Hello everyone. It’s been a while. After a long break and time away following a disappointing marathon in Houston, I started training and racing again. I seriously contemplated competitive retirement, but couldn’t make the final decision. I thought I might find clarity through racing, so I ran a few races between March and May 2018. Read more >>
When we left off, I had run enormous PRs at the 10 mile and 10K distances and I was poised to race the Run for the Cows Half Marathon in Redding, CT, hoping for another PR. So how did that play out? I *did* run a PR of 1:51:28, but I had been hoping for under 1:50, potentially a good bit under 1:50.
A PR is a PR and of course I am happy. But I’ve also been mulling about what happened and why I wasn’t faster. Was this a case of mission creep? A harder course than expected? Not enough mileage? Unwillingness to face the race demons? Maybe some of all of that. Racing is always a learning experience and I’m still learning the lessons from this one.
If you look at my splits across my seven marathons, you’ll see that they’re almost perfectly even. Sure, a negative split race is impressive, but running 26.2 at almost exactly the same pace is nothing to sneeze at. So I know how to pace myself. I also know that how I pace myself—for better or for worse—only affects me. If I have an off day, it’s just my race that’s affected. Or, if I’m feeling good, I know I can pick it up and it only affects me.
So when I paced a friend in a half marathon, I was more nervous than I’ve been for some of my own races. Our target pace was 8:20, for a sub 1:50 half. I typically run 8:10s for my easy 10 to 12 milers. So I knew, theoretically, that this pace should be no problem for me. But would I go out too fast? Too slow? Would my watch be off? What if she started hurting? Do I play nice or push her? Read more >>
If you’ve read all three posts, you will definitely notice some common themes. I think it’s best, from a big picture perspective, to keep your overall race strategies fairly similar across these distances. As the race gets longer, there is more room for variation within each phase of the race plan, and there is more potential for outside variables to affect your race. These strategy posts can serve as fundamental building blocks for your race plan. You can easily tweak these strategies as needed based on any course- or weather-specific issues that you encounter on race day.
What? You’ve never heard of Carmel, Indiana? It’s famous! It has the most roundabouts of any city in the US, earning the nickname “Roundabout City, USA.” There are 102 glorious traffic circles strategically placed throughout the city. And if you run any of the annual Carmel Marathon Weekend races, you get to run through what feels like all of them! I’m still dizzy thinking about it.
Since December 2015 when I raced CIM, I’ve taken a break from marathon training. I put my body through the ringer as I trained for an Olympic Trials Qualifier. Instead, over the last half year I’ve focused on base building and shorter distance races, but in 2017 I plan to build back up to marathon training this summer.
In November I won the Amica Seattle Half Marathon, but what was more thrilling, was being able to do so alongside my friend and teammate, Amber Morrison, who won the full marathon. It was incredibly special to be a part of a Bellingham Distance Project sweep, and we felt such great love from our community. The Seattle Half and Full are not known for being fast, rather, indicative of Seattle’s landscape, they are moderately hilly. With this in mind, Amber and I knew we’d have to toss out our time goals, and in the true spirit of racing, actually, intuitively compete. Read more >>
Tell any non-runner that you’re a distance runner and they’ll likely ask, “So have you run a marathon?” Having run two myself, I understand the allure and prestige of the marathon. It’s the only race distance not set by a nice round number, but by an ancient Greek legend. Pheidippides ran 26.2 miles to warn of the Spartans’ arrival and when he finished he kicked the bucket.
It’s like the Kleenex or the xerox machine of road races, and a metaphor warning others of how long and tortuous something will be (Take your time! It’s a marathon, not a sprint!). The marathon is the holy grail of long distance running, and for good reason.
But in the shadows of the bombastic marathon, is another lesser-appreciated, albeit just as awesome race. It’s the Cady Herron to her Regina George: newer, growing faster in popularity, and friendlier. I’m talking about my personal favorite distance, the half marathon. Thirteen point one miles is long enough to be challenging, but short enough that the training need not consume your life. Running one well requires the perfect blend of speed and strategic pacing.
Here are my top reasons to put some half marathons on your race schedule this coming year! Read more >>
Congratulations to Tara Welling and Christo Landry, the 2016 USA Half Marathon Champions! Not only was the Half Marathon Championship race thrilling to witness, but it was also an ideal place to learn strategies for racing half marathons from the country’s top distance runners.
