Monday, December 26, 2016

My Continuing Quest of the Sub-2 Half Marathon

I started writing this race recap last month, but got writer's block. Then we bought a place and that kept me pretty busy.

November had me like:

And then December had me like:

But now we're settling in and I'm ready to get down to business. Are you ready?

Back in August I decided I wanted to sign up for a fall half marathon for no good reason other than, why not?

At first I was going to do the Rock n Roll half for Halloween. However, once October rolled around and they still hadn't been able to finalize the course, I gave up on them. Instead I found a small, local race that was perfect. It was:

1. On the same day as the Rock n Roll so my training wouldn't need to be altered

2.  Walkable from my place, rather than an hour long train ride

3.  A fraction of the cost of the RnR

The morning of the race, TriGuy walked down to the start with me and I shared some of my misgivings:

He was right.

I read the Hanson Method for Half Marathons and adapted it into my very own plan with help from Erika. I called it:

I ran 6 days per week, with 3 easy runs, 2 technical runs, and 1 long run. So yes:

I also worked to perfect my nutrition. When my trusty water and sport beans combo left me still feeling worn out, Erika suggested I add in some protein. I tried peanut butter and cracker sandwiches.

You try eating while gasping for air breathing hard.

I decided to break my crackers in half and devised my perfect plan, alternating half a cracker with 2 sport beans every 1.5 miles. I was hitting my target times and feeling really good about my training.

So I should have felt more than ready.

Getting back to race day:

When we got to the starting line it was raining.

Par for the course in Seattle but fairly unusual for LA.

In fact, the race organizer said a lot of people decided to stay home because of the weather.

There were only 30 of us, so our "pack" was pretty small and I quickly found myself a half-step back from one particular guy. I wasn't sure what to do; I wanted to stay on my mile pace but it was pretty awkward to run that close to a stranger.

Of course I didn't want to slow down either. I eventually went with speeding up a bit, which didn't really please the guy, but that wasn't my problem. He could catch me later if he wanted to.

Spoiler: he did not catch me.

The course consisted of 3 loops. We shared it with the 5k and 10k runners, and I was never sure who I was racing against.  Any time I saw a familiar face heading in the opposite direction I assumed that person was ahead of me. I knew I was hitting my splits but assumed those runners were faster because of my experience with racing.

Halfway through the race it was time for me to refill my water bottle.

I should have asked for help but I was trying to rush.

At that moment I realized I had forgotten to switch off my watch's auto-pause. This might not seem like a big deal but I had a goal to hit.

I wouldn't know my finish time for sure until the official results came out.

By the time I got to the last turnaround I was very concerned that I would not hit my goal. I kept checking my pace plan, which I had written on my hand, and suddenly realized I only had TWO miles left, not three.

That meant it was time to pick up the pace.

I'm not gonna lie; it was TOUGH to keep running so fast the whole race, and for the last 2.1 miles I was trying to run as fast as I could without burning out. I kept telling myself how disappointed I'd be if I missed that sub 2 by a few seconds just because it was hard.

I also remembered what Erika wrote on my pace recommendations:

I pushed to the finish and a handful of people were there to congratulate me.

My watch showed that I finished under 2 hours but I wouldn't be sure until the results came out. In the meantime, they gave me 2 medals, a finisher's medal and a 2nd place medal!

To say I was psyched is an understatement, especially when you compare this race to all my other half marathons.

ChelanMan Half 2010 2:32:36 = 11:39 min/mi

Seattle Half 2010 2:26:17 = 11:10 min/mi

Rock n Roll 2011 2:20:42 = 10:44 min/mi

Rock n Roll 2012 2:13:18 = 10:11 min/mi

Heroes Half 2013 2:04:17 = 9:29 min/mi

Heroes Half 2014 2:13:25 = 10:11 min/mi

Seattle half 2015 2:17:39 = 10:30 min/mi

And the official results from this race:

It was a sub-2!!

