Tag Archives: half marathon training

That Time I Did Two Races in One Weekend

25 Feb

Last week, I did something crazy.

Every winter, there is a local “Winter Series” of races held in Barboursville Park: a 3 mile, 4 mile and a 5 mile race. I’ve never signed up for the full series (but I’d like to next year), but one of the races always seems to catch my eye. Last week, I noticed that the weather was supposed to be perfect over the weekend, the 5 mile race was happening on Sunday and it just so happened that my long run in half-marathon training was 5 miles exactly. After hitting up my fellow trainees on Facebook, I got a partner and paid the $15 for the race registration.

5 miler

 

It may seem crazy to pay $15 to run a scheduled training run, but I find the race atmosphere to be considerably motivating. I knew if I paid money, I would run and I would try hard!

Then, something kind of crazy happened. My friend Sarah posted on Facebook about signing up for the Marshall Recreation Center’s Indoor Triathlon, which is something I’ve always wanted to do, and despite the fact that I hadn’t been in a pool or on a bike in over a year, I immediately signed up. Pretty much right after doing so, I had a bit of a panic attack — a triathlon one day and a five mile race the next, on top of the fact that we had planned a surprise party (at my house!) for my sister-in-law’s boyfriend and I had a few other things on my to-do list!? I knew it was a lot, but after I paid good money I wasn’t about to back out. I pretty much put it out of my mind until later in the week. On the days leading up to the race(s), I took a couple of back-to-back rest days and just tried to relax. Then, on Friday I realized that I had no idea where my goggles were and I didn’t know if my TYR swimsuit even would still fit, considering I purchased it when I was twenty pounds lighter. I went to pick up my packet for the tri, and realized that the little equipment shop at the gym didn’t sell goggles. Uh oh.

I woke up bright and early on Saturday on a mission to get everything ready. I went to Wal Mart and found goggles, a swim cap and some fuel (energy jelly beans!), pulled out my old TYR suit (still fit, sort of) and packed my bag as best as I could.

photo 1 (6)

The triathlon, luckily, was a very short distance: 300 m swim, 8 mile bike (on the spin bike) and 2 mile run (on the treadmill) and the transitions would not be timed. I knew I would be able to finish everything, so I went into it just wanting to finish and have fun. When I signed up for the race, they asked me to estimate my swim time in order to set up heats. Since I hadn’t been in the pool for ages, I had no idea what to estimate, so I over-estimated — by a lot. That meant that everybody I knew was in a lower heat than me. I waited around for nearly two hours to get in the pool. Luckily, that meant I got to watch everybody else and got some good pointers.

Sarah rocking the 300 m swim.

Sarah rocking the 300 m swim.

One thing I noticed was that a lot of people went out very fast and ended up having to switch to breast stroke or back stroke to catch their breath. I knew I would have to do this eventually (breathing while swimming isn’t a strength), but I knew to rein it in a little at the start to not wear myself out too quickly. When it came time for my swim, I had just downed my energy jelly beans (those things are great!) and I was ready to go! I ended up swimming a lot faster than I expected with a finish time of 6:09! I was very happy with that time.

Next up was the bike. Since transitions weren’t timed, I should have taken a bit more time between skills. I was so amped up that I rushed up to the bike and hopped on immediately. I ended up finishing the bike in a decent time — 14:26, but when I got off the bike I had a side stitch. Again, I should have taken some time to breathe, but I was in a hurry to finish so I hopped right on the treadmill.

tri finish

I ended up running the two miles slightly slower than I had hoped, and ended with a total time of 40:53. I was very proud of this because I didn’t train at all, and this is my very first time attempting a three-sport race, or even doing three different sports in one workout! I definitely want to do this again. I’m hesitant to say that I’ll try a triathlon, because the gear needed is pricey, but I will definitely sign up for the indoor event again. It was very fun!

After the triathlon, I was busy, busy. Zach and I had to run some errands, I had a workshop to attend, and I had to do some straightening up since we were hosting a party that evening. Needless to say, I didn’t make through much of the party before heading to bed — I was so tired! Not to mention, I had  a five mile race the next day….

