Races in a Training Plan

I feel like this is a topic that is always a good debate amongst runners, and it’s one that’s on my brain right now as well.

This morning, I was thinking about my training and race schedule from last year. I had just started ramping up training for the Twin Cities Marathon, and looked to June and July for a quality race to test my fitness.

My initial plan was to go out and run the Rock N’ Sole Half in Milwaukee in early June, and then wait until mid July to run the River Falls Days 10k and Midnight Madness (a 5 and 10k). That went out the window.

I did run Rock N’ Sole, and it was absolutely dreadful. To date, this is still my worst road Half Marathon time. It also was the third consecutive race (after the Cherry Creek Sneak and Pony Express Marathon) that didn’t go too well. A funk, if you will.

So after Rock N’ Sole, I was a little down on myself. And what’s the natural thing to do for that? Sign up for a race. In I went for the Run to Exile 10k in Des Moines the next weekend. A PR later, and I was feeling good again.

Fast forward two weeks, and I had managed to sign myself up for the Afton 25k (an awesome race if you get the chance). And much like Rock N’ Sole, I wilted away near the end.

But if you’re keeping track (or remember when I ranted about this last year) I had my triple header of RF Days and Midnight Madness the next weekend. And PR’d the 10k…again. Another confidence booster.

And from there I was off to the training cycle. I had exactly two more races from that point. The Gopher to Badger Half, and my high school’s Homecoming 5k. But ultimately, I do attribute those races, especially the two 10ks after long races, to a huge boost of confidence that I was, in fact, in good race shape.

Those 4 races in 5 weekends isn’t too unlike my 6 races/relays in 7 weeks this past spring. But this year, it changed my perspective on things. I’ve become more focused and dialed into what I want from this training cycle more than races.

Currently, I have Gopher to Badger as my only race scheduled between now and Milwaukee. That’s 3.5 months of training with only one competitive race. It’s something I normally don’t do. I like tune up races. But I’m excited to see where this type of training can take me.

And speaking of training, I’ve got my first (of many) interval workouts of this cycle today. 3×1 mile intervals at a “comfortably hard” pace. What does that even mean? And depending on if the forecast is correct, I’ll be doing this in soul-crushing humidity or in a torrential downpour. Neat.

“It’ll Get Way Tougher, Don’t Worry”

Those were the words of my coach literally the second day of my training cycle for the Milwaukee Marathon.

As some of you know, I’m in the hunt for the sub 3 hour marathon, and along with that a BQ time. I’ve always felt that I was close to hitting at least the BQ, especially with a strong marathon at Twin Cities last October.

I’m not going to lie, though, I’m looking forward to seeing how challenging this training cycle will be. I know it will include lots of workouts and other things I haven’t previously included in my training plans. Ultimately, I already feel like this will be the most in shape I’ll be going into a Marathon.

The only hurdle, if you will, that I’m a little concerned about is that I’m running a bucket-list race smack dab in the middle of my training cycle. I’ve run long trail races as training runs before, but Pikes Peak will be a totally different animal. But I’ll have more of that on another post.

For now, I’ll just look forward to what Skelly has planned for me in this training cycle. It’s exciting and daunting all at the same time, and I can’t wait.

Fall Training Kick-Off

During my week off of running after Grandma’s Marathon, I wondered many times what people do if they don’t run in a day.

Fortunately, that time is over and it’s time to hit the pavement again. My fall training cycle for the Milwaukee Marathon gets started today, and things are going to be a little different this time. And I know, that’s what a lot of us say any time once we wrap up a slightly disappointing race.

But it actually will be for me this time. Why? I’m going in and working with a coach for this training plan. Scott Sekelsky (better known to a lot of us as Skelly) has been a point of contact for me in the past regarding injuries that would pop up for me, and now I’m hiring him to coach me up for Milwaukee. And here’s my plug for Skelly’s website, if you want a great coach:¬†http://www.running4you.us

The training plan gets started a little slow, but I’m stoked to get going.

Summer is Here

We’ve turned the corner from Spring to Summer, although in Central Iowa it has felt a lot like summer for a while now.

Last time I posted, I was tapering off and getting ready for the Lincoln Marathon. Starting with that race, my running schedule has been a whirlwind of fun that left me very tired. So let’s talk about what I did.

And we start with Lincoln. This one definitely didn’t go as planned. I didn’t get a great amount of sleep leading into this race, which isn’t what you want going into a Full. The whole weekend just felt “off” to me, and had an eerily similar mental feeling to when I was in Sacramento for the Pony Express Marathon. Again, not where you mentally want to be going into a race.

The race was a little on the warm side, which played a factor since we hadn’t had temps in the 80s just yet (at that time). I never really hit a wall during the race, but couldn’t quite get going. If you’ve run Lincoln, you know the second half of the race gives you a lot of alone time and virtually no shade. The race definitely left me disappointed, especially after how well the Fall (and Twin Cities) went.

No rest for the runner though! I turned around for the Market to Market Relay, a staple in my spring schedule. I ran less than I had in past year, which was a nice change of pace for me. I also got to experience how uncomfortable running in a Captain America costume really is.

I was supposed to have the next weekend for a nice relaxing long run. However, I got talked into a 5k, by the events Race Management Coordinator. Even the day after a long run, this one went well for me, notching my second fastest 5k time and a third overall finish. For as well as this race was, it got me into the mindset that maybe I could race Grandma’s Marathon and do well. More on that in a bit.

The fourth week away from Lincoln and I finally had a weekend with no race planned. Did that stop me from doing a 22 mile training run? Nope.

On a whim, I signed up for Iowa’s Distance Classic, the Dam to Dam Half Marathon, with the purpose of pacing two of my running group friends to a 1:35. Dam to Dam has no pacers, so this one was up to me. I succeeded in hitting my marks on a hot day (75 at the start!) but my running mates dropped back around the halfway mark.

Normally a 22 miler three weeks out, followed by a Half, would put you into major taper mode for a marathon. Instead, I was revving up for the World’s Longest Relay: Relay Iowa. This relay is 339 miles across the state. Three days of little sleep, few meals (we only had two real meals across the three days), and lots of miles, I rolled up 36.

And that leads us into Grandma’s Marathon. I was hoping my legs would be ready for this, but I should have known better. The weather was warmer than you would’ve liked for 26.2, but it wasn’t outrageous. My second attempt at Grandma’s Marathon went just about as well as the first, which means not well. And I know, I’m calling a 3:24 marathon “not well,” but I was disappointed in my effort.

But some great things (other than racing) happened the last two months as well! I worked my way onto the Performance Running Outfitters race team, which frankly is a huge bucket list item of mine. Now I get to rep the best running store (in my opinion) every race day. I also tackled Strava’s #MyMile challenge, and got to run my first all out mile since high school. Managed to sneak in under 5 minutes at a 4:59, which was the first time ever I ran under 5!! It also reminded me how much I always hated going all out on the track.

Exciting things are brewing for this summer and the fall. But I’ll save that for Sunday’s post.