Last night we headed out to do the dreaded hills at the Antietam Battlefield. These are the exact hills we will be running at our Half, so it’s nice to see them face to face before the actual race. I have to admit that I was terrified of these hills the first time we did the course drive and saw them. I thought “I’m never going to be able to do this” and it kind of gave me some bad juju about the race itself. So before we headed out last night I took a powerbar energy chew thing in hopes that this might help me. Luckily the weather was cooler than the last time we were at the battlefield. There is obviously no shade there so when the sun is beating down it can be awfully unpleasant. We parked over by the lookout tower and ended up running a one mile stretch from there containing some of the nastiest hills in the race. We ran that one mile stretch 4 times. The first mile (going out) was pretty good. When I looked down at my Garmin at the end of that mile we were doing just as well as we normally do on flat terrain. We logged the first mile in about 11:35. Running the second mile (coming back) seemed to go pretty quickly too until we reached the hill I dubbed “pudding hill”. The hill is so steep you have look down at your feet to assure yourself you are still moving and not just on a stair climber. It’s very steep and very long. Not a good combination. We still finished the second mile at 23 minutes. After this I really can’t give much of a breakdown as I really started to focus on making it up the hills (“little tiny baby steps” I had to keep telling myself) and not blowing out my knees coming back down the hills. All I know from that point is that we finished at 48:19 and I wanted to throw up. I really pushed my body out of its comfort zone last night and you know what? I survived. Last night’s run may have been the most important run I’ve had since I’ve started training for this race. I saw that I CAN run hills. I ran 4 miles of hills without stopping and I’ll do it again and again over the next 6 weeks of training. I’ll finish this race and hopefully without stopping if it’s the last thing I do.
Running running running. That’s all I’ve been doing lately. Honestly, I’m a little burned out on it. This is the first week that our schedule has really had to be tweaked because of our trip to Indianapolis next week. As a result, this week called for 5 days of running. Because we missed a 4 mile run at the end of last week, I decided to tack it on this week so that we would not miss any mileage. We had already run four miles on Monday and last night called for another four, and tonight is ANOTHER four as well. That’s not including the eight we have to run on Friday night and yet another four miler on Saturday. The more I sat at work and thought about it, the more I knew I couldn’t bring myself to come home, eat dinner, lace up and head out for another run. I needed a break. Running has started to feel more like a job or a chore. That pesky little task that must be completed before you can do anything else with your evening (or what’s left of it). I don’t want to feel that way about running, because I love it.
Our training plan originally was a five day a week plan and I changed it to four for the exact reason that I could not run five days a week. It’s too much. To be perfectly honest, this is why I never used to run races. It’s too much official training. It’s too much to put on myself, and I’ve got no one to blame but myself when I don’t get it done. Unfortunately, I’ve fallen in love with the 13.1 distance in just one race, and I want to go back and improve, but this race in October was not the race to improve on. I should have done my research. Perhaps that’s why I’m feeling “blah” about running. I almost know that I’m probably going to do worse on this race, than a race with no training and something about that bothers me. Why do more work for a crappier time? While I know that that is NOT the attitude to have because it’s not really true, that’s what my brain is telling me. It’s also been told to me by a couple of my running friends on Twitter that a mid training burn out is very common. So last night we took a night off. We went and hit golf balls at the driving range which, by the way, I’m going to argue is just much exercise as running! We also got to do some errands and while I was out I bought myself two new pairs of running shorts.
Today though is another story. Back on the hampster wheel we go tonight for a hilly four mile run at the battlefield. I’m actually ready to tackle these hills. I know I can do it. It really is just mind over matter, and I need to prove that to myself so that I can turn around how I’m feeling about this race. Maybe I can do better.. even if it’s only that I RUN the entire race, I will see that as an accomplishment. I guess only time will tell. Only 45 more days!!
It’s been a few days since I’ve been able to get the time to log in and write! I can’t even remember where I’ve left off.
On Thursday 8/11 we headed off to the canal again for a 4 miler. After the horrible run I mentioned in my last blog, this run went absolutely perfect. I had no sore muscles, no breathing problems, no nagging heat to worry with, and most importantly no running attitude problems. We ran the fastest average pace we’ve ran so far at 11:09 and finished the run in 44 minutes. I felt great after this run. I remember wishing I could bottle that feeling and use it on specific runs where it would be nice to feel that way when I’m finished.