I woke up on Sunday not feeling so hot. So, I made waffles and vegged on the couch. I could see out my big front window that the weather was getting nicer and nicer, so I texted my friend Shannon to make sure she was still in for the race. She was, and though I thought of backing out, I pulled on some running clothes and headed out the door. The weather was perfect. It was like we were meant to run that day, because about an hour after we finished the rain started and then it turned to snow.

I won’t go into much detail about the race, just that Shannon and I both just treated it as a training race. We both ran with our music on low and talked the whole time, running just under an 11 minute mile pretty much the whole time. The course was great, and it was a change of pace from our usual long run courses, so that was helpful. We ended up finishing in just over 55 minutes, which was confusing to us because our GPS was telling us we were running under an 11 minute mile the whole time. Then, when we both looked at our devices after the race, they both said that we ran about 5 and a quarter miles. So I don’t know if our GPS devices were off or if the race course was long. At any rate, we finished and felt great. Plus, pizza!

5 mile run

 

I think all races should have pizza at the finish line!

So, I finished two races in two days and I lived to tell the tale. I’m glad I did it, but by Sunday night I had trouble keeping my eyes open.

Question of the Day:
Have you ever done a triathlon? Did you love it? 

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A Spring-Like Weekend

13 Jan

We had amazing weather this weekend, and I really took advantage of it.

Yes, we take walks in the cemetery.

Yes, we take walks in the cemetery.

I think I mentioned here before that the one problem with our new house was the lack of sidewalks around the neighborhood. Lucky for Frank, we’ve figured out a solution. It turns out that there is an entrance to the Spring Hill cemetery only half a mile from our house, so we’ve been taking advantage of it every time we get the chance. The cemetery is huge and has lots of hills, so it’s perfect for long walks. It may seem kind of weird to walk in a cemetery, but it’s actually very peaceful and seems to be a popular route for walkers (there are lots of garbage cans for Frank’s waste bags). Don’t worry, we’re very respectful and stick to the walking paths.

Frank certainly enjoyed it. When he yawns, it means he's having a good time.

Frank certainly enjoyed it. When he yawns, it means he’s having a good time.

After our walk, I got to work on this weekend’s January Cure challenge: Tackling the kitchen. As it turns out, the kitchen was the part of the house that I picked for my ‘big’ goal for the challenge, so I was excited to get to work. I started by moving everything from the counter-tops to the dining room table:

photo 1 (4)

 

Then I got to work scrubbing the counter-tops, cleaning out the fridge and wiping down the cabinet fronts. Once the initial scrub was done, I re-organized everything on the counter-tops and re-organized the inside of the cabinets. Ok, you know how to clean a kitchen so I won’t go into too many details. Here’s the finished product:

photo 2 (4)photo 4 (1)

The funny thing is, I know how to clean a kitchen too, but it’s incredible how dirty a kitchen can get when you only “surface” clean it. I definitely will keep this in mind next time I do my daily kitchen cleaning. The worst part was the refrigerator — wow. After this challenge is over, I’m going to make a list of things that need to be done daily, weekly, monthly and annually — that refrigerator is going on the monthly list. I guess you just don’t notice  how icky it gets until you take everything out and start scrubbing. After all was said and done, I got a smile on my face every time I walked into the kitchen. I love having a clean home!

Now that the kitchen has been tackled, I need to get another “big” project for the remainder of the challenge, so I’ve decided to tackle our storage spaces. We have a pantry located directly outside of the kitchen that has become a dumping ground, and despite having shelves in our basement, everything is just tossed down there. So my goal is to get those spaces under control. I think once all is said and done, this challenge is going to make such an improvement on our home.

The other task for this weekend was to shop for ingredients and make a nice meal. I put that off to do sometime this week, because Zach wanted to get out of the house for dinner last night.

The weather this weekend was top notch in Huntington. I mentioned our Saturday walk (I wore capris and a light jacket!) and then on Sunday, I had a training run planned with a few friends. I wore a running skirt and a light jacket and felt great the whole time. Yay for nice weather in the middle of winter! Frank went with me on the run:

photo 2 (3)

 

He’s not the best training run partner, but I know he appreciated the exercise. So far, half marathon training is going super well, so I’m grateful for that. After the training run, my healthy and productive weekend gave way to a dinner out (hot wings – yum) and some couch time with the husband and The Golden Globes.

