Buffalo Creek Half Marathon Training – Week 2

Happy Monday, Wednesday, Thursday! I got a little sidetracked this week – I got my first course syllabus and have been mildly freaking out even since! There is quite a bit of work crammed into 8 weeks and the assignments look pretty intense. I think part of my anxiety is stemming from the fact that I don’t yet have the syllabus for my science class. I’m panicking over whether tests are going to coincide and I have all of this work for ONE class how am I going to manage another?! I’m also already wondering how this whole training thing is going to work out…I’m not going to worry about that tooooo much but it’s definitely on my mind.

So, onto another week of training! It was another low mileage week, and even with that there were still some tough runs in there.  I don’t have many running pictures again, but the cats were a total hit last week so they will be featured heavily again!

Monday: 3 miles 35:00 11:29 pace Avg HR:  147       It was a really beautiful morning with a fantastic sunrise! I don’t usually take my phone with me – it’s a pain to carry and my armband is chilling somewhere in Homewood, so I wasn’t able to capture it. Overall I felt great! I find that I’m getting better at naturally falling into the right zone and it’s less of a battle to keep my HR where it should be. I used to hate running easy, because it meant “slow”, but I’m slowly (haha, see what I did there??) falling in love with these.

 

Wilbur scoping out the goods

Wilbur scoping out the goods

Tuesday: 30 min tempo 3.1 miles 9:34 pace Avg HR:  168    I was a little nervous about this run. I tried a 30 minute tempo several weeks ago and didn’t even get 3 miles. I was a little embarrassed, and worried that I wouldn’t getting enough mileage with these tempos. But after analyzing the run, I noticed that I was really low in the HR zone and if I would just push it a little more I might see better results. And I was right! My splits were: 9:37, 9:52, 9:08, 10:46 for the .1 ! A little inconsistent with that middle mile but overall I was really excited by these results. I made great adjustments and great progress in just 2 weeks and that is proof that I’m on the right path.

Wilbur has been giving Gizmo hiding lessons.

Wilbur has been giving Gizmo hiding lessons.

 

Wednesday: 3 miles 33:00 10:54 pace Avg HR:  153  Another beautiful morning! The sunrises were off.the.chart. all week long and I loved it. They are definitely the types of mornings that make me happy & grateful that I run, and give me a chance to reflect on all kinds of things. I love it! I got a strength workout in Wednesday evening as well.

I wake up to this x4 every morning. Someone is not pleased that breakfast was delayed.

I wake up to this look x4 every morning. Someone is not pleased that breakfast was delayed.

 

Thursday: Strength. I know you aren’t supposed to do the NROLFW workouts back to back. But I did. Such a rebel.

 

I got snazzy new running shoes this weekend. When I got home, I promptly tried them on, and Shooter promptly stole the box.

I got snazzy new running shoes this weekend. When I got home, I promptly tried them on, and Shooter promptly stole the box.

Friday: 3 mile Pace Run 29:00 9:29 pace Avg HR:  172       AWE.SOME. The week before, I was little disappointed at my pace but after seeing my average heart rate, it was clear why. My heart rate was too low. This week I made a major effort to not let it dip below 170 and my pace went right back down into the mid 9’s. Imagine that.  It’s amazing how just a few beats can make a big impact on my pace.

I need this backpack. I know I'm not actually going to be going to school, so I don't NEED it....but boy, do I want that.

I need this backpack. I know I’m not actually going to be going to school, so I don’t NEED it….but boy, do I want that. In case you can’t tell, that’s CATS floating through the galaxy. Amazing.

 

Saturday:  6 miles 1:09 11:27 pace Avg HR: 162   This run sucked. I had so much on my mind and was having a hard time keeping it together to begin with, so this was tough. My heart rate was elevated from the get go and I just couldn’t bring it back down. I also went back to the hilly route around my neighborhood and it was harder than I remembered.  It’s amazing how much stress and other outside factors can affect heart rate. I’ve noticed that several times now and it while I’m aware of it, it never fails to amaze me.

She is nailing it.

She is nailing it.

 

Sunday. Rest day. It was the first “anniversary” (that sounds like such an odd word to use in this situation) of my step father’s passing and it was rough. Hence, Saturday’s run through Struggle Town. It was hard, but to be honest, the days leading up to it were even harder.  I was dreading it, but it ended up being OK. We (me, Tall One, my mom and my aunt) met  at the cemetery  and then went to an Irish pub (Siebs) for a toast. Not exactly conventional but exactly what  Lee would have wanted

 

It still feels weird to be doing such low mileage, but it seems that I am really responding to it so I won’t question anything! I think that within the next week or two, my morning runs will be coming to an end and that’s a total bummer. I LOVE early morning runs, but it’s already staying SO dark in the morning – I delay my starts for as long as I can but I won’t be able to do that much longer. Transitioning back to running after work can sometimes be tough for me but eventually I’ll get back in the groove.

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?

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!

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!