Of course, within a large group of athletes there were many different schools of thought. For winner Tara Welling, since it was only her second half ever and an almost three minute PR at that, she didn’t feel confident recommending any particular strategy other than to say that hers is to simply go for it and give it everything she has. Road racing veteran, Des Linden, on the other hand, says she feels like the half is closer to a 10k than a marathon, that she’s sprinting for the entire race. Kelsey Bruce, who at 23, came to Cap City for her fourth half marathon, learned the hard way not to sprint from the gun when she crashed and burned in her third half in January, instead, favoring a strategy of finding her rhythm and saving the speed for mile nine and beyond.
But what’s the best half strategy for mortals? Do you favor Tara’s strategy of essentially winging it? Are you like Des and work hard from the gun? Or do you like Kelsey’s plan to save up some energy for a late push? Or something else?
What’s your half marathon race strategy?
Now that the Olympic Trials Marathon and Boston are over, it’s easy to think there isn’t much going on in the world of road racing until the Olympic marathon in Rio. Au contraire! On Saturday, April 30, some of the best runners in our sport, including Olympians and National Champions and our very own Spearmint, will gather in the heart of Columbus, Ohio to compete for the title of 2016 USATF Half Marathon Champion.
Every year the championships are held in conjunction with a different race around the country. The previous two years the Championship was run in Houston, hosted by the Chevron Houston Marathon. This year, the host race, the OhioHealth Capital City Half Marathon, is offering a record-breaking $90,000 of prize money to the top 20 men and women finishers, as well as to the top five masters men and women. A record $12,100 will be awarded to the winning man and woman at the race, a nice bonus in a sport that doesn’t typically offer multi-million dollar contracts.
Oh, and did we mention? We will be there, covering the race from the lead up to the big day to the finish line interviews! Picking the brains of some of the best in our sport, sharing the exciting stories sure to happen during the weekend, capturing moments to help you feel like you’re there too, all the while trying to contain our excitement and not fan-girl too hard. Are you ready to get pumped?! Just take a look at the top-ten seeds who will be toeing the line in Columbus this Saturday!
Read more >>
The past few months I’ve been buried under miles and Clif Bars in preparation for my next race, which I am super excited about! On April 30th, I’m racing in my first U.S.A. Half Marathon Championship at the Cap City Half in Columbus!
I began my training cycle for this race in early February, but a couple of weeks into it and it became clear that something was off. I had little aches and pains everywhere, slogged through every training run, and felt like my workouts were way more of a struggle than they should have been. Worst of all, I didn’t feel the joy in training I usually do. After a few weeks of wondering what was wrong with me, I finally realized what was going on.
Time for a flashback. Back in January, I met Salty and Cinnamon at the Jacksonville Bank Half. More precisely, I met Salty on the bus to the pre-race dinner. She sat next to me and I told her I was there to run a 1:15 or faster and qualify for the Olympic Trials Marathon. The next morning, I lined up in the dark rain and gave it my all, but fell short by 35 heart-breaking seconds, finishing in 1:15:35. Read more >>
They’re at every big half and full marathon, carrying their signs for many, many miles and helping innumerable runners achieve their big goals. But have you ever stopped to wonder what the pacers you follow in races are thinking or doing? Have you ever thought about being a pacer yourself?
I recently had my first opportunity to pace the 2:00 group at the Madison Half Marathon and it was a great experience.
I don’t pretend to be an expert in pacing, like our pacer-extraordinaire Clove, but it was fun and I learned a lot from it, so I wanted to share some of it with our Salty readers.
It was a no excuses kind of day. Partly cloudy, 55 degrees, no injuries or niggles to contend with, and I’d even had a decent night of sleep. Still, I was convinced that when I lined up for the Her Tern Half Marathon, I’d be putting myself through a hundred minutes of pain (or more) with zero chance of a PR. I felt under trained for the distance–a feeling my recent tempo runs had only reinforced. And though my last half marathon was well over a year ago, I remembered the suffering like it was yesterday. I didn’t think I could knock out anything close to the 1:38:48 PR I’d achieved with Salty by my side to pace and push me.
My running buddy and new coach Michelle finally convinced me to sign up for it a week prior to the race. I’d been hedging and thinking up all kinds of silly excuses why I didn’t want to do it. But when she pulled the “no matter the outcome, it will help you get stronger” card, I couldn’t argue. Plus, it was an all-women’s race with mimosas and cupcakes at the end. So there was that. Read more >>
Get Excited! Salty Running has a new weekly feature! Inspired by those #tbt’s all over social media, we’re offering up our own Throwback Thursday posts. We’ll choose a running-related photo of ourselves from our archives and write a post all about it. I’m up first with this one from 2006:
If you run an exciting new half marathon PR, but your name is nowhere to be found in the official race results did that exciting new half marathon PR really happen? Unfortunately, this is not a rhetorical question. It is what happened to me last weekend at the Richmond Half Marathon, my goal race for the fall season.
