Buffalo Creek Half Marathon Training – Week 1

How is it August already?! I feel like just yesterday we were still training for Pittsburgh and now we’ve all moved on to training for fall races! Crazy! Since everyone else has been training for BCHM for 3 or 4 weeks I feel like I am SO behind. This capped off the first week of training for me and it was great. When I picked my training plan (Hal Higdon’s Intermediate Half) I didn’t realize how LOW the mileage is. I only ran 16 miles this past week, but I felt like they were all quality. Thanks to this plan, and my heart rate training, I really feel like they all served a purpose and I can feel that they did. That probably sounds crazy, but for the first time in ages I really feel like I am making true progress with my training. That is an amazing feeling. Also. I have 0 running related pictures…so cat pictures it is! Sorry, but not really.
Monday: 3 miles 36:36 12:12 pace Avg HR: 153.  I always struggle with Monday runs, which is why I usually make that my rest day. This time around it’s time to suck it up and get it done. I could NOT drag myself out of bed that morning so I had to wait until after work to do it. It was HOT and sunny out, but I told myself that it was no biggie. Since it was an easy day, I didn’t have to worry about my pace or throwing down some major repeats. It wasn’t terrible, but it reminded my why I love running early; I was tired, and my legs were like lead and it was pretty toasty. I was disappointed when I realized that soon I’ll be doing most of my runs at that time since it will  be too dark to run before work. Major sad panda over here.
Sad Panda

Sad Panda

Tuesday: 5x400m repeats. I did not have high hopes for this one. I wasn’t feeling 100%, and the humidity was brutal. I usually do a 1 mile warmup, but only did about 3/4 of one – I had to make a pit stop home and since I was right by the road I do the repeats on I decided to just get them started. My target heart rate for repeats is 186-190, and I noticed that since the repeats are so short it’s not a lot of time for me to get my heart rate that high. Even with that, my splits were: 7:47, 7:35, 8:07, 7:51, 8:07 . My recovery intervals are .10 . I was really ecstatic to see splits in the SEVENS. WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?! Apparently, there is an inner speed demon that is just waiting to bust out.  Because of the recovery intervals, it’s hard to give an accurate representation of average heart rate, pace etc. but here they are: 1:.69 miles (does not include my warmup because I have to reset my watch) 16:00 9:29 pace. Avg HR: 171 BOOM!
Rub muh belly, please

Rub muh belly, please

Wednesday: 3 miles  33:00 11:00 pace Avg HR: 152  . This run doesn’t have a specific designation (not easy, not speed, not pace, etc) I designated this as a medium pace with the heart rate zone between my easy and long run zone: 155-160. I was met with 80% humidity but it didn’t seem too terrible, and I was able to keep my heart rate in the zone. Actually, it was just UNDER the zone at 152 so that was even better for the pace I was able to manage.
No respect. On the table, on my sweater. You can tell she's concerned about the ramifications

No respect. On the table, on my sweater. You can tell she’s concerned about the ramifications

Thursday: Weights! I finally moved on to the next stage of New Rules of Lifting for Women a few weeks ago and I really enjoy those workouts. The ONLY move I hate is the Dumbbell Cuban Snatch. It feels so unnatural and like I’m not doing it right (even with 3 lb weights) so I decided I’m not doing it anymore. I’ll substitute it for….something. Not sure what, but just not that!
Now we are crossing the lines. On the counter, bird watching.

Now we are crossing the lines. On the counter, bird watching. Obviously the counter was cleaned and a new towel was put down. And he was back 5 minutes later.

Friday: 3 miles 30:00 10 min pace Avg HR 167 . This is supposed to be a pace run and my heart rate should be between 170-174, so again I was a little low but still a really good effort. I was a touch disappointed that it wasn’t as fast as last week’s pace run (9:5x pace) but had I kicked it up a notch and gotten my HR up 5 more bpm I would have been back in the 9’s. It’s amazing to me how those few beats can so drastically effect your pace!
Breakfast is apparently self serve these days...

