Austin 3M Half 2018 Training Weeks 1-3

A few months ago, I signed up for the Austin 3M Half so that I could visit Gabby in her new adopted city, which I have never been to in my previous trip to Texas.  It just so happens that the 3M Half is famous for its downhill course profile and is a great PR opportunity. Also, NYC is freezing in January and Austin is not. Sold!

I’m using Kara Goucher’s 10 Week Half Marathon Training Plan and am excited to try some of the midweek speed workouts. I’m hoping to nestle myself somewhere in between Plan A (lower mileage) and Plan B, depending on time crunches and the holidays. I’m shooting for sub-1:55 as my A goal, but I might adjust that if the race pace miles are elusive. Stay tuned!

Week 1 (11/13-11/19) of the 10-week training began two days after the Richmond Marathon. I did not begin. I only did a 5-mile shuffle that first week, skipped the long run due to travel plans, then got a nasty cold.

Week 2 (11/20-11/26) was mostly spent with said cold, so I finally tried to run again that weekend, putting in 13 miles.

They moved the OY/YO to Williamsburg from DUMBO

Week 3 (11/27-12/3) found me excited to run again and also curious to see what speed benefits my aerobic base had brought me. Jackpot! I hit a pace PR at Mile High Run Club’s The Distance on Monday, had a fast 4-mile morning fartlek Wednesday, some easy treadmill miles Thursday, an 8.2 mile long run Saturday, and a 7.3 mile recovery run Sunday. I’m now on track with the recommended mileage for the training plan (27.5 out of 27 miles) and excited to put in some race-pace miles in the coming weeks.

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Waiting for the Pajama Run to begin

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Brooklyn Half 2017 Recap

Spoiler alert: I got a PR and did it under 2 hours with a time of 1:58:54.

I was hoping for more course photos but there were only a few of me from the finish from GameFace plus a couple more that teammates took along the way.

This was my 7th half marathon and my 3rd in 2017 (I did 3 in 2015 and 1 in 2016). My first was 2:10:08 and some along the way were during injures (Nike San Francisco Women’s Half Race Recap) or lower training periods where the race wasn’t a goal race (Weekly Mileage (and food) recaps 1/16 – 2/19) but I’m glad to finally be in the 1:50:00s.

Getting in the corrals:

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It’s definitely harder to write about this so many weeks later, but the splits tell the story. I held back a little up the hills but tried to keep a steady pace. My splits averaged out to be just about 9:09 or under and I knew I was on pace when I exited the park.

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I was still rolling on Ocean Parkway, even when the cheering crowds thinned out substantially. I was pretty sure I had a PR in the bag and sped up to lower 9 minute miles, then was able to drop below 9 for the final few miles. That last mile got to be painful but I felt like that meant I was doing it right. My struggle up the boardwalk was apparent and my final “0.2” was at an 8:23 pace.

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I collected my medal, got a bag with yellow Gatorade that I traded some dude for because he had blue Gatorade (best flavor). Then I tried to get my stuff. Well, turned out the truck with my stuff had broken down and it wasn’t there yet. They gave us heat sheets and vouchers for a free hot dog but eventually it pulled up so I could put my jacket on. Then the rain started, just as I finally pulled up to our club’s beach picnic.

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Relieved to finally get our bags

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NYC Half 2017 Recap

I started drafting this post immediately after the race (3pm from my couch, recuperating with bagels), but left the ‘Intro’ portion blank. It’s definitely hard to write about races (and running in general) sometimes when things don’t go exactly your way, but it’s time to push it out there anyway since I’ve officially done two races after the NYC Half anyway. And yes, my Mom noticed its absence. This will be woefully short on photos because my few MarathonFoto shots aren’t great.

Fun fact: This was my FIRST half marathon EVER in 2015. The 2017 iteration was my 6th half.

2015 Post-Race Elation

I went to the expo the day before fairly early and grabbed my shirt (long sleeve this year in a great bright blue) and bib. I had just stocked up on Gus at Jackrabbit during my Ghost 9 shopping spree, so didn’t need to linger too much. I did grab pre-made pace bracelets for 1:55 (ha! just saving for another time), 2:00, and 2:05. My A Goal: Sub 2:00, B Goal: Under 2:02:11 aka a new PR, C Goal: Under 2:05 just to prove that I was in fact in shape enough to get under 2 next time.