Question of the Day:
How was your weekend? 

 

On Rest and Recovery Before a Big Race

2 Nov

Happy Friday!

I’m so excited about this weekend. The weather is supposed to be nice, I have a girl’s night planned (Dance Central 3 on Kinect will be involved — YES!), and Zach and I will be celebrating our 2 year anniversary! Woo hoo!

I have been crazy tired this week, and feeling just a little under the weather. After not getting a good night’s rest on Tuesday night, I was completely wiped out on Wednesday night. I ended up in bed at 8:30 pm! I woke up at 2:30 in the morning (that’s what I get), read for a little bit, and surprisingly enough fell back asleep until 8:00 AM, making me late for work! I guess I needed it! Then again last night, I was in bed by 9:30 PM. I was up and ready to go to the gym this morning, though, so I think I got the rest I needed.

At the gym, I took the morning yoga class, followed by a shortened version of Clare’s Tabata Sprints workout.

I took my sprint speed up a bit this time, and boy was I feeling it. I was dripping with sweat!

On my way home, I sneakily took a photo for Grow Soul Beautiful‘s Yoga A Day challenge (a day late!):

Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

Boy, did yoga feel good this morning! I got really deep into some stretches that I felt like I needed, and when I hopped on the treadmill, I had zero sciatica pain! Woo hoo! I’m feeling really hopeful for a pain-free half marathon a week from Sunday (!!!).

This week has been good for workouts. I’ve done something every day. Since I slept in yesterday, and trick or treat was at 6:00 PM (don’t ask why my town doesn’t do trick or treat on Halloween, because I have no clue), I didn’t have much time to squeeze something in. I did 20 minutes of Pilates, though, and I’m feeling it in my core this morning! On the running front, I’ve done a lot of short distance speed work. I’m setting myself up for a low-to-no running week next week. I can’t promise I won’t go for a little jog if the weather is nice, but I’m planning to stick to lots of stretching and maybe a little pilates to rest/stretch up for the half marathon. I’m still a little nervous, but this morning, while I was sprinting on the treadmill, I realized that fitness-wise, I’m good. I know I can run 13 miles if I need to, and I will. I don’t know if I’ll do it in under 2 hours, but I know I have the capability to do so.

Because I know I have the fitness, and I know I have the capability, this week I’m going to focus on having the mental strength to run 13 miles. I’m also going to focus on getting enough rest, and fueling my body properly (I’ve been struggling with this lately). Wish me luck!

Question of the Day:
How do you prepare for a big race? 

My Running Story and A Lesson Learned

19 Oct

I have a confession to make. I’ve been running pretty consistently for a long time now, and I pretty much never stretch after running. Well, I used to never stretch after a run. Now, I have to. Here’s my story.

I started running in 2010 (it seems like longer ago….) after losing about 50 pounds and deciding that I wanted to focus more on fitness (I started out focusing mainly on diet changes, which turned out to be a great way to lose weight). I did the Beachbody Insanity program from start to finish and after I was done, I thought I’d start running. I just…did it, starting out with walk/running and moving up to running consistently. I ran 3 miles non-stop for the first time one week before my very first 5k. I ended up finishing that hilly course in 30:05 and finishing third in my age group:

After that, I set my sights on doing a half marathon. Remember, I had only run 3 miles non-stop as of August, and the half marathon was in November. I immediately set about a training plan, during the hottest summer/fall that I’ve experienced in West Virginia. I was nervous, but I knew if I just paid the $50 entry fee, I’d have to run, so I did it. I finished that race in 2:15:45

Photo courtesy of my dear friend Jenni. The race finished in my Alma Mater’s football stadium, and she was up in the stands.

After that race, I signed up for our local Turkey Trot and got my fastest 5k time ever. I’m planning on running it again this year, because I think after training for and running a half marathon, 5k’s seem like a breeze:

After the Turkey Trot in November of 2010, I took a big break from running and started focusing on other forms of exercise. I purchased a YMCA membership and got really into doing group fitness classes and weight training. I still ran here and there, but nothing like before.

