Half-Marathon-by-the-Sea, 22 September 2019

What: Half marathon

Where: Manchester-by-the-Sea (and Hamilton), Massachusetts

Course Map:

Who: Me and Co-Worker J, with Drew, the Bairn, and J’s boyfriend for moral support

Time: 02:39:55

Splits: (according to Simon)
Mile 1: 10:49
Mile 2: 11:11
Mile 3: 11:35
Mile 4: 11:52
Mile 5: 11:32
Mile 6: 11:53
Mile 7: 11:50
Mile 8: 12:55
Mile 9: 12:59
Mile 10: 12:07
Mile 11: 12:10
Mile 12: 12:54
Mile 13: 13:13
Mile 13.1: 2:52

Race day finally happened! I feel like my training for this half was slightly more consistent than trainings past; training for my second half barely counts as training, and my first… I at least got up to 10 miles for my long runs, but don’t remember doing a lot of other running or cross-training (besides soccer and kickball). So I felt relatively ready!

Race day dawned bright and hot. Hotter than I was prepared for. The Worcester Running Festival Half was in late June and I knew it was going to be a scorcher, so at least I was mentally prepared. J and I liked the sound of this September race because we figured it would be coolish. (Cue climate change laughing in our faces.)

Bib pickup was pretty easy. We managed to snag one of the last spots in the parking lot on-site, and getting my bib and race shirt took no time at all. We could pick what size we wanted there, which was cool, and they had men’s and women’s sizes, which was also appreciated!

Another cool thing was the tiny playground near the start/finish, so the Bairn was chuffed and entertained while I pinned my bib, waited in portaloo lines, and posed for pics with other Shammies who were running the race:

J and I posed for more pics once she arrived too, and I have to say I’m partial to our nerdy librarian pics!

Our shirts say “librarians know how to book it!”

We lined up near the back of the pack, both agreeing that we’d take it easy and walk when either of us needed to. I’d originally wanted to try for a PR in this race, but due to a) the heat, b) my not feeling well thanks to an ill-timed visit from everyone’s favorite Auntie Flo, c) this being J’s first half, so I wanted to stick with her and be moral support – I changed my goal to just finishing and having fun. (And, let’s be honest about point C up there… the moral support totally went both ways!)

Being goofy and waving at Drew and the Bairn at the start

We cruised along pretty decently for the first few miles. It was hot, and we were both questioning why we signed up for this, but it was okay. We were going a little faster than I had started out in my other halves, and I worried a bit that I’d flag sooner and do a massive positive split, but tried to quiet the nerdy voice in my head and just run and see how it went.

The first mile or so was in the town center of Manchester-by-the-Sea, and was quite pleasant. After that, we ran a long stretch by the highway, and it felt pretty boring until we hit some pretty lakes. We kept the chatter up for the first half of the race or so, commenting on the scenery and whatever popped into our heads.

Several miles in, I started feeling like I had at least one blister forming. I had Body Glided the crap out of my toes before the race, but the heat and the fact that I didn’t wear the best socks in terms of blister prevention (love my Legend compression socks! But now I know they’re better suited to distances 10k and below for me… at least on hot days) combined to work against me. My toes hurt more and more as the race went on, and our faster-than-expected pace at the start began to catch up with me. Somewhere around mile 6 or 7 or something (it’s all a blur), I told J I might not be able to talk anymore because I needed to reserve my oxygen. I was trying so hard not to be done, but I wasn’t optimistic!

My “let this be done alreadyyyyy” grimace, taken at about the halfway mark

Interestingly, moments when I was wanting to quit, J was feeling decent and was a fantastic motivator. When J was hitting a wall, I had a second wind and was able to drag her along for a bit. We complemented each other nicely! However, by the last few miles, we were both just done and it was so hard to keep going. Honestly, the only thing preventing me from stopping was the fact that we had to get ourselves to the finish line somehow, so might as well keep running.

Double thumbs-down!

