The Season of the Half

Sub 1-45I have a goal, that is part of operation get speedy, to break 1:45 in the half marathon this spring.

Before running the Disney half marathon two weeks ago, I had only run three half marathons before. I had never raced a half, or really trained for a half. They either happened when I was in the middle of training for something else, or I just decided to register for one on a whim, which is why my previous PR was 2:02:22 and I was able to knock 10 minutes off that PR (with relatively no training) two weeks ago at Disney to run a 1:52:55.

Now I know 10-minute PRs don’t just happen all the time. I’m anticipating the inevitable plateau that all runners face, but right now I’m going to go with this momentum. I know to break 1:45 I’ll have to drop another 7 minutes off my time, which is a little more than 30 seconds off my average pace. It’s not going to be easy but man, am I looking forward to working on my speed.

This week I ran my first half marathon pace workout. I did a 1-mile warmup at 8:49/mile pace and then dropped it down to what will be my goal half marathon pace, 8:00/mile, for three miles, and then did a 1-mile cool down. Now, I know I only ran at HMP for three miles, but it felt, dare I say, comfortable.

I have a plan in place. I have my break-1:45 training plan designed by one of my coworkers at Runner’s World and I have my race schedule lined up. My goal race will be the St. Luke’s Half Marathon on April 27. This race is only a mile away from my boyfriend’s apartment and boasts of a fast course. I also plan to run a tune-up 10-miler at some point in March (race is still TBD but I have options).

If St. Luke’s doesn’t go as planned I’m registered for NYRR’s Brooklyn Half on May 17. I’ll have to crash at a friend’s place the night before the race but I’ve heard nothing but great things about this race and it will be my first NYRR event, so it’s got to be good.

I’ll also be running the Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Half in Newton, MA on June 8. This most likely won’t be a good race for a PR just because of the hilly course but who knows?

So if I PR-ed at Disney on no training, and follow my plan for the spring season, I’m looking forward to seeing what these legs can do when fully trained.

Sub-1:45 or bust!

Race Recap: Walt Disney World Half Marathon

Screen Shot 2014-01-14 at 5.48.57 PMGoing into the Disney half marathon last weekend, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was a little nervous. I hadn’t really done any serious training since running Marine Corps at the end of October and my mileage was no where near where it should have been to properly prepare me for the half. But the good thing about Disney is you can tell everyone you’re “running for fun” – and that’s totally what I did.

That is, until I set a 10-minute PR and ran my first ever sub-2 hour half marathon running a 1:52:55.

I’ve got to admit, it didn’t hit me right after the race, but I’m pretty freakin’ excited about this PR. I wasn’t expecting it. I don’t feel like I had really pushed myself, in the race or in training. But I still PR-ed, by a lot.

I think several factors came into play. For one, the Disney course is extremely flat, save for a few minor hills here and there. I’m used to running in the Lehigh Valley, PA where the only way to avoid hills is the drive to a rails to trails path, and even then there’s a slight gradient.

I also think my fitness has improved dramatically. Since running Marine Corps, I’ve added in at least one strength training session a week by doing IronStrength every Monday. I’ve also started running with faster people, including my speedy boyfriend. When you run with fast runners, you get faster- simple as that.

On Friday night as I was laying out my race outfit I thought, “I really just want to go under two hours.” That was doable. That was a 9:05/mile. And that goal is the one I told everyone, including my running partner for the day, Cait, during the prerace retreat. But secretly I thought to myself, “How cool would it be to run a 1:54?” That was roughly a 8:42/mile average and many of my long runs had been around that pace.

When it was time to start the race, I found myself lined up on the starting line, and feeling good. It was warm, about 70 degrees, and extremely humid, 94 percent humidity, but I was ready to see where my fitness was at. The race itself is a bit of a blur but I remember feeling confident in my sub-2 goal and increasingly more confident in hitting 1:54.

