What’s Next

Normally after the marathon, I’m more than ready for a break. I’m tired of the time commitment of running, the early mornings, the late nights, the never-ending list of extracurriculars that come along with running (cross training, stretching, foam rolling, PT exercises, etc.). I want to be done.

This year was different. I could barely make it through my off-week after the marathon, when I refuse to exercise at all (other than my Tuesday dance class). I was itching to lace up my Asics, and it felt so good to get back out there last Monday. I’m still riding a post-marathon high and want to run all of the miles on all of the days! Run! Run! Run!

Fortunately, my plans for the rest of the year line up nicely with my desire to keep running. Last year, getting through the remainder of my race season after the marathon was a serious grind. I’m hoping that my current enthusiasm for running will keep those feelings away this year, because I have a lot left on my calendar.

Up next: Hot Chocolate! Would you believe that I’ve lived in Chicago for close to six and a half years, have been actively involved in the running community that entire time, but have never run Hot Chocolate? (Probably, if you’ve been reading my blog that long and/or have stalked my past race recaps.) I planned to run 10 miles that weekend regardless, so I figured I may as well run 9.3 in the Hot Chocolate 15K and get a reward for doing closet to what I intended to do in the first place. Plus, I’ve never run a 15K before, so as long as I finish, I’ll PR. If any of you have any interest in running Hot Chocolate, they started a referral program for this year’s event the day after I signed up (naturally). If you use my code, I get $5 and you save $5. Everyone wins!

Why did I plan to run 10 miles that weekend? Because the following weekend, I will once again be running the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon. This is perhaps a little surprising, given how after last year’s race I swore that I would never, EVER do it again, but here we are. This year, I have much more realistic expectations. I know it’ll be embarrassingly difficult. I know it’s at a terrible time of day. I know my sleep and nutrition and hydration will be a disaster going into the run, not to mention how off they’ll likely be during the run itself. I know that it’s very unlikely that I’ll break 2:30 due to all of those conditions. I assume knowing all of these things will help me enjoy the run a lot more–or at least, enjoy it as much as one can possibly enjoy a late afternoon 13.1 mile run through the desert.

I would like to do a turkey trot in some capacity on Thanksgiving, though the exact details of that (distance, location) are still up in the air. While I didn’t like getting up early on Thanksgiving to do a turkey trot last year, I did like exercising (and being rewarded for it–clearly a theme in this post 😛 ) before spending the rest of the day eating. Since the city and what feels like every single suburb offer turkey trots, I’m not too concerned about finding one.

In December, I’ll do my annual 5K. I expect that this will be my last year doing that race, so I’m hoping to walk away with an age group award. I’ve placed in my age group every time I’ve run this race in an even year (2012, 2014, and 2016), and I’d certainly like to keep that streak alive! I’d be happy to turn in a nice time at this race, too, but my only real concern is how I do compared to the other women between the ages of 25 and 29. I don’t care if I run a 35:00 5K as long as the fourth fastest 25-29 year old woman runs a 35:01.

One of the most unexpected things that came out of marathon season was my newfound interest in strength training. While it wouldn’t be entirely accurate to say that I enjoyed getting up close to an hour earlier than normal three times per week all summer long to go to the gym before work, I did enjoy being at the gym, and I definitely enjoyed how strong it made me. I also enjoyed how amazing it made my legs look, and I will fully own up to the fact that a big part of my motivation to continue strength training comes from my desire to continue having kickass legs. Sorry not sorry. I want to keep up (or rather, get back into, since I haven’t been to the gym at all since the Thursday before the marathon) that routine, even if it means regular two-a-days while I’m actively training for a race. The pros (increased overall strength, increased confidence, increased discipline, decreased running injuries) strongly outweigh the cons (getting up early), so it’s a worthwhile endeavor as far as I’m concerned.

I have one last thing I want to accomplish with running while I still have the flexibility to train on my terms: breaking 2:00 in the half marathon. While I have come close-ish to breaking 2:00 twice (a 2:02:50 and a 2:05:19), it’s been awhile (2014 and 2016, respectively), and I honestly consider breaking 2:00 to be as audacious of a goal as running a 4:45 marathon. But hey! I just did that! I can do hard things!