Closing in on the finish, we welcomed the sight of civilization once again as the desolate and boring roads were replaced with the town center, and our cheering crew! They were a sight to behold, as were the familiar sights near the finish… except that when we saw the finish line itself, we realized we had to run a big loop around to get to it, rather than the merciful straight line we both expected. J had it at that point, and we had to stop for a walk break. It was pretty disheartening, but once we rounded the curve we were able to run it in:

We finished in just shy of 2 minutes over my PR, which was really amazing considering the heat and my super painful feet, but also a little disheartening to be so close and not quite doing it. I kept thinking, if only I hadn’t taken that walk break… or that other walk break… or that other one… but really, given everything, it was a very good time. And we were both so happy to be done.

Our bibs came with beer tickets, but to be honest, I don’t even know where the beer was. There was some kind of after party, but not at the finish, and god knows my brain had melted and it was all I could do to remember to stretch and drink some water. Drew and the Bairn did take me out for ice cream at Captain Dusty’s afterward, and a sugar cone of my favorite White Russian Chip is better than beer any day!

So, to sum up, I’m pleased enough with my performance. It wasn’t ideal conditions for several reasons, and to come that close to my PR given all that is pretty great, even though I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sad about missing a PR. Running a half with a friend is way better than running a half alone, PR or no PR!

The race itself… I didn’t love it. Even though the course map wasn’t a secret, I thought there’d be more “by the sea” than there was, and the course was desolate in places… though not as bad as the Worcester half. The course could have used another portaloo or two; there were 2 about 2-3 miles in, that we didn’t come back to until mile 11 or so (does that math add up?), and I could have used one more in the middle somewhere. The aid stations were okay, with two offering Gatorade as well as water, and one offering Honey Stinger gels. The race site made a big deal about free race photos, but J and I didn’t make it into any. Browsing through, it’s like the photographer took a few of the fast runners and then got bored and left to shoot spectators and police bikes. Not a huge deal, but kind of lame. I definitely thought Green Stride put on a better half in Newburyport, but I wouldn’t rule out doing another YuKan race in the future.

And hey, my inner map nerd is psyched to add two new towns to my maps! 🤓 So that’s something.

I did get all philosophical about half marathons and my running future – mostly inspired by the ghastliness that befell my toes during this race – but that’s a topic for another post, because this one is long enough as it is.

For now, I just have to heal my feet and pray I don’t lose any fitness I may have developed in the meantime, because Oxford looms! Stay tuned…

Advertisements

HMBTS Training, Week 12

IMG_3476

AKA the final stretch!! This wasn’t so much a week of training as just a week. But let’s press on.

Monday

Rest | Rest

My legs were a bit tired after running my second fastest 5k ever the day before, so this was a welcome rest day. Plus, the Bairn had come down with a random fever bug the night before, so we laid low, watched Cars, and had lots of snuggles.

Tuesday

4 mile run | 3.5 mile stroller walk

I started getting paranoid that I’d hurt myself if I pushed too much this week, so instead of going for a stroller run like I had originally planned, the Bairn and I took a leisurely stroll to a playground and back. We had a great time picking clover and looking at bugs in between swings and slides, so I think it was a good choice.

Wednesday

Cross-training | 4 mile run

I had Wednesday off, and it was a lovely cool day, so I decided to do Tuesday’s run after all. I told myself to take it nice and easy, and then I got all cocky at my relatively fast mile times for the first 2 miles and decided to push a little. I ended up trying to run all 4 without stopping, since I had made it 3.5 a few weeks back and was so chuffed, and I wanted to see if I could go a bit further. I ended up making it 4 miles without stopping (huzzah!) but then everything hurt afterwards. Sigh.

Thursday

Rest | Rest

I rested my arse off, especially as I was even more paranoid about having injured myself the day before!

Friday

2 mile run | Rest

Yep. Still paranoid. After ending my run on Wednesday, I decided I’d just cool all my jets until race day. I tend to run better after long rest periods (and/or just straight up periods of zero running or non-toddler-related cross training) so I opted to gamble on that.

Saturday

Rest | Rest

I worked all day, so it wasn’t a nice, put-your-legs-up-and-hydrate pre-race rest day, but what can you do?

