Adjusted Reality

“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” – Mark Twain

Tag: halfmarathon

The Woodlands Half Marathon: It Happened

I almost don’t feel like writing this, because it really just felt like a nice long run to engage my metabolism to make the first couple days of cruise eating a little less damaging to the waistline.  But, a race is a race, and a recap we will have.  Same with goofy pictures.  It’s tradition.  This is why you’re all here, right? 🙂


Typically, I try to baby myself with rest, recovery, all the right foods at all the right times, but this day just didn’t work out so well.  The night before the night before saw us packing and up until about 2 am when we had to be up at 6:30, and we had some wine.  Like, a decent amount.  Typically this is a huge NONO for us race week, but we were stressed, we broke down, and even if not the best physical decision it was a good mental one.

Then, we ended up driving and picking up packets and getting to dinner around 8pm and I was STARRRRRVED.  I had so much bread, all the pasta, salad, and I KNEW it was a gamble being so late, but I also knew going to bed starving was a gamble so I indulged.  Then, we had a hotel snafu – we were booked in the SOUTH location, not the north, so the nice 1.7 mile walk to the start line?  Not so much.  Oh well.

The good news was being so tired, I slept well in spite of eating late, hotel stress, and everything else, and woke up feeling fairly decent.   My hair, however, was a different story.


I did the normal morning things (poop, half a starbux mocha, half a bar, etc etc) and got to the start line feeling… there.  Earlier in the week, it had called for about 45 and I was thinking “ok, more PR weather, I’ll give it a go”, but I showed up to high 60s/low 70s, and 100% humidity (which is a weird state of weather where it’s not raining, but you can see water in the air – bizaaaaare).  Between where I was at and where the weather was at, I decided that “go out fast, hang on” was not going to be a good strategy today.

I decided to institute two goals:

1. Stay in the moment.  Often I sabotage a race by focusing on how far I have left to go, so I wanted to just think about the mile, the song, the moment I was in.

2. Negative split.  I didn’t feel like I had the juice to rock the whole race, but I wanted to try and put the hurt on the back half of the course.


Zliten and I started together, and I just attempted to run a smidge beyond comfortable.  I also rocked out to my tunes and had karaoke party, and was having way too much fun.  I think Zliten thought I was a little nuts (I was galloping to Dark Horse and dancing to What the Fox Say?).  We ping ponged back and forth a bit, and he took off like a bullet up a hill around mile 3 and I lost him.

I also switched my handheld to the other side around there for a break and ca-thunk… my mid back (which usually gives me no issues) decided to erupt in a ball of pain.  I started thinking “OMG 10 miles of this?” and then remembered goal 1.  I changed my thinking “ok, mile 3-4, figure out what the back problem is and fix it”.  I switched my handheld back to my right hand, and stretched out a bit and it didn’t feel *fine* but it felt *better* and *tolerable*, aka, no permanent damage, I was just going to be a little sore for a day or 2 after.

Zliten was wearing a green top and for some reason half the race was, so I kept fishing for people wearing green and came up dry.  I was not yet at the point where I wanted to turn on the heat though, so I kept running that fast/comfortable pace, not worrying about my watch.  I kept setting goals each mile to focus on which kept me amused and not flailing, though it does seem like a mile in the Woodlands is longer than a mile in Austin.

I had decided that I was going to run the first half easy, and then at mile 6.5 hit it hard.  I hit 6.5, my power song came on, and I kicked it down to ~9:30 to see how it felt.  I held that for about half a mile until I realized I hadn’t had any gels/chews, and only some of my gatorade, so I did that… and then my stomach REVOLTED.  I almost had to find a tree.  The feeling came and went, so I never actually dropped the kids at the pool, but I really thought I might be in trouble at some points.  I never found porta potty without a line, and didn’t think that this late in the game relieving myself would equate to a time gain, so I dealt with it.

Considering I had half a gatorade and two 10 calorie chews, and I was pushing as hard as possible through some severe GI distress, there was no way anything else was going in there.  I even tried water around mile 9, and paid dearly.  So, I decided that I would just ride it out sans calories, and see where the bonk happened.

