Pre-Marathon Void of the Unknown

Yup, so as the title states—I have no idea what to expect for this half marathon. Three weeks ago I was walking with a limp. Last week's inside runs were great (9:00 minute mile pace). Last week's outside long run of 11 miles was slow (10:30 minute mile pace) and my achilles was super sore afterwards for about a day. This week's training runs are back to being fast and no tweaked-out achilles. So that means my goal for the race should be....?

I don't do well with unknowns. The typical pre-race anxiety is plenty for me to handle on any day, but not knowing what my plan should be makes it worse. So I'm going to stick with my original goals and graduate step-by-step on race day depending on how it goes.

  1. Finish the race (don't really think I'll have an issue with this, but if it's the only goal I hit then I can say I hit a goal!)
  2. Beat 2010's half marathon time of 2:20.
  3. If I'm really feeling feisty and full of energy and the crowds are going and my achilles isn't hurting, aim for a time of around 2:05.

Can I do it? Here are two mantras I've been using for the past couple of months that really help. (Well, the first one is a mantra, the second one is more of a basic equation that doesn't make my brain hurt.)

Run the Mile You're In, Julie Rado Design

Run the mile you're in. It's just one mile. Don't think about the rest right now. Don't think about when you hit the 3 mile mark YOU STILL HAVE TEN POINT ONE TO GO OHHH GOD NOOOO WHYYY I'M INSANE WHO DOES THIS TO THEMSELVES UGGHHH. So that doesn't happen. Just think, "And now I'm on to mile 4, that was fast! Look at me go!"

5-5-3, Julie Rado Design

In a similar vein, I'll be thinking of the race in chunks. Five miles, five miles, and three miles. Three miles, that's nothing. You can do it. Listen to the crowds cheering you on!

I'll be sure to post a race recap here with plenty of details. Until then I'll be hydrating, carbing up and trying (and probably failing) to fall asleep early each night. 

Running Life Lately, Part Two

I've been training steadily since the first week of August for the Philly half marathon. Since I've been running consistently for the past two years (meaning no months-long breaks), I decided to try training at the intermediate level, so I've been doing speedwork and longer long runs. I hadn't been too worried about beating my last race time (2:20) and then it all came screeching to a halt two weekends ago. (Insert crowd booing noise here).

Ill-fated ten miler of doom...little did I know.

Ill-fated ten miler of doom...little did I know.

I did my long run of ten miles (yay!) and was feeling good. Later in the afternoon, the fronts of my ankles and my achilles were beginning to get sore. Nothing too crazy, it seemed—regular aches and pains after running for a long time. Monday came and I was still sore, but did a slower three mile recovery run and felt pretty good. Tuesday I had speed intervals of 7 x 800 on the schedule and the pain was nagging. I'm not normally one to work through pain, but I just figured it was lingering and that I would be ok. Later that night, I was limping around and hurting...badly. As it turns out, I think I had a budding case of achilles tendonitis and according to Dr. Google, doing speed intervals with an achilles tendon issue will only make it worse. Great! Fantastic! Just what I wanted to hear!

So with three and a half-ish weeks until the half marathon, I took a week off of running. I used my walking limp as a gauge for whether I should run. Since I was more or less limping for a week, I figured I shouldn't try to run. My exercise mainly consisted of pilates and walking (hobbling) to the Wawa near work for coffee. I went through the various phases of grief. Denial (running on the hurt achilles); bargaining (I swear I'll never take being healthy for granted again if I can just get my foot feeling better to run this race); anger (it's not fair that the goofy guy lumbering around the track wearing ill-fitting basketball shoes isn't hurt and I am). In the meantime I iced, stretched and foam rolled like a mofo.

This past week, I decided to ease back in to running. Monday, I wanted to try and run three miles, but I only made it 1.25. Nothing hurt per se, but it did feel relatively wonky and I didn't want to make it worse. So I walked the rest of my miles around a track, which is the most boring and torturous thing a runner can do to themselves (especially when being lapped by the lumbering guy in the ill-fitting basketball shoes). Wednesday I was able to run three miles with the occasional tweaky feeling in my achilles and a dull ache in my calf with every step. Thursday and Friday I did three miles as well. I decided to try and pick back up with my long run schedule and did nine miles yesterday—albeit inside the gym on the track (144 laps on a 1/16 mile track...yeah, I listen to podcasts and try not to lose count) so as not to twist my foot on any hills, turns, rocks, piles of dog poo or whatever other hazards lay outside waiting for me at the park.

I'm happy to say the nine miles went really well, aside from my pace being slower than molasses in January. I was intentionally going slow to start, and kept it slow, but I didn't think I had it in me to go as slow as I was going (11:30 miles...gah!) It was a little depressing. I have mostly tried to smack my ego down and tell myself at least I ran nine miles. Nevermind that it was three minutes slower than my 10 mile race PR from May.  

So whereas before, I wasn't really worried about beating my previous race time and was hoping to break 2:05, now I'm re-evaluating my goals. To start with the easy and end with the potentially unattainable: Goal A is to run the race. Goal B is to not hurt myself any further during the race. Goal C is to run under a 10 minute mile. If I am back at my regular pace by then (it's in two weeks so maybe that's attainable? A 9:15-ish mile) then I'd love to be under 2:10. Secretly I'm hoping the Mayor's high five and the crowds and my adrenaline will propel me to 2:05. I'm really going to have to be on the lookout for potholes this time to make that happen.

And Now for Something Totally Creepy

It has been a lifelong (err, since I was 20-ish) dream of mine to visit Eastern State Penitentiary (yes, I know, I dream big, considering I live about 25 miles away and could have gone any time in the last ten years). This year, my husband took me as a birthday present. It was totally as creepy and in disrepair as it boasts. Next year I want to go back and make a trip through Terror Behind the Walls. This year I loved telling people that my husband took me to prison for my birthday. Here are some of my favorite photos from our trip (a mix of Hipstamatic iphone shots and DSLR. You can see the entire Flickr set here.)

The nice gargoyle that greets visitors. Pretty sure this is in no way original to the prison.

Apparently the skylights were intended to invoke the eye of God.