Tag Archives: PR

Ditching My Time Goal for My First Half Marathon

I’ve been putting off writing this post for awhile but I realized it would be the perfect topic for my 100th blog post.

Happy 100th Post to Me!

I am so excited to run my first half marathon on September 4th in Virginia Beach.  I’ve been obsessively following a training plan for the last few months in hopes I’d have a great race.  I have bee pretty diligent in following the plan – doing all of my speed work and long runs – but I have found myself totally worried my expected finish time over the last few weeks.

According to Runners World Smart Coach, I should be able to finish this race in just under 2:20. I actually tweaked my training plan quite a bit when I set it up to make sure the finish time would be under 2:20. I’m pretty sure I can finish in that time but I’m not sure if I want to finish in that time.

I’ve been running all of my long runs really slowly and comfortably, as prescribed by Smart Coach. And I’ve read a lot of blog posts and articles that say doing your long runs slowly to build endurance and speed work to build speed is the way to go.  But I’m really hesitant to go into the race and try to run 13.1 miles so much faster than I’ve run any of my training runs.

Sweaty post SLOW 8 mile picture. Ignore the fact that my hand is still moving. I was excited!

Maybe I’ll be able to, but I think I want my first half marathon to be about the excitement of a the race (that happens to have a view of the ocean for a good part of the race. Yay!) vs. pushing myself to my limit just to run a few minutes faster.

At first I was worried that if my time was really “slow” for this race, people wouldn’t understand why I spend so much time running (not that my “fast” time is particularly fast).  But you know what, forget what other people think.  I’m not running this race to win – Ryan Hall will be there and I’m pretty sure he has this race in the bag 😉  I’ve come across so many other awesome runners who run right at the same pace as me – including my awesome HLS roomie Allison who just wrote an amazing post about how she wards off injury by not focusing on times and running at a pace that she likes. Maybe I’m not as slow as I think.

So you know what… I’m ditching my time goal. I am going to have so much fun at this race with Suze and I’m going to enjoy my first half marathon.

How did you set time goals for your first race?

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Happy 1 Year Running Anniversary to Me!

Happy 1 year running anniversary to me!

There's no point in celebrating an anniversary if there's not cake involved.

This week has been so busy at work. I’m really sorry to have just completely vanished from the blogging and twitter world.  I was so busy that I completely missed my 1 year running anniversary!  Thanks to technology, I can share the embarrassing details:

I may be slow now, but I was really slow then!

Yep. That was Week 1, Day 1 of Couch to 5K.  I decided I wanted to run but knew I couldn’t do it on my own and that program was a life saver.  I made a lot of mistakes, like running ever single run on a treadmill, but the guide times were crucial because I never really played sports or ran before.

I remember thinking I’d run my goal race (Clarendon Day 5K on 9/25) and maybe a few more but I’d never aspire to run more than 3 miles. Only crazy people would want to run for longer than that! I did the 9/11 5K as practice – I had a horrible cold and was totally miserable – and was TERRIFIED to run Clarendon Day.  I ended up having a really good time though. I was thrilled with my time of 33:54. I figured I’d run a 10K sometime in the spring… maybe another 5K.

But then Suze talked me into the Rockville 10K in November and I had fun doing that, even though I’m pretty sure I got through the race on adrenaline alone.  Prior to the race I’d only run more than 3 miles twice – once I ran 4 and once I ran just over 5.  We did the 10K with a 4:1 run/walk ratio and came in at around 1:09.  I’ve only run 2 10K’s and this is actually my PR.

After this I was hooked on running but had no idea what I was doing training wise.  I ran the Jingle All the Way 10K – it was crowded, freezing and pouring – in December.  I started training for the GW Parkway 10 Miler in January. I tried to do every run as fast as I could and not surprisingly I ended up with some IT band problems in February.

Coming back from the IT band problems led me to discover some heart/thyroid issues I didn’t know about.  I didn’t get an awful lot of quality training in before the 10 Miler but I finished it and I’m proud of it.

I ran a series of 5K’s in my neighborhood in April and knocked my 5K PR down by nearly 90 seconds.  My goal of taking it to sub-30 in 2011 is still possible – hopefully at this year’s Clarendon Day (yes, I’m going to use that super big downhill to accomplish my goal – I’m crafty like that!).

You know you've run a PR when your finish pics all show you staring down your Garmin!

Also accomplished in my first year of running: running as part of a relay team for the National Half Marathon, completing the Warrior Dash, running my first trail race as part of a marathon team at the North Face Endurance Challenge and starting to run with a group/coach so I can get to my half marathon goal without getting hurt.