It happened at mile 11.  It felt like quicksand.  And instead of getting stressed about it, I just decided to have fun.  I got two strings of beads.  I high fived kids.  I hit the *POW* signs.  I saw my pace drop back into the 10s and 11s even at times, and that was fine.  I ran as hard as I could, but I didn’t stress.  Finally, the end of the race came, I hit the finish, and found Zliten.

He PR’d like a mofo – 2:11.  This race (hot, hills, humid) was his jam.  Not mine.  I immediately got my medal and two full waters (so dehydrated, and now I could shit my shorts if I had to), and did the stupid line shuffle for finisher shirts.  Dear race organizers – after a race I want my medal, WATER, GATORADE, and FOOD in that order, and then after that, I’ll take care of any other bullshit like lines for shirts.  Don’t make me wait 20 mins post race for my shirt before I can get calories in.  I seriously made Zliten wait in line and I curled up on the grass.


Got my shirt, and was a little disappointed that the guys were AWESOME BLUE and the women’s were WHITE.  Bleh.  We went to the beer tent and I forced down a beer curled up in a fetal position because the food line was so long and at least it was calories.  Then, I found some porta potties and it was a fine line between horrifying (me) and beautiful (the relief I felt).  I can NEVER poo right after a race, sometimes it’s a whole day, so something DEFINITELY was afoot at the circle P.

The result: 2:19:34 for 13.21 miles.  While I’m not overjoyed about the result, and I definitely didn’t have a good race, I’ll take 2:19 for not-a-good race.  I know I would have been capable of better on a different day where my stomach cooperated and I could have gotten in calories and it was just me vs the road and how much I could push myself.

This was also good fortitude training for tris – the run part is very hit or miss for me, especially with how I feel, and I was able to work through a good amount of distress without slowing too much or walking.  I definitely didn’t negative split, but I did keep myself in the moment, so one out of two isn’t bad.  Also, I got to go here immediately after – so I had zero complaints.


I have the Fairview Half Marathon in 3 weeks, and Austin 10/20 the week after, so I’ll have two more cracks at a really stellar double digit run pace.  The next three weeks will be pretty high run volume, so I’ll either come into those feeling awesome and capable, or burnt or tired.  Neither are my A race, so we’ll just see how the legs show up!

February Fun Times

Just wanted to start this with proof that I actually look nice once in a while and don’t always wear spandex or funny t-shirts…


February is one of those transitional months.  March is a GREAT GREAT month due to birthdays, usually better weather, fun stuff, first metric of the season (Rosedale) which means I have to motivate myself to ride outside at least few times in preparation, and it’s usually just the start of the best part of the year (read: everything but Jan and Feb, really, minus a few whiny moments in August to get over the 100 degree temps).  While January is just a whole lot of depressing suck, February there is at least light at the end of the tunnel.  Helps that we’ve had some awesome, although unpredictable weather.

Also, there was no racing in February.  It was kind of nice!  I mean, I’m racing on March 1, so it’s close, but I’ve had 5 weeks and 6 days of just train and build, train and build, and it’s been great. I find I really figure things out a few weeks into a block, and if I’m racing too often I miss that “learn, push myself, recover, and grow” part of training where I can do it in a less judgmental place.

I may be the ONLY person in the world that gets excited about trainer rides, but I love them, and I’ll top 400 miles on my bike JUST in February (how’s that for bike focus), and with 200+ in January when I really wasn’t trying, I’m pretty happy with butt in saddle time in 2014 thus far.

I’ve been keeping up with the swimming longer and doing focused sets and it seems alright – I’m posting slightly slower times overall, but I suppose that makes sense when I am swimming twice as long (if I could hold that 8:50-ish pace I can hold for 5 miles for 10 miles I would have a HUGE PR but I can’t, not yet) and also taking rest during sets as prescribed.  I haven’t felt any major breakthroughs, except the one in which Zliten actually likes spending an hour at the pool, so I’ll take that one, it will pay divedends.  I’m looking forward to hopefully getting some (a wee bit chilly but that’s why I have a wetsuit) open water time next month.