Monster Dash Half 2016 1:58:10 = 9:01 min/mi

In order to finally reach my goal, a few things happened:

1. I left my stressful job and have been essentially on hiatus this year. This gave me lots of energy.

2. I moved somewhere that is much flatter than Seattle, and my race was pancake flat.

But if that's what it took, so be it.

I'm not sure if I'll run another half in the new year, but Erika and I got into the Chicago Marathon in October!


Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!

Wonder Woman wanted to wish you a Happy Halloween, but she got a little distracted. Her name is starting to take on a secondary meaning.

Poor thing is getting older and it's hard to remember everything.

Anyway, this year I had a Halloween party to attend, so I actually made a "Wonder" Woman costume:

As you can see, I'm pretty proud of my creation.


What was your favourite costume--either your own or one you have seen?

Friday, October 28, 2016

Blood Doping on the LSD

Let me explain.

A few months ago I bought the Hanson Method half marathon training book for my race this weekend. While I didn't follow their plan to a T (which, by the way, they highly discourage), I learned a lot about the benefits of different types of training runs.

LSD does not stand for a party drug in this case, but for Long Slow Distance. Among the benefits are: increased muscle strength, improved use of fat, capillary growth, and a stronger heart. So by my very scientific calculations, you get more energy and can therefore run faster for a longer time, which is what happens when you blood dope.* Hence, the title of this post.

And, while the LSD is not a drug, I will argue that your mind can get a little altered after over an hour of running.

Of course, before even starting your workout, it's important to make sure you look perfectly put together.

That goes without saying, right?

At the start of your run you might be focused on your pace, your form, and/or your breathing, but after a while your brain starts to wander a bit.

You ponder deep things.

You analyze conspiracies.

Think about it.

You also consider more immediate forms of sabotage.

And conversely:

As you take more oxygen into your blood you also start to develop heightened senses.

Could it be?

Ooh, yeah!

By the time you reach the end of your run you may have solved that nagging work issue, or even a couple of long-held conspiracies. Or if you're me, you finally understand a flipping do-while loop. However, all that effort has taken a serious toll on your super-fancy workout look.

But you don't care because YOU SURVIVED!

And you're now a genius...until the high wears off. Which is about the same time as you get out of the shower.

It's okay though. You still killed it out there, tiger.

*While I may feel like a know-it-all after my long runs, I am no doctor. Please do not take anything I have said as medical truth or advice.


Friday, September 16, 2016

The Coolest Thing About Running

There are lots of things I love about running:

1. The races:

2. The race goodies:

Especially the race medals.

But the races are just a small part of it. There are also the personal benefits:

1. Exercise in the fresh air:

2. Pushing my body past its formerly accepted limits:

But, even those don't compare to my FAVOURITE thing:

Yup, it really is a thing that I totally didn't make up.

To me, there's nothing more satisfying than the secret-society-greeting you give and get when coming across another runner.

It might be a wave, a smile, or just a head nod. These may or may not be accompanied by a "hello". However, the important thing about the Secret Running Society is that you have to be cool, man. As such, I have devised the following tips to help you jump right in.

1. Smile:

But just tighten your lips and pull up the corners a tiny bit.

2. Wave:

Maybe just a quick, single hand raise.

3. Nod:

Once will do.

4. Say hi:

One or two words is plenty.

Got it? Great!  Oh, but there's something very important you need to know about the Secret Running Society:

 *It's elusive.*

Depending on where you run, you might not get a single acknowledgment.

Sometimes it's just logistics; for example there might be too many runners.

You'd give yourself whiplash and repetitive stress disorder, not to mention you would really throw off your breathing.

Sometimes people are in the middle of a really tough workout and the energy it would take to shift their focus to speak, wave, or make eye contact would cause them to fall on their face and possibly remain there for hours. (I am of course guessing this; I myself have never felt this way...)

Sometimes people are uh, preoccupied?


Maybe there's a butterfly up there.

There are plenty of reasons runners ignore other runners. Some will never acknowledge you for the simple reason that they are just too cool.

I guess that's alright though, because actually:

Just don't let the secret out, ok?

So how about you? Are you a member of the Secret Running Society or are you too cool?



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