In spring/summer of 2011, I signed up for a local 5k class which was sponsored by my Alma Mater (Marshall University). Once a week, we went through running and agility drills, which led up to the West Virginia 5k Championship (the largest 5k in the state). I set a PR in that race of 27:31:

That’s when I was running in glasses. So glad I don’t do that anymore.

I get side stitches sometimes because I forget to breathe, so that’s me in pain. Also, that guy in the gray shirt in front of me? Yeah, he beat me pushing a stroller. Sigh. After that 5k, I didn’t run another race for a while. I kind of felt like I had lost my running mojo. I had thought I would run the half-marathon again, but I just couldn’t get into a consistent training schedule. Zach and I had started dating around Halloween of the previous year, so I was focusing a lot of time on just falling in love 🙂

Fast forward to this spring. I decided that I wanted to start running again, in a big way. I had to push myself, but I started running consistently and signed up for the WV 5k Championship again. I focused on getting a PR, and ended up doing it — barely. I finished the 2012 WV 5k Championship in 27:28 — beating my previous time by 3 seconds. Hey, a PR is a PR, right? I’ve done a few other 5k’s here and there, but I’ve never run a 10k or a marathon. Someday, perhaps.

Now, we are about 3 weeks outside of the half-marathon and I’m in the same place I was 2 years ago. I’ve trained, I’ve paid my $50, and I’m hoping to just make it through. I’m faster than I was then, but I’m also not as healthy. Which brings me to the lesson I’ve learned since I’ve started training for races again:

Never, ever skip the post-run stretch. 

I never stretched after I ran. Ever. I used to think I was super-human or something. My muscles were alway loose, and I always felt great. Well, after my re-introduction into the sport of competitive running, I’m feeling it. My hips are tight and sore. My hamstrings hurt after a run. It’s awful! I wonder if I had focused on a proper stretching regime when I started running if I’d be having these issues today? I guess I’ll never know. But here is what I do know: If you’re a runner, please focus on the stretch and strengthening your muscles as well as logging your miles. Trust me, you’ll thank me.

I’ve got to give a big old shout-out to Tri-State Racer, a local website that has all of the local races listed, links to the online registrations, and most importantly: A database of all the race results, dating back to 2000! I’d never know my race times without them. Thanks!

Question of the Day:
Be honest, do you ever skimp on your post-run stretch? 

October Goals

1 Oct

Last night, I was looking at a wedding dress site and I decided to measure myself in case I decide to order my dress online. I was disappointed to find out that since I last took my measurements, I’ve gained almost 2 inches around my waist, even though I weigh roughly the same. Not good. So, I’ve decided to be honest with myself:

  1. I have not be exercising like I used to (read: before vacation — what is it about vacation that throws me off!?). I’m taking way more rest days and when I do workout, I’m not committing as much time or energy as I’d like to it. Furthermore, I’m slacking on my half marathon training, which will only hurt me come November 11.
  2. I have not been eating as healthfully as I should. Extra snacks and large portion sizes have been creeping into my daily routine.
  3. I’m sore. My muscles are tight, and I’ve abandoned my stretching/yoga routine.

The only way to get back to where I want to be is to work harder, and that means making some goals for myself — and sticking to them! So, here we go: October Goals!

  1. Watch portion sizes. Measure my meals. Bring healthy snacks to work and avoid vending machine.
  2. Count calories? — I don’t really want to do this. I hate counting calories, but I guess it works. Does anyone have an alternative suggestion?
  3. Go back to one rest day/week, and make sure when I do exercise, I’m doing so for at least 45 minutes.
  4. Don’t skimp on half-marathon training. I’ve been shaving miles off here and there, and it’s not going to help me run 13.1 miles in a month.
  5. Weight training 3x a week, and yoga 3x a week.

How will I do this?