Across the 17 half marathons I’ve run, my average time is 2:19:18. If you throw out all the ridiculously hot half marathons I’ve done (three), my average drops to 2:16:33, and if you throw out all of the just-for-fun half marathons I’ve done (four), focusing only on the ones where I was actually trying, my average drops to 2:12:14. So let’s say that, when I care, I can run a 2:12 half marathon. That’s still a ways from 1:59:59. Then again, prior to two weeks ago, my average marathon time was 5:07:02, and that’s even farther from 4:45 (22 minutes) than 2:12 is from 1:59 (13 minutes), so maybe I shouldn’t get down on the myself and the “impossibility” of running 1:59:59 quite yet.

Regardless, I know that breaking 2:00 is not going to be easy. It will require the same dedication to training that I had this past marathon season, where getting in every run, every cross training session, every strength training workout is my #1 priority. No excuses. Throughout marathon season, I said that I did not want to miss 4:45 because I didn’t train hard enough to make it happen, and that’s the same mentality I plan to use in my efforts to break 2:00 in the half. If it doesn’t work out, so be it. Sometimes it’s just not your day, and you can’t do anything about it. But I don’t want it to not work out because I threw in the towel in training.

I know it’ll need to be cold, so right now, I have my eye on either F3 in January (where I ran my 2:05 in 2016) or the Chi Town Half in April (where I ran my 2:02 in 2014). If I do F3, training will start on Nov. 5, so my offseason will have to wait until after the race. I will admit that it makes me nervous to jump into intense training again less than a month after the marathon (and to try to do intense training during the holidays), so I’m not quite decided yet (though I’ll need to make a decision soon!). I’m open to any input from the peanut gallery!

So that’s the plan for the next few months. After that, things are still a little up in the air at this exact moment in time, butttttt…I’m probably going to do another marathon next fall >.< I KNOW, I KNOW. I said I was done. And I am done, at least as far as intense training goes, at least for now. I know that marathon training won’t be able to be my top priority next summer. I put a lot of things on the back burner to accommodate marathon training being my top priority this summer, and it won’t be possible to do that two years in a row. Besides, I’ve accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish with the distance (well, I suppose I’d like to qualify for Boston, but since I’m 1:12 (that’s hours:minutes) away from a BQ, obviously that’s not going to happen without really, really, really intense training, haha), so I feel like it’s more reasonable to expect myself to be able to train to run just for fun rather than to train for a goal.

But. I really, truly enjoy the process of training for a marathon. I’ve said that dozens of times before, and this past summer confirmed that. Yes, it can be a grind when you’re in the thick of it–the 90-degrees-and-humid afternoon runs, the 4:30 Saturday alarms–but at the end of the day, I love working towards a not-too-distant goal and I love following a structured plan to get there. I also really liked the girls I ran with this year. Changing training locations and paces made a world of difference in my experience this year vs. last year, and I felt like I developed some good friendships that I’d like to maintain next summer (especially since I know both of my friends plan to run again next year). Right now, I’m thinking that I’ll register for Chicago (since I have a guaranteed entry) and enter the New York lottery just to see what happens. But who knows! I have just over a month to decide whether or not I want to register for Chicago, so we’ll see how I feel as this month goes on.

For those who have broken 2:00 in the half (after running lots of 2:00+ half marathons): training advice? I’m not sure how to go about training for this. I have little/no information from how I trained when I ran my 2:02 and 2:05, so I could really use some guidance, particularly in the speedwork department.

13 thoughts on “What’s Next

  1. The first time I broke 2 hours in the half I had a friend pacing me (shout out to Kim!) and I think it really helped. So, decide if you want to try and use a pacer, either race provided or a friend. Also, I’ve heard that doing 400s (similar to 800s) works for the half the same way 800s work for the marathon. Maybe look into that. Also, keep up the strength training!

