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Half Marathon & Training Reflections

Thank you all so much for your sweet comments about my first half marathon! It’s kind of hard to believe that I ran 13.1 miles two days ago. Although, I believe it every time I stand up and my legs feel sore ;)

It’s weird being done with something that I spent so much time and energy preparing for! Does anyone else feel like that after a race? It’s like I’m not sure what to do with myself now — I’ve been training continuously for races since late January!

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Some Reflections:

I was really happy with my training plan for this race and the fact that with the exception of my sore calf, I was able to stay injury free!

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Long time readers will remember that I had a lot of knee trouble while training for the Army Ten Miler in the fall. If you just started reading my blog you might think I’ve always been doing long races, but the Army Ten Miler in October was actually my first “long” race (I’d only done 5 milers and 5k’s before it):

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About a month before the race, I started having dull pain in the back of my right knee, radiating up towards my hip. I invested in a knee sleeve, which helped that problem, but then two weeks before the race I got a really sharp pain in the FRONT of my right knee during a long run, to the point where I had to stop running immediately. I rested the knee, did lots of icing, and thankfully was still able to finish the race strong in 1:30:01 (9:00 pace) in spite of my knee not feeling its best. I was upset, though, that after all my training I wasn’t feeling my best on race day. There’s nothing more frustrating than getting an injury right before a race you’ve spent months training for.

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I decided to spend the winter focusing on strengthening my legs. With the exception of a 10k Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving, I simmered on the running and spent more time doing squats, lunges, and leg weight machines, in addition to upper body weights.

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I started gradually training for the Army Ten Miler when I moved back from Prague last summer, and I had a feeling my training issues came from neglecting strength training pretty much the whole 9 months I was overseas. Yikes.

Come late January, I was feeling good and itching to do another race. My friend Ashley and I decided to sign up and train for the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in April. I made us a 2.5 month training plan similar to that we’d followed in the fall, but made sure to include more strength training. I also decided to ice my knees and legs after every single run, not just long runs.

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The strength training, stretching, and icing seriously paid off. Not only was I able to train injury free throughout the spring, but I got faster, too. In a St. Patrick’s Day 8k training race, Ashley and I finished the 5 miles in 40:50 for an average pace of 8:13:

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And at the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in April, we blew our Army Ten Miler time out of the water, finishing in 1:28:27, for an average pace of 8:51.

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We decided it was time to sign up for a half marathon… and the rest is history. :)

So, where do I go from here? I definitely want to do another half marathon in the future and try to improve my time. I had the foundation for a great race — I had trained well and I had the perfect night-before-a-race meal courtesy of my college BFF Turner (thanks again, you rock!):

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… but the heat just completely threw me off my game. I’m really proud of my time, but given our training speeds and my previous race paces, I know I had it in me to finish in under 2 hours if the weather hadn’t been so extreme! I’m thinking fall for my next half marathon… somewhere cold ;)

But for now… I’m just excited to take a little breather from training!

Do you have any training/race reflections to share? Any injuries you’ve been able to overcome?

Comments

  1. 1

    Great post – As a fairly new reader, I loved to see the time line of your races. I have trouble with my right knee and I’m in the process of learning how to best take care of it because I’ve registered for my first half in December. I’m going to take some tips from your training schedule as well! Looking forward to HLS in August :)

  2. 2

    Very inspiring! I like how you built up to 13.1 with races of varying distances. I am thinking about training for my first half in the winter! Texas winters are a lot tamer than the northeast!

  3. 3

    hooray . . . This was wonderful to read, thanks for the whole story! I have very long standing injuries that stop me from doing even 5ks unfortunately :(

  4. 5

    Thanks for the tips!!! Great story to read. I am just starting to think about half and full marathon for next year even though I have dealt with runners knee for a long time. So it is really interesting to read about how people trained and what worked well! I know its different for everyone, but its great to learn more.

  5. 6

    After big races I always feel SO energized to sign up for the next one – and then end up falling off the face of the running earth for a while! Oops! After my first marathon (MCM ’08) I immediately signed up (once I could feel my legs again that is!) for two spring races, neither of which I did! Something I need to work on! I def want to do MCM ’11!

    Injury-wise, I hurt my knee training for my first CB10 and am a slave to my patella strap now. Icing always helps though! CONGRATS AGAIN!! :)

  6. 8

    This is a great “races recap” post! I also use frozen veggies to ice after running, but I think mine is a bag of white corn. :) & the heat slams me, too – I much prefer running in the bitter cold than the summer! great job again on your 13.1!

  7. 9

    fabulous tips…especially for those of us who have a ways to go to build up to that distance! i love that you include yoga in there…stretching and mind-body balance is so important!

  8. 10

    Cooler temps AND less hills = faster Anne P!! :) haha. In the meantime, you should do some of the Twilight races around here with me! It’s much more refreshing to run at NIGHT (or 5:30 a.m. ….depends on your preference)!

  9. 12

    You should be very proud of what you accomplished- this heat is intense! It’s taken a huge toll on my speed. If you’re interested in coming back to DC for your next half, there’s the Wilson Bridge Half Marathon in September! I think I’m running it, it looks really cool!

  10. 13

    I just completed my first half marathon a few weeks ago, and I know what you mean about it feeling “weird” to not be in training anymore. I miss it already!

    My biggest race reflection is this lesson that I learned: what matters most is the training and effort you put into it. I ended up running a great race, but even if I hadn’t it wouldn’t have mattered, because I still gave my all with my training runs. The dedication throughout the weeks of training is the real accomplishment! :)

  11. 15

    I have been reading for a few months and def thought you were a seasoned runner. I am in my beginning statges, mainly running 5k races, amped it up this past Sunday and did an 8k(5miler) but I hvaen’t been running as much as I used to as I am training for a try-a-tri in Aug. But I am more hopeful that I can grow and gain more distance with my running after reading your blog. Congrats again!

