Tag Archives: sports

Marshall Half Marathon Recap

12 Nov



Yesterday, I completed the Marshall Half-Marathon in Huntington, WV.

As of yesterday, I have completed two half-marathons in two years. I’m often envious of other bloggers who log many, many miles a week and seem to breeze through distance races with ease. I love a good 5k, but half-marathons take a bit more mental and physical preparation for me.

If I’m being honest (which, of course I am) my training was not up to par. I didn’t get the required mileage under my belt, and I didn’t run as often as I should have. As you may know from my previous post, I paid for it in what seems to be an injury to my right leg. After sleeping on it, I can localize the pain to the outside of my right knee (IT band?) and my Achilles tendon. I can walk (slowly), so I don’t think I’ve sprained, twisted or fractured anything. It’s weird because I can’t pinpoint any moment during the race where I actually hurt myself, so I guess I just pushed too hard and my legs weren’t ready for it (is that a thing?)

The first 5 or 6 miles went really well. I was pushing my pace, and was definitely on par to PR under 2 hours (which was my goal) or at least come in a few minutes over 2 hours. By mile 7, my leg started feeling a little weird. I took a few breaks to walk/stretch it out and kept running. Mile 8 was painful. I started feeling terrible pain and was in tears (p.s. don’t cry while running. It turns into hyperventilation pretty quickly). I knew that Zach would be waiting for me right after mile 9, so I pushed it until then. By the time I saw Zach, I just collapsed. I was hyperventilating because I was crying so hard, and my leg felt terrible. I wasn’t in a good place. I honestly considered just quitting. Then I thought about getting that medal, and I thought about having to report a DNF here. I couldn’t do that. I had started this race, and I only had about 4 miles to go, so even if I walked the entire time, I was going to finish.

Those next 4ish miles were hell. I tried running some, but it became so painful that I had to stop and walk. I think maybe I ran more than I think I did, because my finishing time wasn’t quite as bad as I expected (2:22:40). By the time I was about half a mile from the finish, I went ahead and pushed it. I ran the whole way, even sprinting across the finish line. At the very end of this race, you go down a steep hill to enter the stadium, and then you run the length of the football field, and then another length to the finish line. The downhill entrance was probably the worst part of the whole race. The pain was so intense I thought I might fall.

But, I finished. I immediately started crying when I crossed the line, luckily Zach was right there. He’s incredible, did you know that? He told me so many times yesterday how proud of me he was. His pride rubbed off on me, because despite the fact that I have a lot of reasons to be disappointed with yesterday’s race, I’m not. I’m proud that I pushed through to finish. I’m proud that I managed a halfway decent time despite an injury. I’m proud that I just did it.

I took my first ice bath yesterday as well, which wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, and it made my legs feel much better for a while afterwards.

We had beautiful weather yesterday.

So now I have a decision to make. I really would like to finish a half marathon in under 2 hours, but I’m not sure I’m a distance runner. I enjoy races of the 5k variety, but the training involved to do distance races ends up being a problem for me. I enjoy doing so many different types of exercise that the time that you must put into training never really works out for me. I’ve got some time to think about it, because I think the next time I’ll consider running this distance is next year.

Until then, I’m planning on trying out Jamie Eason’s Live Fit Trainer starting as soon as I can comfortably walk again.

The first four weeks require you to do no cardio at all, which shouldn’t be a problem considering I don’t think I could even run a mile right now. I guess 4 weeks will be just the amount of running rest I need!

Question of the Day:
What’s the longest distance you’ve ever run? 


11 Nov

I finished my second half marathon in 2:22 (unofficial time), which is about 9 minutes slower than the first one I ran. I was on pace for a PR until mile 8, when I started getting a lot of pain in my right leg. By the time I saw Zach just after mile 9, I was hyperventilating and unsure I could go on. I hobbled through the next 4ish miles, though. I walked most of it, but still managed to sprint the finish. I’m in severe pain right now, so I have a feeling I won’t be running for a while.


What I need to do now is take an ice bath, but I’ve never done it and I really don’t know if I can bring myself to. Someone talk me into it?

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? 

Half-Marathon Training Series #1: Speed Work

23 Aug

I’ve reached the point in my beach countdown where it is (sort of) appropriate to convert the time to hours (specifically, I leave in 69 hours exactly.) The closer vacation gets, the less sleep I’ll get, I’m sure. Today, I woke up at 4:00 AM – wide awake!


I’m starting a new series today about Half-Marathon Training. I’ve only run one half-marathon in my racing career, and my time was 2:13:45. Since then, I’ve improved quite a bit, so my goal this year is to run a sub-2 hour half. Since I didn’t really train for my first half (I increased my mileage weekly, but that’s about the extent of it), I knew the key to my success was a solid training plan.