Sunday

The big day!! I’m writing this Saturday night, so it hasn’t happened yet, but I will write a recap in what I hope will be a relatively timely manner.

What I do know – tomorrow is supposed to be hot. Like, upper 70s – mid 80s range. I’m undertrained, underhydrated, and it’s not my favorite time of month to run, so it probably won’t be pretty. But I’m going to do it, whether it’s pretty or not! See you on the other side…

HMBTS Training, Week 11

IMG_3476

I think we can officially say that this is the week the wheels fell off this training plan. At this point, we’ll just have to see how the race goes. I was originally going to try for a PR, but since a) I trained crappily and b) it’s supposed to be hot on race day, I’ve lowered my expectations and goals.

Monday

Rest | Rest

I took the Bairn to a Kindermusik class, and then we hit up one of his favorite playgrounds:

Anyone want to guess why this park is a favorite? 😉

Tuesday

5 mile run | 6.5 stroller run/walk

It was Election Day in my city (a primary), so I figured I’d work our traditional stroller walk to the polls into my workout. I popped the Bairn in the jogging stroller, we walked to the polls, then jogged to the pond and ran just over halfway, til we got to the bubblers. Then I took him on a detour to a rail trail for a quick out and back, then walked to a new playground, then home. There were a decent amount of walk breaks, and a long stop at the park, but all together we traveled just shy of 6.5 miles. Not too bad.

The Bairn rocking his “I voted” sticker and eating stroopwafel

Wednesday

Cross-training | Rest

Another Wednesday, another day of me not feeling like doing cross-training. Ho hum.

Thursday

Rest | Rest

Pretty run-of-the-mill rest day.

Friday

5 mile run | Rest

My FIL arrived for a visit Thursday night, and while I was working late, all the lads had a dinner out and the Bairn spent hours playing with his Baba. So he went to bed wicked late, meaning he slept in forever on Friday, meaning I had no time to squeak in a run before work. (I mean, I could have woken him up, but he was so cozy and needed the rest!) Which is too bad, because the weather was nice and cool and a run would have felt great!

Saturday

60 mins cross-training | Rest

At this point in the training plan, why even pretend that I’m going to cross-train?? I took the Bairn to his first soccer practice:

Most of the practice was spent doing this, or climbing the nearby bleachers. Toddlers gonna toddler.

Then met a Shammie friend for an afternoon beer, then went out for a nice anniversary dinner with Drew.

Sunday

10 mile run | 5k race

Sunday was the 5th race in the RAW Series, the Shoppers Cafe 5k. I arrived at the race a wee bit hungover from Shammie day drinking / wine at dinner / fancy post-dinner cocktail / a general refusal to drink water during all that, and it was in the upper-70s/lower-80s at race time, so I didn’t have high hopes.

I ran with some friends, and we ended up starting a bit higher up in the pack than we intended to (the start wasn’t very well organized), and one friend who usually runs a bit slower than I do took off like a bat out of hell and was cruising along between an 8:45 and 9 pace. I was just trying to keep her in my sights, then somehow ended up passing her when she started to lose a bit of steam. I lost steam as well – no surprise – but made it a strong 2 miles before stopping for water.

After that it was a woozy run-walk to the finish… until the very last bit. For the last half-mile or so, I was randomly on my own without other runners around me. Little did I know a dude was creeping up on me quietly, and when I rounded the final corner he tried to squeak past me on the inside. Nope!

I didn’t think I had anything left in me, but I wasn’t going to let some guy edge past me out of nowhere and beat me. (Who me? Competitive?) I turned the jets on and sprinted to the finish, with a finish time of 30:05… less than 30 seconds off my PR! I was not expecting that, not with the heat and my hangover. (I’d had vague plans of adding some miles onto this race to fit better with my training plan, but said heat and hangover – and how much I pushed myself in the race – made that not seem like a winning idea.)