    • 16

      You can definitely do it! :) Before the fall, I was sticking with 3ish mile runs and 5ks with the occasional 5 miler thrown in there. It just takes time to build up is all!

  12. 17

    Congrats on your first half! That’s a huge accomplishment and a great time! I ran my third this past weekend. I look forward to the reprieve from training (even thought I don’t think I trained well enough for this one – oops)! I love riding my bike more and hiking and just running for fun again after a big race. But – I’m always excited to start training again too.

    • 18

      Exactly – SO excited to just run for fun again and do other stuff without being worried about messing up my running training schedule! :)

  13. 19

    I ran my first half marathon on Sunday, too. Congrats on the accomplishment, I think we both should be very proud of ourselves. :)

    The whole feeling lost thing? Yep, I am experiencing that, too. I don’t know what to do with myself! While it is nice to have a breather, I think I need to make another goal for myself to work towards.

    • 20

      I think my goal for now will be to mix it up – especially getting more out of my LA Boxing membership by going to more classes, etc!

  14. 21

    Running a 1/2 is a great accomplishment! I have been running for less than a year and have been lucky to stay injury-free. I try to focus a lot on stretching and foam rolling after every run, but I still struggle to find a balance with strength training. I think your spring training was really good.

    I’m running my first marathon in Newport, RI in October. It’s going to be beautiful – there’s a half the same day! Something to consider :)

  15. 22

    Right after my half marathon I developed pains in my feet and turns out I had to get some new shoes and it corrected the problem. I haven’t done another race since my half marathon last Sept except a simple 5k for Thanksgiving. I have kept up my training however and really need to sign up for another race

  16. 23

    So proud of you! All those little things definitely add up to the big picture and a successful race. I have put strength training by the wayside the past few months and can seriously feel the difference in my runs.

  17. 24

    What a great post! Great idea to start including the strength training :)

  18. 25

    I know exactly what you mean about not knowing what to do with yourself after you accomplish something. I felt that way after my basketball career ended. I had worked so long and hard to get to where I was, playing in college and through some serious injuries that need surgury (still :oops:) then it all ended and it’s like “I accomplished it and I’m happy but where do I go from here?” Great job on all thoes long runs! I hope one day to do something like a half or a 10 miler and join the club.

  19. 27

    My last half I finished two minutes over 2 hours. My goal was 2 and I was pretty upset. There were a ton of factors at the time (weather/leg pain/nausea), but in retrospect I realize it just wasn’t my day. I know I can beat 2 – my training runs have proved that to me – but things just didn’t fall into place the way I would have liked on race day. There will definitely be a next time :)

    I shared my experience with a friend who runs marathons, triathlons, sprint races, etc.. and he explained very thoroughly that if the temperature is even 5 degrees hotter than he planned for, or the humidity is too thick, he knows readjust his expectations. And this coming from a guy who can run a 6:48 mile. Craziness.

    I love this post and think your attitude is great btw :)

  20. 29

    I definitely feel a little weird after a big race. It’s such a long build up and then, in two hours, it’s all over!

  21. 30

    Congratulations again! Amazing what our minds can tell our bodies.
    I am no stranger to running injuries, either. I went from training for a half marathon to not being able to walk, all within 3 miles of my race day. I was depressed, angry, bitter, sad… but I look at is as a sign. A sign that obviously I was pushing myself beyond my abilities and my body shut down.
    I am now running again but I have much more respect for my body.
    PS – We have the same shoes! I love them! Where did you buy your running outfit? I love it!

  22. 32

    Hi Anne! I just recently started following your blog. I think it is such an accomplishment that you were able to over come the knee injuries! I started running a few months back and really loved it — but I have been having tons of issues with my knees. Hoping to get healed up and back out there soon!

  23. 34

    Loved reading about your history leading up to your first half. Great feeling isn’t it? Now you want more. That’s the worst part AND..you want to do it faster. It’s a fever. The running high after a race or a really long run just can’t be matched.
    Great job on all your racing and taking care of your self when pain sets in.

    Keep running!

  24. 35

    Hi Anne!
    Just started reading your blog (found through Eat Live Run) and I love it!
    I also live in Northern VA so it’s fun to see places I’m familiar w/through your stories.

    I had a question about your strength/stretching routines… I did my first half-marathon in October (Baltimore Running Festival), but had suffered an IT band injury just 2 weeks before BLAH! So the run wasn’t what I hoped it would be, and then on top of it I further injured the IT band in my OTHER leg too!! I went to an orthopaedic who told me to lay off running for a month (almost.done!) and then gave me some stretch/strength routines but I kind of hate them and they literally take FOREVER to do. Any tips and/or words of wisdom on how to stay fit and not go crazy while recovering a runniing injury??
    Thanks!!

    • 36

      Hey Nicole and welcome to the blog! :)

      I’m so sorry to hear about your IT band injury :( When my knee was injured I did a lot of yoga, pilates, arm strengthening, and elliptical/bike (as long as it didn’t hurt). Swimming is also a great cross training option because it’s no impact! I’d basically suggest trying a bunch of different exercises and whatever doesn’t hurt your legs, go for them! You’ll be back out there in no time :) Good luck!

  25. 37

    Just dislocated my knee two weeks ago and have been really bummed about the training set back ever since. Reading your blog motivated me to stop moping, and I walked straight to the freezer to ice it like I should! Thanks for the positive nudge!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Between lots of leg strength training, lots of icing, and lots of foam rolling, I was able to train for and run the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in the spring, followed by my half marathon in June, without any knee issues. (For more details about how I worked to overcome my knee injury, check out this post.) […]

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