Chi Town Half Marathon Training Week 9

Sunday, March 10: 60 minutes cross training (bike)
I don’t know what was going on Sunday, but everyone and their best friend seemed to be at the gym Sunday afternoon. I’m used to basically having the place to myself on Sundays, so it was really weird to have so much company! I was still able to get a stationary bike, though, and rode it for an hour while I did my best to power through Educated.

Monday, March 11: Strength training – legs (AM) + 6.75 miles (tempo) in 1:03:00 for a 9:20 pace
I randomly started to feel sick on the bus on the way to the gym Monday morning, so I took it pretty easy on my workout once I got there. I don’t know what the deal was–might’ve been my dinner from Sunday night?–but I’m glad it only lasted for the morning.

Everyone and their best running friend seemed to come out of hibernation Monday afternoon. I think I saw more runners on this run than I’ve seen on all my non-Saturday outdoor runs combined in this entire training cycle. I wore a pullover instead of my winter running jacket for the first time since it was warm at the very beginning of January, and I felt so light and free! It was delightful. In terms of the run itself, I warmed up for a mile, tempo-ed for five miles, and cooled down for .75 miles. All of my tempo miles were sub-9:00 (8:52, 8:45, 8:57, 8:51, 8:41), but I definitely felt like I was working on them. My legs were burning! Knowing I need to run an additional 8.1 miles during the half made me nervous, but I also need to average a 9:09 pace across all 13.1 of those miles (to hit 2:00:00 exactly, so I suppose I really need to average a 9:08 to break 2:00). That’s 19 seconds/mile slower than my average for those tempo miles (8:49), so hopefully I’ll be all right.

Tuesday, March 12: Strength training – upper body (AM) + dance (PM)
Tuesday’s upper body workout was one of the few high rep/low weight workouts I have. I remember it being tough from marathon season, and it was just as tough this time around. Twenty reps is so many.

TWO people showed up to dance on Tuesday, one of which was me. That’s never happened before, at least not this early in a session. I knew a couple of people wouldn’t be there, but I was really surprised when three people from last session (who were all there for the first class of this session last week) didn’t ever make an appearance. I didn’t think last week’s choreography was that scary! Hopefully it was just a fluke and they all come back next week. We did learn some brand new choreography on Tuesday, despite how empty the class was, so that was nice.

Wednesday, March 13: Strength training – legs (AM) + 5.5 miles (with 9x.25 miles w/ 1:25 rest) in 57:01 for a 10:22 pace.
I planned to work from home on Thursday, so to avoid needing to work time to get to the gym into my Thursday schedule (and to avoid needing to go Friday morning, thus sacrificing my rest day) I went in Wednesday morning instead. Part of my workout called for split squats, and man, I can’t believe how hard those continue to be! I barely use any weight (five pounds/hand) while I’m doing them, but they just kill me!

I did my first non-treadmill interval run of this training cycle on Wednesday. Doing my 400s outside presented a couple challenges. For one thing, my watch can’t toggle between miles and kilometers mid-run like the treadmill can. For another thing, while the place I do my intervals is similar to a track in that it’s a quarter-mile oval, it’s not actually a track, which means 1) it’s not actually 400 meters around and 2) it doesn’t have markings to indicate every 100 meters. A quarter mile is close enough to 400 meters for me (it’s 402.336 meters, officially), so I set my watch to do track quarter mile intervals. The 200 rest was the trickier part. 200 meters is .124274 miles, which has to be the most inconvenient distance possible when you’re working with a watch that can only track intervals by distance out to the second decimal point. In general, I’d round .124 down to .12, but that feels like I’m missing too much of the distance (and since this is my recovery, I don’t want to cut myself short!). Rounding up to .13, though, feels like too much (and since this is my recovery, I don’t want to spend too much of my run on it). Since I’m talking about literally one-one hundredth of a mile here, obviously I’m splitting hairs over something completely unnecessary. Even if I did round up to .13, that would only add up to a whopping .09 extra miles of recovery across this entire workout. But for whatever reason, that sounded unacceptable to me. Instead, I decided to figure out how much time I spent on my recovery intervals on the treadmill using this handy dandy tool. It apparently takes 1:23 to cover 200 meters at 8.7 km/h. My watch only lets me set time-based intervals in fives, so I set my recovery interval to 1:25. Did I add additional recovery time to my workout by rounding up two seconds instead of .01 miles? Almost certainly. Oh well, live and learn!