After a lot of hemming and hawing the night before on temperature, I chose to wear my Sugoi Subzero tights (rather than the Midzero ones, just in case we did get some flurries after all since they are somewhat more water resistant), my PPTC short-sleeve t-shirt, and my blue Lululemon Go the Distance jacket. I pinned my bib onto my pants since I wasn’t sure if I would end up keeping my jacket on the whole time. I knew not having the red shirt be super visible would make it harder for cheerers to spot me, but there are enough people out on the course that I wasn’t too worried. I also had a neat NYRR National Running Day buff that I was planning to wear around my neck but ended up using as an ear warmer/headband. The finishing touches were some sweet homemade arm warmers made of men’s socks from the pack I bought for the NYC Marathon last year as well as my beloved Lululemon Run With Me gloves, which were a Christmas gift from a Secret Santa friend.

I got to Central Park with more than enough time to spare before dropping my stuff off at bag check by 6:50AM. It was so cold before and at the start and I was very lucky that a teammate had some extra disposable hand warmers to slip into my gloves.

Miles 1 – 3: It took a full 2 miles for me to feel my toes. Cat Hill was over and done with pretty much immediately in the first mile, then you get to enjoy the rolling hills on the East side of the park. It was around here that I saw my first Golden Retriever of the morning and started counting dogs. According to NYRR, my time at the 5K was 29:00 exactly, but my watch was around 27:30 or so.

Miles 4 – 6: They had to change the course a little bit this year because of construction near the finish, so they added an up-and-down to 113th street during the out-and-back along 110th St. I hit the 10K in pretty good shape and realized that I had hit a new 10K PR of 57:42. Yay! I pulled my tube sock arm warmers out from under my jacket and tossed them into Central Park. My dog count ended unofficially at 50 dogs because I was losing my mental focus a bit around #40.

Miles 6-10: This section includes the exit from Central Park, the very surreal experience of running through down Broadway and through Times Square, then the move along 42nd St and down the West Side Highway. I got to see my teammate Brittany cheering at 50th St. which was such a nice boost.

I ate 2 salted margarita Shot Blocks around mile 8 and chased them with water. I saw the PPTC cheer squad around mile 9.5 and went in for much-needed high fives. Thanks, guys!

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Miles 10-12: These were the worst miles of the whole race but still faster than the frozen first mile. It’s not that the wheels fell off entirely, but my pace slowed, my feet were tired and my form suffered. I caught myself awkwardly straddling the main buckle in the road as I ran and couldn’t really seem to stay in a straight line on the crown of the road. My breathing never got raggedy, but I was worried that it would if I tried to push the pace. I had started just in front of the 2:00 pace group, then they passed me, then I passed them, but this is where they passed me for good and I knew I couldn’t keep up. My race plan had been to negative split to make up for the slower hills in the first half, but I couldn’t drop the hammer as much as I had wanted. I knew I was 40ish second off from 2:00 but it was just not happening.

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This face says it all

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Finally seeing the finish

Miles 12-13.1: Sweet relief! The tunnel felt great, if a little longer than before, but the uphill finish shredded me. My legs would just not move faster.  Final time of 2:00:49.

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Mile 7 through Times Square is way, way off

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In summary, I missed my A Goal got a sweet new PR. My 9:13 minutes per mile pace means that my best Half pace is now faster than my recorded NYRR paces for the 10 Mile, 10K, 5 Mile, and 4 Mile. Ok, so I haven’t raced as many of those, but this is still an exciting start to Spring 2017 racing season. I’m trying to race all of those at or below a 9 minute mile. But I did get a new PR and nabbed some unofficial 10 mile and 10K PRs during this race, so felt like it was a strong foundation.

Week 11 of NYC Marathon Training

Monday 9/26: I got back from Cancun on Sunday the 25th and had smartly taken the day off on Monday. Since I didn’t do a run Sunday (or Thursday), my legs were a little eager to go. I slept in (until 8am) but lazed around all morning and didn’t get going until after noon. 4.3 total, slightly faster than I needed to go and slightly warmer than I expected.

Tuesday 9/27: 6 miles even (1 mile to the park, 3.5 miles tempo, .3 miles to friend’s place to get throwaway clothes, then 1.2 miles home) but my watch died at 4.8.

