Race Week: Oakville Half Marathon

Let’s recap this a little bit, I haven’t had the most successful race weeks in the past. There was the last one, Around the Bay where I knew I was screwed and had no business running the 30k. And there was the infamous race week prior to that for my first Marathon. Emotional wreck would put that lightly.

Comparable to that, this race week is going pretty well. I am of course loaded with doubts and feeling like this was a bad idea, is it even a taper without? But I’m also feeling okay, I’m not emotional about this and I know I can do it. My doubts are more on how well.

So now I present to you some of my doubts and the reasons I need to keep reminding myself they’re crap.

Some Irrational Doubts

1. I didn’t do enough speed work. Kind of true, but then again I never do, and actually I did do a lot of speed work, I just didn’t do any tempos, like actually none, not even attempts at tempos. This is what’s getting me, I didn’t attempt race pace at all. I want to, but it never panned out. The weather, my laziness, other speed work coming up, many factors. Bottom line it didn’t happen. But as I said, they never do.

2. My pace has gone to shit. So this is something I decided to investigate last night. I was under the impression the last time I did a half marathon my regular ol pace was faster than it is now. So I went back into my Garmin records and had a look. ‘Oh right, I was even shittier then.’ So with some fresh eyes and appropriate look, we dig down. Truth is I’m running pretty consistently in the low 6’s right now. This is not my fastest. When was my fastest? Fall. FALL JESSICA WHEN THE WEATHER IS NICE. I’m running low 6’s in the worst heat I’ve ever been faced with. So, time to stop fretting. In my speed work I’m hitting new records every time, my speed is there, waiting for the nice weather to come out and play, just like every fall.

Ran a little over 250km last month (couple untracked), pretty good!

3. I am not as well trained as I was before. This relates to the previous 2 as well. All my doubts relate somehow back to my speed. This is only natural, I have proved I can run a half marathon distance on minimal training. That’s not what I’m after with this race. I’m after a PB. So I’m focusing on how hard it is to maintain that pace I need to get that. But let’s look back to last May, my last half marathon. I was averaging about 45k a week. I was doing speed work but no proper successful tempos. My average pace was 30s slower than it is now and training was in the Spring before heat and after cold when everything should have been prime. And let’s get back to the 45k a week average. Do you know the last time I had a week under 45k this cycle? July. I have been consistently averaging 60km weeks for the past month and a half. I didn’t even average that during marathon training. The marathon, the marathon I ran last year I felt confident that if I had been running the half I would have gotten or come very close to a sub 2:00. I am running the most I have ever run ever, I’ve tackled some of my greatest training accomplishments to date during this cycle. And I’ve done it well, I’ve never had a cycle as well as this one. I don’t feel burnt out, I don’t feel tired. So, let’s all laugh really hard at doubt number 3 for being complete bologna.

Some legitimate concerns:

1. My knee is acting up. This is a very real concern and one I need to work hard on this week. Generally this happens before every race, my knee knows what’s coming and decides to make an appearance. I’ve gotten pretty good at rehabbing it by now so I’m just hoping it behaves until then.

Icing the knee

2. My calf/Achilles is also acting up. This is also a very real concern, and slightly more concerning than the knee because road makes this hurt more. If I’m on the trails I’m good but it starts making itself known on the road. Again, I’ll be working on it this week and think I can probably get through the race, I’m more concerned about after the race what it will feel like then. It’s after my last road long run it started bothering me more.

3. I haven’t been training on the road enough. I had plans to do more of my long runs on the road but it was so dang hot I couldn’t bring myself to pound some pavement for 2+ hours. As a result, I only did 2 long runs on the road. The concern here is more that I’ve been gentle to my muscles and they’re going to be in a lot of pain after doing 21.1k on road and at pace.

Hiding away in the trails

The good:

1. So far (*cross all fingers*) the weather is looking near perfect for Sunday. I think the thing that will play the biggest role in whether or not this is a PB is the weather. I don’t do well in the heat at all so if forecasts change and we’re slammed with hot sunny humidity this is real bad news for me. BUT if it stays as predicted now (or gets even cooler!) we’re in good hopes.

2. There will be Nuun on course. I only found this out last night and boy am I ECSTATIC. I’ve never been in a race with Nuun on course, it’s always Gatorade. I don’t drink Gatorade, it’s too sweet and I try to limit my sugar intake which is why Nuun is perfect for me. No sugar and it’s a mild not at all sweet taste. Perfect. I mostly only drink Nuun after my run is done unless I’m going on a very hot long run. Reason? I don’t want to become dependant on it because I know I won’t have electrolytes during the race since it’s only ever Gatorade. But not this time! I only wish I’d known sooner so I could have had it with me on some runs I debated brining some but didn’t.

3. I’m in my best shape yet. I mentioned this while dissolving my doubts but it needs to be said again. I fought my way back from a set-back in the spring and I arrive better than ever. I have trained more than I’ve every train before and feel better than I ever have. I’m about as ready for this half as I could be.