Running – yeah.  She’s an unpredictable mistress.  I’m looking at about 75 miles this month.  MUCH better than Januray, as expected.  I’ve alternated between 4 shorter runs (~5 miles) and 3 with one longer run, but ramping up after the half has gone slower than I’d like, oddly enough, you can’t just add swim and bike volume and expect to adapt immediately.

I seem to have maintained my run gains for the most part, though its changes day to day.  My standalone 10 miler earlier in February was like UGGGGHHH to keep 10:45s, and my post bike 9 miler last weekend felt like prancercise to stay around 10:30s (both flat courses on nice overcast temperate days).  Next month, I aim to ramp back up in miles to ~30+ per week (it’s run month).  I responded really, really well to higher mileage with appropriate rest in the fall, let’s see how that goes with more swim/bike mixed in.

My body has been in decent shape.  I tweaked my back once, but that resolved itself in just over a week (and I got a great swim focus week so there’s that).  My heel seems to be doing weird things – it’s touchy but if I take care of it I’m doing just fine. Lately, I need a 1 mile or so warmup to get going faster paces, which is probably a GOOD THING anyway.

I am definitely playing the shoe shell game.  It seems as if a week+ of wearing my hokas straight triggers heel ouchies.  Sads.  I love my clouds.  They feel great sometimes and not others.  I’m going to work on alternating them with other shoes, but I don’t think they’re my one go-to shoe.  I’m not sure if my new Asics are wonderful or horrible (I have only put ~25 miles on them), but my old shoes I did the marathon in (that are not QUITE defunct yet) seem to be a safe middle ground right now, so I’m wearing those as well on days I feel vulnerable.  My heel feels excellent walking around on these new massaging sandals, so I bought them and am doing that.  Icing it also feels nice.  I’m going to race in the old Sauconys tomorrow, and hope the rest week next week works its magic.

Not much progress on the scale, but it feel like my shirts are getting larger in the waist and smaller in the shoulders, as they tend to do as I ramp up for tri season.  It’s weird, I only fluctuate about 5 lbs total between my OMG I’m so bloated and my “not bad, not bad” weight right now, but it’s like night and day to me how I feel at 175 and at 180.  So bizarre.

And now onto ALL THE COOL THINGS from February:


I swam the longest I ever have in the pool (I had it all to myself and I just forgot to get out) and then ate delicious pizza.


I actually participated in Superbowl Festivities this year (go sports! win the things!), with some DIE HARD Broncos fans.  While it didn’t end well, their house was SUPER festive and it was fun.


I got to game again!  We finished the session (I lost my chicken pet to a sub-machine gun… SADS) after taking over a dirigible and found our portal in the arc d’triumph in Paris.  Now, next session it’s my turn to tell the story.  Of course, I picked something ambitious and scary and hard but its what called to me, so look forward to that in March. 🙂


We celebrated Valentine’s day.  It’s funny, we called everything over the long weekend was “romantical!”.  This was my romantical shirt, and I made romantical caesar salad and romantical arugula and cheese ravioli.  I even put a heart on it because I am teh cheesy.


Aieeeee bike ride outside!  I am a wimp and skipped two planned outdoor days earlier this month due to cold or wind, but this day was perfect and it was a great 43 miles around the veloway with a great brick run after.


Zliten’s meal for me was romantical filet mignon, lobster, cauliflower, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts on the grill.  It was a great weekend of eating.  First, though, we got our cheer on for the Austin Marathon with our cheer hats, handing out bananas around mile 18.  I think I prefer cheering that one instead of racing it, but maybe I’ll do the full some year.


President’s Day, we were treated to a great sunset, and I saw it as we came out of our romantical (read: ouchie) massages at the Beijing Massage place.  Also, who put Pinocchio’s nose on me? 🙂


I finally got into Birds (yep, procrastinated again and ended up at the walk-in place instead of supporting my awesome friends of friends who do hair, oops) for my yearly shearing.  And…uh… it’s kind of short.  But it’s super low maintenance, and will be rather nice instead of dragging around almost a foot more of sweaty mop through two-a-days. (Upper left, before, upper right, day of, lower left, day after, lower right – sweated and showered in and looking more like my normal fro.