Clearly the most popular training plan (at least in my experience) is good old Hal Higdon. Other bloggers trust him, and he has carried my friends (Hi Sarah!) through marathons, so he’s good enough for me. Since I’m trying to PR, the speed work portion (highlighted) of my training is particularly important:

So, today let’s talk about race training and why speed work is important. According to Runner’s World, Speed work makes you faster, fitter, and ultimately makes you more comfortable at any pace. Bart Yasso, Chief Running Officer at Runner’s World magazine says, “Speed work can increase efficiency, flexibility, range of movement in your joints, and strength, all of which increase your endurance and speed.” 

If you’re not worried about increasing your speed, it’s not terribly important, but increasing your strength and flexibility goes a long way for preventing repetitive stress injuries (most common among runners.)

The Hal Higdon training plan above has two types of speed work. Tempo and 400 repeats. 

Today was a 400 repeat day. I was supposed to do 6 400 repeats at my 5k pace (about 8:40/mile). Here’s what I did (and what I looked like afterward):

As you can see, I’m running 400 repeats at near my 5k pace (~8:34/mile = 7.0 mph on the treadmill), with jogging (and some walking) in between. Ultimately, this will boost my endurance and speed. This is an intense workout. The first couple of repeats seem easy, but as you get more and more you’ll start to really feel it. By the end of my training program, I will (apparently) be doing 10 x 400 repeats! Hopefully I’ll be running the sprints at a faster pace.

As for tempo runs, well, they used to be my nemesis. One of my favorite blog posts of all time is “How to do a Tempo Run” by Tina at Carrots n Cake (find it here.) Basically, your goal is to maintain a ‘comfortably hard’ pace for a certain amount of time. I used to be overwhelmed by tempo runs because (as you can see on the training plan above),  sometimes my training will call for a 40 or 45 minute tempo run. A comfortably hard pace becomes actually hard after a certain amount of time! But let’s backtrack for a minute. Why are tempo runs important? According to this site,  tempo runs increase your lactate threshold, which will help you run faster for a longer period of time. Important when you’re planning to run a distance race and you want to PR!

But then we’re back to the daunting Tempo Run and how to make them manageable. Again, I defer you to Tina’s post, but if you’re still with me, the good thing is that Hal Higdon recommends building your pace gradually throughout your run. The way I do it is I start with a very easy 10-15 minute jog and then I begin to increase my pace ever so slowly until it feels sort of hard, or I can only speak in short sentences. Then I hold that pace until there is 10-15 minutes left in my session and return to the slow jog for a cool down. This has made the idea of a tempo run much less daunting.

That said, I still don’t love them!

Since I don’t have a Garmin watch (ahem, Santa?) and I’m terrible at guessing my pace outdoors, I do about 90% of my speedwork on the treadmill. I like it because it’s very easy to control your pace. However, it’s important to always set somewhat of an incline (I usually go for 1.0) to mimic the wind resistance of running outdoors (unless you are planning on running your race on the treadmill!)

The last type of speed work I’d like to talk about isn’t on my training schedule, but it’s fun and a great trade-out if you just feel like doing something different is a Fartlek run. Yes, this sounds…gross. Fartlek is a Swedish term which means ‘speed play’, and in my opinion, this is the most fun type of speed training because there aren’t any rules!

In a Fartlek run, you basically just pick a distance and sprint when you feel like it. That’s all! I actually really love doing these types of runs outdoors because you can pick landmarks to run to, or sprint only on the chorus of “Dog Days are Over” by Florence + the machine (seriously, you should try that, it’s the only time I get goosebumps while running).

In closing, while doing speed workouts isn’t always the most fun, it’s very important if you want to get stronger and work on your endurance.

Question of the Day:
Do you do speed work? What is your favorite speed workout? 

From a negative to a positive.

21 Aug

Last week, I tweeted this:

As it turns out, that wasn’t actually true. This morning, I ran 4.5 miles, 3 miles of which were almost right at my half-marathon pace! Let’s backtrack a bit. I’ll warn you now that this run recap will get a little TMI, so if you’re not into that sort of thing you might want to stop reading now.

I woke up this morning and knew I had to go for a 3.5 mile run. Since I was running outside, I knew I had to drink my morning coffee and make sure I used the bathroom first. Because none of the bathrooms at the park are open in the early mornings (that irks me to no end, by the way), and inevitably I will be at the furthest point from my house and have to go.

It was kind of chilly this morning so I had to wear my long sleeves.

Long sleeves = perfect running weather, in my opinion. But I do feel like I’m racing time to get my summer vacation in before fall begins…But I digress. I headed out and was feeling very strong. I checked my pace a few times and noticed that I was just below my goal half marathon pace, and I felt great. Around mile 1.5, I started feeling that familiar grumbly tummy feeling, but I ignored it. When I got to my turn around point, however, I was wondering if I would make it back!