Towards the end though the humidity was really starting to get to me. I felt my hamstrings starting to tighten up because of the flatness and the windy finish began to take its toll. But with the help of Cait, I made it to the finish line and could not believe the time on my watch. I beat both of my goals!

I felt exhausted at the end of the race probably because I think I sweat out about a pound per mile from the humidity. I’m pretty happy with my results but the race left me craving more. More speed. More PRs. More training.

Training for my spring goal half marathon won’t start for another few weeks but I’m going to start building mileage. If I learned anything from Disney it’s that, the speed is there, I just need to believe in it and make it happen.

Runner’s World Takes on Naming Disney-Themed Gu Flavors

Last weekend, Runner’s World editors traveled to Orlando for the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend with the Runner’s World Challenge. Before the trip, editors decided to name Gu flavors based on Disney movies (#disneyGU) and a trend ensued… – By Hannah McGoldrick, associate multimedia editor
  1. So this game is the GU-fee challenge? RT @RWGearGuy Little Mermalade (orange flavored) @caitlingiddings @cowboyhazel @meghgrace #DisneyGu
  2. @meghgrace you’re on a roll! How about Snow White Chocolate and the 7 grains? #DisneyGU #RWGoofTroop

Walt Disney World Half-Marathon Race Recap

Last Saturday I ran the Walt Disney World Half-Marathon and shocked myself with a huge PR! I went into this race thinking I’d just run it and take it easy- I’d be happy with whatever finish time I got. But at a certain point in the race, I knew I was on track to set a big PR so I decided (literally mid-race) to start racing.

I was put in corral B and lined up with Megan and Cait, two of my speedy Runner’s World co-workers, and we all had on our matching Runner’s World singlets. They were doing the Goofy Challenge (running the half and the full the next day) so they said they were going to take it easy during the half, which meant they would run at my pace (#slowpokediaries).

Disney Singlet pic

Cait, Megan and I before the race started (at about 4 a.m.)

We were right next to the 2:00 pacer but soon realized he was actually going much faster than he was supposed to.  Some of our other coworkers, Robert, Jeff, Mark and Chris, who were a little farther back in the corral, caught up to us and promptly zoomed by because they were taking it easy too- which meant 7:38 pace for them.

I forget exactly when Megan and Cait got away from me but it was somewhere around 5 miles. I was fine with this though because I really didn’t want to push it too hard or hold them back. However, it was also around this point when I realized I was pretty far ahead of the 2:00 pacer. This is when I decided to kick it up.

Looking back this was probably the worst time to kick it up because we were about the enter the Magic Kingdom where the course would narrow down from a four-lane highway to a three-abreast road, but we all make mistakes- especially in races. I did a lot of weaving and dodging going through the park but I have to admit it was pretty cool to run through it and see all of the characters.

Running through the Magic Kingdom got me really pumped and my pace reflected that- I was running 8:50’s which is a bit quick for a half for me. But once we left the park we were back to the highway and back to boredom and I also saw the 2:00 pacer get ahead of me.

I honestly really hated the highway portions of the half, which unfortunately was the majority of the course I think. The highways were pretty bare except for the water stops and some marching bands along the way. Also, the on-ramps killed me because the contour of the ramp was really hard on my hips.

I tried not to look at my watch during the race because I wanted to run at a pace that felt comfortable, not at a pace that would predict an ideal finish time but around mile 11, just before a huge on-ramp, I checked and saw that I was doing much better than I anticipated. However, at this point the sun was starting to come over the trees and it was getting HOT.

This last on-ramp killed me. After running on a flat course for the majority of a race and then hitting a quarter mile on-ramp with a tough contour, I was exhausted. I just wanted to be done. But I knew I was so close, I could hear the announcer yelling out finisher’s names so I decided to push.

