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