Race day is in under 2 weeks and I thought it would be helpful for me to do a check-in. I need to get myself grounded. While I am so excited for the Brooklyn Half (it is my absolute favorite race!), I feel myself looking beyond it a bit. Since November will be my first full marathon, I keep catching myself eyeing that more intense training schedule. But that doesn’t start till July and I really want to be focused on the race at hand, especially since I have a goal of setting a new PR.
One of the things I love most about running is that SO many people run and there is so much variance within the community. There are people of so many different ages, races, incomes, and most of all, ability. I think of myself as a fairly slow runner as I average about a 9 min/mile pace on most of my runs. I’ve been combing through blogs of women who seem to consider themselves “average” and are setting half times of 1:38-1:45. They are phenomenal–I think that is so fast! On the other end, I have an amazing coworker who doesn’t run any other race but the Brooklyn Half every year–in fact the only running she does is the training for this one race. She runs between a 10-11 min/mile, so she looks at me like some sort of speedster. It’s all relative. There is always someone ahead of us and always someone behind us.
So, currently my PR for the half is 2:01. The last time I ran it I missed my goal by exactly 1 minute! This time, I’d like to make it in under 2:00. It’s funny, when I checked in two weeks ago, I was not in a great place. I had the endurance on my longer runs but not the speed; I was running at about 9.40 min/mile pace. My legs felt heavy–in fact, my whole body felt heavy. Since then though, things have gotten better. I am averaging about 9.10 min/mile on my long runs and 8.54 min/mile on my short runs. I need to average 9.09 min/mile to come in under 2:00.
I have been using interval training on my shorter runs (up to 7 miles) for quite some time. I only do these runs on the treadmill where it’s easy for me to control the intervals. I usually start at a 10.31 min/mile (5.7 on the mill) pace for the first minute and than gradually increase my pace by roughly 10 seconds (by .1 on mill) each minute for the first 10 minutes. This is my warmup. Then somewhere between 9.13 and 9.31 (6.3-6.5) becomes my slow interval for the rest of my run. I run for 1 minute at this pace, then I run 2 minutes at a faster pace that I increase by approximately 10 seconds each minute. So, the first two intervals on the treadmill will look like this:
Min 1 (slow): 6.3 (9.31 min/mile)
Min 2: 6.5 (9.13 min/mile)
Min 3: 6.6 (9.05 min/mile)
Min 4 (slow): 6.3 (9.31 min/mile)
Min 5: 6.7 (8.57 min/mile)
Min 6: 6.8 (8.49 min/mile)
I continue these intervals for however long of a run I am going for, usually reaching a max pace between 7.03-6.53 min/mile (8.5-8.7 on the mill). I repeat intervals as needed to extend the run. This method has worked really well for me in a lot of different ways. First, I never get bored. Second, I think the slow progression and variance in pace has left me less susceptible to injury. I am hoping the third advantage will be that it has made me a bit faster. That remains to be seen.
My plan for the race is to run with the 2:00 pace leader, and then hopefully push through the last mile or two and come in at my goal. My only concern is that the pace leaders run even splits and that has just never been how I run. I start out slow and gradually increase my pace. My fear is that I will feel really winded at that 9.10 pace for the first couple of miles. I debated not running with the 2:00 group and thought of just keeping track of my splits myself, but in the end, I decided I wanted to feel more apart of and less solitary in my endeavor. So this passed Sunday, and the next, my focus was and will be keeping an even pace throughout. I think once I catch my breath after the excitement of the first 2 miles or so, I will be able to settle in and find a groove.
For the next 10-11 days I am planning on a good mix of running, yoga, strength training and rest. I will keep next Friday, the day before the race, as a rest day–something I learned from experience. One year, coaxed with the desire to feel super loose on race day, I practiced yoga the day before. The problem was, I practice Bikram yoga, in 105 degree heat. While I do find it to be a rejuvenating practice, it also takes a lot out of you-electrolyte-wise. I had to work really hard to fuel and hydrate in the right way before that race and I still felt a little fatigued when I got to the starting line.
Speaking of fuel and hydration, I am also going to really be focusing on my nutrition up until race day. I’ve remained pretty strong in this area but it was my husband’s birthday yesterday which meant the weekend was FULL of cheat meals. It was nice to indulge and celebrate with him but we vowed to both keep it really clean (he’s running too!) for the next 10-11 days. For us this means veggies at all three meals (yes, even breakfast!), clean protein, fresh fruit, and lots of good fats (almonds and avocados aplenty in this house). We eat little to no grain during the week which I know will seem crazy to most runners–but so far it has worked well for us. I am interested to see if this is something I will have to change when I start marathon training–I might need more carbohydrate as I increase my mileage. We shall see, and I will keep you posted! If we can keep it clean until race day, I think we will both feel light and energized and ready to run 13.1. The day after we are off to Philly for a couple days so we’ve agreed we can mow on cheesesteaks as a reward!
I’ll check in next week with a final countdown. Anyone else running the Brooklyn Half? Are you ready? I’d love to hear from you or anyone else with a goal coming up!
Happy running all!
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