. it’s been two years since I’ve run a decent half marathon. Last year I somehow managed to finish the Canyonlands half marathon but it was not pretty – and my slowest road half ever. I am ready for a good race!

Monday: 3 miles at 9:13 pace. Back on the treadmill to try and calm my super tight calves. Oy! They were crazy sore on Sunday and I woke up on Monday morning hoping that I hadn’t pushed too hard. I don’t know if anyone else ever feels nervous taking those first few steps in the morning. Lately, I wake up and try to figure out if anything hurts. Once I’ve confirmed that nothing hurts lying down, then I need to figure out it if I can walk properly. It’s an exciting wait to start the day :/.

Tuesday: 4 miles at 9:13 pace. More treadmill. Slow and steady, right?

Wednesday: 4.15 mile tempo run. 10 minutes at 9:13 pace, 15 minutes at 7:30 pace and 10 minutes at 9:13 pace. This felt really great. A hard effort but not impossible. Now I just need to take these tempos out on the road. Eventually.

Thursday: Rest.

Friday: 3.1 mile trail run at 9:55 pace with a little over 300 ft of climbing. My first run of the year in shorts. Sunny and in the 60s (!). A lunchtime run on one of my favorite running trails. Perfect! I tried to keep it a little easier than last week but it didn’t feel any easier. I’m trying to keep track of what makes some running days feel so great – like everything if working the way it should – and other days just feel so off. Is it totally random, or has anyone else figured it out?

Saturday: Race day! 2 mile warm up at 9:50 pace. 10 k at 7:43 pace (47:52). 2 mile cool down at 10:22 pace. I’ll fill you in on the details later this week.

Sunday: 3 mile recovery run with Sophie at 9:36 pace. Wow – some wind and light rain. I was getting ready for my run and kinda looking forward to running in the rain. As an Irish person this is crazy talk. Growing up it rained every second day – light, all-day drizzle mostly and it got old pretty quick. Now, living in Utah, rain is a bit of a rarity (except for my last marathon and my very first half marathon LOL!). So much so, that there is a distinct smell every time it rains which I’ve never noticed anywhere else.

Weekly total: 27.45 miles.

Back on Track-ish

After taking two weeks off to try and get rid of my shin splints, it was time to get back on the metaphorical horse and see if my legs would cooperate.

Monday: 3 miles at 9:13 pace. I decided to take it to the treadmill in case I needed to bail. The good news: my shins felt totally fine. The bad news: the rest of my legs seem to have forgotten how to work. This felt super awkward. I had to expected to feel some stiffness and weirdness and that’s exactly what I got.

Tuesday: 3 miles at 9:13 pace. Again with the treadmill but a huge improvement from yesterday – it’s like my legs remembered what they were supposed to be doing. Their is also one major positive about doing runs on the treadmill – I literally have to walk past the weight section of the gym to get out. So I’ve been supplementing these short runs with some strength work – alternating legs and core.

Wednesday: 3.5 miles – tempo run. A short tempo run to see how fast running felt. 10 minute warm-up, 10 minutes at 7.30 pace and 10 minute cooldown. This felt great. It turns out that I love to run fast (for me!) and 10 minutes was a perfect taste.

Thursday: Rest!

Friday: 3.2 miles at 9.11 min/mile pace. Sunny and in the 50s – I just had to head outside, and I got my first t-shirt run of the year. So perfect and no real pain on the uphills or downhills. This was on one of my favorite trails during my lunch break and when I was done I was pretty shocked to see that it was probably the fastest I have ever run this route. I guess all of that strength work is paying off.

Saturday: 7.1 mile long run at 8.42 min/mile pace. My half marathon is on April 16th so even taking two weeks off I still feel as if I have enough time to prepare. I decided to do a short-ish long run. The route I chose is uphill for the first half and then a downhill back finish. I like it because I have to work hard for the first half but then get to cruise home. Great weather and felt pretty good with just a couple of little aches.

In the afternoon, I decided to head up to Millcreek Canyon for an off-leash hike wit Sophie.

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Their was still snow on this trail – icy at the bottom and nice and firm after about a mile up. I was so glad that I brought my Yak-Trax as this trail is pretty much a non-stop uphill for the first half. And because it was slippery, I was on my toes for the whole way up and by the next morning my calves were screaming. But it was worth it to see her running around in the woods.

Sunday: 3 mile run at 9:50 min/mile pace. Oh my calves! Yikes. This run was not fun – well except for the weather. I hit up the gym later for some strength work before heading for hike number two of the weekend. I hiked 2.5 miles (very carefully) but god know how far this girl ran.

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Spring has definitely sprung in the foothills. I was also scouting some new running trails that I’m hoping I can have some fun on later this year. And ending hikes with a beautiful sunset is my new favorite thing.

Total mileage: 22.8 miles.

Pretty happy with my comeback week. Still lots of recover going on – stretching (downward dog is my friend), easy running and compression. Fingers crossed that my legs continue to cooperate.