The next night (which was normally an off night) we ran 8 miles. Our schedule gets a little screwy in the next couple weeks because of vacations. Next week we’ll be camping in Indy for the Motorcycle races and won’t really have access to showers so we’ve decided not to run while there. Therefore next week before we leave we have 4 days in a row of running followed by 3 OFF days. I’m sure we’ll need them. Anyway… we headed back out to the canal to do our 8 miler. This is my boyfriends first time doing 8 miles, not mine though. It’s funny. Eight miles the signature distance where I finally start to feel like a distance runner again. I don’t know what is so different from seven miles to eight, but eight and up I really start to feel more amazing about being able to complete my runs. Before heading out for this run, we ate some energy chews. I believe I ate mine too late because I didn’t really feel the kick until the second half of the run. The first four miles flew by kind of effortlessly. I like to keep a slow steady pace for awhile in the beginning as not to tack away at the energy I have stored. I remember when I did 8 milers on my own, they felt like forever just to get to the halfway point and probably because I wasn’t fueling properly. The second half of the run was a different story. My middle of the road “minimalist” shoes were starting to feel VERY minimal as I could feel every little stone with each step. It became increasingly more annoying until it was all I could think about. We got to the six mile mark 6 minutes faster than our last six mile run. We were really picking the pace up. There was part of me that knew we picked it up to soon, but I didn’t feel like it was to unattainable so I kept at it. Coming in the home stretch of the run we were really cruising. The garmin logged our fastest pace at a 7 something minute mile, which for me is impressive after such a long run. I never used to pick up the pace when I ran alone. Why? I’m not really sure. I’m pretty sure I’ve told myself to many times that I’m not fast, so why bother? Or maybe I really thought that I had no energy at the end to sprint it out. Either way, I want to start increasing miles at the end of the run that I pick it up and start running faster. We finished in 1:33 which is only 3 minutes slower that my fastest ever 8 mile run. I really think with practice we can break 1:30.
We had off on Saturday and yesterday we were supposed to run but we headed to Lake Tobias for a day with family and were just plain out of time when we got back. We are going to run that 4 miles tonight to make up for it. We have a 24 mile week ahead of us and it doesn’t even seem intimidating. I’m so glad I finally broke out of my post first half marathon laziness and got back into it. My knee has been feeling good which always makes me happy. I think I can finally abandon the thoughts of runners knee creeping in. We’ve been running for 6 weeks and my knee only seems to be feeling better.
It’s hard to believe it’s only 47 days until Race day! We still have to practice more hills hills hills. That will be more prominent in the next 6 weeks! Stay tuned!
It just hit me today that I’m definitely already more nervous for this second half marathon than I was for my first one. I guess this is because my first one was such a crap shoot because I was not trained for it. Just by finishing I did better than I expected. Now this race, this race I’m actually training for and been putting in plenty of time running. I realized that I’d set some very high expectations for myself for this race before I ever saw the course. I wanted a time of 2:25, which after seeing these hills I’m starting to doubt. I also wanted to not walk at all in this race. Again… the hills. I’ve felt a change of heart about this half creeping in. I’ve been more dreading it because I know I’ve set myself up for disappointment. Last night I had to take a mental step back and look at the big picture. I may not make my goal time, and I may have to walk some, but 13.1 is still 13.1 no matter how fast I do it. I’m still going to be proud as hell of myself for completeing this race. No guts No glory, right? In other news my knee has been very ‘wonky’ as I like to call it. It never feels right. It’s either aching, or stiff, or just feels like it’s not in the right place. Oddly enough once I’m running for about twenty minutes it ususally feels a lot better. I’m so scared that my runners knee will pop up again and that would completely shatter all my hopes of doing this half. I can not afford to miss ANY training for this one. We went out last night to the Dam #4 area of the C&O canal. It’s right where the detour starts and the footing wasn’t the greatest. The first mile I pretty much hated everything…to many mud puddles, to much swerving to avoid them, not enough rocks to create some friction in the mud. I was just miserable. The second mile was mostly spent focusing on the fact that the shorts built into my running skirt kept hiking up. I curse dmy thighs for the entire mile. I started running in these odd ways to try an compensate for my legs rubbing together, and then THIS was irritating me. I guess that was right at the turn around point which was at 2 miles. I had a little talk with myself inside my head about getting my act together and changing my attitude about this run. My boyfriend (who is running the half –his first with me) is running so peacefully over there beside me and I’m bitching about everything in sight. So I shut my mouth, locked into a zone and picked up the pace. We cruised along at a pretty good clip for the last two miles even getting a compliment from a couple riding bikes. I was running so hard my legs were aching. The ground was far from even and my knee was really starting to ache. I looked down at my garmin and saw we only had seven tenths of a mile to go. I forgot about my thighs, the mud, the lack of grip for my shoes and just ran. I ran hard enough that the only thing I could think about was finishing the run. We completed four miles in 46:07 with an average pace of 11:32. I was very happy with that. It was one of our faster 4 milers. I’m thinking maybe I need to adapt this type of thinking in my half.. forget about the hills, the time, what everyone else is doing and just worry about getting MY ass across the finish line.
