Saturday, November 21, 2015

Philadelphia Half Marathon Training: Fall 2015 Season Review

I hate shakeouts. Those short “easy” runs the day before a race. They get your legs moving . . . and your brain moving even faster. The fact is—at least for me—they almost never feel good.

“Are you kidding me?” my brain asks as I huff and puff my way through mile one. “This feels impossible. Do you know hard tomorrow’s going to feel?” “You’re fine,” I argue back. “You’ve felt this way before. It isn’t a sign of how the race will go.” We struggle through a few more minutes of agony. The watch beeps, and I can’t not look. “Ha,” my brain scoffs as my ego cowers in a corner. “And you think you’re going to average a pace exactly how much faster than that tomorrow?”

I’m pretty sure I’ve had this mental dialogue, in some form or another,  before every major race I’ve run. So clearly it’s not rooted in reality. I’ve proved my brain wrong more than once, and I fully intend to do it again. Tomorrow. But that doesn’t make today any easier.

Therefore, it’s time for a training recap! Because no matter what happens tomorrow, I’ve made some strides (no pun intended), and I’m very grateful for a lot that has happened between Timberman (August) and now.

Biggest change: Coaches. Well, not changing, exactly. Semi-changing? A change-in-process? About two months ago, GCR’s head coach Josh brought on an assistant coach, Allie, to begin leading morning workouts for GCR. And since I’ve only been attending morning workouts, that more or less makes Allie my coach . . . sort of. It’s all still in progress, the shifting of responsibility and trust, but it’s definitely the biggest change that has occurred between August and today.

Best workout: This one was fairly recent: a tempo on the track. 6x1mi, alternating 6:15/6:40, no rest. I nailed it, and shifting gears didn’t feel nearly as traumatic as I expected. Of course, I was with teammates, so that undoubtedly helped to keep my brain in check.

Worst workout: Another fairly recent one (or maybe I just have a short memory): 16mi including 2x2mi @6:00 and 15x60sec on/off @sub-6:00. Missed it by a mile—literally, because I got lost and ran 17 miles before essentially hitchhiking home.* The 2x2mi was especially demoralizing because I was trying so hard and just never made it even close to the prescribed pace. But hey, something to aspire to in the future, right?

Biggest triumph: The Dash to the Finish 5k—which I almost didn’t do. After the initial suggestion from my coach and some convincing by a few teammates, I agreed to fork over the $50. It was worth it. I broke 19 min.

Biggest inspiration: Yet again, my teammates. J___ and her irrepressible optimism. S___ and her ability to dig in and do more than her brain insists she can. And A___ and her stubborn refusal to give up.

*The story of that debacle, in case you missed reading it, is here.

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