Even though it seems like winter is dragging on forever (hello, windy day after day…), spring will be here soon enough. Betsy reminded me via email #37 of the day that March is only a week away and therefore short runs (aka runs in shorts, not shot mileage runs) will be back soon. And please hurry! Of course, spring being here soon means that spring marathon season will be upon us before we know it.
I have mixed opinions about this. On one hand, I’m excited to race the marathon again…the last marathon I “raced” was the 2011 Twin Cities Marathon, and the end of that race report, I said that very thing. That I can’t wait to race again. I like the challenge that the marathon presents in its training and length, so I’m looking forward to racing Boston, especially after being sidelined for most of last year.
On the other hand…I haven’t ran a marathon since November 2011 (NYC). The closest I’ve even come to racing would be at Hood to Coast this past year, but while I ran faster-ish there, “racing” is a bit relative when you’re fresh off of injury. So needless to say, the idea of toeing the line in Boston leaves me shaking in my Brooks.
I realized that it probably wasn’t the best move to have my first race back be a marathon, so after kicking myself for not signing up for the NYC Half, I looked into the Rock’n’Roll USA Half on March 16th. I asked Jess if she would mind hosting me for the night, and after a confirmation from her, I signed up!
The half is about a month before Boston, which is good timing. It will also let me get out some of the nerves behind racing…getting ready in the morning, getting to the start, the crowds, finding pace, etc. I’ve been doing this for a long time, but I race to race (against myself…not winning these things!) and not just to finish and collect a medal. Therefore, I get nervous about all this, especially since I was out for so long last year.
I’ve had my eyes on a 3:10 marathon for awhile, and although I’m not necessarily declaring that as my goal for Boston, I’m not ruling it out. So when I think about half marathon paces, I like to think (based on my own ideas and nothing scientific…) that gunning for sub-1:30 would be a good idea. That is, until I looked at how fast that actually is…
Annnnd, reality check. Thank you to everyone who said things along the lines of, “You say that as if you can’t do it!” because you have a little more confidence in me than I do.
Of course, this all happened just before I headed out for a workout on Tuesday. I wanted to do a tempo run because I like tempo runs, the best way to get faster is to run faster, and with the half three-ish weeks away, a long sustained effort sounded like a good idea. After consulting McMillan, I headed out for a six mile tempo run. My legs were still feeling the pain from skiing over the weekend, so I had no idea how this was going to turn out.
The weather was a bit rainy yet somewhat warm, so I wore shorts and warmed up over to the West Side Highway where I like to do speed work. It’s nice since it’s flat (unlike Central Park) and you can run without worrying about stopping for traffic. However, when windy it can be quite difficult and therefore I always run into the wind first and have it at my back on the second half. (So smart.)
My legs felt tired after the warm-up, but I needed to give it a go and you can’t always run on fresh legs. I took off and hoped for around a 6:45 pace…which was maintainable but anything but fun, and I definitely spent the entire first three miles counting down until I could turn around. At times I questioned how I was going to maintain this pace the entire time, but I knew it would get better when I turned around.
And…it did. I turned around after running three hard 6:45-ish miles. Made the turn back north and immediately felt like I was flying. At 6:30 pace. I couldn’t believe how easy it felt and knew it would probably wear off. It didn’t. For the first three miles, every step was a fight, but the second three miles, I took time to look around which never happens when I’m focused on a pace. I know the wind had some responsibility for this, but 6:30 feeling totally manageable is quite awesome.
The last mile wasn’t the easiest ever, but it wasn’t too hard to push through. I thought about adding on 0.2 miles because that would make it a 10k and 95% sure it would have been a PR. (See also: I need to race shorter distances more often…) However, I didn’t and therefore wrapped up my six miles on the dot. Annnnnnd it was amazing.
Um, I’ll take it. Maybe a sub-1:30 half isn’t far off? Although 13.1 miles is definitely a bit further than six miles, this workout gives me a little more confidence for upcoming races. I’ve never really raced a half, so it’ll be a good experience and definitely a good tune-up/warm-up for Boston.
Also, if that’s how I run on post-ski legs, maybe I should go skiing more often…
DO YOU PLAN YOUR RUNS ACCORDING TO THE WIND? (See also: Are you as neurotic as me?) HOW DO YOU PICK YOUR PACES?