Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sub 1:25 Half Marathon

   It's been awhile (first post for 2013 actually),  after my last post I ended up running a 18:11 5k and that's my current PR.  My current goal is to break 18.  I'm not sure I'm ready for it just yet but it is a big summer mission :D.   I honestly never imagined it would even be a thought in my head to aim for sub-18 but here we are :)

One ambitious (or so I thought at the time) future goal I did consider while I was blogging was to some day break 1:30 in the half marathon.  My focus then (and even now) has been the 5k but while reading so many running bloggers who were running halfs and marathons constantly, I built some interest in trying out the longer races.  My issue has always been that I don't necessarily want to train the kind of mileage needed for those races, especially if I'm going to run at my highest potential.  I do love to run but I prefer short and fast to a lot of longer, slower mileage.

Anytime I read a race report of a girl breaking 1:30 in the half I was in awe.  Sub 7 minute miles for 13 miles?   How do they do that?  I did train for one half while blogging, not exactly optimally but enough to finish with a decent time.  My goal was under 1:45 and I ended up running a 1:43:49.   I remember hurting pretty badly at the end, I went out too fast and practically walked the last mile. Looking back at my splits I started with 7:17/ 7:12 /7:12 and ended with 8:32/ 8:41/ 8:29.  That was my last and only half up until 2 weeks ago.

As part of my current 5k training I added a weekly long run in the fall.  I started around 7-8 miles and have worked up to 14.  I also did a 10 mile race in January (Goal was sub 1:05 [6:30 pace] and I ended up with a 1:05:08, close enough that I was happy).  My long runs were going good- on my recent 13 and 14 milers I was holding 7:20-7:30 pretty easily and then finishing with a few sub 7 miles.  I ran a 1:33 half in training, 10 minutes better than my race PR.  So I decided it was time to get a new half marathon PR, registering for the same race I ran 2 years ago, The Long Island Half Marathon :D

Leading up to the race I knew I wanted to try for a sub 1:25 but as the race got closer I began to doubt myself.  That would be a faster pace than my recent 10 mile PR and I hadn't done any tempo runs since that racethat were longer than 4 miles (which was a race 2 weeks before my half where I ran at 6:03 pace).  I knew I could run fast for the shorter races and could run 7:10 averages pretty easily on my long runs but could I sustain a pace just below 6:30?  Even with my long runs my weekly mileage was only about 25-30 mpw, pretty low for half training (I consider it more 5k training with a half race for the hell of it).

Since I put a lot of pressure on myself and get pretty mean cases of pre-race anxiety I tried to take some of the pressure off by telling myself I'd be okay with 1:26.  It would still be a 18 minute PR and hopefully keep me from going out too fast.  I planned to go out around 6:40 and if it felt good drop it down to 6:30.  In honesty, knowing my racing MO, I knew that probably wasn't going to happen and I'd end up going out too fast anyway. Yup.

Here is how it played out:

Garmin Splits:
1-  6:21
2-  6:19
3-  6:17
4-  6:20
5-  6:20
6-  6:26
7-  6:37
8-  6:40
9-  6:21
10-6:30
11-6:29
12-6:30
13-6:39

Official chip time: 1:24:49 (6:29 pace)     10k split: 39:39     10 mile Split:1:04:28 

Overall- 32 /3798          Sex- 5/ 1723          Age Group- 3/ 328 

  As those first few miles clicked off I knew I was probably going too fast but it felt really good so I just went with it, I was amazed at my 10k split (I've never run one so that is a PR lol).   Then at miles 6 & 7 the gloom and despair set in, I wanted to quit, I sincerely considered walking right off the course.  I cursed myself for going out to fast and wondered how I could possibly make it through 6 more miles.  Mile 8 was against some pretty serious wind but I had looked at the course map and knew there was a turn at the start of mile 9 so the wind would be at my back.  I gutted out mile 8 and as soon as I hit mile 9 it felt easy, I was actually averaging 6:15 pace till we hit a little hill at the end.

Somewhere along mile 9 a race volunteer on bike held up 2 fingers to me which I assumed meant I was in 2nd.  I didn't start on the line and was wearing headphones so I really had no idea but knew there was at least one super fast local girl in front of me.  I also knew there were a couple of girls I ran with in the first few miles that were probably close behind (real close it turns out lol).  Yup, mile 10 they both caught me and although I was a bit upset I had just gone from 2nd to 4th (or so I thought) I was also very happy to see I had just run 1:04:28 for 10 miles (40 sec faster than my 10 mile PR).