I can’t believe that I’m a month into training for my first half marathon.  I can’t believe I got the guts to train with a group and I REALLY can’t believe the workouts I’ve pulled off in the short period of time I’ve been working with them.  It’s been an amazing confidence builder and I’ve met some awesome people.

So here’s to my first year running. I can’t wait to see what year two brings!!

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1 Mile PR and a New Pair of Running Shoes

Did you ever get the sudden feeling that your running shoes are trashed beyond belief and you can’t possibly run another step in them?  I should have had the vague feeling a month ago but for some reason I didn’t notice until yesterday when I literally couldn’t run another step after my mile trial workout at the track.

This is embarrassing:

You might need new shoes when your current pair has no more tread.

From the back.

Um… yea.  At least I don’t heel strike?  I also got a pair of insoles that should help with some of the problem with my right foot rolling in so hard.

These would have been particularly useful last night at the track.  We had a short workout but it was tough – a quick warm up, 1 mile at our hardest effort and then 1 mile of cool down.  I did a quick two laps at around a 10 minute pace and then braced myself for my mile.  We took off and I stayed in the second lane because I didn’t want to get in the way of the really fast  folks.  I made it through the first 800 in 4:04 and finished as Zac called out 8:30 (so clearly the second half of my mile was a bit slower than the first half).  I was pretty happy because that was a 29 second mile PR – my previous fastest was at Clarendon Day and was assisted by a ginormous downhill. I stretched out my calves because they were screaming and set off to run a cool down mile.  I made it through a little more than a lap and my legs were just so sore that I stopped to walk.  I walked in the rest of that 400 and decided I was not going to run another step until I got a new pair of shoes.

I was still pretty happy when I got home.  I decided I’d track down a pair of my beloved Mizuno Wave Alchemy 10’s at one of the local Pacers stores the next day.  I didn’t even look at my Garmin until BF asked how the workout went and I realized I ran my mile faster than I thought.  That’s right – just like last week, 4 laps around a track in the middle does not quite = 1 mile.  I actually ran my mile in 7:47 because I ran 1.11 miles.  Um wowza.  That was a heck of a mile for me – a full minute and 12 second mile PR.  CRAZY.

To celebrate I’m taking a full on rest day.  I want my legs to feel nice and fresh tomorrow.  If they don’t feel 100% then I’ll cross train to make sure I’ll be ready for my run commute on Friday.  Flexibility baby.

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April Wrap Up

April was a fun month, even though it was kind of chilly and really rainy!

I can't wait to see the May flowers after all this rain!

April was a fun month.  It started off with a huge 5K PR at a local race series that runs through my neighborhood.  It was a lot of fun and I was really excited.

I started taking heart medicine to fix the heart problems I’ve been having over the last few months.  It’s been great for my health but very hard for my body to adapt to exercising on the new medicine. I’m starting to notice it getting easier and I’m looking forward to seeing that continue.

I volunteered at the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler and ran the George Washington Parkway Classic 10 Miler.  The 10 miler was so hard for me but I was really proud to finish.  I know I can only get better at running longer distance!

So many bananas!

Done done done!!!


I started going to boot camp in mid-April.  The workouts are tough and leave me really sore.  I’m not super in love with the teacher but it’s only a one month class.  I know that strength training will help me running so I am trying to learn to embrace it.

I ran 3 more 5K’s in the Crystal Run 5K Friday series, 2 of which were in the rain!

Yay, I finally got over my fear of tripping over the timing mat and took a good finish line pic!

You know you've run a PR when your finish pics all show you staring down your Garmin!

I set another PR at the 4th 5K.  Two PR’s in one month! Pretty impressive! I’m already planning to blow it to pieces this fall after my half marathon training.  I can’t wait.  Hear me now, I will break 30 minutes in a 5K this year!! 🙂
I also had a great month on the blog! My traffic continues to go up every month and while the number is still tiny it’s nice to see that there are a few people who find these stories interesting!  And in April, I wrote my most viewed post When Can You Call Yourself a Runner and was blown away by how awesome runners are.
April’s been great but now I’m ready for May.  I can’t believe how quickly this year is going!! Towards the end of May, I’ll start training for my half marathon – Virginia Beach in the beginning of September.  I am so excited!
I hope everyone had a great April and hope your May is even better.  Do you have any big plans for May?

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Crystal City 5K Week 4/Jelly Bean Virtual Race Recap

Friday night, I ran the fourth Crystal City 5K, which was also my Jelly Bean Virtual Race!