The course had us run around the big space ball at Epcot and come in for the home stretch. I glanced at my watch to see the distance and it read 13.08 but the finish line seemed so far away. Nevertheless, I pushed through the pain in my legs and my possibly dehydrated self and crossed the finish line in 2:02:22– a HUGE 17-minute PR! I really thought I was going to go sub-2 (and my Garmin said I ran 13.28 miles so I probably did go sub-2 for 13.1) but I was so ecstatic!

As soon as I crossed I was delirious and tired and just wanted water. I got my medal and made it back to the race retreat somehow where I was greeted by all of my coworkers with congratulations.

Finished!

Finished!

I learned a lot from this race that I didn’t expect going into it.

  • This was not a goal race for me by any means but I knew I’d do better than my first half but I honestly didn’t expect to PR by that much.
  •  I knew the course was going to be pretty flat, which to me meant it would be fast, but it ended up being really hard on my legs. I couldn’t believe how tired they were after the finish.
  • I was nervous because I didn’t get a lot of sleep the night before (race started at 5:30 a.m. and I had to be on the bus to the race retreat at 3 a.m.- i.e. 2:30 a.m. wake up) but I don’t think it effected my running too much.
  • I wish I hadn’t been on my feet the Thursday and Friday before the race but I was working so there wasn’t much I could do about that.
  • I thought the heat was going to be hard but really it was the humidity that killed it. I have been used to running in the northeast so suddenly running in completely different weather conditions was a shock.
  • I ran in new running apparel, which is usually a bad idea, but I had to wear my awesome Runner’s World singlet and now, I will forever think of it as lucky.

I know this is a super long recap (and I usually hate race recaps like this) but I think this race deserved it. The Disney Half-Marathon was a great race and although it would have been amazing to run sub-2, I am really, really happy with the outcome!

Final stats:

13.28 miles in 2:02:22

9:11 average pace

1585 calories

Did you run at the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend? If so, how did it go?

Taper Week Ramblings: runDisney Half-Marathon in One Week

disney halfTo set a time goal or not to set a time goal, that is the question…

When I ran my first half-marathon I didn’t set a time goal except to finish the race. I spent the week before the race going through taper madness and running through every possible race-day scenario I could think of.

“I can totally run sub-2 hours,” I assured myself.  “What if I can’t get to the water stations?” I thought. “Should I bring one Gu packet or two?” I wondered. “Where should I line up at the start?”

All of these questions were racing through my mind as my mileage decreased and my free time to think increased.  They were also questions and assumptions based on my “perfect” training when everything was in my control. Then, I looked at the weather- a September nor’easter was expected to hit the coast of New Hampshire at the exact same time as the race start- great.

That’s the thing about running and racing. You can train and prepare for 12 weeks, like I did for the Hampton Rockfest Half-Marathon, controlling your nutrition, mileage, pace, sleep and wardrobe and then the one thing that’s out of your control- the weather- can come in and mess it all up. From then on out I learned the only thing you can do is trust in your training and hope for the best.

I ran a 2:18:17 half-marathon that day, 18 minutes slower than what I had expected. Now, I’m about to run the runDisney Half-Marathon next weekend and I’m feeling extremely confident. One co-worker thinks I’ll be able to go sub-2 but I’m trying not to get my hopes up. This is going to be my second half-marathon and I didn’t even follow a training plan. I’ve really only been training for this race for about a month and a half just by upping my long-run mileage on the weekends but I’m very confident in how I’ve been doing.

My weekly mileage is the highest it’s ever been- logging 25-30 miles a week- and my paces are better than ever. While I don’t want to set any specific time goal for Disney, I have a number in mind and I’m pretty sure I can hit it, pending any extreme weather and the fact that the start time is 5:30 a.m. I’m really starting to look forward to the half and the entire runDisney Marathon Weekend with the Runner’s World Challenge. If I race well, great and if not, there’s always going to be another one. Next up on my taper madness ramblings… what to pack?!