Breakfast is apparently self serve these days…

Saturday: 5 miles 1:02 12:23 pace Avg HR: 137 I met Jen at North Park bright and early at 6:30! The roads were practically empty (except, I did manage to get stuck behind the ONE other person out…going 5 miles under the speed limit), and it was so nice and cool. I only had 5 on the schedule so we did the first loop together; it was great to be reunited! Our schedules haven’t matched up for the last few weeks and it had been awhile since we tackled any miles together, so we got to catch up which made the miles FLY by! Before I knew it, we were back at our cars and Jen was fueling up to tackle the last 4 miles. Our roles are reversed for this training cycle – during marathon training I was always the one setting of to face the last few miles solo and now it’s Jen’s turn! She crushed it (of course), and used her last miles as a fast finish! Awesome!  It was awesome to be finished with my “long run” (I use long very loosely here since it was only 5 miles) before 8 AM! I literally had the whole day to get stuff done!
Sunday: Rest! I remembered when I was crawling into bed that I’m supposed to use Sunday as another weights day. My bad.
I’m really pleased with this week. I only totaled about 16.5 miles and I’m good with that. It can be tough to look on Daily Mile and see everyone else logging 10 and 20 miles per week more than me but I need to swallow my pride, and focus on me and my goals. For a while I was focused on quantity not quality in my plans, but I’m starting to appreciate that that may not always be the best option for me. It’s awesome to have focus and direction again!! I can’t wait to see what this training cycle brings 🙂
How was your week? Please tell me your pets have some bad manners/bad habits too?
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Buffalo Creek Half Marathon Training Plan AND Sharing Some Exciting News!

This is my first week of training for the Buffalo Creek Half Marathon (BCHM from now on because that is just too much to type!), and I have yet to post my training plan. I’m finally getting around to that, and to be honest, it’s the not the most exciting. I tried to make my own plan – I did. I sat down at the kitchen table 3 weeks ago surrounded by planners, calendars, books, printouts, 7 different colored pens and….I just couldn’t do it. Nothing was making sense, or flowing and to be honest, I just didn’t want to do it.
I was so overwhelmed for some reason that making a plan seemed impossible. I decided to go back to the basics and stick with something that I know works. I used Hal Higdon’s beginner half marathon (Novice 1, I think) plan years ago for my first race and since that is my 2nd best half marathon time, I figured that Hal wouldn’t lead me astray this time either. I went back and forth between the Intermediate and Advanced plans and was even going to “merge” them – I loved the idea of doing long runs by time instead of distance but ultimately decided that might not be the best option. I’m on the slower side and if the plan calls for a 2 hour long run I may only get 10 or 11 (at most) miles in. I don’t feel like that’s enough. With the intermediate I’ll get a 12 miler in, and I know I’ll feel much more confident on race day with a 12 miler or 2 under my belt. So, Intermediate it is!! I’m also slightly shifting the plan around so that Saturday will be my long run day (the race is on Saturday, and I have *thing* about doing my long runs on the same day the race will be. Don’t ask.), and Sunday will be a rest day instead of Monday. This doesn’t sound like much, but I hate running on Mondays. For some reason, my body just doesn’t like it. Luckily, Mondays will be easy days so I don’t think it will be too horrible.
This should do

This should do

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ll be doing this all by heart rate so my zone are:
Recovery Runs (Monday): <155 bpm
Repeats (Every other Tuesday): 186-190 bpm
Tempo (Every other Tuesday): 170-178
Medium Pace (Wednesday): 155-160 bpm
Pace Runs (Friday): 170-174
Long Runs (Saturday): 151-164
For the last month or two, I’ve been doing a pretty good job of strength training 3x week and I’m going to do my best to stick with that, but we’ll see.
I have a little something extra going on in the background that will take priority over all of this, though.
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I’M GOING BACK TO SCHOOL!!!! I’ve applied, and been accepted to, Point Park University. I’ll be doing the classes online because I have no desire to go to night classes AND spend 9+ hours every Saturday in a classroom. The online option will give me more freedom and flexibility to continue working full time, and have a little bit of a life. I hope. This will obviously be my first priority and once classes start (August 23rd. I can’t wait!), I’ll have to see how training fits in. If I need to cut back and drop a weekday run then that’s what I’ll do.
I also have a vacation smack dab in the middle of this training cycle AND school that we’ll have to work around but I’ll worry about that when we get there 🙂
Gizmo is not thrilled with the idea. She'd rather sleep on the laptop than let me use it.

