Category Archives: Half-Marathon

Where I Landed When I Fell Off the Face of the Earth

Yet again, it seems I have fallen victim to life and all its curve balls. My blogging and training have been in an ongoing battle with my to-do list, and I’m sad to say they weren’t doing too well. This is probably obvious from my absence on all things social media! But I haven’t been just sitting around, twiddling my thumbs. And I certainly haven’t given up hope that my half-marathon will happen come hell or high water! First, let me fill you in on all the things that have been stealing my attention.

The LARGEST factor can be summed up in one word: school. As the time ticks down toward my final days as an undergrad, I have a bunch of projects and exciting assignments that need my full attention. Luckily, they are all things I’ve found to be rewarding as well as time consuming, which make them more worth the effort.

I’m currently in an Editing and Publishing class which operates as an independent publishing house called Cornerstone Press. Every year, the class publishes two books–reading through manuscript submissions, choosing which to publish, and then taking that manuscript from its raw form to a beautifully printed book. Each student is elected to a certain position: Copy Editor, Designer, Marketing Director, etc. I was elected to be Director of Sales, which means I coordinate all sales efforts of our previous titles and the current book chosen by our team.

This semester, we’re publishing a historical fiction novel about Adele Hugo, Victor Hugo’s daughter, titled Syncopation by Elizabeth Caulfield Felt. I’ve read the whole thing, obviously, and it’s phenomenal! I highly recommend you buy a copy after it is released April 20th! Plus, you’d be supporting me and my school in the process! <—shameless plug.

Syncopation_FrontCover.jpg

A great book club read!

The other class (actually ran by the same professor!) is Book History, which I’m happy to say is the most absorbing class I’ve ever taken. I haven’t missed a single day because I am always excited about what we’re going to be covering. It definitely brings out the book geek in me!

Aside from school, I’m applying for grad programs and getting ready to move to New York. Over spring break, I had the chance to spend a week there. Nick and I found our apartment too! Our dog will be happy because there’s a dog park a block away, and I’m happy because there are running paths a block away!

Speaking of running, I actually fulfilled one of my life-long dreams of running through Central Park. Yippee! I did a 4-miler and my time wasn’t ghastly either, considering I was out of my routine.

Since I was visiting over St. Patty’s day weekend, I was invited to march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Manhattan. I felt like quite the rock star!

Nick still had to work while I was there, so I bummed around the city and saw all the touristy sights I missed on my last visit. Of course, I hit up the New York Public Library first because I have an obsession with all things books and libraries if you haven’t noticed. Another day, I went to the Statue of Liberty and stood in awe of her incredible beauty for what seemed like an hour. I can’t imagine what my ancestors’ reactions were as they immigrated from Finland, and saw her on the horizon. One thing I already love about the city is all the history that it contains.

This picture doesn't even do her justice.

These are just little tid-bits of what I’ve been doing lately. Still, I MISS RUNNING! I cannot stress that enough. I guess I know things are only going to pile-up more and more until May, when school is over. My trial race is the end of May, and I’m absolutely still set on giving it a go. I won’t be anywhere near the shape I should be in to do it, but I think it will be a good test. I’ll run as much as I can and walk when I feel like I’m about to die. After that, I’ll start my training over (or back track a little) and be in full swing by September’s race.

Enough about me…
How are all my fellow bloggers and followers these days?
Anyone else struggling with a crazy schedule?
Any running stories to share? I miss you!

Finding Motivation through…Pinterest?

I feel like I was one of the last few people among my friends to jump on the Pinterest bandwagon. The last thing I thought I would need is yet another computerized distraction to keep me from getting real work done. That being said, I finally broke down and joined the pinning community. I had no idea I would find so many useful tips, tricks, quotes, or workouts to help with my training — or simply to get my butt off the couch and out the door!

Last Saturday, I was facing my first 6-mile run of this training program. I felt overwhelmed by my fear of failure. The little voice in my head was trying to talk me out of it. I was tired. I had an essay to write for class. The weather would be better the next day. All of these excuses flooded my brain as a result.

I was procrastinating, which is usually what happens when I’m faced with a challenge that I’m not sure I’m ready to tackle. I found myself browsing Pinterest, and wasting time. Thankfully, the fitness category was chuck full of motivating tidbits that managed to tune out the negative self-talk. Before I knew it, I was double knotting my tennies and strapping on my Garmin — ready for the challenge. Before I left the house, I grabbed a pen and wrote, “6-miles. Don’t quit and don’t stop,” on the back of my hand, just for good measure.

