Race Report: The Pittsburgh Half

Ohhhh man. This race. This race.

I have such a checkered history with the Pittsburgh half marathon. In 2011, The Lady and I registered for it as our 2nd ever half marathon, but a week out from the race, my foot / ankle started hurting for no particular reason (I was having a lot of foot issues back then) and I dropped out to be on the safe side. In 2012, I made it to the starting line healthy after setting a crazy PR the month before of 1:43, and went out the gate so fast that I crashed and burned at Birmingham and finished just over 1:50, much to my chagrin (though to be fair, it got pretty hot). In 2013, I was having an amazing training run leading up to the Pittsburgh half, until my IT band quit about two weeks out. So I sat out yet again.

Not this time, I told myself. Birmingham wasn’t going to get away from me, not this time.

Birmingham Bridge: BEATEN.
Birmingham Bridge: BEATEN.

I didn’t go into Race Day feeling overly optimistic. As I mentioned in my previous post, I couldn’t nail down my A-goal of sub-1:40 at Just A Short Run, and I was feeling quite a bit more explosive than I felt this past week. After the monster month that was April, I just wasn’t feeling quite as strong or physically fresh. I felt good, but not amazing. Still: the Burgh 10K was, in a word, incredible: the lack of intense competition made my mind settle to the point where I was having the time of my life, and it felt easy. I wanted to see if, in lieu of a PR, I could recapture that feeling of just zipping along without a care in the world.

In more practical terms, the game plan was to stick like glue to the 3:20 marathon pace group and hold on for as long as I could. The Lady and her friend Kim were also going by the same plan, so it would be a rare race where I got to run with my better half. That was also a nice motivator.

4am race morning came pretty effing early.

Motley crew.
Motley crew.

Our apartment served as a staging area for quite a running group. Liz and Carol were from Toledo, OH: the former is a talented triathlete aiming for a BQ, and the latter was running her first-ever full marathon. Danielle, one of The Lady’s regular running buddies, was also going for a BQ. The rest of us–The Lady, our former Ragnar teammate Devin, and myself–were all running the half.

In case you were wondering, I registered for this race shortly after seeing "Anchorman" for the first time.
In case you were wondering, I registered for this race shortly after seeing “Anchorman” for the first time.

We arrived downtown in plenty of time, getting to the start line by 6 when we needed to be in our corrals by 6:45. We had some time to sit around and relax (read: hit the porta-johns) before wishing each other good luck before heading to our respective starting points. The Lady, after having nailed a qualifying time at Just A Short Run, was a seeded runner, but lined up in Corral A with me (which seemed to be a combination of both seeded and Corral A runners? as in, there didn’t seem to be a difference, other than the word “SEEDED” on some folks’ bibs in the same spot where others had “CORRAL A”).

Yadda yadda thanks for coming, yadda yadda ready set go, AND WE WERE OFF.

Half-marathon route. [Mostly] unchanged from the last couple of years.
Half-marathon route. [Mostly] unchanged from the last couple of years.
The Lady, her running buddy Kim (who we’d met up with in the corral), and I stuck with the 3:20 marathon pace group. The two would split off from each other around mile 10.5, or just before Birmingham Bridge. We figured if we could hang on that long, we’d have a decent shot at 1:40 half. And if not, oh well: we’d still have one another.

The miles started ticking off. Mile 1 actually felt pretty good. Mile 2…eh. Mile 3…oh geez, this is going to end badly.

7:48, 7:42, 7:36

We were only 3 miles in and my quads felt like they were just about to burst into flames. This was bad. This was very, very bad. It was Philly all over again. I was going to crash and burn. I’d have to walk like 5 miles. I’d probably run a 3-hour half marathon. Oh God, it’s going to be even worse than 2012. This is terrible. This is awful. This is–

Then I turned on my music. This was my first song:

I’d been experimenting the past couple of weeks with holding off on my music until I’m already a few miles in. It gives my muscles a chance to warm up without the added adrenaline of my awesome running playlists. Then, when the miles are starting to drag, I can play my ace in the hole to give myself a bit of a boost.