Gizmo is not thrilled with the idea. She’d rather sleep on the laptop than let me use it.

Obviously this is a huge step that warrants it’s own post, and once I have my classes scheduled and a better idea of what’s going on I’ll definitely be sharing!

2015 Jane Neely 5K – RACE RECAP!

I did not have high hopes going into this race. Originally, this was going to be a goal race and I wanted to put some serious effort into the training. Then, of course, life happened. It took me longer than I thought to get back to it after the marathon, I implemented a new type of training (heart rate), running in the humidity is tough, and I was sick for about a week right before the race. Have I listed enough excuses yet??  Let me throw in one more for good measure; I hardly did any speed work!
In an email to Jen, I told her that there was a good chance this race would be a “shit show”. She told me to have a little faith, and that the week and a half I lost might be a good thing and my legs would be well rested. *Spoiler Alert* Luckily, she was right and I managed to pull out a brand new PR by about 2 minutes!!

Wilbur helping me get ready for the race. He's got his Game Face On. Or maybe that's his Put-Me-Down-Before-I-Cut-You face. Not sure.

Wilbur helping me get ready for the race. He’s got his Game Face On. Or maybe that’s his Put-Me-Down-Before-I-Cut-You face. Not sure.

I ran this race last year and really enjoyed it. It’s super close to home (takes place at Kiwanis Park in Shaler Twp), small, low key and the course is flatish. It’s an out and back with the slightest grade for a little more than a mile that you can’t see but you can feel. THEN at the end there is a monster climb that goes straight up. It’s not as bad as the Frigid 5 hill but it’s still a beast and “that shit’s just mean“.
Courtesy of Google Maps - this is the start of THE hill. The picture doesn't do it justice.

Courtesy of Google Maps – this is the start of THE hill. The picture doesn’t do it justice.

Courtesy of Google Maps - this is the start of THE hill.  The picture doesn't do it justice.

This is part two of THE hill. It levels off for about half a second and then you have this last steep little climb.

The race course was a little different from last year. Last year, we walked DOWN the beastly hill and started on Little Pine Creek Road, ran out, turned around and came back then climbed the beast and finished in the outfield of the baseball field at Kiwanis Park. Thanks to all of the rain, though, the field was way too muddy so the finish was moved behind the park to the parking lot of the elementary school next door. They also moved the start line so that it was in the parking lot right in front of the finish line. So not only did we have to run UP the beast at the end, we had to run DOWN the beast at the start. Normally a downhill start is awesome but this is a STEEP downhill and I lack basic coordination skills so I was worried about tripping and face-planting on the new, slick asphalt.

My goal for this race was to stay in particular heart rate zone (180-188 bpm), and while my average HR was 188, I was sitting at my max (192) for at least a mile and on the last hill I hit 200 at one point. Oops.

The race itself was pretty uneventful. It wasn’t hot out (about 66*) but omg the humidity! It was about 96% at the start and it just felt…soupy.  Once I got down the massive hill (and didn’t fall. YAY!) I started to cruise while keeping an eye on my heart rate. I got into my zone pretty quickly and remember thinking that it was hard. Not impossible, but maintaining that would be difficult. I pushed those thoughts aside and tried to stay focused. The first mile went by really quickly and I made it a point to NOT look at my watch. A few weeks ago, I took away the pace field and replaced it with heart rate, but my watch will still show each mile time for about 10 or 15 seconds. I didn’t want to know what the time was – if it was too slow, I would have been pissed and if it was too fast I would have panicked. Not long after the first mile, I hit my max heart rate. This is where I went off my plan because according to the rules, I should have slowed down or walked to get the heart rate down but that just wasn’t happening. In the back of my mind, I also remembered that you could adjust your heart rate if it was super humid so I used that as my justification. 188+5 = 193 = I’m still OK.
Just after mile 2 though, I started to feel it. I knew that I was slowing a bit but my heart rate was still at max but I didn’t care. Even with the pace field gone, I could do enough basic math to tell that I was going to PR if I didn’t slow down. BUT I still had the hill at the end, and that could make or break me. Then I started the internal battle – slow down a little now, to save some for the end vs eff it, just go and worry about the hill when you get there. This battle went on for a bit, and before I knew it…I was at the hill. So I never did pick a side because I was too busy trying to pick the side. Say what?! I put my head down and just went for it. I passed two people on the climb up, and did a little internal cheer. I had been leapfrogging with one girl for almost half a mile, so to cruise past them was kind of satisfying. Actually. It was a lot satisfying. A half mile before, I came up on this girl who was walking, and right before I passed her she looked back, saw me, and started to run again. Then she would get a little bit ahead of me, and walk until I caught up with her. Then she would run again. This gets annoying, and I don’t know if I’m reading too much into it but it kind of feels like it’s  “oh, I can’t let HER pass me“, because I kind of look like a baby sasquatch lumbering along, and they can’t let the short, chubby girl pass them?! I don’t know maybe it’s nothing but when it happens every time, I start to get a little self conscious. *Side note. I looked up the results and she was only 15 or 16. So I feel a little bad getting mad, but it still irritates me.  Once I got up the hill into the parking lot, it leveled off, so I was able to take a deep breath and kick it to the finish to make sure that the girl from the hill didn’t catch me at the end. 26:05, 8:25 pace 5th place age group. Not.too.shabby.