They both looked very strong going by me and I was just barely holding on.  As much as I wanted to stay with them/ catch back up, my bigger concern was to not blow my sub 1:25 pace.  The last mile I really wasn't sure I was going to make it, it took everything I had just to put one foot in front of the other.  As much as I told myself, "it's the last mile, dig deep, push harder," it was all I could manage to hold a 6:40 pace.  I did find a 2nd gear for the last .1ish, around 6:10 pace, and was ecstatic to see 1:24:xx  as I approached the finish line.








 A 19 minute PR from my 2011 race.

Same race, 2 yrs apart:

    
 Turns out I was actually 5th girl as there were 2 in front of me the whole race and as nice as it would have been to come in 3rd all I cared about was that I achieved my goal of Sub 1:25.  That and finding a place to collapse on the grass. It is pretty crazy for me to think I ran 13 miles right around sub-20 5k pace when I struggled for so many years to run at  that pace for a 5k. Following the race we went across the street  to Nassau Coliseum for the Islander's playoff game, I was in a good amount of abdominal distress so it wasn't the most enjoyable experience :D.

  As for fueling during the race, I haven't needed anything during my long runs but took some sports beans with me.  I had some before the race but didn't eat any during, I also didn't drink any water. I tried at one of the later aid stations but haven't mastered the art of drinking while running (I never drink during 5ks).  It wasn't much of an issue as it was a cool day (mid/low 50's?) but something I'm going to have to work on for hotter race days.

    During the race I told myself numerous times,  "No more halfs! I'm sticking to 5ks!!"  Of course now I'm already trying to figure out my next one.  I think it's going to end up being in the fall; I have some shorter races, biathlons/triathlons, and obstacle races planned for this summer and definitely have my eye on that sub 18!   Not sure what my goal for my fall half will be, I'll see how summer training goes.  1:20 would be nice, right now that seems way too ambitious, 1:22 is safer- we shall see :) As for the full marathon, well, that's still a pretty resounding, "No Way." :D

Next 2 races are a 5k on 6/1 and Spartan NY sprint on 6/8.  The spartan will be my first obstacle race but I have some very big goals set for it-  go big or go home, right? ;)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Training Plan 11/26-12/2

   By focus I mean the exercise(s) that I do first in my workout after warming-up.  It is the lift(s) that I am most trying to improve strength on so I put them first as I am not yet fatigued and able to give 100% effort.  I usually go heavier weight, lower rep on it, 4-6 sets, 3-8 reps (sometimes 1 or 2 reps in last sets).

On most lifting days I like to warm-up with a few KB Turkish Get-ups on each side.

11/26- AM: Chest/Tris/Core- w/ focus on heavy weight, low rep bench press and bodyweight dips
PM: 9 mile run- 1:05:51 - 7:18 average  7:49/ 7:51/ 7:35/ 7:26/ 7:09/ 6:57/ 6:48/ 6:56/ 7:19

11/27- Lower Body- KB Swings to warm up.  Focus on Heavy (135-145lb) Squats, Hip Thrusts and Step-ups with some extra glute stuff at the end.
No Run

11/28- Back/Biceps- focus on Pull-ups and Bent Over Rows
followed by treadmill intervals if legs can handle it (if not switch with Th run)
1 mile warm-up, 15 ~ 30sec -1 min intervals at 5-5:20 pace with equal rest, 1-2 mile cool down.

11/29- AM: Shoulders/Core- focus on Clean and Press, Overhead Press. TRX Core Exercises
 PM: 4-5 miles easy-ish

11/30- Possible light lifting session, 3-4 miles

12/1- 2 miles easy with 4-6 strides after

12/2- 5k! :D

Approx Total mileage: 30 (with 1 mile race warm-up and 1-2 mile cool down)

   Today's run felt pretty good, it's the longest run I've done since last  January's 10 mile race (which I mentioned last post I'm doing again this year).  I didn't train for it last year, but my pace today was already faster than my pace in last year's race (although mostly bc I fell apart in the last 2 miles from the lack of training lol).  My goal time is 1:05 and I think today's run is a good indication that it's possible.  I didn't plan those 3 sub-7 miles near the end, my legs just felt loose and they happened without too much extra effort so I went with it.

    For the bench my immediate goal is 90lbs, I've been stuck at 85 for awhile now.  I didn't have a spotter today so I just did 4 sets of 3-4 reps at 85 with a beginning and ending set of 65lbs x 8(b) & 12(e).