I’m going to be running hills tonight again at the Antietam Battlefield. These are the exact hills I’ll be running in my race. I figure it’s best to get to know them personally. I had a very hard time with these hills on Sunday when we tried to do 3 miles. I was hot, feeling like crap, and just mentally scared by the whole course that I had seen the night before. Tonight I will go back and do these and hills and stop complaining. Wish me luck!
On 7/27/2010 I was on my way to the local fairgrounds to do one of my weekly 3 mile walks I’d been doing pretty regularly in attempt to lose weight. At a stop light, I found myself mindlessly switching lanes and driving in the opposite direction of where I was supposed to be heading. I found myself pulling into the parking lot for the entrance of the C&O canal in my town. This is where I used to do my cross country runs every day after my highschool classes were over. I’m not sure why I felt drawn to come here, but I did. Getting out of the car many memories came flooding back from my old running days 7 years before. As I walked across the aqueduct I just picked up my feet and started running (albeit slowly) like I’d never missed a day. This is day I became a runner….again.
Fast forward to a year and a week or two later. I’ve completed many more canal runs in the rain, snow, and beating down sunshine. I’ve went from a fourteen minute mile average pace to a eleven something average pace. I went from being uncomfortable doing three and four milers to doing ten and twelve mile runs in 4 inches of packed down snow. I even completed a couple 5K’s but most importantly, I did something I never thought I’d accomplish. A Half Marathon. To keep it short and sweet I had many problems actually getting to my first half marathon. My very first was supposed to be in Myrtle Beach 2/19/11. I got runners knee from overtraining and missed this race. I signed up the the Frederick Half in 1/2011 honestly not knowing if I’d ever make it to this race, as I was still battling my knee problems. During those next four months I healed up my knee, got bronchitis and missed 2 months of running and a race or two. I sure was surprised when May 7th rolled around and I was perfectly healthy and completely untrained for the Half I signed up for nearly 5 months before. I decided to do it anyway and did fairly well until I got to mile 10.5 when we hit the first pretty big hill. I finished with a time chip time of 2:37 which To me doesn’t seem toooo terrible for having almost no training and my last long run nearly 2.5 months before.
However, That wasn’t good enough. After my half I took 4 days off and started running again. I signed up for a trail half which I learned after a couple weeks and after I’d already paid for the race, was entirely past my level of nearly zilch training. I decided to take a DNS on this race and focus more on getting in more consistent running and get myself in decent shape. I since then have found a half that I have started training for. The 2nd race is supposed to be the race that you set your time goal..the race you try to set a new PR.. the race where you think you have a pretty good idea of what you’re in for. Well, I’m not most people, and these rules don’t seem to apply to me. I signed up for the Freedom’s Run in Historic and beautiful Sharpsburg/Shepherdstown area. It was $45. I signed right up. I had the proper time to do a real training plan, why not? I just drove the course in the car the day with my boyfriend who is running the race with me. We were both kind of in awe at the amount, size and grade of the hills we will have to endure in this race. Now.. I’m scared.
That kind of sums up everything you need to know to read this blog. To put it in a nutshell: I’m training for my second race which is going to be harder and more intense than my first. I’m going to document my trials, tribulations and hopefully some success along the way!