  1. Make a meal plan, and stick to it. Don’t buy high calorie/fat foods.
  2. Drink more water. 8 glasses a day will make me feel satisfied and less lethargic.
  3. Aim to get 8 hours of sleep a night. If that means skipping something ‘fun’ to go to bed early, so be it.
  4. Make it to the gym in the mornings at least three times a week. On Mondays and Wednesdays, attend the weight training classes in the morning. This will help with the  3x a week weight training goal.
  5. Join Courtney’s (at SweetToothSweetLife) October yoga Challenge, to do yoga 3x a week. There is a new yoga class at my gym — try it!
  6. Make sure to get my miles in for half marathon training, even if  I have to run in the evenings after having been at the gym in the morning.
  7. Hit the weight room after one speed work (treadmill run) session each week, which in addition to the MW weights class will meet my strength goal.

Say it, Do it!

Question of the Day:
What are your goals for the month of October?

Sip Wine Bar, Huntington, WV

27 Sep

Good morning!
I have been the worst lately about getting up and going to the gym in the mornings. I could make excuses all day long, but basically it’s because I’m tired in the morning. I don’t know why. I feel like I’m sleeping well, but obviously something is off. I need to figure out what it is, and get back to my regular schedule.

But, all in all I’m not doing too badly on the fitness front. I’ve been off since I got back from vacation, and that’s bad because the half-marathon is only slightly more than a month away. This week feels like it has flown by, and my training has suffered. I did wake up early for a weights class on Monday, and I actually ran 4 miles after work as well, but then I took Tuesday off. Yesterday, I didn’t get out of bed and go to the gym, but I did get a nice speed work treadmill run in after work:

In typical fashion, I can’t get through a treadmill run without accidentally stopping the treadmill or having to dash to the bathroom and it resets.

I did 400 repeats at 5k pace, and I took 200 m walking breaks after every repeat (hence the slowish pace). But I got through it! I really hope this half marathon goes well for me. I was feeling so great about training before I left for the beach, and now it’s a struggle to make myself run.

After my run, I met up with my lady friends Susie and Mandee to hit the local wine bar, Sip. My neighbor Ashley (who is leaving in two days to go to Costa Rica for a whole month to get certified to teach yoga! Lucky!) works there  and so does Susie’s boyfriend, Shane. This was my first Sip experience.

I just love the decor of this place, don’t you? We sat at the bar so as to be near Ashley and Shane, and just chatted. They have small plates, and you can order wine in flights, which  has three different 2 oz servings or as a 6 oz glass of one wine. I decided to go with the flights, because wine isn’t cheap and I wanted to try as much as I could for the money I was spending there. I started out with the Sparkling Flight:

I ❤ sparkling wine! (I call it all champagne because I’m uncultured)

My favorite of the three was the Gruet Extra Dry. It had a really full flavor for a dry sparkling wine. The Rose wasn’t as sweet as I imagined it would be (I think everything pink is going to be sweet). They were all very good.

Next up, I decided to go with the Unusual Red Flight:

This was my favorite, by far. I didn’t take a great photo of the descriptions, but the Ken Forrester Pinotage claimed to have ‘nuances of bacon’ and as weird as that sounded, it was great! It had a bacony, smoky finish that I really liked. The other two wines were rich and complex. I highly recommend all three of these wines.

I was only planning on getting two flights, which is why I had the unusual red, but Susie had just gotten another glass of wine, and I was a little tipsy so I felt like having a third flight. At this point, please remember these glasses are only 2 oz. glasses, so I’m really not going overboard here! Here is a photo comparison of the glasses to my giant engagement ring (haha) so you can see how small they were:

So even though I drank 9 tiny glasses of wine, it was really the equivalent of three regular glasses of wine. I went with the unusual white flight for my third flight:

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my photos get worse as time passes. In retrospect, I should have done sparkling, unusual white, THEN unusual red, but oh well. My favorite of these three was the Gewurztraminer. It was delicious! It had a floral bouquet (??) — I’m not very good with wine descriptions, but it was much more complex than your usual white.

In addition to the wine, we also shared two cheese plates, a bread plate and a small piece of cheesecake. Good thing I went running first!

I would highly recommend Sip! It’s a little on the pricey side, but as a once-in-a-while thing, I think it’s a great night out.

Half-Marathon Training Series #2: The long run

17 Sep

On Saturday, two things were going on in my town:

One, it was the day for the annual Chilifest! I look forward to this day every year, because I love chili.