Talk about a boost. My brain clicked off and I settled right in. My quads still felt pretty trashed–it was probably a combination of a rough taper week after the Burgh 10K, a stressful work week, and a fitful night of sleep right before the race–but a mantra bubbled up from the recesses of my brain that I kept repeating to myself, over and over:

You’re fine. It’s just in your head.

I don’t know why, but this calmed me completely. All my doubts flew away. I’d trust my training and do the best I could, regardless of the outcome.

Of course, there was still a lot of ground to cover. We were just crossing over the West End bridge (bridge #3 in 4 miles, for anyone who’s counting).

West End bridge is in the foreground. And yes, the view of the city really is as spectacular as it looks.
West End bridge is in the foreground. And yes, the view of the city really is as spectacular as it looks.

Once across the bridge, we did a brief out-and-back before starting up along Southside.

7:38, 7:44, 7:37

It was at this point that I was coming to the realization that, if I wanted to make a respectable showing, I’d need to pull up just a hair. My legs were having a hard time of things, and if nothing else, I wanted to crush the bridge that had crushed me two years ago. But in order to do that, I needed to survive through mile 10, and things were already getting a bit dicey.

So I slowly released my hold on the pace group, and also took the opportunity to meet back up with The Lady and Kim. We kept dropping in and out of each other’s immediate line of vision as the crowds ebbed and flowed, so I danced outside the pace group and took a couple looks around.

Only this time, I couldn’t spot either one of them. I took another couple looks. Still couldn’t see them.

I was a little disappointed; I’d kind of liked the idea of running this race side by side with my wife. But having no idea where she was, I opted to press on.

7:34, 7:36

For those still keeping track, it was at this point that I made the realization: even though the 3:20 pace group was continuing to fade into the distance, I was still clicking off splits that would get me in right around my goal time. So apparently my legs had been warning me that I was going too fast. I happily chewed on that thought for a few more miles.

The hills of Southside are pretty rolling: for each uphill, there was a nice downhill. We eventually reached “the flattest mile” of the course, at which point I tossed off my makeshift arm-warmers as I mentally geared up for the home stretch of the race.

My nemesis was coming soon…

7:37, 7:52

…and I was starting to feel it. The hills were getting tougher. But mentally I was happy as a clam and calm as a cucumber. I almost couldn’t believe how settled I was.

Soon enough, the crowds on either side thickened considerably, and the half/full split loomed ahead. And I knew what lay just beyond that turn.

Birmingham Bridge. We meet again.

It’s a solid third-of-a-mile long, and a constant uphill grind. But mental acumen + a two-year grudge match to settle = I got across this bridge. I never stopped running, I never broke stride (though I did keep to the tangents!). As I crested the end of the bridge, I felt…accomplished.

It was strange. I expected to be jumping for joy and exploding out of my skin, but like the rest of the race, I just felt a calm serenity. Like the bridge had actually been secretly rooting for me the whole time. Or something.

Or maybe it was that, unbeknownst to me this whole time, The Lady had been a few steps behind me–she made her appearance as we crested over the uphill, as if materializing from somewhere else entirely. COOL!

7:52

Unfortunately, as tough as Birmingham can be, it’s not even the worst part. The downhill is but a brief respite before making a pretty brutal climb to Boulevard of the Allies. The Lady and I were lockstep up this hill, silently encouraging each other to push another mile to what we knew was a net downhill for the rest of the course. This was, by far, our slowest mile of the day.

8:08

I gave The Lady a few feet of running room, as Boulevard is a separated two-lane highway, and there were still a good number of runners. Truthfully, I was also trying to catch my breath from the hill we’d just climbed.

Pretty awesome shot from the last mile!
Pretty awesome shot from the last mile!

But then a curious thing happened. As I tried to make up the distance again, The Lady started surging. I knew we still had a little more than a mile to go, so I thought she was just riding the first downhill. So I kicked up the pace again…and she kicked it up even further.

Holy crap, is she kicking it this far out?

For every bit I pushed harder, she pushed two bits harder. I kept upping the speed, and she kept widening the distance between us. Before I even realized, I was pushing a sub-7 pace…and she was still getting further ahead! I couldn’t believe it when mile 13 ticked off.