Wednesday 9/28: Taco Run with PPTC. Ran to the park and meeting place for 2 miles, then most of a loop and down to the Tacos El Bronco truck. Got lengua, al pastor, and chorizo tacos ($1.75 each) plus a pineapple Jarritos. I was so hungry I didn’t even take a picture. 6.7 miles at a conversational pace.

I came home and finally tried to sign up for the Bay Ridge Half, a race I had been thinking about doing for weeks (months?). I knew I’d have either an 18 mile long run or a half to race this weekend and figured the flat course here would be nicer than Grete’s Gallop the next day if I was going for a PR. So of course the link was no longer active! Fortunately they corrected it within the hour so I was able to sign up.

Thursday 9/29: Off day. Packet pickup for the Bay Ridge Half after I inhaled some goat curry roti from the Bronx, then beer and nachos at a friend’s birthday.

Friday: Personal Day off work and off day from activity unless you count traipsing around the Met Breuer and (regular) Met. It was raining outside all day, so I’m glad I skipped what would have been a nasty shakeout run. This was an amazing food day, with Pastrami Queen for lunch and Korean fried chicken and cheese ddukkbokki for dinner. I also had a single pumpkin beer at a friend’s birthday before dinner. I walked several miles this day in my Frye boots and tights and they began to rub against a tender spot near my left ankle.

Saturday: Race day.

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Pre-race teammate post

My plan was to aim for straight 9:30s and see how I felt at mile 10. I hadn’t actually raced a half since Brooklyn 2015 (since I was super injured for Nike Women SF) and I went back to look at those splits (pre-Garmin 220). I had trouble with the rain and maintaining my pace back then, so I wanted to do better here. Ideally, my A+ goal would be to go sub-2 but I knew that 9:10 even splits were just not possible at this point in the game.

I did a nice, easy warm-up mile since NYRR Virtual Trainer said I should hit 14 miles total for the day.

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I stayed pretty consistent, though definitely got too excited at mile 4, then too slow for some reason at mile 7. I took a caffeinated PowerGel slowly from miles 6-8, then a couple Honey Stinger chews at mile 10. They had blue Gatorade but I just sipped my own water then took some of theirs when I was running low.

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I knew I was going to hit my sub-2:04 goal, so I felt amazing coming in. I was flagging a bit the last 2 miles but got my kicks the last 0.5 miles by passing a ton of people and hitting that sub-9 mile.

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Final time of 2:02:11 and a smile on my face. I input my time into Virtual Trainer, knowing it was faster than the predicted range and my expected marathon time range shot up by 10 minutes. Easy there slugger, you might say to me. I’m trying to keep my full NYCM expectations in check. With just 5 weeks to go, I am still just delighted my training has gone so well, but I still want to make sure to respect the distance.

I made it to the Grub Street Food Festival and chowed down on fried mac & cheese bites, a chicken and bacon cheddar waffle sandwich, and Taiwanese/Japanese wheel cakes.



Sunday 10/2: Recovery run shuffle. The plan was 1 mile each to JackRabbit and back because I needed compression socks and a new non-handheld water bottle. I was halfway to JackRabbit when I realized they might not be open yet. Stopped to check Yelp and sure enough, they wouldn’t open for another 30 minutes. Rather than scrap the run, I added on extra mileage to and just into the park, then when it was 10:54, I scrambled around the surrounding blocks. I then watched football (HTTR, phew) and drank 3 different pumpkin beers. 3.7 miles total.

Total: 34.8 miles out of a recommended 34. It felt weird not doing 18 miles as my log run, so I’m glad I did the recovery the day after.

Nike San Francisco Women’s Half Race Recap

I found out that I got into this race via lottery in early July and decided to take the plunge. I wanted at least one fall half (and was still planning on running the Richmond Half). This was my first destination race and my first that wasn’t NYRR or NYC Runs. I asked around and everyone who had run the race before said it was an amazing course and that they had a great time. I felt overdue for a trip to the Bay Area, so I decided to make it a full 4-day trip, from Friday morning to the last red-eye out Monday night. I’ll make this post focus on the race and other activities (and swag), then make a separate “what I ate” post because y’all know I went HAM out there before and after the race.

The pre-race activities were fun and helped instill a bit of the ‘community’ feel for such a big race. I enjoyed the Friday Get Focused workout and bonded with my Airbnb housemates who were also running. I ended up skipping the Saturday morning shakeout run because I had walked over 5 miles Friday and close to that on Saturday.

