Category Archives: Half Marathon

Week in Review 7.4.16 to 7.10.16

Hard to believe my time in Chicago is coming to an end already! This week was a bit Dickensian with both the best and worst workout of this training cycle.

Skyline

Monday: Horrible workout. It was hot, my legs were exhausted and no matter what I did, I couldn’t get into my heart rate range for tempo because my legs were so tired. To top it off, my right foot went numb so I spent my cooldown panicking that I’ll need surgery on that side soon. 2 by 2 mile at tempo pace, 9 miles total.

Tuesday: 8 mile recovery run.

Wednesday: Conference plus shift = not a ton of time to run. 5 miles after work with strides on the track. Saw fireflies as I was finishing up!

Thursday: Unplanned off day. With horrible weather (violent thunderstorms) and my legs feeling really punky, I decided that a little rest was better than forcing out a workout. Prorated 7.

Friday: (Inexplicably) fantastic workout! 85 degrees and humid on a black track, yet the best workout of this mini-cycle. 1 mile at tempo pace, jogged lap, 4 by 400 at interval pace (5:35 ish), jogged lap then 4 by 200 at repetition pace (5:00 ish). 9 miles total.

Cooked, but worth it.

Cooked, but worth it.

Saturday: Long run along Lake Michigan on the Lakefront Path. Definitely crazy crowded at times but what an incredible resource! 13.1 miles because my running partner insisted on the extra point 1…

Sunday: Taper begins! Easy 30 minutes around the neighborhood plus 2 laps of strides. Legs tired from the Friday/Saturday combo.

Total Miles: 55.3

Happy to finally reach a down week since my last real one was in May. I’m glad to be going into the half with some decent training on my legs but also incredibly grateful that my body held together without an adaptation week. I don’t like to push it around such things and will take this week very easy with a 50% taper and some finger crossing that my legs respond.

Right now, race day weather is looking grim with a capital G, calling for humid and 85 with a dewpoint in the 70s. Thankfully the race starts early (6:30 am), so we’ll avoid direct light. The trade off, of course, is that it’s often most humid in the morning. My goals are pretty loose given that summer races depend almost entirely on weather but am hoping to a) run faster than Plattsburgh (1:26) and b) would really like to be in the 1:23 range going into fall training. Since I’ll be heading to Asheville and altitude next week, I’ll be back in basetraining mode and a 1:23 would be a nice marker before heading up and slowing down.

Week in Review 6.13.16 to 6.19.16

As though the delay on this post wasn’t enough of an indication, this past week has been a flipping whirlwind. I finished my rotation at Central Vermont, drove to Chicago and then 24 hours after arriving there, flew to Burlington and back to Chicago in less than 17 hours. And somehow ran every day…

Monday: 10 miles around Berlin Pond. Still feeling the weekend big time.

Tuesday: Second week of continuous tempo at the Tuesday Night Fun Run. Super windy but came in at 26:45, which was close to last week’s time but with a faster closing mile. 9 miles total.

Wednesday: 7 slow, ploddy miles plus strides and hipcore.

Thursday: 8.8 miles around Berlin Pond.

Friday: Mixed bag workout. Warmed up, 4 laps of ins and outs then 4 by 200 hard on the road. 6.25 miles total.

Saturday: 4 super hot miles when we got to Chagrin Falls.

Sunday: 6 miles in Chagrin before church/driving.

Total Miles: 51.1

Struggling to get my long runs in lately but hoping 10 is good enough to get me through the half later this month. My schedule is wacky going forward but planned out so I can hopefully get into a bit of a routine for the next couple of weeks. I have begun to explore the trails and bike paths around southwest Chicago and so far, it’s a beautiful (albeit a bit flat) place to run. I also found an incredibly reasonable local gym that offers BodyPump, which is one of my all time favorite strength classes so I’m hoping to be able to make it there at least twice a week.

Rock’N’Roll Chicago!

When I found out I was going to Chicago, the first thing I did was check out the running scene, identify my possible running routes and try to find a race that fit into my schedule. Since I’ll be on Emergency Medicine, my schedule is a little erratic so I didn’t want to sign up for a race that might conflict with a shift. When I found out that the Rock’N’Roll Chicago half was on the weekend after I finish, I sent in an application for an elite entry and crossed my fingers. It might be hot and miserable but I though the opportunity to have something to focus on and to check my fitness was a great one. In awesome news, I got word last night that my application was accepted for July 17th!

Excited for a new skyline next week!

Excited for a new skyline next week!

It’s hard not to go into a race with hopes of a PR but in this case, I’m just hoping for improvement from Plattsburgh and another great race experience where I can work for a top finish next to other fast ladies. It also offers an opportunity to see how my fall might shape up and whether I’m ready to tackle another 26.2.