015

At least 5 minutes after I finished and my heart rate was still high.

My watch registered the course as short – 2.99, but my friend’s said 3.1 on the nose so I’m thinking that my Garmin is just off. Seeing that shortened distance gives me mixed feelings though. Even though my friends that also ran this race assured me that the course distance was right on their watches, I can’t help but feel that I didn’t actually run 3.1, which means my time isn’t actually correct, even though it matches the gun time perfectly (there is no chip timing in this race). I still would have PRd, but it almost feels like I cheated. Then again, if my watch had come up as 3.2 miles I would have been pissed that it was long and that I missed a PR so….who knows.
If there aren't Eat N Park smiley cookies at the finish line, it's NOT a Pittsburgh race ;-)

If there aren’t Eat N Park smiley cookies at the finish line, it’s NOT a Pittsburgh race 😉

My friend also ran this race and finished 3rd in her age group with a 25:15 finish time! We were both a little jealous that the Brentwood 5K had beer at the finish line and this race didn’t so…we brought our own! We enjoyed a much deserved cold one as we popped the hatch of my car and cheered on the other finishers!

Beer from America's oldest brewery seemed appropriate for the 4th!

Beer from America’s oldest brewery seemed appropriate for the 4th!

I’m really happy with this finish time (even with the distance discrepancy), and I’m pretty sure that I would not have been able to do this had I been doing it on my own, rather than with the heart rate monitor. I would have seen an 8:07 mile, freaked, and slowed waaaaaaaaaaay down. This method is really giving me the confidence that I need to reach my full potential and I am really excited to see what I can do. There is lots to do before October but I am ready to WORK!
Did you race on the 4th? How’d ya do?

I’m hoping these cat pictures will win you back

Soooooo I’m hoping that the obnoxious amounts of cat pictures will make up for my absence. I was going to post a weekly recap, but considering last week was spent sick and on the couch…there wasn’t much to recap. My bad. I’m back at it this week, though, and will be running the Jane Neely Run for your Life 5K on July 4th. I had planned on training pretty hard for this but time just got away from me. It took a little longer than I anticipated to back to my usual running routine; to be perfectly honest…I just didn’t want to. Running felt like a chore. The hot and humid weather didn’t help matters, and I have really been enjoying the extra time spent with the kitties and Tall One. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve still been running, just not much. I’m going to spend July getting back into my routine, and getting more comfortable training by heart rate so that I can train for the Buffalo Creek Half Marathon!! I’m excited to make up a plan, follow it, and hopefully set a brand spankin’ new PR!  I’ll save all of that for another post (or two…I need content!) and let you enjoy some cat shenanigans!

 

Screw you, Tuesdays.

Screw you, Tuesdays.

 

Where's Wilbur??

Where’s Wilbur??

 

What's up 'der???

What’s up ‘der???

 

Where's Wilbur?

Where’s Wilbur?