The first 3-miles seemed to breeze on by. I didn’t check my pace as I went, but instead listened for the beeping of my Garmin to tell me when I completed another mile. I thought that sneaking a peek might psyche myself out. By the last stretch, I could tell I was getting tired and my legs felt heavy. I was almost within view of my house, and kept up the pace. I rejoiced when I heard the final beep telling me that I had reached my goal for the day!

The sense of accomplishment was amazing. I can’t imagine what I will feel like when I cross the finish line in an actual race! I’ll probably laugh, cry, fall over from exhaustion, and be looking for a snack all at the same time.

I have to say, my attitude toward Pinterest has certainly changed. It may be a weird way to find motivation, but it worked for me that day and it has worked for me since. I guess anything to get me out the door!

The week after that infamous 6-miler was pretty easy, and this Sunday my long run was only 4-miles. But from here on out, the training will become more grueling and those 6-mile runs are going to feel like a drop in a bucket compared to what lies ahead. Can’t wait!

Have you found inspiration through “pinning”? 
 How do you get yourself pumped before a long run?
Do you get intimidated by new distances? 

Blame It On The En-En-En-Endorphins

I’m either crazy or ambitious, I haven’t decided which category best describes my impulsive race registration from this past Wednesday.

It all started with a run. Or rather, a run that wasn’t going to happen. I was technically supposed to cross train that day, but I couldn’t help myself. I could practically hear the pavement calling for my feet to come hit it. So I did.

I took the dog, but left my iPod at home. I wanted to be able to hear my breathing, and increase or decrease my pace based on how I was feeling. I ran my usual route along the Wisconsin River, which ends up being about 3 miles when all is set and done.

The run felt incredible. I could tell I was pushing it, but my legs and lungs were up for the challenge. I didn’t miss my usual music mixes, and enjoyed being more aware of my surroundings and in the moment.

By the time I got back home, I was riding a wave of endorphins. I plugged in my Garmin and, low and behold, I ran a 9:29/mi pace. That would be my fastest run thus far! Prior to that day, my fastest was a 9:51/mi.

This is where the crazy vs. ambitious debate comes into play! Feeling pretty good about myself, I decided that I couldn’t wait till September to run my half. What did I do? I signed up for another half that I’ll run in New York over Memorial Day weekend in May. Because one just isn’t enough! Oh and did I mention that the week before I’ll be graduating from college, packing my life into a U-Haul, and moving to NYC?

I’d like to say I’m ambitious. The event is one of the Holiday Marathon races put on for free, and you can choose the distance you’d like to run. I am looking at this as a trial to test my training, and to better prepare myself for the race in September. This is my way of dipping my big toe into the racing pool!

Have you experienced an endorphin-high after a run or a good workout?
Ever sign up for a race on impulse? If yes, how did that go?

A Few Minor Setbacks…

This past week has been the worst since I began seriously training for this half. Granted, I’m not very far into this process and I imagine I will have to face many more difficult challenges in the future, both metal and physical. But compared to past runs, everything this week seemed off.

Let’s recap, shall we?

Monday: Wisconsin got hit with quite the snow storm. The night before, roads were coated in freezing rain. By morning, these dangerously slippery conditions were layered with 4 inches of fresh, white powder. Did this keep me from running? Nope. But I was supposed to do 3 miles, and instead it was a lousy 2.54. I was too afraid to run on the street, for fear that a car might slide into me, but sidewalks weren’t even remotely clear. I could hardly tell where they were, and half the time I was probably running through people’s yards. Sorry neighbors!

Tuesday: This was supposed to be a rest day, but I couldn’t resist doing a little something at the gym. In between classes, I got in a half-mile warm up, and 8 miles on the stationary bike. I felt nice and energized by the end of this workout! I got to my next class probably smelling like sweat and B.O. because I didn’t have a chance to shower. To the guy sitting next to me in English 385, my apologies.

Wednesday: I decided to bust out my P90x DVDs for some real cross training. I did the full Plyometrics video, which definitely got my heart rate up and my muscles engaged. I used the heart rate monitor on my Garmin, and it showed my average HR being 144 bpm, and max HR at 170 bpm.