Race Report: Plattsburgh Half Marathon 2016

Short Version: 2nd Woman, 1:26:44. Got to hang out with the Skechers crew and had a BLAST at the Expo and post-race party.

Doing our best Kara at the post-race party.

Doing our best Kara at the post-race party.

Long Version: 

I went into this race with relatively low expectations. I’ve been lucky to run consistently this Spring but as I remarked in my recent post on this cycle’s inventory, I have been low mileage (for me) and only doing maintenance workouts. On top of this, I did a lot of driving (and not a lot of sleeping) going into this race.

The morning started in an entertaining fashion. As I pulled up to the Ferry Dock to cross the lake, the 6:30 ferry was pulling away. Plattsburgh is actually only about 6 miles from my house but there’s a big lake in the middle with no local bridge so you have to take a ferry to get there. I texted Dave to tell him I might be cutting it close and he responded “Ha! I’m on the ferry that just left you!!” Needless to say, I had to wait for the 6:45 ferry and decided to change into my racing flats (GoMeb Speed 3) and take my inhaler on the boat. As it turned out, I arrived by 7:15, found a porto-potty on my way to the Rec Center and found Erin Lopez for our warmup all by 7:30. We did 20 minutes of easy jogging then stripped down and headed for the start. It was PERFECT racing weather at 40 degrees and overcast. I wish I’d been in amazing shape because it was a PR day for sure.

At the start line, Erin and I had to get a little aggressive to get a spot as a few misplaced souls found themselves on the line. We did a strider, got our spot and we were off. Although we’d both planned to run around 1:25, Erin took off from the start and I opted to hang back and stay comfortable for me. Erin went on to win overall AND post a new PR!! We made our way around the Oval and I was happy to find that I felt smooth and effortless. I only had a stopwatch on but when we went through what I presume to be mile 1 based on the Garmins beeping around me, my watch said 6:15 pace. I put the brakes on a bit here because optimism is great, but I doubted that I was in 1:22 shape. At around 10 minutes in, we went by the mile 1 marker. Two and a half minutes later, we went by the 2 mile marker. So much for using my watch to track splits. As such, I have almost no data points from the race other than that my first mile was a 6:15 and I finished in 1:26. Since it was obvious that I couldn’t rely on mile markers, I just ran on effort through the first half of the race and was happy to feel like my effort was about 7/10. I crossed the halfway point around 41 minutes. We would later learn that it was not exactly halfway but the 10K instead…

During the second half, the turns began. Although it made it hard to hold momentum, I was in a bit of a funk at this point and appreciated the opportunity to refocus every few hundred meters as we turned. I was running alone and had quite the pity party between 7 and 9, cranky that I felt like I could hold my pace all day but couldn’t click up as I’d planned. I was also cranky that the mile markers were 100% unreliable. I had no idea if I was running 6:15 pace or 7:15 pace or if I was at mile 7 or mile 8.5.

At mile 10, we went over a little bridge and into a 2 mile flat neighborhood loop. I was able to click up in effort for a few minutes but by mile 11, felt like I was running out of fitness and found myself back at tempo effort. Mile 12 was an insidious uphill and I was just ready to return to the Oval and finish. Mile 13 is around the Oval and taunts you, as you can see the finish but you’re minutes away. I just tried to finish strong but really didn’t have much in the way of gears.

As it turns out, the race course had to undergo some changes and 13.1 miles came…a bit before the finish line did. According to one of the local ladies who runs for Skechers as well, it is actually in the middle of the final turn before the straightaway where we finished, so probably over a quarter mile long. I’m not sure why they couldn’t have adjusted the start or the finish since it was on an oval, but regardless, it’s questionable how far we actually ran. The first and second half splits are hysterical too; all of us had 4 minute “positive” splits since the second half was more like 7 miles.

The 1-2 punch!

The 1-2 punch!

Despite some course snafus, it’s actually an awesome course that I would readily race again. It has a nice combination of flats, small hills, and some cruising downhills, it winds through a lot of Plattsburgh and had great course support for a small race on Sunday morning. The weather was also PERFECTION. The vibe before and after the race was fun too; people who just enjoy running and community events. If it gets re-certified, I would definitely consider going back to aim for a PR since it’s my kind of course.

Now that I’ve had time to reflect a bit, I find myself slightly frustrated with my race. It was one of my slowest half marathons ever (1:33, 1:29, 1:28 all come to mind as slower…). The logical part of my brain knows that it’s great that I got a 13+ mile effort in and that it wasn’t a race I could expect to knock out of the park. The emotional part of my brain is frustrated that I feel so…flat right now. I feel like I have one gear and although I know that I haven’t done workouts to develop my other gears lately, I have an illogical fear that this is just the beginning of slowing down as I hid my mid 30s.