7:09

It was the fastest mile I’ve ever run in a half marathon. And yet it wasn’t good enough to even shrink the distance between us, much less catch up to her. She was flying!

I crossed the finish line, covering the final 0.1 at a 6:34 pace, finishing in 1:41:07, a new PR by 30 seconds!

Splits!
Splits.

I can’t even begin to describe the torrent of emotions from after the race. Although I do know that, for a couple minutes after, I was afraid I’d lose my breakfast.

It was a PR on a day when I felt physically subpar within the first four miles. It was my second half marathon PR in two months, after going two years without any. It was, bar none, my finest mental race to date, after over a year of extremely questionable mental performances. It was a PR on a course that had absolutely obliterated me two years ago. It was a PR on a course through a beautiful city full of wonderful people who The Lady and I will dearly miss when we move in December. It was the best race I could have possibly imagined.

Proud finishers.
Proud finishers.

Yeah, I still missed my A-goal of sub-1:40. But on this particular day, I didn’t care. I PR’d against all my initial assessments, against all my feelings at mile 4 and against all my frustrations from two years previous. I had sidelined my worst enemy–my brain–for the duration of my favorite racing distance, and had blown away all expectations as a result.

And got my ass kicked by my wife. Did I mention she was a seeded runner? Yeah, I got beat by a certified badass. It feels pretty awesome, in case you were wondering 🙂

So what’s next? At this point, not really sure. I have a thesis to finish and graduation to worry about first and foremost, and in the distant future, a 4th Air Force half marathon to run. But there’s a lot of time between then and now. For now, I’m going to savor this feeling; this massive boost in confidence is tangible, and I want to remember it for as long as I can. It makes all the difficulties of 2013 seem so distant, but at the same time, so illuminating. I know I’ll have more ups and downs as the time goes on, but I just want to remember: I can still do this. It’s all in my head, after all.

Pretty effing badass finisher's medal, if I do say so m'self.
Pretty effing badass finisher’s medal, if I do say so m’self.

Oh yeah, once we got cleaned up, we went outside our apartment to cheer on the full marathoners. Badasses, every single one. And then we had pancakes and bacon and bagels and french toast and fruit and mimosas and donut holes and YUMMMM.

Monthly mileage (and other shenanigans)

Here’s a funny story: I logged 120 miles in January. And I’m not training for anything.

Had an interview here. You better believe I logged some mileage!
Had an interview here. You better believe I logged some mileage!

To provide some context, I went back to Garmin Connect and generated monthly reports. I wanted to see what my highest monthly mileages have been, and where my previous non-training months ranked compared to months where I was training for something and these couple months of run streaking. The results were a little mind-blowing. Here, in its full glory, is the list of my 16 Highest Monthly Mileages:

  1. Oct 2013: 142.84 miles (MCM peak month)
  2. Oct 2012: 136.84 miles (Philly peak month)
  3. Sept 2013: 133.32 miles (MCM training)
  4. Aug 2013: 125.32 miles (MCM training)
  5. Mar 2013: 122.52 miles (Pittsburgh half training)
  6. Jan 2014: 120.66 miles
  7. Apr 2013: 118.48 miles (Pittsburgh half training)
  8. Aug 2012: 118.30 miles (Philly training)
  9. Sept 2012: 117.24 miles (Philly training)
  10. Apr 2012: 107.97 miles (Pittsburgh half training)
  11. Dec 2013: 100.82 miles
  12. Mar 2012: 97.55 miles (Pittsburgh half training)
  13. Jul 2013: 96.76 miles (MCM training)
  14. Jul 2012: 81.10 miles (Philly training)
  15. Feb 2013: 80.58 miles (Pittsburgh half training)
  16. Jun 2012: 79.98 miles

(for reference: I bought my Garmin and started recording running information in August 2011)

I’ve bolded the two previous months of run streaking. I had to go down 16 spots on this list before I reached another month where I wasn’t training for anything. Run streaking is insane, people. These last two months have beat out previous months’ mileages that involved marathon and half-marathon training!