August Recap

What a great month!

Ran a little over 250km in total for the month, which is pretty close to what I ran last August while training for a Marathon. I’m actually doing higher milage right now than I did last year, just different long run schedules skewed the totals between this year and last.

So lots of running, lots of running 6-days a week. I’ve adapted really well to it I’m actually really impressed with how well it’s been going. I had a recovery week in there too, which I did not run 6-days for. And it went super well in that I actually felt really recovered (and quickly) after it which I don’t often feel. By Thursday I was ready to run all the miles again but forced myself to cool it remembering I needed to be taking it easy and not do silly things like add another 3k on to the 9 I’d just run to make it 12 (which I super wanted to do).

Steep crazy climbs often found on The Bruce! From Saturday’s MEC run

In August I also went to a free local track series. It was 4 weeks of track works which got progressively tougher which worked really well in to my training. The first week we did 200 and 400m repeats and a bonus 800m. Then it was 400 and 800m with bonus 1200. Then we did 1200m repeats with 2 bonus 1600m. And the final week was a 5k. All of these were on some pretty tired legs and I still put in some solid efforts so I’m pretty happy with that.

The 5k wasn’t actually that great but I did what I could. The route we did had a slight uphill out which my calves haaate and so they were screaming the whole time so I had to stop and stretch them out for a minute. But then the back was downhill and they cleared up.

Still squeezing in some SUP when I can!

I also maybe missed a long run. Last Sunday, I ended up sleeping in way late and then struggled the remainder of the day to get myself to do anything but continue to lay in bed, eventually managed to get myself out in time to squeeze in 12k but definitely not the 22k I had planned and in the main reason I didn’t surpass last year’s August milage. All and all not a too bad! There was another Sunday the long run didn’t happen but that was because it was so hot my run buddy and I decided to push it to Monday night because we’re crazy like that.

Fun times with the Burly Trail Runners on our most recent run to Dundas Peak

So now I’m in my final peak week of training for the Oakville half and I’m honestly so relieved, I just want this half over with at this point as I’m not excited about it all anymore. I want it over with so I can do my long runs on trail again, pretty sure I’ll be doing that 6h run I mentioned in my previous post (Batawa Fat Ass) and as long as I’m home from a work conference in time I think I’ll do the 25k at Vulture Bait in October!

August Mileage:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday  Total
Week 12 8 6 7 8 10 20 59
Aug 1 +SUP track +swim Aug 7
Week 13 8.5 8 9 8 7.5 6 47
 Aug 8 track +swim Aug 14
Week 14 20 8.5 swim 9 11 6 54.5
 Aug 15 track  +SUP Aug 21
Week 15 10 6 11.5 10.5 SUP 11 12 61
 Aug 22 Aug 28
Week 16 6.5 13 10 10 11.5 24 75
 Aug 29  1ks  +stairs Sep 4

So Far So Good

So I wrote this about a week ago and set it to drafts so I could add pictures. I then forgot. I don’t really feel like editing to update it so ha here it is:

Well I’ve had a couple of pretty successful training weeks now! I even had a week when I ran 6 days in a row, never done that before!

I had the Moraine Adventure Race on Saturday and my performance was predictably sub-par but I feel very motivated now after completing it! I know I could have done better and am sorry I let my team down. It was an incredibly hot day though and my body was done for, I’d woken up that morning with sore legs all over and it was hard to get moving through my running legs. So I kind of didn’t have high hopes for my leg which started around 4:30pm in the blazing sun I just wanted to get through it as best as I could given the circumstances, I ended up finishing a whooping 15 minutes past my goal time. But it was all I could manage in the state I was in. I wish I could have done better for my team but there’s always next year.

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I’ll give a full recap of the day (if I remember…) at a later time.

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Last weeks training was pretty spot on doing exactly what I needed to. My speed work didn’t exactly go to plan, actually it was kind of a mess but this early in a training cycle it’s not so bad. The main issue I had was my legs wanted to go a whole lot faster than the rest of me could support. Kind of weird but I’ll have to focus more on control. I still haven’t worked out exactly how I’d like to structure my weeks and this plan. I’d like to do some hilly runs/hill repeats, also some short speed work now and start on some longer interval tempos. These tempos will be important to help get me into controlling my pace and finding comfort in my target HMP. I’m going to attempt to start these short and build up as I go, hopefully this approach will get me more comfortable with tempo runs. I want to keep them in the 5:30-5:40 range as my first half marathon goal is a sub 2 hour with is a 5:40 pace.

My goal for this week is to keep on with the runs and try to get in a semi-long run this weekend, bit of a busy schedule though so we’ll see how it goes, might try to get it in on Friday night. Technically I did long runs the past 2 Saturdays but they were both done as double runs so I would like to get out a solid continuous long run, the longest I’ve done in ages all at once has only been 12k.

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