Thursday: This is when things went down hill. I was all psyched up to do a solid 3 miles, and I thought I could fit this in on the treadmill at school. I used it quite a bit in the past, so I wasn’t expecting this run to feel like so much work. Almost immediately, shear boredom set in. Watching TV with captions just doesn’t do it for me anymore, and my music wasn’t enough to occupy my mind. After a mile and a half, I said forget it and went home to run the other 1.5 in the great outdoors. While I still got in 3 miles, I hate splitting them up because I feel like, for me, I need to challenge myself to suck it up and keep going.

But I'm sorry, this made for much better scenery!

And, Friday

I’m pretty sure I hit what all you experienced runners call a “wall.” The weather was nice for a Wisconsin January. I planned to make up for my lack luster performance from the day before by running a 3 mile do-over. My mind couldn’t get into the game. I couldn’t find that driving force to push me through to the end. My left hip flexor was beginning to get increasingly painful, and I gave up after barely a mile. Yuck.

I went home to re-evaluate. I read up on all the potential causes of my hip flexor pain, and decided to take the weekend to: ice, stretch, elevate, yoga, pilates and repeat. By Sunday, my hip still ached and I could tell it wasn’t at 100%, but it had improved drastically.

This week my focus is on keeping my head in check, and practicing what I preach! Wasn’t it just last week that I wrote a post about not giving in when you hit a wall? Yup, that was me. I make no excuses, I was totally weak. I absolutely need to find the strength to stop quitting mid-run, and tough it out. Boredom, or no boredom. Snow, or no snow.

Luckily, I’m off to a good start! I’m repeating last week’s training since I clearly bombed out in the running department. On the bright side, at least I identified my weak points and can now work to improve them!

Do you have any tips to help me push through these walls?

How do you keep yourself from throwing in the towel during a run?

Also, how do you know when it’s safe to push through the pain and when to give yourself healing time? 

Twitter Road Racing and a Progress Update

My version of snow shoes

It seems the Twitter Road Race was a huge success, and I’m really happy to have been a part of it. There was a total of 376 runners that took part in this event from 14 different countries. People every where, from the U.S. to Switzerland to Saudi Arabia, all pounded the pavement yesterday. The results are in, and I am pretty content with how I did!

My time for the 5K was 31:54.

Overall, I was #248 out 0f 376.

Out of all the women who raced, I was #109 out of 202.

In my age group, I was #35 out of 60.

(The overall winner was a man from Iowa who ran the 5K in 16:54!)

So it seems I fell right in the middle in each category, which I’m happy with.  I improved my pace down to 9:50/mi.  This is important because it shows that I’m getting faster.  I’m also becoming more and more consistent in my pace.

Let’s compare, shall we?

This is from right around the first week of January

This is from yesterday

So in about 3 weeks, I’ve cut quite a bit off my pace time. I’ve also become more of a steady runner. Being able to look back and see where I’ve been, and where I am today is very motivating to me.  I’m so thankful for my Garmin and warm running clothes. Yesterday was so cold and the roads were slippery. I was at my parent’s house and was running on the back roads. Every time a car came, I had to jump into the snow to keep from getting hit. Luckily, they don’t get a lot of traffic!

Another tool that I’m seriously utilizing is MotionTraxx. I’ve mentioned this podcast in another post of mine, but I’m still hooked. I’ve used their 150-160bpm episodes, and I feel they’ve helped me with my breathing, pace and just to keep me going. The music gets my blood pumping, and sometimes I don’t even notice that it’s below freezing and I can’t feel my nose. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend giving it a try.

This week, my mileage increases a little bit.

Monday: 3 miles

Wednesday: Cross-training

Thursday: 3 miles

Saturday: 5 miles

I might do some extra non-running exercises like yoga or the elliptical on the off-days. For cross-training, I’m thinking of hitting up the gym to use their stationary bike. I’ve read that it’s a good choice for runners because it mimics the running motion, but without the impact.

Is it wrong to imagine people holding up signs like this when I go running?

Okay, enough about me.

How was your weekend? Anyone get in a workout, or break a sweat? If you got caught in a snow storm, I would say shoveling counts.