Wow. Just wow.

The Lady and I have started putting together our Pittsburgh half marathon training plan. Our ~30 miles/week base gives us flexibility in setting some pretty lofty training goals, but the logistics for the coming few months are tricky, to say the least. Exhibit A:

Photo Jan 30, 22 32 41

We’ve got a wedding and everything that surrounds it coming up fast. Figuring out how to get our training runs in while basking on the beaches of our honeymoon destination is an interesting balancing act. I’m pretty excited about it (and, obviously, the wedding!), but we’ll probably have to take some liberties with the training plan as we go along. We have some experience with this: we’ve always had to tailor our training plans to fit in some of our favorite races (in this case: Spring Thaw, Just A Short Run, and Burgh 10K), but squeezing in a wedding and the ensuing honeymoon is…challenging.

OH THE THINGS WE DO FOR LOVE RUNNING LOVE.

Bad injuries and bad timing

I’ve mentioned previously that running a PR for any given race is always a bit of a roll of the dice. Everything has to go right: you’re peaking at the right time, you haven’t overtrained, you’re relaxed with a healthy dose of nerves, you eat right, you sleep right, the weather cooperates…the list goes on and on. When you’re running 300 out of 365 days a year, there is plenty of opportunity for things to go wrong. And it’s inevitable that they do; it just tends to go wrong on not Race Day.

But there’s the occasional breakdown on race day. And the occasional injury that requires one to sacrifice race day for the sake of future race days.

As I’m learning–for the second time with the same bloody race, no less–that is one tough pill to swallow.

March and April of this were easily two of my most phenomenally productive training months. I went from still fighting off the vestiges of last November’s Philly Marathon to my fastest tempo run ever, culminating in a 10K PR.

Speed improvement was huge.
Speed improvement was huge.

Remember back in February, when things weren’t going too well? And how, after a solid month of concerted cross-training, yoga, stretching, and relaxation, March proved to be a month of explosive comebacks? April continued that trend: where March saw me regain the ground I had lost, I broke new ground in April, posting some of my fastest runs to date, as well as a 10K PR literally the day after running 15 miles.

April 11, 2013 tempo run.
April 11, 2013 tempo run.

 

April 16, 2013 speed work. Dedicated to Boston.
April 16, 2013 speed work. Dedicated to Boston.

 

I'll take it!
April 21, 2013 Burgh 10K.

Right as I was peaking, my IT band decided it’d had enough.

April 26, 2013 tempo run,
April 26, 2013 tempo run.

I couldn’t finish this run; my IT band seized. It came on rather suddenly. Only 6 days ago during our 15-mile long run, I’d noticed it felt a little sore afterwards. It nagged a little bit for the Burgh 10K but (obviously) largely behaved itself. But as that week wore on, it only got worse. For this tempo run, I was shooting for 6 miles at a flat 7:00 pace: slower, in fact, than the PR I’d just set! But still the fastest tempo run I’d ever done.

During the run, I actually felt like I was cruising. Like I could push even faster if I wanted to. But the stabbing pain from my knee kept my mind from settling in as it had during the Burgh 10K, kept me from relaxing and enjoying the thrill of pushing my body’s limits. Hills hurt in a very bad way, and starting again after getting caught at a red light elicited very sharp breathing. When it became clear the pain was only getting worse, I called it quits.

That turned out to be a fateful decision: I attempted only two more runs after that, both ending prematurely when the pain got so bad I would risk serious injury if I didn’t stop immediately.

So for the second time in three years, I was sidelined for the Pittsburgh half marathon due to injury. The Lady wrote up an excellent race report, as he had an amazing race, smashing her previous PR that she set only 6 weeks previous. I was honored to be able to cheer her on again, but at the same time I was aching to be in the thick of things.

It is truly an exercise in humility to know you’re there, that everything went right, and you could have set that crazy PR you were aiming for, except something cropped up that you couldn’t control. In a way, it’s easier than missing a PR because of a bad day, like my Philadelphia Marathon, because it was either stay sidelined or risk a much, much longer offseason. There are fewer “what ifs” this way. But the knowledge that I was ready is still a potent, gnawing thought.

