Last year I ran the Medical Mutual Glass City Marathon.This year, however, I decided to run the Owens Corning Half Marathon. This Half Marathon isn’t new to me, I ran it for the first time in 2013.
Race Week Training
You can find the details here. But to summarize, it was a low mileage week for me that I haven’t seen all year. This training period I read a lot about different training philosophies to the point of feeling overwhelmed and doubting everything. This week was a really solid week of short runs but mentally I struggled trusting my training plan.
This training plan I followed my runcoach schedule to the letter. For the most part. In runcoach, as you add completed training and update future races, your training schedule will recalculate; half way through this training cycle I noticed that some of my speed workouts in runcoach didn’t match what I had on my calendar that I printed in January. Also, my weekly mileage didn’t add up (runcoach had me running two 50+ mile weeks in April). I didn’t adjust to the changes in the plan, and I stuck with what I had from the beginning. Let’s not forget I had to make a few modifications for Ireland and illness as well. I felt solid and really confident throughout my training. Yes there were a few runs that rattled my confidence but for the most part I have no complaints. I have a snap shot review of my completed training here.
Expo and Packet Pick-up
Saturday was the Expo and Packet Pick-up. The morning was another cold and windy day, so I held off on my shake-out run. We arrived at the Expo around 11:30am. I saw my friends and their kids who were running the kids races at noon. On my way to bib pick-up I finally met Amanda. Bib pick-up went smoothly and we wandered around for only a short while, running into more people we knew, before it was time to head out and watch the kids run. The kids races are an experience. It’s inspiring to see such young athletes out there “competing” but it’s also quite entertaining to see some of them just wander around the course being herded by their parents. After that, we headed to a neighborhood park so I could squeeze in two miles. I noticed I was running into the wind so I purposefully slowed down so I wouldn’t work my legs too hard. Instead of my pre-race sushi I reverted back to my old pre-race meal: Chipotle. It was a late afternoon lunch. I took an afternoon nap because I was exhausted and knew I probably wouldn’t sleep well that night anyway. After my nap, I had a bowl of rice and finished hydrating before calling it a night.
Race Day Wake-up
Sunday morning’s wake up was at 4:00am. But apparently I hit the snooze and woke up at 4:21am. I didn’t sleep well Saturday night and woke up having some pretty bad night sweats, which concerned me hydration-wise. I quickly made my breakfast (oatmeal) and cup of coffee before hitting the shower to rinse off. After my shower, I waited as long as possible to get dressed because I was sweating so much. I checked the weather and double-checked my gear. At 5:15am, I finished prep, mixed my UCAN (Chocolate) and headed downstairs. I walked outside in a sweatshirt over a tank top and sweatpants over race crops, and at 39 Degrees I was warm.
When I made it to campus, I parked and headed to my office to ground my gear. Around 6:15am, I headed out for a short 1 mile warm-up. I ran my warm-up in my normal training shoes and switched to my racing flats for the race. I loosened up my legs with a short yoga routine, drank my UCAN and then headed to the start line around 6:40am.
Preparing my Goals during race week was frustrating at best. I haven’t trained for a race in 8 months (although I’ve run 12 various races since then). My last true race was the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half in Chicago.
According to various finish time calculators, I should finish in:
- 1:55:22 to 1:57:39 (using my last race finishing time-St Patrick’s Festival 5K)
- 1:57:20 to 1:58:02 (using my last true full marathon finishing time-GCM 2014)
- 1:51:48 to 1:54:00 (using my 5K PR)
- 1:48:32 to 1:48:57 (using my fastest race-Finish on the Cruise 2014)
That’s a wide range of finishing times. From an 8:16/mile pace to an 8:58/pace. My best 2 training runs were during cut back week at the end of March: 8 miles (8:49/mile), 6 miles (8:42/mile). The 8 mile long run in Week 10 was at race pace for a PR, was relatively easy and a major confidence booster.
Goal A: My goal for 2015 is to break my 1:55:47 PR; however, I’ve been training with paces based on my fastest race. Although it seems like a huge jump, this goal will be a true test of my training.
- 1:48:57 (8:18/mile)
Goal B: Since A is faster than my 2015 goal to break my 1:55:47 PR, I looked at my best training runs and decided to push it just a bit.
- 1:54:00 (8:41/mile)
Goal C: My safe goal. This was a struggle to decide; do I want to break 2 hours or beat my last true half marathon time (1:58:23). Instead I went with an estimated finish time from my last race.
- 1:57:39 (8:58/mile)
I lined up with the 1:50 pacer. Last year I went out too fast at the start and had trouble settling into my race pace. I was wearing my Lululemon Run A Marathon Crops with a Lululemon Run Swiftly Long Sleeve Top and my SmartWool PhD running socks with Light Cushion. I did some more yoga in my starting corral because it wasn’t too crowded yet. The sun was out and I didn’t feel any wind. To me it felt like a nice 50+degree race and I was worried I over dressed. Weather was closer to 37 Degrees.
