Training...Such As It Was
I decided to use the Pfitz Half Marathon Plan for runners who run more than 50 miles a week. My maximum weekly mileage this past marathon training cycle was north of 80, so I figured it was the best fit. (By the way, Pfitz released an update to this book as of November 24, 2014, called "Faster Road Racing." I applaud the much less pretentious title!) My first week on the plan was just five weeks out from the race, so I never reached the peak mileage of the plan. I decided to make sure to hit the long-run, medium-long-run, and workout mileage each week, and fit in the easy/recovery mileage as closely as I could, i.e., not stress.
Anyone who knows me, knows that not stressing about nailing a training plan is a personality transplant! But that basically sums up my attitude toward this race: To hopefully update my half PR to better reflect what Mr. McMillan's calculator thinks I can do based on my marathon race result. It would of course be great to surpass the calculator's predictions and continue to make fitness strides, but realistically, I didn't think there would be enough time.
I did do a few speedwork sessions, several sets of strides at the end of easy runs, and a couple of race pace runs. My speedwork paces let me know that I hadn't lost any speed since the marathon, which was good news. When I was able to hold my desired race pace for 9 miles, two weeks prior to race day, I knew I was as ready as I was going to be. I didn't do as drastic of a taper as Pfitz recommended in his plan, but I did cut back the week prior to the race.
Packet pickup was a breeze, at a local running store. Easy in, easy out. The swag was a half-zip fleece. I love half-zips, so this was much appreciated over the hooded (no-zip) fleece sweatshirt from last year's race, which is currently collecting dust in my closet.
|See? Not too shabby. For me, it beats another t-shirt!|
|I wasn't planning on compression socks, but my midriff was covered, so maybe it's a tradeoff? Image found here.|
|In case that's not obvious, that's kind of been my motto so far this winter!|
At about 8:40, I opened my car door to head to the start line for the 9:15 gun. A gust of wind hit me in the face. I shut the car door again, and dug around in my car for my gray hat. I shuffled to the start, looking like a homeless person in all my mismatched layers. I stood around for a while, removed one layer from the top and bottom and checked my bag in gear check.
|The obligatory start-line selfie.|
I took off with the 8:00/mile pace group. I was a tad ahead of them at first, and things were feeling easy, except for dodging the unexpected patches of ice and snow on the path -- yikes! As I suspected, I ditched my throwaway layer at mile .50 and never felt a need for it again. Shortly thereafter, I was reminded why I generally hate pace groups. I felt a thundering herd approaching as the 8:00/mile group began to pass me like I was standing still. I attempted to stick with them for a bit, until I looked down at my watch and realized we were running 7:35 pace. I decided (for the umpteenth time during a race) to run my own race, and let them disappear into the distance.
|Just running along, all airborne...no biggie...|
The rest of this section passed uneventfully, and I was pleased at how the miles were ticking along. I started to think that I could be pushing myself a little faster if I wanted to, but I reminded myself that I was right where I expected my fitness to be, and I didn't want to risk a blowup by pressing any more. If I kept this up, I would have a nice PR. Mile splits 5-8: 8:00, 7:58, 7:58, 7:48.
I was starting to get a little bored and my mind was beginning to wander, and my mile 9 split of 8:05 reflected it. I decided to pick the pace back up a little bit, and threw in a quick stride to jump-start my legs. It was around this time that I saw the 8:00 pace group reappearing over the horizon. It was much smaller than it had been, and featured only two of the four pacers I had originally seen at the start line. I wondered if the other folks in the group (including the other two pacers) had bonked due to the super-fast pace. Over the next mile, I reeled them in, ran with them for a bit, and then finally surged again and put them in my rearview mirror.
At mile 10, I took my second gel. Around mile 10.5, we weaved around a parking lot, and the footing entering and exiting the lot was extremely slippery. I slipped a couple of times, which definitely woke me up! Before mile 12, I ditched my gloves, which I had been storing in my sports bra in case I needed them. The reason was extremely shallow: I knew that the photographers were in full force as the finish line approached, and I didn't want to appear unevenly buxom. Mile splits 9-12: 8:05, 7:56, 7:56, 7:59.
|Look at that! I'm so happy that my chestal area is even (and that I'm about to PR)!|
My favorite part of the race came near the finisher's chute, when I saw my sweet friend Michelle and her equally-sweet daughters. She took this great shot of me, and I was so pumped to see her. After she took the photo, I gave her a huge high-five and punctuated it with a "Woo!"
Here comes my biggest beef with this race: Approaching the finish line, the race decides that its participants need to experience a cross-country atmosphere and takes them across a grassy field to the finish chute. I think this definitely slowed me and a lot of other runners down during our final finishing "sprints." Since I usually don't look at the elapsed time on my watch in the last mile, I was surprised to see 1:44:XX on the finish line clock. My PR was bigger than I had hoped for!
Finish Time: 1:44:01 (One pesky second...see why I'm a little peeved about the grassy finish? LOL!) - PR by 3 minutes, 26 seconds
Average Pace: 7:56/mile (my first time breaking the 8-minute barrier for a half!)
Overall Place: 208/1620
Gender Place: 51/887
Age Group Place (40-44): 5/142 (Alas, the field was fast, and the third-place woman was just under 5 minutes in front of me. Maybe I will place some other year!)
|A happy post-race selfie!|
Now, for an offseason (currently in progress, since this recap is late), which will be all about maintaining a base of miles, and then (hopefully) onward and upward to new fitness goals in January. My spring marathon is the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon on May 17, and training starts January 12th! The frozen tundra of Lambeau Field is calling me!