Week in Review 2/8/16 to 2/14/16

Well, the Trials are a wrap and it was an incredible day as promised. The heat was severe as many athletes dropped out throughout the race and even the seemingly infallible Shalane Flanagan suffered towards the end. In the end, the men’s side came out to be Galen, Meb and Jared Ward while the women’s side will be Amy Cragg, Desi and Shalane.

Monday: 4.25 mile run on the frozen golf course to start getting my legs ready for my spring adventures.

Tuesday: 5 miles early on the treadmill. Workout attempt fail #1. Hip core after.

Wednesday: 6 mile hill run on the treadmill.

Thursday: Post call, off day.

Friday: 6.2 mile plod and study.

Saturday: 10 miles feeling great on the treadmill because it was -8 out!

Sunday: 4 miles easy plus arms.

Total Miles 35.4 

Running is such a fickle beast. Last week, every run felt amazing. This week, every run was a ploddy achy struggle until Saturday when I felt great again with no explanation for either end of the spectrum. So it goes. For this week, I’ll be doing my normal running mileage plus adding in an afternoon workout of either snowshoe running, trail running, stairclimber or walking/jogging at 15% grade as the weather and snow allows.

Millinocket Half and Full Marathon 2016

Maine has always held a special place in my heart. Although my dad was born and raised outside of Boston, his parents moved up to Belfast, Maine with his youngest sisters and that’s where we went for holidays and summer vacation. My aunt Stacey is one of Dad’s younger sisters (he has 6 of them!) and has always been a runner. She came down to cheer for my first marathon, held me in an ice bath after and continues to encourage my running in a zillion ways. She now lives in Lincoln, Maine on a beautiful pond where she continues to kayak, run and live the “Maine way.”

Millinocket is right next to Lincoln and as this article points out, has been hard hit by the closure of Great Northern. One of my uncles worked for the paper mills in Maine, another worked for Bath Iron Works and one of my cousins worked for the Verso mill in Bucksport, so the idea of using a race to stimulate the economy strikes a chord with me as I’ve heard my family talk about the very real impact of mill closures on their lives. I’m excited to see that it’s already full but also hoping more spots open up so that Suzanne, Stacey and I can run it in December.

What do you think about this idea? Have you done this kind of event before? Anyone sign up for this one before it filled?

Turning A Corner

When I first suspected I was anemic and then when I found out that I was, my biggest question was how long until I feel better?!? From talking with friends and former athletes who were anemic, it sounded like I should feel better quickly but I was skeptical and I couldn’t find any big research studies that quantified HOW much better I should feel.

The great news is that I feel SO much better and in even more exciting news, my paces are dropping with every workout. As I look back over my training log, the worst of my symptoms were during the beginning of September. On the 10th, I struggled through 800s, on the 15th through Ks and on the 17th I only did 2/3rds of a tempo workout because I felt so horrible. I started iron on September 24th and by the following week, I was already feeling better.

Here’s a couple examples of what three weeks of iron supplements have done in identical workouts:

  • 800s at I pace: in September, I struggled to hold 2:57 pace. Last week, with the remnants of a chest cold, I cruised at 2:49 pace.
  • 3 by 2 miles at T pace. In September, I didn’t even finish this workout but my first two pairs were 6:37, 6:44 and 6:42, 6:48. Last week, I finished the workout and my pairs were (6:22, 6:25) (6:15, 6:25) (6:21, 6:19).
  • Tempo Miles: The last time I did this workout, my tempo miles averaged 6:28 pace. This week, they were 6:08 pace.

Onward and upward!

Week in Review 8.17.15 to 8.23.15

Feeling a bit like I cannot catch a break! Had an awesome early week of getting up at 4:30 and getting my runs in only to wake up sick as a dog on Friday heading into our training camp. Will assures me it’s not the end of the world but I’m too full of snot and sore from coughing to totally believe him.

Monday: 6.5 miles early.

Tuesday: 8.65 early with Chris and Carl on the bike path. Epic humidity.

Wednesday: 10 miles with 2 by (3 min, 2 min, 1 min hard). Dewpoint of 70 = wheezing during my run. In hindsight, perhaps the beginning of my sinus infection/cold.

Thursday: 7 mile recovery run.

Friday: No voice and swollen sore throat. Decided to push my long run “a day” in hopes that I would feel better with more sleep. 5.2 miles easy.

Saturday am: No such luck on feeling better. 3.5 miles of hilly, rocky terrain when we arrived at Windridge.

