SPI Week 3 Recap – Halfway there!

I won a free entry to the inaugural South Padre Island Half-marathon, sponsored by the wonderful folks over at LocoLadies Running. The catch: I only had 7 weeks to train for this race, and I had never run anything longer than a 10K. So, I am blogging my way through the folly I call –  SPI: Do or Die!

Wow, has another week already passed?!? I guess that’s a symptom blessing of a full and active life: the days just fly by! So let’s take a step back, breathe a minute, and see what progress has been made…I am still following (or I should say trying to follow) the plan I created, in the form I published last week, as optimistic and unrealistic as it is; my results this week make me believe I have finally found my true fitness level, the starting point from which I really begin to train, instead of just doing new things.

Mondays are my hill repeat workouts, which I love! I still have not figured out how exactly a strip of concrete over a pile of dirt can grow all by itself without anybody seeing it, but I am convinced that hill is longer on the last two repeats that it is on the first two…anyone else ever have that experience? But I made seven repeats of over-and-back, total just over 5 miles. Next week I add another rep, and so on, and so on…And I am still enjoying going straight from that ordeal to yoga class; nothing beats stretching with a coach!! (It’s also neat that The Wife does yoga with me!)

Tuesday is planned as a rest day, but this may change…I made the allowance for an outreach ministry I am part of, but I’m thinking I need to shuffle some of this around – read on to see what I mean.

In my mind I see Wednesday as a race-pace workout, targeting half the distance of that week’s long run. I had ten miles on the chart for Saturday, so Wednesday should have been 5 miles at HMP.  Didn’t happen that way, but I did learn a couple of things, so it wasn’t a waste. So what happened? First, we had company over, and I couldn’t just ditch The Wife to go run (she loves me and is generally understanding about my runs, but there are limits). Once it got dark I had to go to “Plan B”, and try out a treadmill run at the Y. I have never run on a TM, and these are fancy computerized machines that I have never used before, so I was a little intimidated; but nearly everything about becoming a runner has been new and scary, so I’m getting used to it…and, just like at the beginning, I pushed through the uncertainty and just started running. It took me about 15 minutes to get the hang of adjusting speeds and be comfortable letting go of the handrails and actually running; then I came upon the second dilemma – what is my target pace, and can I actually run at that pace consistently? TM’s are not like free running, you are committed to maintain speed with no wavering, like I now know that I do on the road. I finally got settled on my target pace of 8:00/mile, and maintained for 1.5 miles; then they were closing and I had to cut my workout short at 3.5 miles total, instead of 5. I gained a new skill, and expanded my range of workouts, so I call it a fair trade.

Thursday is BodyAttack day, and I am still having a ball in this class. I only had to stop and gasp two or three times this week, and I can see my form improving from week to week…I am encouraged! (The instructor is this tiny little thing, half my age, and it is so cute the way she bounces around the room, shouting at us and encouraging us, even the skinny old hippie gasping away 🙂 ) I have added some structure to the weight training routine I do after BA…I spent a couple of hours looking at upper body workout routines on YouTube, and selected two circuit training programs to try out: one using dumbbells and a stability ball, the other using the machines in the gym. Don’t know which I prefer, may continue with both. It’s nice to have options when the weight room is busy and full, right?

Friday is set as a speed work day, either sprint interval ladders or tempo run; this week it was intervals, which I did on the track at the high school. I like doing this workout on the track, no distractions…this week I did two sets of the ladder, with a longish recovery between sets. I love not really caring about the pace or distance, but focusing on breathing control and learning to adapt quickly. Next time I want to up it to three sets, with slightly less rest time. I may drop the tempo runs, since HMP runs will cover that, at least for now, because I see more benefit to practicing quick recovery.

And then came Saturday, Long Slow Run, set this week for ten miles. I know there is nothing magical about “10” miles, but it IS a huge mental challenge to become a “Double Digit Runner”…and this week I fell short – I only got 5.5 miles done. But I did set myself up for failure three different ways, and I can see what I did wrong…so I can call that a learning experience, right? There is no such thing as a bad run! Here’s where I fell off:

  • I set off to run at nearly high noon on a sunny day, in high humidity. I usually run at sunset, when it’s much cooler and breezy.
  • I had not adequately hydrated before the run, and only carried one 8 oz. bottle of water – which was empty by the five-mile mark.
  • I was running what is essentially a sand and gravel trail, in road shoes; came real close to rolling my ankle twice, and made my knees sore. I need to own more than one pair of shoes if I’m gonna run more than one kind of terrain.

I may also switch this run from Saturday to Sunday, putting the rest day before instead of after. If I need to rest after, then I keep yoga on Monday, but move hills to Tuesday, and either do the run earlier or later (there’s enough street lighting to make this one safe after dark). And, I will go and buy another water bottle, maybe even a Camelbak or something like that, so I don’t run dry on my dry runs at half-mary distance. (I really want to finish this race strong, without walking any of it – I have “1:45:00” stuck in my head, right or wrong.)

So, overall an educational week of training, and some good runs and good workouts. There’s three weeks left until Race Day, hopefully I can incorporate some of this hard-won knowledge and see increased progress. See you back next week for another update!

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