Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon Training: Week 9

For every shitty week there’s a great week. It’s weeks like the one I just had that keep me going, keep me knowing that I’m not actually going to keel over and die. Weeks like this remind me that I actually CAN do this.

I was scared to death going into this week. I got to the gym on Tuesday morning freaking out that I’d be unable to make it more than two miles before calling it quits. And then I did 4.5 miles and felt AMAZING through the entire run! I had very little pain and felt strong the entire time.

Then Wednesday’s run was the same. And so was Friday. And then it was time for my long run.

I wasn’t nearly as nervous to start this run as I was my 8 mile run last week, but there were still some jitters. But I did it. I ran 9 miles AND in a faster pace than my 8 mile run. It could have been faster, too, but I’ll get into that in a bit.

This week will end with a 10 mile race serving as my scheduled 10 mile training run. I’m treating this as dress rehearsal for the half marathon. I’ll practice a solid pre-race meal, mid-race fueling, and proper hydration without using my fuel belt/water bottles. My time goal is simply to finish in under 2 hours and not over-do it. The whole point of this training cycle is for the half marathon. This weekend is just a training run that also happens to be a race.

Dailies:

Tuesday – 4.5 miles in 51:07 (11:22 pace)
Honestly, I felt amazing after this. This was the confidence booster I needed to bounce back from last week and hit this week hard!

Wednesday – 2 miles in 21:46 (10:53 pace)
This run started off feeling awkward, like I couldn’t figure out how to properly run. But once I hit my groove, it was all good!

Friday – 3 miles in 33:59 (11:20 pace)
The only bummer about this run is my data ran out on my phone plan (thanks to Tim’s recent upgrade/plan change) so with about .75 miles left I had to turn off Anchorman 2. I was sad.

Saturday – 9 miles in 1:46:11 (11:47 pace)
This run was actually a lot of fun! Although I have to laugh at my naivety at the start. The first 1.75ish miles were through a beautiful park in St. Paul that ran alongside the Mississippi River below the bluffs. I didn’t wear my headphones for that first bit because I was just soaking in the atmosphere. Birds chirping, water lapping at the banks, friendly “hellos” to fellow runners. There were quite a few rolling hills, but they felt great, and I really appreciated them and thought they were good for my training. I actually clocked my fasted mile ever, at just about 10 minutes for mile 1.

The LAST 1.75ish miles were murder. Those beautiful rollers? DEATH MARCHES. I could barely WALK up some of them, much less run. How I got an almost 10 minute mile for my first mile on those hills, I’ll never know. It. Was. Awful. I actually clocked my slowest mile in a long time, at just about 13 minutes for mile 9.

The reason I chose that specific starting point on the river was because I’d have to run up the bluff at some point during my race this weekend. And by “at some point” I mean “after having run 8 other miles I’ll be forced to run walk up a giant river bluff.” So I thought by starting my run below the bluffs and then running up it would be a smart plan. It was not. The hill I chose to run up was so steep I could barely walk it. It WAS rather pleasant to run down at the end of my run, but still, it wasn’t my best plan.

I learned A LOT from this run. First off, I need more than a frozen waffle covered in really crappy tasting JIF cashew butter (Trader Joe’s cashew butter is MUCH better). I actually felt how empty my stomach was and I did NOT like it. Also, right around the 90 minute mark I started to fade, but since I had just over a mile left, I chose not to take another GU. This was not a good plan, as the last two miles of my run were those horrific rollers. My pace for those last to miles dropped HARD. Mile 9 had almost a 13 minute pace. I’d averaged around 11:30/mile for most of the run, so those last two miles really hurt me.

My fueling plan for the race on Saturday will look something like this: Get to the race about 90 minutes to 2 hours early. Find the Bruegger’s Bagels that’s two blocks from the start and have a chocolate milk and half a bagel with peanut butter. Fifteen minutes before race start, down a GU. Take another GU at the water stop around mile 4. Take a third GU at the water stop around 7.5 miles, right before the bluff. Hopefully this will keep my energy levels up so I don’t crash and burn at the end like I did on Saturday.

I also learned a lot about pacing during my long run. A 10 minute mile for mile one and almost 13 minutes for mile 9 tells me I started WAY too fast! I need to bank energy, not time. I want to start off super slow so I can keep my strength for the end. There will be pacers, and I’m tempted to try and hang out with the 11:00/mile pacer. But I’m worried that that will end up hurting me, especially since my overall average is around 11:30/mile. So I’m just going to take it nice and easy and just try and remember this is a training run, not a race. The pace doesn’t matter, just finish the miles.

Off to Week 10!

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