So, even though I didn’t make it through my training plan for this half, I’m at least going into the race feeling somewhat confident in myself. I made it further in my training plan than I did for either of my other two halves, and I’ve been consistently surprising myself in races this year. I may not be doing as much intentional cross-training as I should, but honestly… I pick the Bairn up multiple times a day and sometimes even do squats (“Mummy pick up my car? No Mummy, keep holding me and pick up car!”) Stroller running’s got to be some kind of cross-training too. So maybe I’m not in as bad shape for this half as I think I am. We shall see in less than a week!

HMBTS Training, Week 10

IMG_3476

This week got a bit complicated, as it saw the first of some scheduled 5k races lurk its way into my training plan without any thought for mileage or sticking with plans or my sanity or anything. So, yeah this week was a mess. Let’s take a look, shall we?

Monday

Rest | Rest

Monday was Labor Day, and we celebrated by having my folks over for a wee cookout.

Tuesday

5 mile run | Rest

A friend invited the Bairn and I out for a play date at a farm, which honestly sounded way more fun than running 5 miles with the stroller. I also knew I had Wednesday morning off, so I mentally switched days and figured chasing toddlers around a farm would count as cross-training (weak, I know).

Adorable.

Wednesday

Cross-training | 4.65 mile run

When I was first awake and getting the Bairn ready for school, I checked my weather app and I swear it said 81% humidity. So I was kind of dreading this run.

It might not have been quite 81% at run time, but I distinctly remember thinking “Huh, I feel like I’m running through soup.” It wasn’t entirely pleasant. However, the first 3 miles were surprisingly good, considering. I managed to run 3 without having to stop, my body felt okay, and I returned to my cocky “eh, it’s just 5 miles, easy peasy” mindset from last week.

Though I was able to make it through those 3 miles, by roughly 2.5 I was wishing I had chosen a route with access to water. True to form, I had not hydrated before the run and I was parched. Luckily I remembered I was relatively close to a playground I’ve brought the Bairn to before, and I vaguely remembered a bubbler there, so I changed course to find it.

The playground did have a bubbler – huzzah! – but the water was nastily warm and not refreshing at all. I had a bunch anyway, but the stop killed my momentum. The remaining 1.65 miles were rough, and I couldn’t bring myself to push for an even 5. I waved the white flag and stumbled inside to chug some Gatorade before getting ready for work.

Thursday

Rest | Rest

Typical rest day; nothing to report.

Friday

5 mile run | Rest

Here’s where the week began to get complicated. I was supposed to run 5, do some cross-training Saturday, and then run 9 on Sunday. I even had a route planned out that I was moderately excited about. Then I remembered I had a 5k Saturday. “Eh, not a problem,” I thought. “It’s a trail run, so I’ll take it super easy, maybe even walk it, count it as cross-training, then still run 9 on Sunday.” It seemed like a brilliant plan, so I turned Friday into a rest day…..

Saturday

60 mins cross-training | PBR 5K

… then the race actually happened. The Prospect Bandit Run (PBR 5k) is a race up Prospect Hill through the woods, and is notorious for being tough. I was wary of doing it two weeks out from my half (and 5 weeks out from one of my bucket list races!) but it’s part of the RAW Series, so I knew I had to complete it whether I walked or ran or whatever. I was planning to do it alone, so I figured I’d walk most of it and maybe run bits and pieces.

Then a coworker signed up to run with me, and she roped a third to join us. We all said we’d take it easy, as none of us were in hill- or trail-running shape, but when the race started we were off running.

Well… “running” is a relative term. The race started uphill, on a paved access road. A steep access road. Like, straight up. We were running, but my Garmin clocked us as going at a 17:00 pace. My quads gave up the ghost after about a minute, and I don’t remember much about that hill other than just being in pain and wanting to lay down to whimper. But my friends were still trying to run, so I pushed on.

Then we ran through the woods for a while:

And it wasn’t too bad. Then we started climbing again and it just kept going up. We stopped running and just tried to climb. There were some lovely observation points with a gorgeous view of Boston, but I just wanted the climb to be over so I barely even looked (though I wish I had!). I didn’t stop until we reached the tower at the very top:

And then we ran back down the woods, down some crazy stone steps much like ones we had traveled up:

It’s hard to tell in the picture how much of a slope there is, but it was pretty steep

We then ran back down the super steep paved access road to the finish line. I knew it was going to be a hard race, but it was hard. I kept saying “yep, that was a one-and-done for sure!” and I still feel that way two days later as my ankles are still screaming at me for making them roll all over roots and rocks and acorns. Definitely not the smartest race to do before a half, even if it was slightly fun to do with friends.

