Marathon Training Week 12 Recap

Wow, week 12. It’s hard to believe I’m three months deep into this. And that only a handful of weeks remain.

So the recap:

Monday: Rest day. I spent part of this day moving the last few things from my parents’ basement to their storage unit in Easton. I did quite a few trips up and down the stairs so I say that counts as some cross training.

Tuesday: 4 miles. I spent Monday night in Easton so I squeezed these miles in on the track in my parents’ neighborhood that morning. I ended up only doing 3.1 because a) it occurred to me in the middle of my run that I would be doing one extra mile on Saturday so I could cut one mile off a run this week and b) Dad was waiting for me in the car and I didn’t want to keep him waiting too long. This run reminded me that I don’t love running loops around a track.

Wednesday: 8 miles. This was a big fail. I went to bed early on Tuesday night with every intention of getting up at 4 a.m. to do our run. But because of some personal stuff in our lives, we didn’t really sleep until midnight. When 4 a.m. rolled around, there was no way I was getting up to do those miles. Since the weather was supposed to be nice that day, I figured I’d just push the run back to after work. Well, after weeks of early morning runs, a post-work run felt awful. I hated running with food in my stomach and I didn’t have much enthusiasm for this. It was a nice day, but still felt kind of warm for 8 miles. We ran down to the Mall and that’s where I pretty much threw in the towel. It just wasn’t going to happen. While Joe ran a lap around the Mall, I practiced my sprinting. I’d walk the length of a “square” and then sprint across the long way. I did about a mile of that and it felt pretty good. All together, I did about 3 miles on my feet here, but probably only a mile and a half of running. I just called it rest for my half marathon on Saturday.

Thursday: 5 miles. It was still kind of humid and sweaty but I gave my new Nike Lunarglides a spin and felt pretty good. Average pace on this came out to less than 10 minutes a mile so that was a win.

Friday: Rest day. I left work early to get to the packet pickup for the Run 4 Shelter half marathon in Stevensville. Spent the night at my parents’ apartment after stuffing myself with some spaghetti (it wasn’t Tortino, but it did the trick).

Saturday: 12 miles. Although only 12 miles was on the schedule, my app suggested doing a half marathon on this day to get some race practice in. I haven’t raced since May so I figured this would be a good tune up. The race took place on the Cross Island Trail on the Eastern Shore. That meant FLAT and scenic.

Going into the race I didn’t really have any specific goals. I’ve been doing my long runs at a slow pace so I knew I wasn’t going to be super speedy. But since I had 15 and 16 mile runs under my belt at this point, I knew a PR might be possible. Race morning was fantastic. The temperature was in the 60s and it was overcast, great racing weather. Dad decided to come along and observe the race, which made me so happy. I love knowing someone is waiting for you at the finish. It gives you a little extra kick.

The race was fairly small, about 225 half marathoners (although there were more folks doing the 5K and 10K). We were off at 7:30. I didn’t really focus on my pace for the first couple of miles. I just took it easy. I was surprised at how many people passed me early on. But there were also several people breathing heavy and walking within the first mile. I just focused on getting to each of the water stops so I could take a very quick walking break and grab some water and Gatorade.

I thought running along the trail would feel crowded but it never did. I tagged behind a group of three girls, two who were friends and a third awkward one who obviously glommed on this duo. It was almost painful to witness at times. At the same time, there was a woman who was pacing herself behind me. We never spoke but for the first 9.5 miles, she was right on my heels. I guess she figured I was going at a good pace for her and just used me as motivation to stick to that pace.

We ran east until we got to a turnaround at a park that involved running on grass, gravel and crushed oyster shells. The views were stunning.

The first several miles  flew by.

Mile 1: 10:41

Mile 2: 10:45

Mile 3: 10:41

Mile 4: 10:52

Mile 5: 10:38

Mile 6: 10:39

Mile 7: 10:55

Mile 8: 10:35

When I got to the water stop around mile 9.5, I knew it was time to down some Jelly Belly Sports Beans and pull out the music. I have never run with music during a race before but I figured it would help me rally for the last miles since I was running solo. At this point, I knew I was probably going to PR as long as I didn’t take any long walking breaks. My legs were getting a little tight but fourish miles was nothing, right? I broke up the course mentally into points I knew that would make it easier. I took about a minute walking break to eat the sports beans and put my earphones on. I guess that was too long for the woman behind me because this is when she passed me.

Mile 9: 10:47

Mile 10: 10:24

At mile 10, you pass the high school track where the race starts and ends. All you want to do is turn back onto the track and be done. But you still have to do the last out and back to get the final distance in. Uuuuugh.

Mile 11 popped up sooner than expected on the trail. To this point, all the mileage signs were spot on with my Garmin. But when the sign said mile 11, my watch still said 10.88. That’s not that unusual in a race and I figured we’d get the extra distance in somewhere. Either way, this is when I started to push myself mentally. A lot of people were stopping to walk. Since the last part was an out and back, you could see the expressions on people’s faces as they turned back for the final stretch. A lot of people looked like they just wanted to be done. And I did too. But I knew I could do two more miles. And I thought about the calendar at my parents’ house. That morning, before we left for the race, I noticed that Sept. 13 was Positive Thinking Day. I reminded myself of that in the last two miles. My motto during marathon training has been “Just keep swimming” (and yes, I hear it in Dory’s voice). I focused on that and my music and kept pushing. I finally passed a few girls I had been trying to slip by for miles. I took a final brief walking break at the last water stop and then told myself to just get it done.

Mile 11: 10:57

Mile 12: 10:49

Finally the stadium came back into view.  I focused on putting one foot in front of the other a little faster (or at least what felt like faster). I saw my Dad standing by the railing next to the track and the finish line. I waved to him the second I saw him and he cheered for me as I crossed the finish. My watch said the final distance was 12.98 instead of 13.1, but I really didn’t care. Even if I had gone the full distance, it would have been a PR. And I didn’t take any long walking breaks for the first time in running a half marathon.

Mile 13 (or last .98): 10:42.

Official race time: 2:18:56
Official average pace: 10:36 (This is wrong because of the shortened distance. Based on the distance I actually ran, my average pace was about 10:43 or so, including the extra 10 or so seconds on my watch when I forgot to hit the stop button at the end.)

Of the 222 finishers, I finished 132nd. And 12th out of 21 in my age group. Very middle of the pack. I think I underestimated the running crowd in this neck of the woods. There were a lot of strong runners in this race.

I got the biggest medal ever and then spent the rest of the day relaxing, eating and watching college football.

Sunday: Cross training. My cross training basically involved all the walking I did to get to the Redskins game. Walking from my apartment to the Metro, from the Metro to the stadium, all over the stadium, and then back again. And I did several 12 ounce curls.

Now on to week 13. Morning temperatures look spectacular this week. And I have to brace myself for 18 miles on Saturday. But if I can just make it through the next three weeks, then it’s on to taper time!