Where I inspect my training plan with a half marathon
While I like to say that I blog about everything in my life, this blog is the
MisAdventures of Daddy Runs a Lot, and, well, running is a big part of my life. Last week saw me mentally preparing myself for the start of the fall running season: two (maybe three) half-marathons, a full marathon, and a 5k to close things out.
You’d think that someone who calls himself Daddy Runs a Lot would, in fact, run a lot. But the truth is that I’ve been running a whole lot less than normal. While I’ve been running less-frequently, though, I’ve been training to make myself a better runner. Yes, the contradiction is evident. But, my plan has been to make my body stronger. And, as I make myself stronger, maintaining my body mass while replacing fat with muscle, when I do run, I’m “a better, more-efficient machine.” The first test was yesterday, for the Philadelphia Rock & Roll Half-Marathon.
If I had to define my training plan, leading up to this, it was “equal number of pull, press and leg bodyweight exercises,” with actual running as a complete afterthought. Most every morning, I wake up & do pull-ups, chin-ups, parallel bar dips, and one-legged squats. Most every lunch, I’m either doing the same (replacing the dips with one-armed push-ups) or doing a bunch of burpees and then holding yoga poses. A few evenings a week, I’m then taking karate with my son. Running has, truly, been the afterthought, despite the fact that, well, I consider myself a runner. And I really hope to break the four-hour mark in the full marathon when I run the Harrisburg Marathon in November.
Sunday was the first test of my plan.
Some of my friends, however, came up from Florida to run this race . . . which is great & everything, but I wouldn’t be a very good host without taking them out on the town. So on Saturday, we spent the day at Hershey Park. Walking around an amusement park all day, the day before a big run was, perhaps, not the brightest of ideas. But we all had a good time.
Sunday morning, I woke early, picked up my friends from their hotel, parked my truck as close to the start as it was possible to park, met up with several other far-more-local friends before the race, and started.
The course was, as advertised, quite flat. Despite just writing a race advice post, I violated many of my own tidbits of
sage wisdom wiseassery. The day before the race, at Hershey Park, I ate buffalo chicken fries (I have a severe dislike of chocolate, so an abundance of sweets at the “sweetest place on earth” wasn’t an issue). I wore brand new shoes and a tech shirt that I had never worn before (to be fair, the shoes were a necessity because I had worries about the pair of shoes that I had been wearing surviving the race, as I saw several micro-tears along the stress points . . . and the shirt, well, it was a Batman shirt). I forgot my headphones, so the work I had put into my running playlist was all for naught (though, I’ll just be able to recycle it for my next half marathon). Despite all of that, though, the race was great. I had no gastro-intestinal issues to speak of. I do have two ugly blisters on each big toe and my nipples . . . well, they didn’t bleed, but if the race had been a half mile longer, they may have started to (so I’m incredibly aware of them right now), but none of that bothered me during the race, itself. And, as this was a Rock & Roll race, there were live bands playing so that rare were the times that I went without music.
I started the race with a slower corral than I should have, so I battled crowds through most of the run, but I managed to set a personal best in the distance – by almost 8 minutes (or over 30 seconds per mile) over my previous best half-marathon time. It was a good run – though I’m left with a few thoughts to ponder heading into my next few races.
Normally, I would say that the half-marathon is, actually, a 10 mile race . . . the last 3.1 miles, I’m used to being on cruise control. Now, maybe it’s because I haven’t been running as much, or maybe it’s because I didn’t have constant music with which to lose myself, but I was ultra-aware of mile-markers 11, 12, and 13. I don’t know if this is a good sign, or not, for the full marathon, where you almost *have* to get lost in your thoughts along the course – otherwise the “um, why are you still going” self doubt comes out & eats who whole.
The race was quite flat, but there was an uphill at the end. So, while I was giving *almost* everything I had, my 14th mile time actually looked a bit slower . . . this is a bit troubling, but, thinking back, I was still dealing with crowds and, yes, I was going up hill.
While I still felt like I had something in my legs at the end, I know I didn’t have another 13.1 there . . . part of me is worried about the way that will translate to a full marathon until I tell myself that, um, I was running a good minute per mile over the pace that I should be aiming for. If I were running just a little bit slower, who knows what would have been left in my legs.
So, I’m happy to say that I made it through. So far, my “don’t run quite as much” plan seems to be working just fine. The next few weeks will have me running a bit more, though – I’m hopeful run the hardest 2-mile stretch of the Harrisburg Marathon (with a flat one-mile connector) 7 times to get a moderately-difficult 20+ run one evening in the next few weeks. That should cease any/all fears of being able to complete the distance in my head.
More than a great race, though, I got to meet up with some great friends, and I had a wonderful weekend.
My next race, back at Hershey Park, for their half-marathon, will be far hillier (though not incredibly hilly), but I hope to match my time.