Garmin Question: I've been unable to upload my data for awhile now.  The site recognizes my Garmin but when I try to upload my runs it tells me, "no new activities to upload."  Anyone ever have this problem and/or a solution to it?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sub-19 5k! Twice.

       So I had started a post a week ago on how I've been running mid-19 5ks all fall and my goal Turkey Trot time was 18:45.  I didn't have time to finish it so I saved it as a draft, but then decided not to write about what time I wanted to run and instead just get out there and run it.  And then I could talk about it :D  Which is part of the reason why I've lost interest in blogging over the past year, a mix of time constraints and a "shut up and train" attitude (I am only talking about myself and my goals personally, I have no problems with other people blogging about there goals and their training.  In fact I plan to write more about them in the coming months as well.  I just had to take a step back and focus on other things for a while.)

    I finally feel in a position where what I have to say could benefit others in the pursuit of health, fitness and faster times.  I've become very aware of my strengths and weaknesses as a runner and how to design my training to bring up my weaknesses and utilize my strengths to my advantage.

And I am nothing short of amazed at the results I have achieved.

   Going into Thursday's Turkey Trot I knew I was capable of a sub-19 5k but I'm not sure I truly believed I would do it.  I had run a 19:05 5k 2 weeks earlier (4 loops on part track, part grass course nonetheless)  and a solid 6x800 workout of 2:48/2:48/2:50/2:50/2:53/2:53 3 days before, which both gave me confidence to do it.  And yet I could not wrap my head around running an 18:XX 5k.  I had butterflies and anxiety (although a weird sort of good, excited anxiety- adrenaline maybe?) for days leading up to the race.

  And it played out almost exactly the way my Sub-19 had:

2011:
Nov. 13th- 20:07
Nov. 24th- 19:45

2012:
Nov. 11th- 19:05
Nov. 22nd . . .


18:42!

    I'm still in shock.

I won a turkey :)

  I felt strong and in control the whole race,  I went through the first mile in 5:46 and I knew then and there I was going to do it.  Garmin splits- 5:46/ 6:08/ 6:03.  My average pace according to my finishing time was 6:01.  

   Most of my time improvement has come from lowering my 2nd and especially 3rd mile.  I've been running my 1st mile in sub-6 (but sometimes finishing with a high 6:30-6:40 3rd mile) for a while now and even though some would say it is better to slow down that 1st mile and run even splits, I didn't want to slow down I wanted to bring my other miles closer to my 1st mile pace.   So I've worked hard at improving my endurance at that pace and it has paid off :)

  To add to my already exciting Thanksgiving weekend, I hopped in another 5k yesterday morning.  There was money awards to top 3 and I reasoned that I stood a chance depending on who showed up (there are a few local girls who can run 17s and even at least one who can run 16:xx).  There was a pretty strong wind (20 mph) so my goal was just to go sub 19 again but I put no pressure on myself to PR (especially on unrested legs).

    Within the first mile I was in first for the women and knew, as long as I didn't blow up in the 2nd half of the race, I could win it and run in the 18's again.   1st half was against the wind, 2nd half with it- so I knew I just had to push through that 1st half and then I could really use the wind to my advantage for a fast finish.   

Final time-18:51  Splits- 5:59/6:20/5:58- You can see the wind really took its toll in the 2nd mile, plus my 1st mile was about 10 sec slower than usual, but I think that's the 1st time I've ever been sub-6 in my last mile.

   To top off an amazing race weekend I won $200 for 1st female AND my fiance (who has been running 5ks with me since September and has dropped his time from Mid 25s to 22:38(!) on Thanksgiving) won his age group and a GC to our local running shop (Sayville Running Company).  We stopped by there since it was Small Business Saturday and picked him up some sweet light weight sneaks :D

   Where do I go from here?  

    Last year after my fall racing season and breaking 20 for the first time ever I actually stopped running completely for the month of January to focus on building muscle.  I'm not doing that again.   I will of course continue to lift (I actually spend more time every week lifting than I do running), but I want to see how low I can take this.  I don't feel like I've reached my limit yet, and sub 18 had crossed my mind, but I know that is going to take some very serious training if I'm going to get anywhere near that and even then can I do it?    

    Right now I have at least 2 more 5ks in my season and I'd love to PR in one or both of them, 18:30 possibly?  And then I have a 10 miler at the end of January, my ambitious goal is 1:05 or 6:30 mile pace.  At the least the training mileage will be good for my spring season base building.  

