A training and race recap

Saturday was the local major road running event in our county, the Hancock Canal Run. It also marked Clara’s eighth month in the world.

Oops. Baby medal spoiler alert.
Oops. Baby medal spoiler alert.

I ran this race (10 miles) for the first time when I moved here in 2005. Since then, I’ve run that distance again since then and the recent addition of the half marathon twice: once about a year after Aaron was born (my current half PR) and this time as part of my 16-mile long run for Week 7 of Twin Cities Marathon training.

It was a great weekend of running – the kids even got to run in a kids dash that ran the last 0.25 miles of the course – but I don’t really want to talk a ton about the race in particular. But Heart Monitor Training? I feel like I could talk about that for days.

Again, I’m not an expert (nor do I play one on TV) but here’s my current status after following this methodology for about three weeks. I’m starting Week 8 of a marathon training plan feeling GOOD. This is typically when I start to get really tired, beat up and despondent about training. Here’s what’s different:

  • My shorter “easy” runs are a lot slower than they used to be, which took a little getting used to. And when I say slower, I mean where in the past I’d consider a 3 mile run of 30 minutes “easy” – even though it actually wasn’t but I didn’t know it – now it takes me 33-34 minutes. Big deal. It’s more alone time. I’m trying to run these strictly as recovery efforts.
  • Tempo runs and “race pace” efforts are still fairly new to me, so at first while I might get a bit nervous when I see them on the schedule, I am finding that if I follow the directions and warm up truly easy, I am able to bring it for the fast(er) parts. I’ve hit all my tempos and race pace runs.
  • Long runs used to beat me up really badly. My old strategy was go out at a particular pace that was faster than what I knew I could maintain, thinking I’d “make up time” since I would inevitably fall apart later. And I would. I never ran negative splits on long runs. There was no “strong finish” left in me. Ever. I’ve made it through every long run on this plan feeling like I could’ve kept going. Not that I wanted to, but if I had to? Yes. And I’ve been able to go on with the rest of my day without being completely wrecked.

So this weekend:  I had 16 on the calendar, so I ran 2.9 miles to the start of our local half marathon and ran that as a “supported training run,” sticking to my strategy of low HR max % (I aim for 70-75% on LRs but don’t beat myself up if I get to 80%; I just know I need to try to dial it back).

Looking forward to the race, just not in this humidity
Bibbed up and clearly looking forward to running in the humidity
Fellow running TVR bud, Running Chunk
Caught up with fellow running TVR bud Josh at the start of the race

It ended up being great practice for race day, because I have gone out too fast at Twin Cities Every. Stinking. Year. Saturday I started at the back and watched everyone go flying down the hill (it’s a downhill start) and made myself not chase them. Wasn’t easy, but I kept telling myself to keep my eye on the prize, which was NOT a PR at this race (I wouldn’t have come close to my PR for this race anyway).

Being in the back can be disheartening.
Being in the back can be disheartening. I ended up passing green shirt guy and both pink shirt girls.

I also knew that I’d be passing a lot of these people later, and I did; I passed at least 12 half-marathoners before the race was over.

I ran the first nine miles pretty conservatively. I took in water every mile and a block every other mile, which seems to be working for me. I maintained a reasonable average pace. I saved a GU for the final three miles so that I had a little something for the end and if it didn’t agree, I could probably make it to the finish without having to run to a bathroom.

Friend at the last water stop snapped this of me trying to take one final swig of water before the finish
Friend at the last water stop snapped this of me trying to take one final swig of water before the finish

I went into the race giving myself permission to pick up the pace if I felt good for the last four miles. There were a few tough spots of running around walkers (there are a bunch of different races going on at the same time) and up a few little hills toward the finish line, and at the end I definitely worked harder than I planned, but if it would have been race day, I’d have done the same thing. (In fact, if I can do this in October in St. Paul, I’ll be tickled.) I ended up negative splitting my run and having a very strong finish. It was a pretty darn great day.

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If there was an award for most shit worn on arms during running, I’d win.

Yep, there was a kid’s race, which was Sophie’s second and Aaron’s first (and Clara’s, too).

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Pretty sure Sophie (sporting the Team /var/run shirt!!) still beat the kid trying to get a head start
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Clara’s more into barefoot running
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Decided to run with Aaron when I couldn’t keep up with Sophie (for real).
Finishers!
With Josh and Nancy at the finish

I hadn’t set out to run a particular time and ended up with a 2:23:45 for the half marathon portion. Total time was just shy of 2:55 for the entire run. I was happy with that.

It was humid and the miles didn’t always fly by, but since I knew exactly how hard I was working, there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to finish that run. NO. DOUBT. And I think that’s the best part of this whole crazy heart rate training thing: I know EXACTLY how hard I’m working, and that’s something I can’t really gauge by pace all the time. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee that the old me would have gone down that first hill way too fast. And that always catches up with you; you never recover.

So here I am: still running, no injuries, and feeling quite positive about training. This week is a slightly shorter week, and I’m almost disappointed that I only have to run 10 miles on Saturday. So I have clearly lost my mind. And I have never been happier.

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