Saturday afternoon: 5 miles of speed training courtesy of cross country lacrosse.

Sunday am: 5 miles with the team with 6 by 30 seconds hard uphill. Totally knocked down by my cold. Legs after the workout.

Sunday pm: 2 mile run with Joe before drills. 15 minutes of aquajogging cut short by a bee sting in the pool. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Spent the rest of the night absolutely miserable between the cold and an allergic reaction.

Total Miles: 53

Obviously the end of this week was anything but optimal. My big job right now is to get healthy so that I can attack Phase 3 next week. The good news is that my schedule is now wide open for running and that as soon as I stop coughing, wheezing and generally feeling horrible, there’s nothing in the way of training. It is certainly hard to keep the faith right now, however, so I’m definitely getting plenty of practice with my positive self talk!!

Doubt Versus Faith

The last few weeks haven’t been the best in recent memory. Some of that is the weather; it’s hard to have any faith when you feel like you’re melting into the sidewalk. Weather doesn’t tend to rattle me for long though: almost everyone is dealing with it and it always gives way to training perfection by mid-September.

What IS rattling me is this creeping sense that things just aren’t going to pull together for me this year. The logical side of my brain tells me that it’s way too early to tell anything but the emotional part nags that I’m behind past years and certainly behind the markers that would predict the run I’m seeking in Philly. There are a few recent moments contributing heavily to that sense of doubt. The first is the Montpelier Mile. In a vacuum, it was a totally acceptable race run off very little specific training at peak mileage but I am struggling to let go of the fact that I a) missed my (arbitrary) time goal and b) got outstepped at the line. Since then, I’ve felt…deflated. Not long after the Mile, I had a horrible training week where running was painful and slow and my legs felt like they were filled with concrete. I slogged through my miles and ended up in tears after almost every run. My recent adaptation week helped me to feel better but as soon as I did, the heat settled in and all of my workouts have been effort rather than pace based. Even though I understand that effort is the way to go, it’s extremely hard to work at interval effort that turns out to be usual tempo pace (or slower). All of this is compounded by the fact that I went out on a huge, terrifying limb and took time off school to train and feel like I might be the world’s biggest failure if I don’t get a huge PR out of the effort.

Teetertotterfinished

There are plenty of factors that can explain my funk, both actual and perceived. I’m barely sleeping courtesy of third year and when I do sleep, I need to recover both from my workouts and from standing all day. I’m in a constant state of flux (the curse of third year: you’re always new somewhere and almost always in the way) and because everything is so new and unfamiliar, prone to microbursts of adrenaline every time a new situation crops up. Even my nutrition is suffering. The past two weeks on clinic were better because lunch breaks were built in but on other services, it’s “grab what you can, eat when you can” which is the enemy of effective fueling.

One of Will’s philosophies is that the process is the goal. That is, it’s more important to build day by day and week by week than to be hyperfocused on only the final goal. Self-doubt is diametrically opposed to the idea of process as the goal. Doubt is fixated on the end goal only. Trusting the process requires enormous faith in self and faith in coach. And the training sweet spot is somewhere right between the two, where you have enough doubt to stay hungry and humble and enough faith to persevere through a training cycle.

Since I started thinking about this post two weeks ago, I’ve actually made some progress towards the middle of the doubt/faith teeter totter. I’ve slowed down my non-workout runs to try to spare my legs, adjusted my expectations significantly before heading out for workouts and am trying to be more honest and open about my feelings of doubt, rather than bottling them up to manage on my own.

How do you ward off self-doubt? Which side of the teeter totter do you naturally fall on?

Week in Review 7.13.15 to 7.19.15

Monday: 6.23 mile run with horrible OR legs.

Tuesday: Last case didn’t roll out of PreOp until 6:30 pm so no run for me.

Wednesday: 11 miles with 6 by 30 seconds hard up Depot Street. Legs pretty dead but felt smooth during the hills.

Thursday: 8.5 run just slogging along.

Friday: Fit 9 in and ran into Amy which made it much more enjoyable. Striders in the last mile.

Saturday: 7.5 mile speed workout. Another day with a dewpoint of 70. 6 by 400 on the track. Dying with the heat!

Sunday: Quite the weather potpourri run; thunderstorms and rain for the first hour, then opened up to sun for the second hour. 15 miles, grateful for Erin’s company for all but the last bit. Full body lift after.

Total Miles 65.3

Not going to lie, this week was not the best. My schedule was pretty crushing and I was just in low-grade pain all week. Hoping it’s just fatigue from this new rotation but making plans to get my hemoglobin checked regardless. Heading into an adaptation week next week and will assess from there.