Half Marathon Training – Weeks 6 – 8

I’ve seen a definite progression in these past three weeks of training.  First, I’m getting extremely competitive with people in my running groups.  Now, I’ve always been a little competitive when I run in groups – it’s how I push myself.  But lately, I pick a person in the group, think, “I’m going to run faster than that person,” and then focus on running ahead of them.  Then I’ll stay in an imaginary competition with that person throughout the whole workout.  My pride hinges on staying ahead of them.  I try to hide my competitiveness – no showboating or anything, because that’s stupid.  Sometimes I’ll keep ahead of that person throughout the entire workout.  Other times, I end up picking someone who is much faster than I am and have to swallow my pride when they eventually pass me up with ease.

But the result? I find myself running much faster, even on solo workouts.  I didn’t do any speed training when I trained for my marathon two years ago (because I hated speed workouts), and I’m realizing now that it was a mistake.  The speed workouts I am doing on Wednesday have contributed enormously to my improvement. I ran the hills last week and I didn’t feel winded at all (the cooler weather helped, for sure). I ran the last lap with my friend Richard, who noted that he could hardly tell I’d taken a break from running, and that we were running that lap only 18 seconds slower than he normally would (and Richard is fast!)  It felt really good to hear, especially since I had been so frustrated to burn out with running when I was in probably the best shape of my life.

It also means that I am probably going to have to run faster now on Wednesdays, whether I like it or not.  Haha.

I also realized how much harder it is to get the motivation to do longer runs without my group.  On Saturday of Week 6, I reluctantly woke up at 6 am and checked the group’s Facebook page since we had been expecting inclement weather.  “Lightning has been spotted – we cannot run or walk under any circumstances,” the page said.  YES!  I happily crawled back into bed and slept in.  I didn’t run that day, and I didn’t have any motivation to run on Sunday, either.  That Monday, I finally forced myself to complete the long run.  It was supposed to be six miles, but I stopped at around five.

For Week 7, I went to visit Boyfriend and couldn’t meet with my running group.  When Saturday rolled around,  I slept in instead of going running.  On Sunday, I found myself not wanting to run, but forced myself to.  I’m so glad I did – the weather was absolutely gorgeous and I felt happy and strong as I ran my six miles around a park near Boyfriend’s apartment.  It was just a beautiful day and that run made me happy to be alive.

The workout for Week 8 was MUGGY.  I woke up early Saturday morning and drove to the Chase Bank parking lot where the group was meeting.  It was a different location than we usually meet.  Of course, I turned into the parking lot in an area where all the runners were lined up – cue awkward backing up.  Once I parked, I hurried over to the lines, hoping I would not be late.  I did not see my running coach, and others in the group said they hadn’t seen her in weeks.  I decided to try and catch up with the 9:00-9:15 pace group.  It’s a little faster than what I wanted to train, but I think I can do it.  Besides, I’d rather run just a little faster than usual than not run with anyone.

Of course, the half marathon coach and one half-marathon trainee were leading the group.  Once the marathoners and half-marathoners split off, I kicked it in and ran up to them, trying to keep the awkwardness to a minimum.  I explained how my coach hadn’t been showing up, apparently, and that I wanted to train with them.  They were more than welcoming and I started running next to them.  The run went fairly well, besides the humidity.  It was in a neighborhood where I had completely hit the wall two years ago, on an 18-mile training run.  The neighborhood is flat but stretches a long distance, so it is not encouraging to stare ahead and see how much more you have left to run. Luckily, this run was much shorter and I did not hit a wall.

At the end of our run, we stopped in the Chase Bank parking lot.  Well, a Chase Bank parking lot.  “Where are all the cars?” my coach asked.  That’s when we realized that our meeting place was a block away, and were in the wrong parking lot.

Next week – moving on up to seven miles!  Cold fronts are projected to hit the state today and Friday, so the weather should be gorgeous!

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