The weather was less than ideal for the end of April, in the low 40’s and lots of cold rain.  I headed out with a North Face windbreaker over my tights & tee but by the time I got to the start, I was hot.  Probably because I wanted to get to the start as quickly as possible so I pretty much ran from home.  I checked my coat and a change of clothes and found Beth, who was doing a test run on her knee before she runs a marathon next weekend.  It was so much fun to run with her because she’s normally so much faster than me.  Thanks for running with me, Beth! 🙂

We took off, dodging puddles, and made it through the first mile in 9:50.  We were chatting and having a good time so I was surprised to see how quickly the first mile went for me.  The great part was that my heart felt great at the one mile mark, which is where I’ve been running into trouble.  I was still chatting and was feeling great.

I don’t remember much of mile 2. I remember I was feeling good, but for some reason my 2nd mile is always so much slower than 1 & 3.  I guess I was feeling good because I dropped my pace down to 10:38. 🙂

Mile 3 is where my heart started to beat too fast.  It wasn’t hurting but I started wheezing pretty hard (sorry for making you listen to that, Beth!), which I know is from my heart beating too fast to provide enough oxygen for the rest of me.  Nothing hurt though so I figured finishing up and getting out of the rain would be a better option than slowing down and walking.  I finished up mile 3 in 10:10.  Then Beth picked our target to pass in the last .2 before the finish (because of course I can’t run the actual course distance here) and we took off.  Race done in 32:27 (10:08 pace), a 9 second PR from Week 1!!

You know you've run a PR when your finish pics all show you staring down your Garmin!

I’m so excited to finish up next week. I’m really hoping to knock my time down into the 31 minute range.  It will all really depend on how the heart is feeling (though I have every reason to be optimistic that it’s feeling better each day) and if I can push myself it keep my mile 1 pace during mile 2. Oh, and to stop running the extra tenth of a mile.

I hope everyone had a great weekend full of lots of quality running.  Happy Easter!

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When Can You Call Yourself A Runner?

I’ve been running for less than a year.  I’m not fast but I love it. I’ve ran for fun and I’ve paid for races. I’ve completed training programs, subscribed to Runner’s World, participate in #runchat and #fitblog, and bought expensive running gear.  I talk about running with my family, my boyfriend and friends who don’t run. But am I a runner?  According to some, no.

As a whole, I think the running community is an extremely supportive and inviting place.  It’s been really strange to see a wave of negativity about who “true runners” are pop up in the last few weeks.  The first time I ever read a comment that people who take walk breaks are not real runners was when Kelly Gneiting ran the LA Marathon and set the Guinness World Record as the heaviest man to finish. I was appalled to see comments like these:

“A marathon is a race. 26.2 miles is a distance. You can’t call this bit of lumbering around Los Angeles a marathon any more than you can call a walk across the street and back a 100 meter dash.”

“Marathon times exceeding 5 hours should not be counted at all.”

There were people popping out of the woodwork dropping serious negativity all over this guy’s accomplishment.  It was definitely a sensationalized news story, but it upset me.  Why should his time matter?  He completed the race.  Kelly Gneiting wasn’t even the last place finisher. He ran about 1/3 of the race and he should be able to call himself a runner if he wants.  Jeff Galloway doesn’t seem to mind walk breaks and he’s an Olympian so why are readers of the LA times so angsty?

I put the negativity out of my mind until this weekend.  Many people saw a post over at Frayed Laces (a grad student, amateur triathlete, and a runner who ran Boston a few years ago) this weekend in which she bemoaned the existence of casual runners – or as she referred to them “chicken nugget runners”. Apparently, FL heard a piece on NPR about a TNT group training for the Nashville Country Music Marathon whose reward after running was chicken nuggets and this upset her.  She’s deleted the post, and her equally offensive follow up but it was still in my Google Reader so I can quote her accurately (screen shot here, here)

“what I want to scream out is “I train 20 hours a week! I push myself in training to the point of puking! You’re doing this once to cross something off your life goal list, and I train harder-harder-harder to get faster each year! I eat, sleep, breathe this sport!”So, are there too many marathon runners? No, there aren’t.  There are too many “chicken nuggets at the end!” marathon runners and not enough “eat, sleep, breathe” runners”

There were a lot of people who respectfully disagreed with her and pointed out that her time is the same regardless of other people’s times and reasons for running.  More surprisingly there were a lot of people who replied with comments that bashed casual runners (one comment that stands out in my memory was from a guy who said he didn’t understand why someone with a 3:30 marathon PR would be proud of their time since it was nearly 90 minutes above the world record. He said he’d be so embarrassed he wouldn’t tell anyone he ran if he was ever that slow).  While everyone didn’t share the same opinion, I was fascinated by people’s emotions on the topic.  It seemed like there was a decent contingent of runners who have strong opinions on whether casual and slower than Boston caliber runners should be walking around saying they’re a runner.  After her follow up post, more people commented in the form of disagreement than agreement and she ended up deleting both posts

I was kind of disturbed about this (I unfollowed FL on twitter and unlinked her blog from my blogroll) but I almost put this out of my mind until today, when Heather from Running with Sass had a 3 month old marathon recap’s comments spammed.  Some guy was thoroughly offended that she said she “ran” the Disney Marathon when she stopped to take pictures with the characters.