The nice people at the organization responsible for the timing of the race assure me that they are hard at work resolving this issue, so I’m optimistic that someday there may be official documentation that my new half marathon PR does actually exist. In the meantime, I will regale you with a little Richmond race report according to my personal recollections and the data on my Garmin. Read more >>
I have to admit I feel odd writing my training log this week when it feels so insignificant compared to everything going on in our country. But the show must go on and we need to continue living our lives. So onward we go.
Race day is drawing near. This week was almost a repeat of last week as far as volume and quality go given that we decided to change my goal race and add an extra week of taper into my schedule. The main difference was that I did not skip any of my runs so my volume was slightly higher. I moved some workouts around, but I put in all of the work.
Monday – rest day / arm weights. I watched the Boston Marathon with delight (although I missed the elite finish due to a client meeting) and tracked all of my friends, many of whom RoCkEd the course (woot!). I spent the rest of the day watching the horror of the bombings unfold. Add to that, my sister-in-law who is currently battling an aggressive form of breast cancer, received more crazy medical news. Hard day and I felt completely knocked off my feet.
Tuesday – I was scheduled for a speed workout, but I just didn’t feel like I could concentrate on it. It didn’t seem to matter. I couldn’t drag myself out of bed in the unrelenting cold to put in a hard workout. So I just ran 4 miles after work. I threw on my 2010 Boston shirt and tried to feel strength and hope for all those affected by the tragic events. 34 minutes / 4 miles / 8:33 pace.
Wednesday – I reminded myself that the show must go on. My goal race is a week and a half away and now is not the time to fade away due to sadness. Doing so lets the terrorists win. They will not win. So I hit the streets for my tempo workout. 10 minute warm up (9:03 pace); 2 x 1 mile (7:16; 7:11) with 2 minute recoveries; 3 x .125 (6:38, 6:03; 6:18); 1 mile @ 7:12; cool down with 4 striders. I noticed that it was hard for me to find my paces. Clearly that is the down side to doing so much speed work on the treadmill this season. 50 minutes / 6.42 miles / 7:51 average pace.
Thursday – I did my arm weights and ran after work again. Super windy run on the trail. 31:50 / 3.58 / 8:56 average pace.
Friday – I was scheduled for a tempo workout, but woke to howling wind and rain. Decided I’d wait until Saturday when it was forecast to be much nicer to get that work in. The best news was a friend e-mailed me that day and asked me if I wanted to run. Score! I’d have a training partner for my hard workout too! So I just ran easy after work. 31:45 / 3.58 miles / 8:53 pace.
Saturday – I met my friend in sunny, but cold (28 degrees) weather. We did just over a 10 minute warm up, then did 40 minutes at tempo pace. We were supposed to be at 7:40 pace and came in at 7:43 average pace. I was not disappointed with being slightly slow given that we picked a very hilly route and chatted the whole time. We then did 4 x .125 repeats. We were planning to run at 6:17 pace, but we ended up ripping them up at 5:35 – 5:50 pace. We then did a 15 minute cool down. When I finished, the half marathon I had been planning to race was going on, so I spectated and cheered for the runners for a while. I am pleased to say the friend I gave my bib to helped pace another friend to her first half marathon. Awesome. 70 minutes / 8.81 miles / 7:52 average pace.
Sunday – I woke up with a massive headache the head cold my son had all week. In fact, I had to take him to the urgent care late Saturday night because he developed a severe ear infection pretty suddenly. So now my focus is on nipping this cold in the bud and staying as strong as possible. Part of that plan included taking a nice mid-day nap. :) 60 minute / 6.67 miles / 9:05 pace. One week until race day!
Total: 33 miles (4 hours; 38 minutes)
Next weekend, we race! Friday night the boys are doing the 5k and Saturday I am doing the half. My bib number is 10948. Sounds like a great number to me! I can’t wait! But to be honest, I’ll admit I have been constantly second-guessing my training this season and my decision to change my goal race. So I am trying hard to get my head in the game so I can race my very best. It is what is is, the hay is in the barn. I need to trust my training, trust my coach, and go get it.
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