Sunday

9 mile run | Rest

At some point during the PBR, I told one of my coworkers – one who happens to be running the HMBTS with me – that I still planned on doing 6-9 miles Sunday, depending on how my legs felt. She laughed at me. Even Drew, who has hiked Prospect Hill in the past, said something after the race along the lines of “Yeah, you won’t be running tomorrow after running up Prospect Hill today.”

They were right. My legs were in agony on Sunday. They hadn’t so much as peeked at a technical trail in a few years, let alone try to run one, and those stabilizing muscles are pissed at me. Plus, holy hill Batman. I’ve been actively avoiding hills, or walking up them, because they aggravate my dodgy hip/IT band and I haven’t wanted to anger them too much before the half.

Whose idea was the PBR anyway? Dang RAW series.

Instead of running, I went to the zoo with Drew, my dad, and the Bairn:

Now I’m trying to figure out how the rest of my training will look. I’m supposed to run 10 this Sunday, but have a 5k that day. I figured I’d run that and then do 7 later, but my HMBTS-running colleague said something about tapering this weekend and now I’m totally second-guessing my training plan. Did I pick a plan with no taper week, or did I miscalculate?? Do I run long this weekend, my last weekend before the half, or do I taper, even though I didn’t run long this past weekend? Do I try to run long during the week somehow?

Help!

HMBTS Training, Week 9

IMG_3476

Happy September! Race month! Oh man it’s getting real now. I flipped the calendar page and “half marathon” is just staring up at me. Plus two other races, both 5ks, in the weekends leading up to the half. I’m starting to get nervous.

Monday

Rest | Rest

A glorious rest day. Still August, still blissfully unaware at how close September and race day were lurking.

Tuesday

5 mile run | 5 mile run

The Bairn had his first dentist appointment on Tuesday, and I can’t get my act together to get him out of the house for a run before 10 these days, so both things happening was out of the picture. Instead, I set off for a post-supper run around the pond. It had been a while since I’d done an evening run, and I was treated to a lovely sunset:

I managed to eke out this run in just under an hour, which I was mostly pleased with. I think my best 5 miler was around 52 minutes, so a 59-and-change didn’t feel so bad.

Wednesday

Cross-training | PT exercises and stretching

Oh hey! Look who finally got off her arse on a Wednesday and did some leg and core work!

Thursday

Rest | Rest

Glorious, glorious rest day.

Friday

5 mile run | 4.6 mile run

So, one thing I really noticed this week is how much of a mental exercise running is. Obviously it’s physical too, but bear with me. Just a few weeks ago, 5 miles was my long run. I was mentally preparing myself, breaking up the run into smaller bits, bringing fuel along, etc. On Tuesday, I think I actually said to Drew “oh, it’s just a quick 5 miles, I won’t be gone too long” and hopped out the door like it was no biggie. That made me marvel a little at how great actually training is… it’s helping me build a base and work up to actually long long runs.

And then Friday happened. The running gods decided they didn’t like how cocky I’d become, and 5 miles kicked my butt. I barely made it 4.6. It was hotter than I was prepared for, I hadn’t hydrated in forever (even less than I normally do) and I didn’t really eat anything beforehand. I set myself up to get my butt kicked, I guess. Plus, I either have terrible late-summer allergies all of a sudden, or I have a cold, because I was congested and my eyes were running like crazy for this whole run.

So, the whole mental part of running needs to be handled smarter, since “only 5 miles” is still a significant enough amount of miles that I can’t just pop outside and get it done without putting fuel and water in my body. Running is full of lessons!