Birthdays, Cheese, and Happy Feet

Well Winter has officially hit Wisconsin.  Yesterday morning I stepped outside to find that it was easily -8 below zero, and that is not including the wind chill factor.  I don’t know if there is such a thing as it being “too cold to run,” but I wasn’t brave enough to lace up my shoes and head out into that ice box!  Overall, I’ve been sticking to my schedule though.  Last week, I ran a total of 8 miles — Saturday was my longer run of 4 miles.  I guess it’s not a lot of mileage compared to what I was doing last year, but it worked out well because the runs were easier to schedule around my Winter semester of classes.

And if you haven’t already heard about it…

TWITTER ROAD RACE THIS SATURDAY!

Oh yes, it’s happening.   created the Twitter Road Race, which will be this Saturday, January 21.  The distance is a 5k, so you basically just go out and run anywhere at anytime that day.  They have over 600 people registered so far, and probably more by now.  It just seems like a fun event — no one really wins.  After you run, you’ll submit your time and they’ll get everyone’s together and have the results posted.

If you want to register, this is where you need to go: Twitter Road Race Registration.

You can even get a bib!

In other news — my brother, Matt came to visit this week from England.  Of course we all gathered around to watch the Packers lose to the Giants on Sunday.  We all felt like crying, and eating away our sorrows.  So to recover, us cheese-heads took a trip to the local cheese factory.  I’m talking the best cheese factory of all time.  I guess that’s a little presumptuous, but not much.  People literally drive from surrounding states to get this cheese.

Matt making a goofy face, while shopping for some cheddar

To top off the week, January 16th was my hubby’s birthday!  Every year since we’ve been together, I’ve made him chocolate chip cookies instead of cake.  This year, I officially made the most delectable batch of cookies yet.  They were HUGE, and very chocolate-y.  Not too crispy, not too soft.  If baking cookies is an art, I just mastered the craft.  I can’t take credit for the recipe though, that was all thanks to Allrecipes.com.  If you too want to make the “Best Big, Fat, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie,” click here.

Just hand me a glass of milk, and I'm good to go!

So now you’re all caught up with my life as of late!   

Anyone else running the Twitter Road Race this Saturday?

 

Realistic Running: Being Mindful of Where You Are

As a woman relatively new to running, I often find myself comparing my progress to others. I see other people flying down the road with ease, and the voice in my head tells me I should be able to run faster, go longer, and tackle serious mileage each week. When my legs get tired or I’m out of breath, I get frustrated because I expect my body to be able to do exactly what I want it to do. The problem is, I think my body is smarter than I am. When I increase my mileage too quickly, and my legs are aching and flimsy, my body is telling me to slow it down (and/or do more strength training). I need to be able to recognize the difference between when I need to push through, and when I seriously need to pull back.

This is especially true for my half-marathon training plan. I ended up changing to a new one because the original one increased my mileage too quickly. While it would have been perfect for me this past summer when I was running 6 miles at a clip, I had to admit to myself that I was biting off too much at once. After taking a couple months off this fall, I needed a plan to go off of that eased back into the heavier mileage totals. This is one that I switched to:

My New Half-Marathon Training Program

This is actually a training plan a friend recommended I look into, and I feel it is a better fit for me. Unlike my previous program, the Prevea schedule is a little longer and more gradual in terms of mileage increases. I believe it was actually developed for people planning to race in the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon this May. They have other schedules to refer to if you’re interested, and can be found on the race’s website.

What I’ve found since starting to train for the half-marathon is that many of these training programs claim to be designed for “beginners,” but then have you running a 5 mile day the first week. I believe the term “beginner” is completely relative. You might be a beginner in terms of never having raced before, but still able to run an 8-minute mile without breaking a sweat. Or you may be a beginner who has never broken into a jog a day in your life. Either way, you need to find a program that fits your fitness level. In my case, I wasn’t new to running, but I hadn’t ran more than 3 miles consistently in the last 3-4 months.

If you’re starting a program, don’t just pick a program and go with it. Take into serious consideration your goals, and be realistic. Also, be willing to stray from the program or modify it to fit your needs. There might be a day when running 10 miles just isn’t going to happen. Maybe your body needs to rest. Maybe you’re just not into it that day. If you can’t make the full 10, split up your run by doing 5 in the morning and 5 later in the day. Just give it your best, but remember that your best will change from day to day.

Be mindful of where you are in your training, listen to your body, and make adjustments accordingly. Know when to push yourself harder, and when to ease up. Find a balance.

Have you used a training schedule to prepare for a race or goal? Did you have to make adjustments to your training? I’d love to hear from you!