Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Half Crazy?

So I've mentioned once or twice that I'm currently training for a half marathon that will take place on January 19, 2013. This will be my third half marathon and based on the recommendation of a co-worker I decided to completely change gears on training this time around. So let me discuss first my previous half marathons and what I did for training.

My first half marathon was the Mission Inn Run held in Riverside, CA (this is a "small" local race for me) in November 2010. I had just started running in June 2009, with my first "running" 5k in September 2009. I then did a 10k in June 2010 and felt like I was ready crazy enough to try a new distance. I didn't know a whole lot about distance running at this point but jumped right in to the training plan generated by the Runner's World SmartCoach (the site to the SmartCoach is temporarily here's the link to the page and you'll see the box on the right-hand side to access the plan generator feature), but I definitely had to heavily modify it because 1) I wasn't a run 5-6 days a week runner and 2) some of the distances on the mid-week runs were longer than was possible for me since I have a full-time job and family. I will also admit, that there were definitely missed training runs and because I've either blocked it out or have forgotten, I think I only made it up to 12 miles ONCE prior to race day. The basic idea behind the plan was to gradually increase by 1 mile each long distance run; so if it was 8 miles one week, it was 9 the next with an occasional drop down for a recovery week. So come race day, even though I felt "prepared" I really had no idea just how unprepared I was! It was a horrible race experience for a lot of different reasons. I wasn't really ready, it was hotter than expected, it was windy, I didn't fuel correctly, I didn't have enough water to stay properly hydrated, and it was a horribly boring course with over 6 miles along a single track out and back along a dry riverbed heading towards a freeway. There wasn't any on-course entertainment, very few water stops, and it wasn't an overly friendly group of runners either. Not a fun experience. The absolute best part of this race for me was the fact that I "acquired" the 13-mile marker at the end of the race! (That first picture may or may not be proof of me nabbing* it...).

The pink shirt is my sister with her oldest child finishing the race. I'm the purple shirt in the background.

A group of us that participated in either the half or 5k race. Along with 2 of my sister's kids photo-bombing on the right.
My finish time on this one was 2:57:53...just under 3 hours which, mentally, would have been my breaking point. But it was so far from where I wanted to be.

So for my second outing, I really wanted it to be the full "experience". I wanted on-course entertainment, I wanted cheering sections, I wanted lots of water stops, and I wanted it to be interesting. Well, I couldn't have picked a better race because my second outing was the Inaugural Tinkerbell Half in January 2012!

It was a WONDERFUL experience. I seriously cannot praise the RunDisney race organizers enough. It was a stellar experience from beginning to any issues with my finish time can't be blamed on anybody else but me. The weather was perfect, the course was perfect, the entertainment was perfect.

For my training on this one I used the plan provided by the race organizers that was created by none other than running legend and Olympian, Jeff Galloway. It was a really good training plan that worked for me because it was a 3-day a week plan where you ran for time during the weekday (45 minutes with some mild speedwork thrown in) and a distance run on the weekend. And once again, I will admit that some training runs were missed. However, if I remember correctly we did actually get up to running at least 13 miles prior to race day. I felt more prepared this time out and had a much better plan in place to start slow and not kill myself before mile 7. The two areas that I felt were less than desirable were: 1) my fueling still isn't what I needed it to be...I can't handle nothing but sweet for miles on end apparently. By the time I was finishing in both, I was feeling sick from all the sport beans, Gatorade, and energy gels; and 2) I didn't feel like I was prepared for running at faster paces for prolonged periods of time. Even though I had done some speedwork, it was mild at best and was only during short bursts. And even though I practice fueling during my long runs, I must have a different experience when racing because I don't remember feeling like if I ate one more sweet thing I might die during training! LOL

Even though my finish time on this one was within my "happy place", it still isn't my mental ideal. Prior to the Tinkerbell, I had set the following levels for finish times:

  • LOVE - Anything near 2:30
  • LIKE - Anything under 2:45
  • HATE (AKA: Disaster must have hit, but at least I finished) - Anything over 3:00
I hit in my like zone with a chip finish time of 2:41:02 - so I like that time, but boy am I sure still hunting for that LOVE zone! 

After the race...tired but proud of that awesome BLING!
Which brings me to half marathon #3. I am most definitely on the hunt for a 2:30 finish time. Granted, I will set Love, Like and Hate zones again and will be happy with any of them, but I'm not content to sit back and have lazy training hoping for a miracle to happen either! So as I mentioned way back at the beginning of this post, I totally changed gears for this training cycle and so far it's been awesome! So what am I doing? I'll be back on Friday to fill you in on all the exciting details!

*I did actually ask for permission from someone that was cleaning up along the course and they said I could have it - granted I already had it off of the post by then and they may not have been anyone that actually had the authority to let me have it, but if they had said no I would have willingly given it up!

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