{Friday Faves} Reads, Raves and Runs

  • I wrote a post yesterday asking you to help a former colleague of mine and incredible journalist, James Foley, who was kidnapped in Syria while on assignment and has been missing for six months. Please take a few minutes to add your name to the list and join the appeal for his release.
  • I have always been a big proponent of the “everything in moderation” motto, especially when it comes to nutrition. I don’t believe in restriction because I think that’s a one-way ticket to binging later on. To that effect, read this – Resolved: Eat the Damn Cookie via Remy’s World (Runner’s World)
  • As for my favorite run this week, it would have to be my 12-miler on Monday. The run felt amazing and as effortless as a 12-mile training run can feel. I’m so ready for the runDisney Half-Marathon next weekend!
  • This is how I’m going to make 2013 count. How will you #makeitcount?

nike make it count

Week 8: Sub-50 10-K (and Half-Marathon) Training

keep runningI really don’t know why I keep calling this my sub-50 10-K training wrap up because I’ve strayed so far from my original training program in order to gear up for this last-minute half-marathon but oh well! Here are last week’s training runs and workout:

Monday– I did a yoga workout for about 30 minutes to cross-train. I didn’t have much time because it was Christmas Eve and my family and I planned to spend the day in Boston before I had to go back to Pennsylvania. Sometimes you have to sacrifice a workout for family time but I was totally fine with that because I knew I wouldn’t get to see them for awhile.

Tuesday– Christmas! No workout for me today because I spent the morning with my family, squeezing every last minute out of my visit home for the holidays. I then spent the rest of the afternoon/evening driving back to Pennsylvania for work the next day.

Wednesday– 4.25 mile run during lunch at 9:10/mile average pace

Thursday– 5 miles at 9:48/mile pace- just wanted to get in some really easy paced mileage

Friday– 4.2 miles- I decided to do speed work on Friday on the treadmill because it was FREEZING outside! I did a five minute warm up and then 200m at easy pace followed by 4x400m at race pace (8:06/mile) with 200m at easy pace in between. I finished the run with about a mile cool down at easy pace.

Saturday– ran 4.2 miles in the snow! I ran 9:17/mile pace and it was such a relaxing run because the snow was just starting to fall but hadn’t stuck to the ground yet.

Sunday– I was supposed to do my long run on Sunday but when I woke up to 30mph winds with gusts of 50mph and below freezing temps, I figured I could push it off to Monday since I didn’t have work.

Monday– 12 miles at 9:20/mile pace – I was completely shocked at how well this run went! I felt really strong and comfortable the entire time. I didn’t have to stop or walk at all and I finished feeling like I could keep running. This run was an amazing indicator of how the half-marathon will go (knock on wood!) and I can’t wait to see the results of this training!

Happy running!

Week 7: Sub-50 10-K (and Half-Marathon) Training

Training went really well this week! I’m feeling really strong (knock on wood) and I keep on surprising myself with how awesome my paces are. I haven’t seen a pace in the upper 9’s or 10’s in weeks and what’s even better is I’m feeling more comfortable at paces in the upper 8’s (which means I can really go even faster!). Here’s a rundown of my runs this week:

Monday– I had to cover a story after work so instead of going to bootcamp I did 35 minutes of Detox Flow Yoga from Lululemon’s YouTube channel. I also did some planks and ab exercises after because I’ve been slacking in that department.

Tuesday– 5.2 miles, 46 minutes, 8:50/mile pace

Wednesday– 5.5 miles, 44 minutes, 8:00/mile pace (I ran with some of my faster co-workers and this was definitely a workout but it was great!)

Thursday– 2.94 miles, 24:58 minutes, 8:27/mile pace

Friday– Rest day and travel back to Massachusetts for Christmas!

Saturday– 4.5 miles, 40 minutes, 8:50/mile pace

Sunday– 10 miles! 1 hour 33 minutes, 9:18/mile pace

My long run this week (10 miles) was my longest run since my half-marathon in September and I felt extremely good! It was a really cold and very windy run but I still had a pretty good pace with the entire 10. I didn’t stop to walk at all and ran up the hills without any problems. I’m feeling good about the half coming up in January! Happy running!