Wicked!!! This was one of my Christmas presents to Zliten (and to me, of course :D).  We got some yummy greek food first, and then settled in.  The show was FANTASTIC.  We both loved it.  I forgot that Broadway shows usually run ~3 hours, and we were shocked by the 11pm conclusion.  Made getting up the next day hard – I’d say we’re old, but really, we’re just triathletes.

And, that’s pretty much a wrap for February fun times.  March should be pretty legendary, so onward and upward!

What was your favorite thing you did in February?

The Messy Middle

I guess I race this weekend.   Just the way I said it shows you how I feel about it. I’m ranging between mild apathy to mild excitement but there’s no talk around here about meeting the man with the hammer, or race plans, or nervous energy.  Just silly faces.


Folks, we’re quickly approaching what I like to call the “messy middle” of the first half of my triathlon season.  First comes the embarking on the quest – the first week or three of checking the boxes and being all smug that they’re all green, and it’s new and fresh to be putting in the miles and two-a-days and three-a-days and feeling that deep fatigue of training on a tired body and smiling because it’s been a while.  The return to being a fish in the water and swimming for a reason besides “do something for crosstraining and so you don’t forget how to swim”.  Climbing hills on my bike, whether it be outdoor ones or slamming the resistance down to max on the trainer, and seeing the bike miles in the hundreds instead of the tens for the week tally.

The end of the season is another animal.  Finally coming out of the haze and exhaustion of months of hard training and lots of miles.  Having that A race within spitting distance, close enough to get excited, close enough to get butterflies, close enough to start visualizing yourself on that line and imagining how it will be that day.  You are standing tall, with your bike, your goggles, your shoes, perched on top of your training logs, standing with those super fit legs from all those early morning spin sessions, two mile swims that make you leave the gym just as they’re closing, runs off the bike that make you dig for the rest of what you have…. and you’re ready to kick some major A race ASS.

Somewhere in between there – the newness of the “I’m following a plan again for all three sports and it’s awesome and triathlon is awesome” wears off, and it’s not yet time to start getting geeked up to toe the line in a useful way, and thus – the messy middle.

I’m quickly finding myself there after the first big training block.  It went REALLY well, it was fun to be back at all 3 sports, but I really felt it last week – tired both in the body and soul.  I had moments where I just wanted to get off the rollercoaster and let it pass by.  It took some major revisions to the plan to make this week work – and there will still be a yellow (did something, but not as planned) and a red box for the week (one modified run to a bike care of ouchy heel, and one skipped swim because of sanity reasons).  I didn’t plan well, because I had 8.5 hours on the plan, and one skipped session = 9.5 actual, so it probably worked out for the best.  Because you have to be adaptable.

Adhering to a schedule that I wrote 6 weeks ago through hellfire and brimstone is just crazypants if it doesn’t make sense.  Being self coached and writing my own training plans means I go through a lot of “the fuck was I thinking” moments later in the season and I have to adjust.  Right now, I’ve learned that after a big block, including the most hours you’ve ever trained in one week in your life – your body is going to have a mind of it’s own and force you to dial it down a notch whether you were hoping to eek out another 2 weeks of volume or not.

It’s not a failure to adjust (and maybe you all know this but I need to remind myself this).  It’s all about figuring out what the spirit of the week’s plan was and try to keep that going.  For example, this week was about the return to running more + speedwork – in time to get the legs sharper for this half marathon race I signed up for next weekend.  My body said NOPE on the more run miles, but was (a bit reluctantly) handling speed a-ok, so I rolled with it and did a lot of speed sessions where it made sense (and once where it didn’t – oops on run speedwork AM + heavy weights and swim speedwork PM – I slept well THAT night).