  2. I am so glad you feel well and want to keep going! YAY! That is awesome!
    Question: Why do the LV RnR if it was so meh last year? For fun (it sounds like)?! 🙂
    And definitely keep up the strength training. It keeps you healthy in all areas of life. EVERYONE SHOULD STRENGTH TRAIN 🙂
    Are you going to train for a fast 5K for your December race? Or just hope slower people are in your AG? You have some time to do some speedwork… just saying 😉
    My goal half times have come with lots of miles, and more recently, with focused tempos at race pace. Running race pace makes me confident I can do it AT the race. I start with a small tempo (2 miles at race pace) and got up to 6 miles at tempo (was short on training weeks). I also ran hill repeats each week cause why not?! Ha ha.

    • Yeah, RnR LV will be exclusively (really truly) for fun this year. I’m doing it because the race is the whole reason the group I go to Vegas with goes–we don’t go and it just so happens to be race weekend, we go for the race, which just so happens to be in Vegas. I suppose that doesn’t mean I HAVE to run it, but I would feel weird not running it. So I’ll do it again, but most certainly not for time!

      You know, I haven’t really thought about how I plan to get ready for my 5K! Probably should get on that, haha. Obviously training to run a fast 5K will put me in a much better position to actually run a fast 5K, so yes, I should probably do some speedwork between now and then, especially since I have plenty of time to do it!

      That’s good advice about the tempo runs. And I actually didn’t hate hill repeats even half as much as I expected to during marathon training, so I could convince myself to do those again during half marathon training!

  3. Personally I would go with the April half. You have a really big goal and a January race doesn’t give you a lot of time to train for it, especially since you are still recovering from your marathon for a lot of that. Realistically you’re looking at taking 9 minutes off your most recent best effort (your 2:09 this past spring) – that’s a pretty big improvement in the half marathon, and while I’m certain you can pull it off, I really don’t think two months is enough time for you, or anyone, to shave that much time off their half marathon. I would use this time as base-building, run that January half as a time trial or fitness test, and target the April race for your goal.

    I agree with Kim that your best bet to improve your half time is to increase overall mileage, and do a lot more training at your goal HMP. But, I’m probably not the best source of advice for this as I have never really trained specifically for the half, most of my PRs have come during marathon training.

    • That’s kind of what I was thinking. Originally, I thought that the January race was going to be my only option, because I thought I was going to need to get two more wisdom teeth out some time this winter (which would interrupt training), but I found out on Monday that that’s not the case. That gives me a lot more flexibility, and I would really prefer to take some time off (or, minimally, take a pretty big step back) before jumping into a full blown, intense training cycle again.

  4. If you want to break 2 hours in the half, I highly recommend the Schaumburg Turkey Trot Half Marathon in Busse Woods. The weather is almost always favorable and I’ve run a few sub-2s there in the past including my 2d fastest half ever. That was 6 weeks after I ran Chicago and I didn’t do a ton of running in those 6 weeks. All that marathon training was still in me. You could totally do it.

    I’m on the other side of fast now and I’d just love to get in the vicinity of 2 hours at this point. But I’ll be there and I’m going to do my best to push it!

    • Fortunately, since I’ve never done it (or any other) 15K before, I’m guaranteed a PR regardless of how much I’m trying to do it for time or not, which is a really nice feeling! And let’s be real: I’m mostly just in it for the chocolate at the end, anyway 😉

  5. I’m also in the broke-2-during-marathon training camp, and I do think the higher mileage played a big part in that (as did running faster in general, obviously, as I also set a 2:09 PR in the half a year before that during marathon training, but all my paces/times were slower then….if that makes sense). I honestly think the biggest factor in my overall speed improving was moving to a hilly area, but I understand that may not be a viable option 😉 I have never run as strong or as fast as I did the two years I lived in the mountains and honestly wonder if I’ll ever get back to that on flat land.

    I think it would be a good idea to use the January race as a fitness test to gauge if sub-2 is even a realistic option for April. Not saying you’re not capable of it, just saying that from personal experience I’ve gone from a big, longer goal race and tried to almost immediately train for a faster shorter distance goal race and it has blown up in my face when I realized that my shorter goal wasn’t actually within reach. I do think it’s smart to ride your marathon fitness as far as you can, but it also makes sense to give yourself some time to shift gears. Although I’d personally be really tempted to go with January just for the weather!

  6. Pingback: Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K Race Recap | accidental intentions

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