Running My Second Half-Marathon

run disneyI feel like I’ve been training since the day I started running, which was not too long ago. I took my first running steps last February when I decided to start a Couch-to-5K program. Now, I’m getting ready to run my second half-marathon, less than a year later.

I say I feel like I’ve been training since I started running because I really have. I began the Couch-to-5K program with the intention of training for my first 5-K. Before I even toed the starting line of my goal race, I was registered for a four miler on the Fourth of July. Then, about a week after finishing that race I registered for my first half-marathon in September.

It wasn’t until after my half, when I decided I needed to cool off a bit, that I felt lost. I did some 5-Ks but I craved the longer distances. In November, as winter started to set in, I decided I’d come up with a new goal of training for a sub-50 minute 10-K. Up until that point, all of my running goals had been based on distance so I figured, in an effort to get faster and bring purpose back to my runs, I’d set a new goal.

My sub-50 10-K training was going really well and before I knew it my average paces were dropping from the familiar and comfortable 9:50/10:00 per mile to 8-minute miles. I was getting faster and I liked it but then I was presented with the opportunity to run the Disney Half-Marathon.

It didn’t take much coaxing from my co-workers to get me to register with the Runner’s World Challenge but I was still a little hesitant because I would only have six weeks to train and my longest run since my half-marathon in September barely broke 7 miles.

But I registered anyways and started to increase my long run mileage on the weekends and my midweek mileage runs went from 3 miles to 5 miles. Last weekend, I did a 9-mile long run and surprised myself with paces around 8:40/8:50 per mile! I couldn’t believe it because when I was training for my first half-marathon all of my times were in the 10-minute mile range.

I’m not trying to say I’m some gifted runner, because I’m not, I’m a very average runner and I still have a lot to learn. But it’s amazing what a new goal, in my case the sub-50 10-K, can do to you. I’m so looking forward to the Disney Half-Marathon and can’t wait to meet the rest of the Challengers to hear their stories!

Week 6: Sub-50 10-K (and Half-Marathon) Training

try hard every day

(via Pinterest)

I have been really slacking on writing my weekly running round-ups lately. There are a few reasons for this: 1. I’m extremely busy with work; 2. This is a really busy time of the year in general; and, 3. I’m not sure how helpful they are to you guys, my readers.

The reason I started my blog was to document my experience with a Couch-to-5-K program last February/March. I wanted to use my blog mostly as a training log. As I finished the program and came up with new running goals I thought I’d continue doing round-ups of my training runs throughout the week. It also helps me to stay consistent with my writing but when I’m super busy with work, I kind of forget to do them.

But, after asking some fellow blogger friends, many of them said, write what you want to write, your blog is for you, and if it’s helpful to you then do it! So I’m going to continue doing it but I’m going to go about it a little differently. Instead of breaking down my workouts and runs each day I’m just going to do bullet points with distance, time and pace. If you’d like a more comprehensive description of follow me on Daily Mile where I usually go a little more in-depth with my run breakdowns.

Phew, glad I got that out of the way. And now, here are last week’s workouts:

Monday- 45 minutes of Men’s Health Delta Fit bootcamp at the Rodale gym. Involved lifting, squats and plyometrics.

Tuesday- Easy mileage day, 5 miles, 47:50, average pace of 9:33

Wednesday- Intervals with coach, 5 miles total, 37:00, average pace 7:24 (woah!)

–       2 mile warm-up

–       200m, 400m, 600m, 200m, 200m, 400m, 600m

–       ½ mile cool down

Thursday- 3 miles (semi-faster), 25:58, average pace of 8:39

Friday- REST!

Saturday- Long run, 9 miles, 1:24, average pace of 9:20

Sunday- was supposed to do a shakeout and it didn’t happen, oh well

Overall it was a really solid week of training. I hope everyone else had a great week!