So, I’m at the turn around point and I realize that I have to use the bathroom, like, soon. I know it will take me roughly 15 minutes to run back, and I also know that there was a (really sketchy) port-a-potty near my favorite water fountain, which was .5 miles — in the other direction. I started to run back home but quickly realized I would not make it, so I walked (running was out of the question) to the port-a-potty. Which was the most disgusting port-a-potty I’ve ever been in. Ever. I know, I know. This is totally TMI, but running just gets things moving and sometimes this happens.

Like I said, I waited it out at home before I took off, so I was running late as it was, and now I had to run 2 miles instead of 1.5 to get home and get ready for work. I knew I had to run, and fast, so I did. I averaged well above half marathon pace in my last two miles! Not only that, but I felt really great and strong.

I can do it! I can run a sub-2 hour half!

Sometimes negatives turn into positives. As I mentioned yesterday, I ended up running about .81 miles longer that I was supposed to for my long run, and now today I ran 1.5 miles more than I should have (well, .5 of those were walking, but still). As of today, I’m above my training miles by 2.3 miles!

Just a note, next week I’ll be on vacation and I’m taking the week off of training. I’m sure I’ll still run, because running is one of my favorite things to do on vacation (how cool is it to go see the sights?), but I’m not going to hold myself to a training schedule, because vacation is for relaxation! I need to keep telling myself that because, in case you haven’t noticed, I have a hard time really letting go. In fact, I’m easing into vacation mentality already this week. Last night, Zach and I went out for a bit, and I was hungry so I ordered….chili cheese fries! That is very out of character for me. So much, in fact, that my friend Susie said, “Who are you!?” I’m just trying to let loose a bit. I have all fall and winter to be hard on myself 🙂

I promise that I’ll have a new Financial Fitness post for you after vacation. I’ll be blogging next week, but I’m just going to talk about vacation and what a great time I’m having 🙂

Question of the Day:
What’s your most embarrassing fitness related story? 

Half Marathon Training and Can women’s world records catch up with men’s?

8 Aug

Did I tell you that I broke my coffee pot this weekend? I know, I’m pretty upset about it too. I was in a cleaning frenzy and just…knocked it off the counter. Yep, I haven’t had coffee all week. Even Monday morning, after I didn’t sleep at all, I went coffee-less. I have no idea how I did it, but right now, this is happening:


Yes, I broke down and bought a coffee. I’m going to have to buy a new coffee pot ASAP, because buying coffee is too expensive.

This week marks week 1 of my half-marathon training:

I’m following Hal Higdon’s Intermediate plan found here. The one and only time I’ve ever run a half marathon, I didn’t really follow a training schedule, other than running outside a bunch and making sure I did long runs once a week. I knew the magic number was 10 miles, so I ran a 10 mile long run exactly one week before the half marathon. My final time was 2:13:45, which isn’t too bad for my first half, but this time I hope to do much better with a proper training schedule.

As anyone who has trained for a race knows, training schedules rarely go as planned. I’ve already had to do some significant juggling, and it’s only Wednesday of week 1! Again, I didn’t sleep well Sunday night so I took Monday as a rest day. Instead of a three mile run, I did a nice and sweaty speed work session on the treadmill yesterday evening:

6.8 mph = about 8:50/mile which is my 5k pace. This morning I woke up and went to my Cardio Fusion class, and when I got there our instructor had us get out all kinds of equipment: a short circular resistance band, a body bar, a step, a mat, dumbbells (I got 8lb and 6 lb, but I stuck with the 8lb weights for most of the class), and a Bosu. We definitely used all of that equipment too. My arms and butt feel like jelly. So, I’ve got my speed work and one strength session in for the week. I plan on doing a three mile run after work and I should be caught up to the training schedule above. Even if life happens and I don’t get in a run this evening, I still have that Friday rest day that I can do something if I need to. So the first week of training is going well, albeit not according to plan.

Now, let me share with you this amazing article I read yesterday from The Atlantic:

The ‘Golden’ Ratio: The One Number that Describes how Men’s World Records Compare with Women’s

For the first time ever this year, there was no country that marched with only male athletes. With the introduction of female boxing to the Summer Games, there are no longer any male-only sports. Ye Shiwen, a Chinese female swimmer, shocked Olympic judges by swimming a faster 50 m split than Ryan Lochte. Of course, no female can out-perform a man without automatically being suspected of using illegal substances.

The Atlantic article above shows that perhaps we shouldn’t be so surprised, because according to World Record data since the early 1900’s (using running and swimming as the model), women may start to consistently out perform men in this century. Over time, women’s records have improved at a much greater frequency than men’s have, so it stands to reason that eventually, women will ‘catch up’ with men. If you extrapolate the data found in these articles, you will see eventually the men’s and women’s data will converge. How cool is that?

Question of the day:
What is the most interesting article you have read lately?