Boston Training Week 9: Half Way There

by Carissa

Mile by mile, day by day the boxes on my schedule are getting checked off.  I’m now half way through my 18 week training schedule.  There are distinct feelings I associate with being this far into a schedule.  

By now the excitement of the monumental task I’ve taken on has worn off.  Despite the lack of enthusiasm, there is a rhythm I have found.  Workouts that were a bit more of a struggle a few weeks ago happen with ease.  I’m getting faster and I’m running farther. 

It doesn’t hurt like it used to.  I have already logged 18 and 20 mile runs.  They felt good.  I still marvel at how different that distance now feels.  The first time I ran training runs that long was with Jodi for the 2010 Portland Marathon.  Those runs took everything out of me.  Just covering the distance was killer and finishing was a minor miracle.  I’m so glad I can remember how it used to feel.  It helps me appreciate those runs now.  If you haven’t experienced it personally, I promise you it is so different to cover that distance now.  Our body’s ability to adapt, change and grow stronger is incredible.  
Covering 13.1 with my buddy

During training week 8 I ran a half marathon distance pushing my three-year-old in the jogging stroller.  Last year pushing him for ten miles with Jodi’s help was a big deal.  If this sounds impossible or crazy, I promise it isn’t.  This is what can happen over time if you work at it. Okay, AND if you have a three-year-old who will tolerate long distances in the stroller!
The morning of the race I finally studied the course!

I raced the Heartbreaker Half last weekend.  My streak of PRs over the past three years was broken.  I ran it without a race taper and on a tough course.  My time was 1:34.  That’s about a minute and a half slower than my fall half.  No PR wasn’t a big let down.  What did concern me was how I felt when I was racing.  Mile one was hard.  In a half marathon there are miles that will be hard but mile one shouldn’t be one of them.  The fatigue I was feeling followed me until mile four when I took my first Gu.  Sometimes I take two Gus in a half and I was really glad I had brought two along.  The course rolls through pretty countryside with a bigger climb at mile three (Heartbreak Hill.)  

My teammate Shelley planned to run a 7:15 pace.  I was hoping to run 7 min/mile and see what happened on the hills.  Shelley caught up to and passed me within the first few miles. I was running slower than expected and she was running faster.  The course was pretty quiet for the middle miles.  Around mile nine I caught up to the 10k walkers and took my second Gu.  It was nice to have more bodies on the course and I felt more energized.  A drawback to the walkers was that they failed to realize the roadblock they created by walking leisurely three and four wide across the road.  I did have to do a little more weaving in those last miles.  As I came to the finish I tried to give it my all for the last 1.1 miles.  My average pace for the race was 7:11.  
Shelley and I after the race

Once I finished I felt fine with one exception.  It raised a red flag and I knew all was not well.  I have been meaning to see a doctor and have blood work done.  This race felt like a wake up call to stop letting it get pushed to the side.  I spent the second half of 2012 eating vegan and I want to make sure it didn’t create any deficiencies.  As a distance runner I especially want to make sure my iron levels are high enough.  I also want some feedback as to why Saturday went the way it did. 

Here I am.  Half way through training, a half marathon tune-up race under my belt and a few health concerns on the table.  Some confidence gained, some confidence lost.  Nine more weeks to be ready for the Boston Marathon.  

We’d love to hear from you Sole Sisters.  If you have done a training cycle before, how do you feel half way through?