But circling back to this weekend… this race on Saturday is not an A race – I’m not even training specifically for it, besides the half-hearted attempt for 2 weeks of run focus that isn’t working out so well, or tapering for it.  I suppose you can call an 8 hour week reduction, but much more than I’d normally do on a taper.  I am going to run it hard (not as just a training run), but I won’t be disappointed at coming up short on PR attempt number 2.  Reaching for 2:07 is all that is required that day – whether I touch it and grab it or not is irrelevant.

My entire strategy is:

A) Show up

B) See what happens

Sure, I will probably go out around 9:30s, but maybe I will not, because it seems like my body needs a bit of a warmup lately, and that seems to pay speed dividends later.  I’ve had almost 11s feel hard and 9:20s feel easy on runs lately under similar conditions, so it really depends on which legs decide to come to the party.  I’ve even considered ditching the garmin, and following a pace group, or maybe just running completely by feels.  It’s all up in the air and I’ll make the call around 6:59am Saturday, most likely.

Either way, it kicks off a rest week, and heaven knows I am so very ready for a true one of those right now.  After mad sleep and not too much crazy this weekend, I’m ready to get through one last week of all of it, and give some fast running a go, if nothing else but a judge of where my fitness is right now.

The results blog will be a little delayed due to circumstances beyond my control, so if you are on the EDGE OF YOUR SEAT to find out how I do (which you shouldn’t be, because I’m really not, but hey…), you can follow me on twitter – @quixotique

3M – The Middle

There are some race reports where I’m excited to tell you how I just flew and exceeded all expectations.  There are some where I am ashamed to come and tell you that I totally crashed and burned, or lost it. And the latter includes all the bets I lost after having carried out a pointsbet sign up.

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This is not either of those reports.

Sunday was a good solid effort, that pretty typically represented my current fitness and how my training had gone.  And really, that’s all you can really ask for.  You can hope for some race day magic, but that’s what it is – magic.  Magic does not come when called.  Magic is elusive and wily and shows up when least expected.

Magic did not show up that day, but my brain did, so you’ll have that.  Below, as they say, is the rest of the story.

Day before/pre race:

I got all my errands done last week, so we pretty much got to relax all day Saturday.  It was nice!  I spent most of the day off my feet, we went to see Frozen (which was suuuuuper cute btw), and I climbed into bed early and fell asleep quickly.

Then, I woke up about an hour later with MAD allergy issues.  My nose was whistling, my eyes itched, and sleeping was not happening.  It was too late to really take anything without jeopardizing dragging ass at the race, so I stayed up and read my book for a while, and finally fell asleep a little before 1 in the guest room (so I wouldn’t wake Zliten).

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The alarm came bright and early at 4:45, but I didn’t feel so bad.  The hours I got were pretty solid.  I did the normal half a starbucks and half a cliff bar.  I poo’d and tinkered and we got to the race with plenty of time to park, potty, go back and huddle in the car for a while, potty again, and then line up about 10 mins to race start.

I had some major wardrobe indecision, but I ended up:

a) wearing the Hokas – which was an incredible decision

b) wearing my thin windbreaker jacket and a tank top – which was not the best decision, more below on both…

I tucked in around the 2:05 pace group, and suddenly, we were off!

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Mile 1-5 (9:34, 9:28, 9:35, 9:30, 9:33)

As soon as we started running, I had random heel pain on my left foot.  Uh, WTF?  This is not anything I’ve had to deal with lately.  I’m so over my body feeling different on race day than it does normally, that’s something I need to figure out.

I kept with the pace group, and noted that it was constant, but not debilitating, and my choices were to keep pace or drop out of the race, because going slower wasn’t making any difference, it’s the same amount of steps to the finish line.

Really, in this section, I was just enjoying the run.  Besides what could potentially be a ticking time bomb in my left shoe, I felt pretty good, so I just rolled with the pace group at that fast comfortable place where you feel like you’re working but not working hard.