” I get a little mad when people say they’ve run a marathon and it took them over 6 hours. That’s not running a marathon. That is completing a marathon. Two COMPLETELY different things.”

Readers of Heather’s blog were obviously supportive and came to her defense but the guy came back and commented 3 more times arguing that there was no way she should be calling herself a runner.

So here’s my question: What do you think makes a runner?  Honestly, I’m really curious to hear opinions on this.  I’ll start the discussion with my opinion – if you identify yourself as a runner then you’re a runner.  If you leave for a workout with the intention of running, you plan for running, you try to run then who am I to judge the level of your workout?  I may not be fast but I am a runner. I think running is an individual sport, like golfing.  For example, my dad belongs to a golf course and plays regularly. He’s terrible but he has fun. He taught my brother to golf.  He owns clubs.  He’s a golfer. He’s not professional and he never says he is, but he’s certainly a golfer.

Please don’t hold back in the comments. If you disagree with me, please (respectfully) tell me why. 

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Crystal City 5K Fridays: Week 1 – The Huge PR

A week or two ago, I mentioned I signed up for the Crystal City 5K Friday Race Series.

This 5K series runs through my normal running route.

Last night I ran the first race in the series.  The course is my favorite type, very flat.  I’m super familiar with it because it goes along my normal running routes .

Tiffany and I showed up early and picked up our stuff and waited for my BF to make it to the start (he was, of course, running late).  The race started and he still wasn’t there so I told Tiffany to start without me since I knew BF would be there any second.  About 2 minutes after the race started the guy running the start line wouldn’t let me wait anymore, even though the start line was supposed to be open for another 5 minutes.  So I started the race all by myself, there wasn’t another runner in sight.  Thank goodness I wasn’t taking this race too seriously because there was a quick turn after the start and I totally missed it! I had to stop and ask the spectators where the runners went and they pointed me in the right direction.  It was really funny.

Once I was on the right path (I probably lost less than 25 seconds being lost) I started catching up with and passing the walkers and the women with the double strollers, who are in my opinion pretty epic – those strollers are HUGE!  I kept thinking that if I ran fast enough maybe I’d be able to find Tiffany.  I also thought if I ran that fast I’d probably burn out before I could find her.  I just went as hard as I could for the first mile and figure it out after that.  Mile 1 – 9:41 (!! That that was after running off the course!!)

I actually saw Tiffany around the mile one turn around but she was on the other side of the turn.  I figured she was about a minute ahead of me.  I kept going and told myself that if I got tired I could walk at around mile 1.5.  But I got to 1.5 and still felt good and my pace seemed to be evening out to something that was a bit more level for me so I just kept going.  I was actually in a pack of people right now, away from the walkers and big strollers and I even left the juggler in my dust  (For those of you not from the DC area, there is this guy who runs a lot of local races while juggling.  Last night, even though it was windy he had 4 balls going the whole race. It was crazy!) Mile 2 = 10:39

I caught a glimpse of the boyfriend between mile 2 and 3.  He’s super fast, it’s a shame he ended up having to run the course untimed.  I started getting tired but ended up seeing Tiffany not that far ahead of me and tried really hard to pick up the pace to finish near her.  I didn’t quite make it there  (probably because I was not running the shortest distances on the course – I was .11 off at mile 2 and .13 off at mile 2) but it was a great motivator during the race. Mile 3 – 10:12

I finished as fast as I could – though that sharp turn into parking lot right at the end was really awkward.  Last .23 – 2:05 (9:15 pace).  Final time – 32:36. Final distance 3.23 miles. Average Pace  – 10:04/mile!!

This was so much better than I was expecting to do! I thought maybe I could PR by a few seconds but I never expected to knock 1:18 off my time.  My time when I hit 3.1 miles was 31:29, I need to run this course smarter next time because I can easily knock another minute off my PR by not running so much extra distance.  This was such a huge confidence booster the week before the GW 10 Miler.  I’ve been so worried about being too unprepared for this race but now I’m much more hopeful that the race will go well for me.

These races are my favorite. While I don’t have them listed in my race history,  I actually participated in two of these races last year.  Since I had no idea what I was doing and ended up walking a lot of the time it wasn’t actually much like racing.  But this is what inspired me to start doing Couch to 5K.

Good luck to everyone racing this weekend!

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