Two years ago, when I missed the Pittsburgh half due to a strained ligament in my foot, I was certainly disappointed. But as it was only the second half-marathon I’d ever trained for–and I’d only been in the routine of training for races for about 10 months–it didn’t hit me as hard as it did this time. I’ve been running–and actually considered myself a runner–for nearly three years now. It’s become part of who I am. And when an injury sidelines me, I don’t feel good about it. The same thing would happen whenever I’d suffer a similar injury in baseball; luckily I never had a football injury that kept me from playing in a game.

Being injured sucks. But it keeps one humble and in touch with one’s own limitations. I’m still proud of what I’ve accomplished in this training cycle, coming back from a very discouraging first marathon encased in stress and bad associations. I know I can come back from this too; it will require a similar level of dedication to fixing the problem, and patience with myself as I recuperate.

Reach goal for Air Force in September: sub-1:35! 😀

Pseudo-race Report: 13.1 in Athens, GA

I spent this past Easter weekend with my family in Athens, GA (or as we Georgia Tech graduates call it: behind enemy lines). The last weekend of March is always the Just A Short Run race, one of my favorite events each year in Pittsburgh. The weather is usually just starting to turn from winter into spring, and my Pittsburgh marathon training is really taking off. Last year’s race saw me break my A-goal I’d set for the Pittsburgh half and set a crazy PR, leaving me without a definitive goal for a race that was over a month away. To this day, the March 2012 JaSR is still my half marathon PR.

However, this year I had to miss it. Having spent the previous two consecutive Easters away from home, I decided not to make it a third and instead go home and visit. The Lady was going to stay in Pittsburgh, so we decided I’d run a 13.1 mile track through Athens with a race-like mentality, namely shooting for an awesome time. I’d originally hoped to find a local half marathon, but the closest was in Clemson (see Megan’s post about that race), and I couldn’t justify cutting out nearly an entire day from an already-short trip when the purpose was to see my family.

I’ve run in Athens enough to know and respect its hills, but not enough to have an excellent sense for how to avoid them. So I did the best I could in plotting out a 13.1-mile route that would, hopefully, let me crank the speed a bit.

Here’s the route I ran:

Screen Shot 2013-04-01 at 11.03.55 AM
I’m open to suggestions.

The first 5 miles were actually excellent. I kept a very consistent 7:45-7:55 pace; a sub-8 average would have put me in under 1:45, which is very close to my existing PR. I crossed over the North Oconee river around mile 5 and felt really good.

And as I crossed over the river, I saw this.

Screen Shot 2013-04-01 at 10.58.37 AM
It was even longer than it looks here.

It was the start of a nearly 2-mile climb into the downtown Athens area. In retrospect I shouldn’t have been so surprised; I had been, after all, running alongside the bank of a river. Of course there was nowhere else to go but up. But wow this climb hurt.

I managed the next 3 miles at just at 8:02, 8:05, and 8:08 respectively, which is pretty awesome considering they were almost exclusively uphill. I recall finally making it up into the downtown area, going through the ugh-inducing double-dip hill towards the end of Broad St before I was going to make my turn onto a street that I knew would carry me to a more level section of the run. Turns out, that turn looked like this:

Screen Shot 2013-04-01 at 11.00.03 AM
Quads die on the way down AND on the way up!

I think I actually yelled “OH COME ON” out loud at this point.

Once I’d survived this hill and found a more level footing on Milledge, I tried to make up some time and hammered out another 7:45 mile. Unfortunately, this ended in the “Memorial Park” area at the south of the map, where there was yet another giant hill waiting for me. This time I just didn’t have the pep left to charge this thing, and the next mile was 8:55.

At this point I was running on fumes. Mentally I was still in good shape, but physically I was nearing the end of my rope. I’d originally planned for the last few miles to take me up and around the football stadium, but I knew from previous runs that this area was (you guessed it!) also extremely hilly, so I opted to run around my neighborhood a bit instead.