Mile 6-8 (9:44, 9:44, 9:51)

I lost the pace group around here, they were running a little faster than 9:30s, and I started running a little slower.  The heel pain was starting to affect my stride and we (left this from the first revision, because obviously my mind and body started to separate around here…) worked through a lot of other weird niggles because of it.  Right knee, check.  Ankle, check.  Left knee, check.  All present and acc-owww-nted for.

Somewhere in here are usually my low miles in a half distance race or run, but looking back, I didn’t get too down.  I never gave up.  At one point my head started going south, and Bad Habit (Offspring) came on and I’m glad I loaded it in there, because it picked me up and I ate some chews and didn’t have too many other head issues.  I knew around mile 7 that I would have to fight even for just a PR, and I was prepared to keep my head in the game, and continue on in that proverbial boxing ring.  Marathon training really helped/warped me, as I kept ticking away surprisingly low amounts of time til I was done running (holy crap, only an hour left at 7 miles, etc).

As freezing as I was at the race start in what I was wearing, I had to peel my jacket off and run in just a tank top.  My jacket didn’t want to stay situated around my waist in the back, and I got sick of adjusting it so I just ran with it in front like a skirt.  It was not optimal.  In retrospect, a tee, sleeves, and a garbage bag or throw away clothes would have been a better option, though the jacket has been perfect for a sunny day in the high 40s – low 50s previously.  I guess running a little faster makes you hotter?  I haven’t run a cold race in a while so I’m out of practice here, I’m used to managing heatstroke, not windchill.

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Mile 9-13.1 (10:08, 10:39, 10:18, 9:58, 9:46, 1:42 – last .24 at 9:50 PACE)

Mile 9-10 is where things start to go up a bit (pace and elevation).  Nothing crazy, mind you, but after the majority of the race being a nice gradual decline in elevation, it feels like a mountain.  I was no longer having fun.  My foot hurt.  My legs felt weird and stompy because my gait was so off.  I would blame my legs feeling so heavy on my hokas, but there is ZERO possibility I could have gotten through this race in another shoe with the heel pain, so I was thanking my lucky stars I went with them.

I lost my PR battle in miles 9, 10, and 11, where I retreated to 10+ minute miles.  I know this now, but it was close enough that I kept fighting.  Mile 12 I picked it back up to sub-10, and same with mile 13.  I’m pretty sure race directors cackle and smile evilly when planning courses, because so dang many of them finish UPHILL, and this was no exception.

I had no kick.  There was nothing left, and that’s not normal for me.  As you can see, my last mile was about 9:46 and my .24 (not a stellar running-the-tangents race) was 9:50 average.  My C goal was to give this race my all, and that proves I did.  I came through at 2:10:02.

Post race:

I shuffled along, picked up items to replenish my calories (gatorade, two clementines, bag of chips) and then waited for the rest of the gang.  And waited.  And waited.

Finally around 2:30, I started to walk over to the med tent to see if something happened.  On the way, they all found me.  Apparently they finished just a minute or two after me and I must have missed them in the shuffle.  We got a ride back to our car, got home, had some champagne, and enjoyed our sore muscle Sunday.



I figure there are two ways I could look at this race….

a) I failed because I didn’t get a PR or beat 2:05 or sub 2 or even take 3 frakking seconds off and come in at 2:09:xx

b) I did good because I ran a similar level of effort (let’s face it, less than 2 minutes isn’t all that much in 13.1 miles, its roughly 8 seconds per mile) than the best I’ve ever done.

I’m going with option B.  Doesn’t mean I’m not hungry to improve and/or really nail a race, but it means that I’m on a path that’s got me within spitting distance.  The ultimate goal is to NOT choke on the half marathons that come after a long bike ride, and being able to 2:10 in a standalone half this early in the year means great things for that.

I’m really happy with how my head handled things through the race.  I kept fighting.  I never gave up.  I kept the effort as high as I could go without redlining.  I never took my foot off the gas (it may have eased up just a bit a few times, but not for long).