Saturday

Rest or easy run | Rest

Drew and I took the Bairn to the Children’s Museum to meet up with some friends:

Even though this was supposed to be a rest day in anticipation of a Sunday race, I still took it as a rest day. I still didn’t feel 100% and chasing toddlers around the Children’s Museum is pretty exhausting.

Sunday

10k race | 8.15 mile run

I did NOT want to run on Sunday. Oh man. I hadn’t slept great for two nights in a row thanks to allergies/cold, and woke up super congested and miserable. After my Friday run had gone so bad, I didn’t want a repeat performance. But, I also don’t want this half to kick my butt, so I forced myself to get dressed and throw my pack on, and out I went.

I stopped by Shammies HQ, secretly hoping P or another runner or two might still need some miles and want some company, but when I got there everyone had finished and was just chatting. I really need to get myself out the door earlier if I want to run with people!

Running alone did give the freedom to pick my route, and I decided to check out some more of the newly finished greenway that’s nearby. Shammies HQ is near a spur of the Tri-Community Greenway (the spur is what some Shammies call the Bunny Trail), but I had never ventured onto the rest of the Greenway.

Most of the greenway seems to be on streets, which was a little disappointing; I’ve been spoiled with the Minuteman Bikeway, which is a trail unto itself! There are a few spots on the Greenway that aren’t well marked too, so I took a few wrong turns and had to double back to get back on the trail. There were some pretty sections though:

Can you spot the tiny waterfall?

I stuck to the Greenway for just about 5 miles, then reached a point where it felt safer to run back to HQ rather than risk going too far for the sake of more adventure. Part of me wanted to try for 9 miles, but once I hit 5.5 or so, my right knee started giving me grief, I was hotter than I wanted to be, and I was out of gel, so I opted for the safer, closer-to-HQ route.

The first half of this run was pretty nice. I felt okay, felt like my form was good and my pace was relatively decent. Then it all started to unravel. The Greenway dumped me onto a busy street with no shade, my body started to hurt, and I just wanted to stop running. I’m glad I made it a full 8 with a tiny bit of change, and the last 2 miles or so really weren’t bad, but it was a struggle for a while.

After being pleased with my time from last week’s 8-miler, this week’s was back to the disappointment zone. I can’t help calculating what 13.1 miles will be at the rate I’m going, and it’s disheartening to think that it will be slower than my PR. I feel like I’m actually training this time around, shouldn’t I be a little fitter and faster? Maybe in the race-day atmosphere things will be different. Maybe the weather will be a bit cooler. Maybe it will all be terrible, who knows?

Next week is up to 9 miles. Maybe I’ll try to go a little further on the Greenway, which according to maps looks like it’s more off the road a little past where I left it this week. Maybe I’ll actually get going in time to run with the Shammies! Tune in next week…

HMBTS Training, Week 8

IMG_3476

The weeks keep ticking by, and my training plan is finally starting to gently careen off the rails. If I look on the bright side, this is the best I’ve done/longest I’ve gone in terms of trying to stick to a training plan. It’s not great, but it’s better. So that’s something? Let’s see how the week went.

Monday

Rest | Rest

As they tend to be, this was a welcome rest day. My right leg had killed me all day Sunday after my 7-miler, AND I went and gave myself a huge bruise on the top of my left foot when I accidentally knocked the Bairn’s milk cup out of the fridge. So now both my feet are wonky. Huzzah!

Tuesday

4.5 mile run | 4.5 mile stroller run

On the bright side, we had a successful stroller run! If you follow my Instagram, you might have seen that I got ahold of some bug netting for the jogging stroller, after our last attempted Bikeway run was thwarted by nasty fly swarms. Best $4.50 I might have ever spent on amazon!

With the Bairn happily not getting attacked by bugs, I was able to run all the way to the bridge over the “fast highway,” where the Bairn loved seeing all the cars and trucks.

I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why the run back from the bridge was SO much harder than the way out. I mean, it’s the Bikeway, it’s pretty flat. But running to the bridge felt surprisingly easy, and it was disheartening that I was trying so much harder and going so much slower on the way back. It wasn’t until I got home and checked Garmin Connect that I figured out why:

Yep. There was a hill. Barely perceptible while on it, but clearly there! Seeing that felt pretty validating.