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Posing after packet pick-up during the swag purchasing point #1 at Niketown. I needed a Dri-fit hat anyway.

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I found my name on the Niketown store window pretty quickly as well as a friend’s who I didn’t know was running the race.

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Stretching to Hotline Bling with my housemates during the Get Focused workout.

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My goal for this half was just to finish without Achilles pain, since I knew a PR was out of the question and my eventual goal for sub-2 will have to wait a little longer. I ended up going even slower than I planned on and after the first few miles and hills, decided to not have qualms about stopping for pictures or walking through water and snack stops. I don’t usually race with my phone (just my Garmin Forerunner 220), but used both so I could enjoy some tunes and snap some shots. I ran my running club’s singlet with Lululemon Top Speed Crops because they have a zippered pocket as well as smaller waistband pockets. I wanted to bring shot-blocks with caffeine and keep the free gel along the course in there in case I didn’t need it.

I was at the front of Wave 2 because my housemate was going for a 9:10 pace, but I wisely decided to step to the side and drink more Nuun (cup #2 of 3 pictured below), so I ended up more in the middle of the pack. The first wave took off right at 6:30, and I crossed the start line around 6:41am.

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The first few miles had some uphills and I was trying to reconcile the course map in my head with the neighborhoods I had already visited Friday and Saturday. This was a pleasant distraction for the first 5K or so.

Nike Womens Half 2015 Course Map

We entered Golden Gate Park, which was my favorite part of the run. I had hung out there before when visiting and loved the waterfalls and bison, so I actually did take some quick shots this time. There was some crowd support and bands, along with ample enough water/Nuun stops. I grabbed a small peanut butter bar close to the 10K mark but didn’t eat it because I was a smidge thirsty. As seen below, I was clearly grooving to my tunes.

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I felt pretty strong exiting the park and took a Vanilla Gu I had grabbed, but definitely slowed on the first of the 2 hills out. The crowds were picking up a bit as we headed to the Presidio. I remember passing the 10K mark back in the park, but not the 15K mark. There were lots of twists and turns through the neighborhood; if I had been really racing this, I would have tried to run the tangents better.

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I tried to focus more on making it past THE hill and enjoying the downhills, along with admiring the scenery. I’m not good at running selfies and didn’t want to mess up a high-five or pass my sweat to a stranger, so I kept my arms to myself but grabbed a few shots at good pause points.

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After the hill, I knew there were only 2 miles to go and that they would be a mix of downhill and flat. What joy! I felt strong during these, took my final 2 shot blocks, and shoved the chocolate truffle into my zippered pocket for later. I definitely wasn’t flying by the water by any means, but I had a pretty good pace going here. There were a few music groups out, including taiko drums and a Chinese dragon dance.

The finish was around a corner and snuck up on me a bit because my watch was over 0.2 miles ahead. I went for the flat-out sprint for the finish but moved myself into the middle so I could have a good finish photo (not usually my strong suit).

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Nailed it (but please do not look at the knees of the poor guy behind me). I finished in 2:25:34, which is over a minute per mile slower than my previous two halfs (NYC and Brooklyn, both this year). But I guess I did stop for a picture of the bison paddock in Golden Gate Park. And I did shuffle slowly up those hills. So, my sub-2 hour half might have to wait until 2016.

The exit went really smoothly in part because they handed us large reusable grocery bags from Whole Foods (with lots of goodies inside), so I could throw everything else into there. Tiffany’s necklace in a box? Throw it in the bag. Hot pink water bottle full of cold water? Drank a lot of it, then threw it in the bag. There was no wait for the Portapotties, so I headed there first. I then got into what would be closer to a 1-hour line for Finisher gear, not knowing everything would be available back at Niketown or on the website. Fortunately, I befriended a couple of other ladies in line and they got the following picture of me. I did not want to wait in line for the official finish photos in front of the light teal backdrop. These motivational words would just have to do.

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Then there was a long, slow, painful walk to the shuttles. I snacked on my banana, chocolate milk, and peanut butter bar before the bus, then was able to shower and nap and move on with my 3 post-race meals.

I would try another Nike Women’s event for sure, especially if running with friends. In fact, I might enter for their Toronto 15K next June. I’m planning to run the NYC full marathon next November, so I probably won’t be able to race SF next year at that point in my marathon training, but we’ll see.