I am disappointed with my body.  I mean, seriously, I did NOTHING to my heel and it just started hurting at mile 1, and it’s fine now (pretty much, it was fine as soon as I stopped running).  The marathon happened just like that too (but with my ankle, a different annoying body part).  As I said before, I’m tired of my body seeming to fall apart on race day at the beginning.  I might have to look at my taper and do some experiments with doing MORE that week.  It’s no use feeling rested if random bad juju is going to explode all over me anyway.  I’m typically able to get through this distance with either gatorade OR one dose of sugar, so both is a treat.

I felt like my nutrition was fine.  I had ~200 calories before the race, 120 calories of gatorade during in my handheld, and 100 calories of chews (half at mile 6, half at mile 9).  I got a little boost from the chews, and perhaps next time I’ll experiment with a few more chews, but I always pay a small price with solid food = upset stomach (the chews are the mildest and tolerable, but still).  I usually take in a little more gatorade but the aid stations were SUPER crowded so I figured the momentum was worth more than the fuel.

Overall, I had a pretty rocky training block.  I got sick, the holidays happened, and if I’m being honest with myself, I think I lost a little motivation near the end.  I could not regularly hit my paces outside, and since I didn’t race on a treadmill, I did not hit them in the race.

It wasn’t all for naught.  I ran a sub-10 min mile pace in a double digit race, which I’ve only done two other times.  Of the 11 times I’ve run a half marathon in a race, this is the second fastest, and I’m doing it a month and a half out from a marathon and after a totally disastrous 2013 season of running.  I rekindled my love for speedwork in a major way (and learned to not totally hate and fear tempos), and I’m faster than I was a month ago, even if most of that speed really came from my head, rather than fitness improvements.

This week I’m taking a rest (my body is surprisingly wrecked from that short of a race), and not doing much structured training (easy swim/bike/run only as motivation dictates), and next week I’ll dive into the first block of my triathlon training – which is bike focused.  I’m ready for the shift.

I am planning on two more half marathons this spring.  I’m not specifically training for them, but it will be a fun experiment how adding swimming and biking (and really maintaining the same amount of run miles) will affect my half times.

T Minus 5

3M approaches, quicker than I’d like, actually, as I forgot how much work it takes to run fast.  It’s easy to equate longer distances and more hours as work, but ~20 hours a week of runs, less than 3.5 hours of actual running work, sounds like playtime to my ears.  Something fun to occupy my time during that weird time between the marathon and actual tri training starting, when I’m not  ready to succumb to the offseason, I thought this endeavor would be.


But I haven’t done the “every mile COUNTS” type plan in years, and I remember now that those ~20 miles, they are enough.  I’m fortunate to absolutely <3 speedwork in the form of 3×1600, 8×400, etc at some crazy fast pace.  This is fun to me.  I have no idea why I stopped doing these workouts, but never ever again.

I do remember why I gave up weekly tempo and faster long runs.  They hurt, without much relief.  When you’re in pain on mile 3 of 10 trying to run a pace you haven’t hit in 3 years, there’s not much light at the end of the tunnel.  When you’re pretty much weekly attempting to PR your 5 mile run time, it’s a far cry from those lovely jaunts outside just to get some miles in.  However, as they say, and I paraphrase, what’s hard is what will make you better in the long run, so I will suffer through them today so maybe when I toe the line Sunday, I’ll have a few extra ounces of toughness I can draw upon.

I am definitely in the Goldilocks situation though here with running.  The “no-speedwork and no specific goal besides miles” plan earlier this year was too cold.  The “every mile is calculated out to an exact specific goal pace” is too hot.  I need something that’s just right – a mix between specific goal paces/tough workouts, and sessions that are “just go run 10 happy fun miles easy”.

This year will be about figuring out the balance.  I know the ratio is supposed to be 80 easy/20 hard, but you also need to have enough volume to make that work, which right now, we don’t, so I think there is something to rotating between sports, setting one at maintenance levels (right now, swimming), one working towards distance (right now, bike, sort of), and one working towards speed (right now, run).  It seems to be working thus far, as I am a WAY better runner than I was 4 months ago, and I know I’ve lost just a little in the pool and on the bike, things that seem (and I hope very much) will come back quickly, slower than the nice winter base of running (and running fast) fades.