Wednesday

Cross-training | Rest

I don’t know why, but my motivation to continue my PT exercise/stretching routine is totally gone. I just don’t feel like it. To be honest, I’m surprised I kept doing it for as long as I did. I seriously need to get better about cross-training.

Thursday

Rest | Arm workout

This wasn’t planned, but I ended up lifting a bunch of heavy things at work on Thursday, and holding some of them for quite a while, to the point of my arms shaking a bit. So I’m totally counting this as an arm day.

Friday

4.5 mile run | Rest

I got a haircut, so didn’t have time to sneak in a run between daycare drop-off and work. And then it was a long, crazy day at work and I just didn’t feel like running afterward. So I talked myself into resting my janky leg and toes.

Saturday

50 minute cross-training | Rest/work

I worked a full day Saturday, which felt like a workout. It wasn’t really, but could kind of be considered cross-training if you squint and tilt your head a bit.

Sunday

8 mile run | 8 mile run

Aha! One of two successful and on-purpose workouts this week. I tried out my shiny new hydration pack (a Nathan VaporAiress) even though the temps were cooler this week. Eventually I’ll write a review once I test it out a bit more, but I like it so far. It was nice to have water right there without having to hold it in my hands, the pack was comfortable and didn’t bounce at all, and it held some fuel and my phone. The mouthpiece was a bit awkward, and the sloshing noise made me feel like I had to pee for the first few miles. It also made my back so sweaty that I thought the pack had leaked. But tbh, I was less sweaty than I was on the really hot long run days when I didn’t have a pack, so I didn’t really care.

Okay, the run itself. I set out too late to run with the Shammies – so I thought. I ran by HQ just in case anyone was still hanging out after, and everyone was there chatting. Huzzah! Shammie P was looking to add 3 more miles on to what he had already run, so I changed my intended route to run with him. He took me down some new-to-me trails in the lagoon, and it was nice to run with someone! Apart from the Bairn, I’ve been running solo a lot this training plan, and it was nice to chat and have someone to distract me from my usual internal whinging.

After going about 5k with him, I waved the white flag and set off on my own. We were going about 10:30 without stopping, which is faster than I usually go for long runs, and I didn’t want to overdo it.

I definitely stop more when I’m alone, to walk up hills (hills bother my leg quite a bit right now) and/or stop for fuel and water. Today I tried out a Gu gel to see how that went. I’ve run with gel once, during my last half, and it was a huge jolt of energy. I wanted to see if I could get more out of having gel once or twice than out of stopping for chews every few miles. The energy definitely seemed to last longer. I may switch my fuel to gels… they’re easier too.

One thing I noticed with the hydration pack is that I seem to pay more attention to my posture and cadence. I felt like I was running “right” today, like the way my Gait Retraining Guru of Yore was trying to get me to run. You can even see from my Garmin stats… my cadence was in the green way more this run than in past long runs:

I was pretty pleased with my pace today too. Starting fast with P definitely helped my overall time, and I think the Gu gave me better energy to run more without stopping (or maybe I just had to stop less to consume gel than I would to eat a few chews?). My time wasn’t much off from last week, and it was 1 mile longer. I’ll take that as a win.

Next week’s plan calls for a 10k race, but I might do what I did last time it called for a race and just run long again. I have a few 5ks coming up that are going to make my long runs interesting, so I’d like to get one more “real” long run in before race day, which is coming up quickly!

HMBTS Training, Week 7

IMG_3476

Well, the pattern I spotted last week (decent week – wonky week, etc.) has broken. This was another wonky week, but I made do. I also got another bruised toenail, bringing the count up to 3. Maybe even following a novice training plan was still too much too soon for my long-suffering toes?

Monday

Rest | Rest

Maybe TMI, but the orthotics I’ve been wearing for several months gave me some gnarly calluses on my right foot… so gnarly, that I had to see a podiatrist Monday to have them removed. The relief when the one on my big toe was gone – ahhhh! It was lovely to be able to walk normally again. Surely this would only help my running??