It’s tough to find a chili that is both spicy enough and has enough flavor. I went to one booth and they said that they had a ghost pepper chili that was very spicy. Since I’m a lover of spice, I told them to bring it on. They acted as if it would blow my socks off. It was basically cold tomato sauce with some ghost peppers thrown in. Yeah, there was some heat, but there was absolutely no other flavor at all. I almost thought it was a joke. That photo in the middle of Zach is as he is eating the only true spicy chili that we found, and that was only after the addition of the “hottest sauce in the universe” — it was incredibly spicy! It burned the back of my throat, and it also had a good flavor. I think that people are afraid to make things too spicy because not everyone is a fan.

After Chilifest, we went to a Marshall University Football game. Zach and I both graduated from Marshall, so we are big Herd fans!

It was a perfect day for football. Early fall heat in the afternoon with a nice chill once the sun set.

I took the first photo and Zach said, “Wait, my eyes weren’t open!” So that is what happened when I took another. haha.

Our team ended up losing  a really close game! We were pretty bummed about that, but we were impressed with how they played.

Somehow on Sunday morning, I felt fine when I woke up so I immediately got ready to go out for my long run of the week. I haven’t had a long run since before we went to the beach, so I was kind of nervous on how I’d handle the 7 miles I had on my training schedule. Which brings me to the point of today’s post.

Half-Marathon Training: The  Long Run

A ‘long run’ when you are training for a distance race is basically the longest run you’ve done on your schedule thus far, plus one mile. Ideally, you do one long run a week during your training. If you’re a beginner and you are training for a half-marathon, most likely the longest run on your schedule will be 10 miles. The first time I trained for a half-marathon, I did 10 miles exactly one week before my race (no tapering). I wouldn’t suggest doing that, but I didn’t really follow a training program per se. I just knew that I was supposed to get my mileage up to 10 miles and, according to the sources I’d read, the adrenaline would carry me through the last three.

Well, that is true, but after 11 miles, I was pretty spent. I’m glad that this time around I’ll be up to at least 12 before the race:

The Long Run can be a bit daunting. I usually have to really psych myself up for them, and (this is a personal preference) do them first thing in the morning or they just don’t work out.

First, let’s talk about the logistics of the long run, starting with why they are important. The point of the long run is to build your endurance for running distance races. You shouldn’t focus on speed on your long runs, in fact, you should try to run them slower than any other training race. The reason for this is that while you will get the same endurance benefits, but you will recover much more quickly so you can continue your training the next week (or even the next day) without taking too much time off.

If you find yourself huffing and puffing (where you wouldn’t be able to carry on a conversation) during your long run, you are going too fast. It’s even important to take water, stretch or walk breaks during your longest runs of the week. The point is to take it easy, but keep running for a sustained amount of time.

Despite the fact that I sort of dread getting started on a long run, I never, ever, ever regret completing one. Sure, there have been times that I’ve not completed my mileage because I just wasn’t feeling it, but I always try to get at least a few miles in. Also, a good tip is that even if you split up your mileage (do half in the morning and half in the evening), it still counts as a long run on your training schedule, but remember that on race day, you won’t be able to take a several hour break at the halfway point.

One point that Jeff Galloway makes when talking about long runs (and one that is often overlooked), is the mental benefit of the long run. There is something about finishing the longest run of your training schedule that really builds you up for the rest of the day. Also, I love ending my week with a long run in the morning, because when you’ve completed 1+ hour of running, you get to be completely lazy for the rest of the day 🙂

What about entertainment on long runs? Well, for me, music is fine for a run that is less than 5 miles, but once I get into higher mileage, music gets a little old. Two things that have really gotten me through longer runs are the NPR  This American Life app (a great radio show about remarkable things in everyday life), and audiobooks. If you have a smart phone or an iPod touch, these two things are right at your fingertips.

While we were at the beach, I read about half of a book that was at our beach house. Of course, I had to leave it behind when I got home, so I picked up the audiobook from the library and I’ve been listening on my longer runs. It’s the perfect way to get in some “reading” while running!

Question of the day:
What is the longest distance you’ve ever run?