Which, truthfully, didn’t help much. My parents’ street is one giant incline, so even though running one direction on it is nice, the other direction is just as much of a hill as any.

When my GPS watch ticked over 13.1, I stabbed the stop button and took a moment. Holy crap that was hard.

Non-trivial Athens 13.1 elevation chart is non-trivial.
Non-trivial Athens 13.1-mile elevation chart is non-trivial.

For comparison, I looked back at the Pittsburgh half’s elevation chart from 2012. Turns out, the total change in elevation in Pittsburgh is ~300 feet more than it was this particular day in Athens. However, the Pittsburgh hills are significantly smaller and shorter, just more numerous. I’d argue that lots of little up-and-downs that are over in less than a quarter mile are orders of magnitude easier than a few mountains that stretch on for over a mile without letting up. Plus, running down the other side, at least for me, isn’t much of a break: I’m having to brace my landings because the downhills are so steep, so my quads don’t get a break either way.

So that, plus my overall time:

Screen Shot 2013-04-01 at 11.12.41 AM

I didn’t do quite as well as I’d hoped, but under the circumstances I believe I performed as well as I possibly could have. Mentally I was very strong (which was my biggest point of concern), and physically I held up as well as I could have  hoped. Pittsburgh won’t be this hard, so I’m taking this as a good sign. A sub-1:40 (my A-goal for May 2013) is, I think, just within reach. It’ll be hard, but I think it’s doable: a 7:38 min/mi average. I’d probably take the approach I did at last year’s Air Force half, where the first handful of miles are very similar to what I posted here, before kicking it up a notch to low 7:30s and then absolutely tearing through the final few miles.

It’s a tall order. But I think it’s doable. Despite the physical beating, this pseudo-race gave me a boost of confidence in dealing with hills.

Also: keep your eye on The Lady’s running blog, as she had a KICKASS race in JaSR in Pittsburgh!

When progress is slow

(don’t worry, I’ll make a race report of the Spring Thaw once Elite Runners posts the pictures from it)

It’s tough to admit, but I’m in a bit of a rut at the moment: my paces have plateaued since last year, and I haven’t been able to progress as quickly as I would like.

I didn’t start running in earnest until late 2010, when I ran my first half marathon. The rest of that year and most of the next were intermittent; I struggled with on-again, off-again shin splints from shoes that really weren’t built for me. Things started smoothing out in the fall of 2011, and between that time and the spring of 2012 I experienced incredible gains in both speed and distance: I was hammering out long runs at sub-9 paces, and crushing half-marathons at tempo pace. This rapid improvement continued through about 3/4 of our marathon training, right about until I twisted my ankle and stress levels skyrocketed due to impending research deadlines.

Since then, I’ve had trouble finding my footing again. As it were.

Hindsight is 20/20, and it’s easy to see why I had a relatively poor marathon outing: stress, lack of sleep, a lackluster final month of training, and a precedent for breaking down the first time I run a longer distance. Most of this was completely outside my control; something runners have to be prepared for is that on each day there’s some non-zero chance of having a bad day. Usually, these bad days happen during training, and you hardly think twice about it. But by sheer probability, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a bad day at least once when you really, really don’t want to. Like your first marathon.

But I’m still struggling to find my rhythm again. Training has started for the Pittsburgh Half in May, and the second week was a bit rough. The desire to run is back with a vengeance, but my muscles still seem somewhat timid. Spring Thaw didn’t go as well as I’d hoped, and this morning’s “easy” run didn’t feel all that easy, and was in fact a bit slow for me (average pace was a few seconds over 9min/mi).

Ambivalent week 2 is ambivalent.
Ambivalent week 2 is ambivalent.

It would be unrealistic to expect near-constant gains in speed and endurance over time. I had an incredible ~1 year run where every run seemed to be faster than the previous one; almost every time I raced, I set a PR for that distance. I was steadily pushing my tempo pace into the low-7s; my speed pace was right at 6:20, and I even set one at 6 flat.