Anyway. My actual workout. I warmed up for a mile, then jumped into my 400s. I didn’t pay any attention to how long it took me to run them, just let my legs burn and hoped for the best. When I reviewed my times after my run, I was disappointed. I did a 2:05, 2:00, 2:02, 2:09, 2:08, 2:08, 2:06, 2:03, and 2:00. That averages out to 2:04(.55, of course. I just can’t escape this rounding stuff no matter how hard I try!), which is an 8:16 mile (unless you round up to 2:05. Then it’s an 8:20 mile). That’s not bad, but it’s definitely a lot slower than my goal pace for these intervals (8:00), and it’s slower than I was doing them on the treadmill (8:06). I also felt sick after I finished them–like, thought I might throw up right there on the sidewalk, though thankfully I didn’t–so my cooldown 1.25ish miles were SUPER slow. I’m not upset about that, necessarily, but I’m frustrated that my body reacted like I pushed myself to my absolute limit (and that I felt like I pushed myself to my absolute limit!) only to see that my times were slower than what I’d like my absolute limit to be.

Thursday, March 14: 60 minutes cross training
I worked from home Thursday because I had early evening plans, which meant I didn’t have time to go to the gym for my cross training session. Instead, I found an hour(ish) Fitness Blender video to do:


I really should do these more often. I get a way better workout with Fitness Blender than I get on the stationary bike, and I can do them at home for some serious time savings. This wasn’t quite as cardio-heavy as I wanted, but it got the job done. Since I had already done two leg strength training workouts this week, I kept it very light on the weights for all the lower body exercises (10 lbs, which is lighter than anything I use during a normal strength training routine outside of split squats or arm raises).

Friday, March 15: Rest

Saturday, March 16: 12 miles in 2:03:23 for a 10:17 pace
Ugh. Nothing like a disappointing long run to take all the confidence you’ve built over the past month and blow it up in your face 😦 My plan for this run was to do the first six miles at an easy pace, and the last six miles at a 9:00 pace. I need to run a 9:08 pace to break 2:00, but I want to give myself a bit more cushion than just squeaking across the finish line in 1:59:44, so ideally I’d like to run closer to a 9:00 pace (or, more realistically, finish around a 9:00 pace. I plan to run with the 2:00 pace group, which will be doing a 9:10 pace according to the race’s website, with the goal of ditching them at mile 13 at the latest, but ideally closer to mile 10 or 11.). My easy miles were comfortable and great–or as great as any miles can be dodging St. Patrick’s Day revelers on your way to the Lakefront Trail–but my race pace miles were a disaster. I felt challenged (not in a good way) as soon as I picked up my pace, and I couldn’t hold it for more than three miles. My last six miles were 9:09, 9:15, 9:02, 9:32, 9:57, and a dismal 10:25 to wrap things up. From a big picture perspective, those times are fantastic for me. I rarely turn in 9:xx miles on a long run, never mind five of them in a row, so if I were just out there training for a half marathon for the sake of completing a half marathon, I’d be thrilled! But I’m not looking to just complete my half marathon. I’m looking to break two hours at my half marathon. Running at the pace of those last six miles (9:33) wouldn’t even be enough to break my PR, never mind two hours.

I’m trying to maintain a bit of perspective about my disaster of a long run. It only took me 59 seconds more to run 12 miles last Saturday than it took me to run 11 miles the Saturday before, which is certainly something to be proud of. I had to fight a 12 mph headwind on most of my fast miles, and while yes, I could certainly have to fight a 12 mph headwind on the back half of the course on race day, I’ll have pacers to draft off and won’t have to take on the wind entirely by myself. I also won’t have the added stress of trying to maintain my pace on race day: the pacers will set the pace, and I just need to hang with them. This also was easily my hardest week of training from an intensity standpoint, with the long tempo run on Monday and the 9x400s on Wednesday, and I didn’t get nearly enough sleep last week, which I’m sure impacted my ability to recover well from those runs (and thus be ready for a hard long run on Saturday). I know a bad last long long run (I have one more “real” long run before the race, but it’s only 10 miles) doesn’t mean the race itself will go poorly. In fact, I’ve had really bad 12 milers before and still had a decent half marathon after the fact. But it was still really frustrating to have this run go so differently than I hoped it would go.

One thought on “Chi Town Half Marathon Training Week 9

  1. Pingback: Thursday Things | accidental intentions

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