Tuesday

4.5 mile run | 2 mile stroller run

I originally planned to take the Bairn out to the Bikeway for some stroller miles, but neither of us could get going in the morning, and my mom was coming to visit for the day. I decided for a quick loop down to and around the pond, but then we got chatting with neighbors and ran out of time. So we did a quick 2 miles around the neighborhood – better than nothing! – and then had a fun day with my mom.

Wednesday

Cross-training | Rest

I don’t really have any excuses for this extra rest day… I just didn’t feel like doing my usual cross-training routine, or anything else. It be like that sometimes.

Thursday

Rest | Rest

Typical Thursday, nothing to report.

Friday

4.5 mile run | 4.5 mile run

Huzzah, I finally did what I was supposed to do! After a wonky week, I was determined to get 4.5 miles in… even though I hadn’t hydrated or eaten very well before daycare drop-off. But, it was relatively cool and I figured I’d be fine. (Narrator: She was not.) It was way hotter than my weather app said, I swear, and it was a hard run. But I did it. And my toes hated me afterward.

Saturday

50 minute cross-training | PT exercises and stretching

My right leg hurt after my Friday run, something that’s been bothering me off and on all year (more on this in a bit). I was wondering if my having skipped my weekly informal PT session had something to do with it, so I did it Saturday. I also swept the house, which counts as an arm workout, right? Maybe?

Sunday

7 mile run | 7 mile run

It was upper 70s and uncomfortably humid when I set out for my run this morning, so I opted for loops of the pond so I could have regular water breaks. I figured those would be a good time to pop some chews too. To keep it interesting, and to change up the hills and such, I reversed direction after each bubbler break.

I realized as I ran that I have sort of settled into a love/hate relationship with the pond when it comes to running. I love that it’s a clear-cut 2-mile loop, that it’s a pleasant place to run, that it has a bubbler with cold water plus a bathroom if needed. However, as my long runs get longer, the pleasant view gets a bit old, and the many other people who are typically out enjoying the pond get a bit old too. Especially dog walkers who give their leashes a ton of slack and let their dogs jet out in any direction at random, and especially people who walk next to each other on the sidewalk (or 3+ abreast at the wider bits) and don’t make room even when they see someone coming. Bubbler excepted, I found myself missing the random, pedestrianless roads I’ve been running the last few weeks.

Other people and ennui aside, the run itself felt pretty good. I struggled at the start to rein in my pace, which was hovering just faster than 10:00 for longer than preferred. I managed to keep my running pace between 10:30 and 11:30 for nearly the whole time; my slow mile paces came from walk breaks and/or bubbler-and-chew breaks.

Despite the heat and humidity and the fact that I was taking quick walk breaks every mile after the first 2, I felt strong when I was running, and was pleased with my pace. When I hit 6.75 miles, I even had the (brief) thought that I felt I could run more than 7 miles. I didn’t want to! But I felt like I could, and that was pretty cool.

And yet… I was pretty disheartened when I saw my overall time – 7 miles in just shy of 1.5 hours. My half marathon PR is currently 2:37:58. A half marathon is a little less than twice what I ran today, and if you double my time, it’s nearly 3 hours. I felt faster and stronger running today than I did in my PR race, and yet my projected time is worse. It just doesn’t add up in my mind, and I’m still a little bummed. I feel like I should focus on how I felt during the run and not on my pace worries, but that’s what’s sticking.

Well, that and the pain in my right leg. It was diagnosed as hip bursitis back in April, and then it disappeared for a few months and I was fine until training for this half was underway. The pain first appeared when I started wearing orthotics, which was supposed to help everything, not send my hip wonky and give me gnarly calluses. Not cool. I don’t really want to go to PT, and I don’t want to rest it because this is the best a training plan has gone so far, dammit, and I don’t want to stop even if it’s stupid not to do so. So I’m icing and stretching and doing my old PT exercises and we’ll see, I suppose.

Will this hip pain drive me to the brink?Will Week 8 bring yet another bruised toenail? Will I finally figure out my hydration-without-pond-struggles situation? Tune in next week…