Here’s the upshot: these slowdowns not only happen, but they’re inevitable. Training goes in cycles; you’ll experience gains and then plateau while your body catches up. The key is not to become frustrated by these seeming lulls in productivity. Frustration will build on itself and create more problems. The hardest part is knowing that you’re capable of doing something by virtue of the fact that you’ve done it before, but right now it seems just beyond your reach.

Google “running slow progress” and you’ll find endless threads from people in the same situation. I’m no expert; I only started running in earnest in late 2010. But if history is any indication: be kind to yourself. Be patient; stick with the plan. If boredom is part of the problem, mix in some cross-training. This is something I haven’t been particularly good about; I miss my long 25+ mile bike rides around the city. I’ll have to bring that back now and again, along with semi-regular rowing.

I’m my own worst enemy. The worst thing that can happen is I get so frustrated with myself that I start hating running, and that would be truly regrettable. I need to take a deep breath…relax…and trust my training. Switch to cross-training on occasion. Run without music, or without a GPS watch. I’ve been going at this for longer than I ever have before; of course there are going to be bumps in the road.

I was out of the game for about 6 months in early 2011 due to shin splints. Quite literally the only difference between then and now is that I’ve built up a bunch of expectations for myself. I’m running like I now have something to lose, which always adds stress. I need to run with reckless abandon, like I have nothing to lose.

You know: run for fun 🙂

Pittsburgh Half 2013: Week 1

I’ve been thinking of starting a running blog for quite some time now, and with the advent of the latest season of half marathon training, I figured it might the perfect storm for setting up a new blogging haven. At least I can separate the drivel I write between two blogs now, right?

Something like that.

Week 1 was pretty light: 20 miles total in three runs.

I wonder how they "average" the emotes from each run into a weekly emote.
I wonder how they “average” the emotes from each run into a weekly emote.

GC told a similar story, albeit without the calorie calculation for the long run earlier today.

I should probably remove the columns having to do with biking for the duration of the training period.
I should probably remove the columns having to do with biking for the duration of the training period.

Before I get to the discrepancies between the two, I want to mention my tempo run this week, mainly because it was f*#&ing awesome. I haven’t done a proper tempo run since Nov 8 of last year, so I can’t say my expectations were particularly high. I decided I’d start with a 7:30 tempo pace to see if I could find my rhythm again after such a long hiatus.

I guess you could say I found my rhythm: I was constantly pulling myself back, evidenced by how the second half of every mile was done well above tempo pace to average out the way-too-fast first half. None was worse than the very first tempo mile, where the first 0.2 was at a 6:18 pace.

Apparently I’ve not only forgotten how to do tempo runs, but I’m not in nearly as bad of shape as I’d originally thought. Which is confidence-inspiring, to say the least.

Now: regarding today’s long run, an “easy 10”. The Lady and I were fully expecting and prepared for a cold and blustery morning. What we were not expecting:

It’s a tropical paradise.

Yeah. No.

So we swapped out our cold gear and wind jackets in favor of shorts and t-shirts and made for The Lady’s gym, where we proceeded to pound on treadmills for nearly 90 minutes. That run officially marks the longest workout I’ve ever done on a treadmill, and frankly speaking it’s a record I have no intention of ever breaking. Dreadmill running blows. Not even TV or a kickass iPod playlist can ameliorate the caustic doldrums of staring at the same effing scenery and breathing the same stationary pocket of air for a period longer than a couple of seconds. It’s mind-numbing, to put it mildly.

But we finished. We ticked off our 10-mile long run and look ahead eagerly to the [OUTDOOR] runs in our near future.

Not the least of which is an upcoming local race: the Spring Thaw!

NOOOOO! COME BACK FROSTY!

It was at this very event last year when I ran my first 20-miler (which, in retrospect, was kind of not a good decision to run 20 miles when I’d never run more than 13.1). This year I have no grandiose plans to run 20 again; I have not kept the baseline mileage needed to make a run at beating my time from last year. So instead, I’m gunning for 15 in under 2:05. I’m pacing The Lady at her half-marathon pace for the first 10 (~8:45/mile), then I’ll take off for the last 5 somewhere in the 7-7:30 range.

That’s pretty much Week 1. Only 12 more to go! 😛