But, bringing it around to what happens this weekend, my first race of 2014 is a half marathon.  A downhill half marathon, in what looks like to be just about stupid perfect temperatures (45 degrees, cloudy but no rain, not much wind). If I was hitting my workouts perfectly, training for a sub-2, this would be the half marathon in which to do it.

However, my training has not been perfect.  I missed or had to downgrade quite a few runs because I was sick and/or holiday stuff.  I’ve only done two 10 mile runs, and neither of them were at the 9:40 min/miles that is supposed to be my long run pace for a sub-2.  I’ve missed a few runs.  However, the silver lining is I’ve been able to attack a 5 mile tempo each week @ 8:55 pace or below.  I’ve hit every speedwork session on the money.  It’s just when I have to move the belt myself, aka, outside and not on the treadmill, is when I choke.  I can’t quite remember the pace without my mechanical friend.


And I’m out of time.  What I was hoping would be 1-2 tempos on the treadmill and my legs would remember the paces outside just didn’t pan out, because magic doesn’t always happen in a short training cycle in which you catch the plague and get distracted by the holidays.  What I cannot sneeze at is that I have seen some major improvements, and if you would have told tri-season ’13 me that I’d be running around 10 min/mile pace regularly outside and not dying, I would have giggled with glee.  But I’m somewhere between that “most improved kid, fall 2013” and “ready to run my sub-2”.

The man with the hammer seems to have missed me on the treadmill, but has caught me about mile 3-4 on most of my outdoor runs.

So with that in mind, what’s the plan?

The good news is my body has been telling me pretty early how it feels on runs, and 13 miles isn’t terribly long to me right now – it’s the paces that are killing me right now, not the miles, my legs are absorbing those just fine.  Even accounting for some race day happy puppy, I don’t think I’ll start out too quick, and most runs, the last few miles have been the best.  Also, my body’s felt pretty rough the last 2-3 weeks due to holiday sludge, which is not a silver lining in and of itself, but it won’t be a shock if the whole run sucks, like it was at the marathon.

The plan is to start out at 9:30 pace, and hold that for the first 3 miles, no matter how awful or easy it is.  From there, I’ll figure it out.  If I can hold that 9:30, I can come in around 2:05, which is a nice 3+ minute PR (which was 3.5 years ago and about 15 lbs less, so you’ll have that).  I need to maintain at least a 9:40 average overall (that fateful 9:40 pace I have not been able yet to conquer) to PR with some time to spare.  I’ll need to pick it up to about 9:05s to sub-2.

I intended to go completely balls out into this race, but I’m not sure my training and body condition supports that.  However, I don’t want to risk having the day of my life and sandbagging it, so I think this plan strikes a good middle balance.

I’m also having trouble with the wardrobe choices – mostly the shoes.  I ran one week with the hokas, and one week with the Asics.  The Hokas feel like wonderful little trampolines, and my feet feel cuddled, protected, and I’m not feeling like I am being held back by them (I ran speedwork, a tempo, and two outdoor 6ers).  The Asics do feel sexy, light, and extremely comfortable, but my heel was aching a bit by mile 9 of the outdoor run.  Hokas, I know I’ll be comfortable the entire time, but I don’t have enough experience in either of them to know what I’ll feel like at the end, or if racing in the Hokas will leave some speed on the table.  I’m still not sure yet.

The other factors in what sort of a day I might have is allergies (I was knocked out Saturday, and better this week, but still experiencing symptoms).   I’m planning not to spend much time outside this week, but cedar is supposed to be killer and not letting up for a while.  Also, nutrition.  I’m still working my way through detoxing all the holiday junk out of my body, and I’m hoping 2 weeks of being a good little girl is enough to feel like myself on race day.

I haven’t had the stars align to have a better-than-expected race in quite a while, so I’ll totally take it if it comes my way, but I’m also ready to fight for just squeaking by with a PR and suffering the entire time.  T minus 5 until I toe the line and face that evil, nasty man with the hammer.

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