Miles 1-6: 8’36″/8’06″/8’25″/8’16″/8’29″/8’37”
This part of the course is familiar, and familiar is good its relaxing and comforting. The course starts off on the University of Toledo’s Main Campus and heads north into Old Orchard. I started at the front of Corral B with the pacer but this first mile felt too crowded and I was having trouble keeping him close. We reached Mile 1 and I knew we were running to slow. I didn’t have any trouble keeping up as he picked up the speed into Mile 2 to get us back on pace. Shortly after Mile 2, the crowd thinned out and that was helpful to let me settle into my pace and relax. I took water after Mile 3 because I was getting thirsty and watched as I started to lose sight of the pace group. Mile 4 & 5 came quick as well, and I was happy to hear I was averaging 8’23” which was right on track for 1:50 projected finish even though I was no longer with the pacer. As I headed into Mile 6, I started to fall apart. First I got a side stitch so I grabbed some water and it went away. I started noticing people I had been pacing with were pulling ahead and my legs weren’t keeping up. I kept doing the math in my head to make sure that even if I slowed in my pace that I could still PR because that’s what I trained for.
Miles 7-9: 8’39″/8’51″/8’58”
Right before Mile 7, I crossed Central Avenue and headed into Wildwood Metro Park. I grabbed another cup of water which I ended up choking on. This made my throat feel raw and dry which wasn’t pleasant when my body already felt like it was having a bad day. I struggled through Wildwood. I didn’t choke on my cup of water before Mile 8. After that, half marathon split off to head back to campus, as the full marathon headed north. This was where I planned to start pulling ahead of the 1:50 pace group. Since I had lost them, I kept with the plan to push myself. My body just wouldn’t listen.
Miles 10-13.1: 8’54″/8’47″/9’14″/8’54”
Shortly after Mile 10, the course heads down Bancroft. Since this was the final 5K, I got excited. The majority of my runs, both long and short, have been focused so the last 2-3 miles are my fastest miles. Mentally and physically, it has trained me to have this last 5K of the half be my fastest splits of the day. This, however, was a bad day at the office. I was also unfamiliar with this part of the course which was unsettling. After crossing Mile 11 at 1:35:29, I knew even if I slowed down I would still PR. But I wasn’t about to risk it. Normally in this part of the race, I don’t have issues with crowds, but today I was getting cut off by a lot of people who would move in front of me and then slow down. This was frustrating for me because I was having a hard enough time picking up my pace. Mile 12 was my slowest mile of the day. Mile 13 went faster than expected and as we turned off of Bancroft I started my kick. There was no kick left in my legs even as we headed into the Glass Bowl.
Official Finish Time 1:54:44
Average Pace 8’45”
After crossing the finish line, I thought I was going to be sick. This is a new phenomenon that started about a year ago at the Shamrock Marathon. I just kept walking and it went away quickly. I got my blanket and my medal. I grabbed a bottle of water and headed towards the parking lot for food. On my way out of the Glass Bowl, I picked up my finisher’s mug to add to my collection! I ended up taking two bites of Gino’s Pizza before deciding it was too greasy and I wasn’t hungry. Then I headed back into the stadium to find my friends. I didn’t realize how crappy my legs felt. I didn’t hang around for very long because I started to get cold and really just wanted to head home.
Pros: Overall, the weather was sunny and I didn’t notice too much of the wind. There was a good amount of spectators out on the course and plenty of water stations. I PR’d. Even though I wasn’t feeling my best, I still went out there and accomplished what I trained to do (for the most part). The weather was great for race day; it was a beautiful day to be running Toledo. I was at one point dumping left over water down my back to keep me cool. I’m also still adjusting to UCAN. The website says every 2-3 hours of activities, and I’ve also read it most runners take a second packet/scoop at Miles 15-17 typically. I haven’t run more than a 14 mile training run and with the increase in pace I wasn’t sure about my energy levels, so I packed some Clif Shot Bloks because they deliver energy faster than a GU. The long-winded conclusion is that I survived a half marathon without needing any additional energy sources besides one packet of UCAN 30 minutes before the race.
Cons: I didn’t run any negative splits. My legs felt heavy. I didn’t accomplish my race plan, despite executing during training. I’ve run faster half marathons during full marathons (GCM 2014!). I also had a few crowd issues today. The course seemed overcrowded at certain points and barren at others.
Some post-race thoughts: I executed my training plan. That being said, I trained to finish 6 minutes faster than I actually did. It’s hard to not be happy with my race and how I ran, but still be happy I PR’d. I put a lot of time and training into this and it’s just disappointing to see it fall short.
As always, GCM was a great experience. I am happy to have PR’d in my hometown.