      I'm throwing around the idea of a spring half but my main focus will continue to be improving my 5k time.  There is something exhilarating to me about going all out for 3 miles, whereas the longer races are more about pacing which I just don't enjoy as much.  But the urge to see if I can go sub 1:30 is there so I'll see how the 10 miler goes and then make a more definitive decision on my spring races.

Next 5k is this coming Sunday and I'm already pumped!  

Monday, October 15, 2012

Bikini Comp Recap

 
     I actually came back to the blog today to write about the direction of my current training and goals, I've been thinking about posting regularly again to journal my training and progress toward my current goals.  More for myself but others may be interested in it as well.  Then I realized I never posted about my Fitness America Competition, which had a big influence on what I'm choosing to pursue goal wise now (but not in the way you might think).  So I'm going to recap and reflect on that first.

  My competition took place on July 7th, I placed 5th in bikini short class which I suppose is good for my first time but it was a beginner comp so everyone was new at it lol.  And although I'm glad I went through with it and experienced something new I learned that bikini competitions really aren't my thing.  I HATE being on stage in front of an audience ha.  I felt like a deer in headlights up there the whole time, forgetting to smile, full of anxiety and wanting nothing more than to be off the stage.
 
    So although part of me wonders if I could keep working at it and do better, I don't think I will be partaking in any more bikini comps anytime soon.  Plus it's so subjective.  In running, if you run the fastest time you win; but how do you judge who has the best physique?   I know it's really about doing it for yourself and being happy with the work you put in and the results you got.  I told myself this repeatedly before the competition, in my head I would think, "no matter what you place, getting on stage is a victory."  And I was happy with how I looked so that should be good enough.  Buuttt I'm competitive so I still got a little bit down on myself for my placing.

    Also despite not taking drastic measures (no carb cycling,  no low carb/calorie, no excessive cardio), I still ended up a little thinner then I would like.  Yes, most women compete at weights lighter than they normally maintain day to day, but I still would have liked to got on stage 4-5 lbs heavier than I was (@ 5'4" I competed at 108lbs, I think 112-114 would have been perfect) .  Even though I didn't take drastic or excessive measures, in the last few weeks I was afraid to eat too much and be bloated or have extra fat (I was still eating plenty though, averaging 1400-1500 a day [which is a lot for someone at 110 lbs in the last few weeks of contest prep.] I guess I could have gotten away with more though, you live and you learn :).

 Some contest pics:




If you know anything about these types of competitions, you'd know I was waving with the wrong hand, ooopps.

Probably the most genuine smile out of all the pics, the rest all look very forced. . . cause they were haha.







      Overall, I loved the training, I loved the changes to my body composition, loved the clean eating BUT I did not love the stage, the tan, the hair and make-up, being judged, the cost lol.   So I've continued to lift daily and lift heavy, to eat clean and make sure I eat enough to maintain my weight (and even add a bit) but I've gone back to focusing my goals on the sport I love: RUNNING :D  More on my current running goals and progress in the next post :)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Why You Should Lift. . .

    So I stopped posting because I've been focusing my time/energies else where and I'm really happy with the personal/physical/ mental development I've made over the past 6 months.   Right now I'm 11 days out  (aka freak out time!) from my first bikini competition and wanted to share the progress I've made the past year with heavy lifting/ proper nutrition to support body composition change. "Running for the bikini" did not get me very far in terms of achieving the results I was looking for (as you will note from the first picture which was taken about 9 months after starting my blog), but once I started lifting and eating clean I got rapid results.

Picture evidence:

Little over a year ago
 (Mid-May, and a little blurry cause I used photo booth)  

End of October 
After about 2 months of lifting and cleaning up my diet.
Tanner but also less stomach fat.

2 weeks ago
 After 10 months of heavy lifting and high protein, clean diet :)

Note: There is about a 10 lb change between these pictures (from 122-ish to 112) and 10+% bf loss (from approx over 25% to 15%).  And this was for the most part while actively trying to keep my calories up, often aiming for 2000-2200 (while in the past I was always trying to keep them low [1200-1300ish] which often led to bingeing, as well as not making the best food choices as long as it fit my calorie budget).  

     And as mentioned in a previous post I dropped my 5k time from 20:XX to 19:00 (even while reducing the amount of running I was doing) during this time so lifting has had a positive impact on my running as well :)

Now I'm running late for morning cardio (stairs!), hopefully I will find time to start posting again but if you are interested I do post fitness related and competition progress stuff on my Facebook page ~ http://www.facebook.com/KatieMcGrathCPT because it is easier time wise to make quick updates.