12 comments:

  1. I can't believe you are already half way through your training. Time flies when you are having fun!

    I always hit a wall of some type when I am around the half way of any training plan. It is usually last for a week or so. Mostly I am tired and I am bored too. I start getting anxious for race day. What keeps me going is knowing that I only have a couple more hard weeks left and then it is taper time. Taper time really is the worst part of training for me, but it is just mental. I go crazy! I love not having a lot of miles to run, but I have so much free time on my hands and I am always super cranky. My poor husband, I don't know how he puts up with me and my taper tantrums. He usually sends me out of town to Seattle or Portland on the weekends just to get me out of the house. I don't mind the extra time with my girlfriends or the shopping trips. It helps take my mind off of the race. :-)

    Hang in there, you are almost done. Boston will be a trip of a lifetime. It is such a great city and the atmosphere on marathon weekend is incredible! I get goose bumps thinking about it. It is very surreal! I even met a lady in Boston at my hotel who lives in Philly. My husband actually found her because he was worried about me getting on the bus by myself...I know cute, right? Anyways we became really good friends after that and we still keep in touch to this day. It is one of my favorite running memories.

    I know that you are bummed about not getting a PR last weekend, but do you realize how incredible your time was during marathon training? It was a fantastic time to have no taper or rest for.

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    1. I love taper. I'm usually giddy with the new found time. I like that your husband sends you out of town especially since Portland is on your list of destinations. I'd love to hang out with you next time you're in town.
      Thanks for the encouragement about Boston. It will be really cool to get there and actually experience all that I keep hearing about. Two months to go!!!

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  2. Hooray for being halfway done and still feeling strong/injury free!!
    You might not have felt the best for the half, but it still was a good time for marathon training!

    I am amazed that you can run 13 miles with a 3 year old in a stroller. Not only is that a huge physical feat, but also that he behaves well for that amount of time! What a good kid!!

    I didn't realize that you had gone vegan recently! I am not sure I could keep up with the protein and iron needs for marathon training that way. I just am not likely to make food prep a high enough priority to achieve it- I know others do though.

    Keep doing your thing, sister. It won't be long and you'll be flying past that Citgo sign and crossing the mat to get that well-earned, pretty, one-of-a-kind medal :)

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    1. Thanks Raina! Yes, I wasn't sure if I was giving my body everything that it needs on the vegan diet especially for the long haul. I did feel good on the diet and I did learn all sorts of new recipes that I can still use. My kids however hated it. I had to cook two different meals for them and my husband and I. That's a pain! :)

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    2. well, you gave it a shot! Funny that you mentioned the 2 meals a night thing. I fed the boys some tofu hotdogs the other day and we had a good laugh. They ate them, but asked me not to make them again :). We won't be going vegan here anytime soon.

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    3. How nice of your boys to at least eat them!

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  3. You might want to have your B12 levels checked. The main way we get B12 is through animal products in our diets. If you are eating vegan, this might be the reason for your fatigue. You can probably manage this with a sublingual B12 supplement. I was diagnosed with a B12 deficiency about a year ago and the doctor tried to convince me that distance running was no longer in my future. I started seeing a naturopathic doctor who recommended nutritional supplements and if I listen to my body, my training isn't impacted too much. I also take a 1/4 teaspoon of Inositol powder each morning, which is a B complex product. Apparently, if it tastes sweet on your tongue, that means you need it. (It always tastes like powdered sugar to me). I am also training for my first of three half marathons this year. I am so impressed by your pace! Hope you feel better!

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    1. Thanks Rebecca. I checked my multi vitamin and it looks like I'm getting 100% d.v. of B12 from it. Hopefully that is helping my levels.
      Blessings to you in your training!

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  4. Wow- you're speedy!!! So impressive!
    I used to run with my kids, but never more than 6 mies in the stroller, it makes such a different run.
    Keep it up!!

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    1. Six miles is a long distance with the stroller too and I agree it's a very different run with them along. :)

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  5. I'm curious to know what the end-result was of your vegan trial. Are you still vegan? If not, what has changed and what was your train of thought behind the changes?

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    1. Hi Arielle. I am not still a vegan but I did learn a lot about cooking/eating vegan that I still like to incorporate in my meals. While vegan I was leaner and faster than I've ever been before. That could be because I just ate a lot cleaner than I do on a non vegan diet. The reason I am not eating vegan now is for ease of eating what my family and others eat and because I enjoy many foods that come from animals. :) I find it to be both a complicated and interesting topic.

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