 

Not amused with my paparazzi tendancies

Not amused with my paparazzi tendencies

 

Editor in Chief

Editor in Chief

 

Miss Shooter

No clever caption…just my precious Shooter ❤

 

073

Photobomber

 

What's for lunch??

What’s for lunch??

I’m finalizing my training plan for BCHM and hopefully will be able to share it soon!

 

Has everyone picked their fall race?? What is it? What’s your goal??

Catching Up!

Boy oh boy. I’m like a shitty boyfriend who stops in one day, promises to hang around more and then disappears for another couple of weeks. I’m hoping that cat pictures in future posts will make up for it.

 

Since Mom can't keep up with her blog, I'm taking over!

Since Mom can’t keep up with her blog, I’m taking over!

I took some much needed time off after the marathon to enjoy all of the things I put off/couldn’t do during training and it was wonderful! I even thought about running the Peace, Love, Run half out at North Park this Sunday but ultimately decided not to. It’s too soon, and I’m just not feeling any kind of racing in the heat/humidity right now. I do have a 5K planned for the 4th though and I would really like to do well so I should probably start incorporating some speed work into my weeks.

  I’ve slooooowly eased back into running and have started pacing my runs via heartrate.  I was so intrigued after reading and following Nichole’s experience with it, and then Jen started using it and seeing awesome results so I knew I had to try it. I’m a total follower and this was no exception.

It was a hard adjustment at first, and can still be challenging but I am really loving it. I followed the instructions, calculated my resting heartrate, max heart rate, and my heart rate zones and came up with the following:

Recovery  <155

Easy/Long Runs 155-167

Tempo Runs 162-176 (Beginners should be between 163-171& Advanced 170-177. I use the full range of this zone)

MAX 186-190 (I haven’t done any workouts yet in this zone, but I’m hoping to soon!)

I’m trying to stick to the zones as closely as possible, and for hills I give myself a 5-10 bpm cushion. I know it’s not exactly right, but it works for me. I call it a “controlled spike” – I know and expect that my heart rate is going to rise on the incline and as long as I can keep it to within those 10 beats AND bring it down quickly after I reach the top, I’m OK.  I’m usually able to bring the rate down within 35-40 seconds and rarely more than a minute, plus I can get my heart rate waaaay down on downhills (like 135ish) so I feel like it’s OK. I also really, really don’t want to walk the hills. I have worked so hard to like them, enjoy them, and excel at them and walking them now just doesn’t jive. This seems to be working well, and it’s teaching to be very controlled on those hills and ensures that I am focusing on my form and breathing – something I was NOT so great at before. I used to hunch over, put my head and flap my arms around like a T-Rex trying to pump up a hill

Training this way is definitely an eye opener! If you give it a shot, prepare to be served a big ass slice of humble pie because you will be running SLOWLY! I thought I knew my easy pace, and was even prepared to see it go down a little, but oh my god was I wrong!! I am easily seeing paces in the mid 13 min/mile ranges some days and to be honest…it’s tough. I’m already sensitive about being a slow poke and this makes me even more self-conscious.  It also takes some serious work to keep my heart rate that low; that sounds strange, but it takes a lot of focus and control to not let the heart rate start to creep up and out of the zone and also to trust the process.  Finishing a run and feeling like you haven’t even broken a sweat and haven’t really worked is just strange. THEN someone pointed out this is on purpose! You want to feel that way so when it’s time to throw down some speed or bust out a longer run, your body is ready for it. DUH. Once it was put into perspective, I was much happier to stick to that.  I’ve also changed the display screen of my Garmin and it no longer shows my pace at all; if I don’t see it, it can’t bother me. The only time I see my pace is when the mile ticks over and briefly pops up on my screen; the rest of the time it’s HR, Time, & Distance. This is also hugely beneficial to me during these summer months. The heat and humidity are brutal already, and not needing to worry about how it’s affecting my pace is great. I just go out, do my thing, stick to the zones and am blissfully unaware until I sync my Garmin.  I’m getting better at not letting the paces bother me and have been trying to just concentrate on the heart rate.

I’ve only been doing this for a couple of weeks so I don’t have much data or some amazing decrease in paces to share, but I’m confident that I will.  All I need to do is trust the process!