As may recall, I got peer pressured into doing something crazy a couple months back — I signed up for the Disney Princess Half Marathon — my first half.
It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now that I’m 15 weeks out, it seems like a huge mountain to climb.
Given how woefully unprepared I am to run a race of any distance, I decided to follow a 16-week training plan. This past week was my first week, and shocker of all shockers, I actually did all the runs on the training plan.
For now, I’m following a RunKeeper training plan:
I say for now because the one challenge I’m having is my tendency to run near the limits of my phone’s data plan every month. I ran with RunKeeper running a couple times this week and I quickly started getting the “Your account used 90 percent of its data allowance…” blah, blah, blah text alerts. So I then started running using our Garmin and logging the miles manually but I’m having some issues getting the mobile and web versions to synch up. Such first world running problems, huh?
Apart from my technical issues, another big issue I’ve been running into (see what I did there?) is some scheduling conflicts. My husband is currently training for the Disney marathon in January. Since we’re both scheduled to run four days a week, a Beatles’ style eight days a week would really come in handy right about now. Unless one of us (NOT IT!) gets up at 4 a.m. to run, there’s really just not enough time for us to both run in the mornings, especially now that he’s in longer runs territory.
Thankfully he’s sometimes able to come home at lunch to run, so that got us through Week 1, but it’s dodgy, especially when SOMEONE decides to steal someone else’s morning by sneakily waking up earlier than the other person planned. But I’m not naming names.
Given my lifelong aversion to early mornings (there’s a reason my family nickname was Sleepy), it’s surprising to me how easy it’s been to get up and run on my mornings. I credit two things: a) my months of 5:30 a.m. Jazzercise classes. Heck, I get to sleep in an whole extra hour on run mornings compared to Jazzercise mornings and b) the blessed end of daylight savings time. Since the time change, it’s finally light out at 6:15 and this week, I was rewarded for my early mornings with some glorious sunrises and a rainbow.
The plan called for my first three runs to be slow and easy 3 mile-runs. Hey, something I can do well — slow! My goal was to keep them right around the 36-minute mark since I knew there’d be plenty of walking breaks, which there were. For those keeping score at home, the runs clocked in at 35:30, 35:41 and 35:00. For week one, I’ll take those times.
Sunday, which I guess is officially the start of Week 2, called for my first long run — 5 miles. I may be mistaken, but I don’t think I’ve run that far since March’s Winter Park Road Race 10K. I told you I’m not race-ready.
I procrastinated as long as I could but then when I saw one friend was still doing her half-marathon, despite her bruised ribs, this girl was running double digits pushing a jogging stroller and another friend had just run a half-marathon just days after CRUSHING her Ironman, I figured it was time to shut up and run. See how annoying social media is with its peer pressure to actually exercise? Ugh, I need to follow more drinkers and eaters.
I’m lucky that I live in a such a running-friendly and diverse area. There’s no shortage of pretty options to take. For this longer run, I incorporated a small portion of the Orlando Urban Trail.
The trail opened a little more than a year ago, and I’ve used it quite a bit but mostly for biking. I think it’s actually better for biking than running because it doesn’t have a lot of shade on it for most of it and so far there’s only one water station. But since I was only utilizing a section of it on Sunday, it got the job done. And I took full advantage of the water station, even pausing my Garmin to take a couple minute break since it was about halfway through my run.
After I left the trail, I was rewarded with a new kind of surprise — a boating club!
These older gentlemen were adorable and really enjoying their remote-control boats. Once again, I paused the Garmin and enjoyed the show for a few minutes.
Those are the moments when I really like running. It takes me places I wouldn’t normally go, and I’ve actually come to love going on runs while traveling.
But the running itself? Well, I’m still trying to make up my mind about that.
As I told my running mentor Michelle via email tonight, I’m really hoping the next 15 weeks will show me once and for all what I really think about running. Will I always dread it? Is it possible to learn to love it? Am I, as I suspect, immune to that mythical runner’s high? Will I ever stop looking like I’m running with a piano on my back? That image is how my guy friends described me when we played together on a Syracuse alumni softball team in DC and I’ve never been able to shake the image. I suspect they’re right. There’s a reason I’ve never bought a race picture, but I’d like to prove them wrong.
As for the 5-miler, I had two goals in mind: 1) not find a reason to quit (oh, I can come up with excuses like nobody’s business) and 2) try as best as possible to finish it in under an hour. Check and check.
Here’s a little secret though — I had to basically sprint the last 3/4 of a mile to beat that hour. I really need to learn how to be a more disciplined of a runner. My splits are all over the place. Some times I run around a 9:50-10:15 pace; other times, it’s closer to 12. And then there are the walking breaks. I’m debating instituting an interval training plan but my problem with that is I tend to zone out and forget about it. Or, vice versa, sometimes I realize I’m walking and I have no recollection of stopping running and starting to walk. I have issues.
I also misjudged my distance today and ended up walking an additional half-mile to reach home but I didn’t want that to count toward my overall time, so I stopped the Garmin at 5 miles and called the rest a cool down. Issues, I tell you.
OK, how much can someone say about 14 mediocre miles? (apparently a lot) Well, I guess it is 14 more miles than I’ve run any time in recent memory so for now, I’m going to feel good about that and enjoy the shit out of Monday’s rest day.
So, whether you’re a long-time, newbie or non-runner, I’ll take any and all tips I can get: what are your favorite training plans? Favorite running apps or online trackers? Intervals — yay or nay? And how on Earth do two runners with little ones coordinate their running schedules?