Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Silver Comet Half Marathon Recap

Silver Comet Half Marathon, Mableton, GA
Field: Less than 1000 runners between the half and full marathons
Spectators: Not many along the trail but there were a few groups at various trailheads along the way and the volunteers were very friendly.
Start/Finish: Starts at the Mableton Amphitheater and finishes at the Floyd Rd Bike Depot.
Course: The first 1.5 miles are on rolling roads and the rest of the course is an out and back on the Silver Comet Trail, a paved rail to trail with 2% grade.
Schwag: Soft cotton t-shirt, medal, and free finisher's photo.
Other: The time limit for the half marathon is the same for the marathon (5.5 hours) so this is a great option for walkers. There is plenty of free parking at the start as well as a free shuttle to/from the finish for any spectators.
As I mentioned last week, build up to this race didn't go exactly as I hoped. Originally I had planned on this race as my goal for the fall to make me super strong and super fit and super crossed trained* setting up for perfect marathon training cycle where every step would feel like magic and I would smile through each mile like some mythical marathon goddess we all hope to be. Cue real life. *Crosstraining was never actually attempted

While many things about training for this race went well (successful integration of speedwork, improved tempo workouts, etc), a misstep moment on training run left me a bit of a nagging calf issue. Combine that with feeling overtired and small family crisis (thanks Hurricane Matthew), and you get a very light month leading into the race. Or as I like to think of it, nailing the taper element of the training cycle.

Going into race day I wasn't really sure what to expect from my body. My last double digit mileage run had been over a month before and my workouts since then had been variable due to everything that was going on. I went in with the goal of running a comfortable push effort (whatever pace that may be), knowing full well that depending how my calf was feeling, I might have to shut it down and turn it into one heck of a nature walk.

I didn't take any pictures prerace as it was the week before the time change and it was so dark that I was just happy I didn't fall in a port-o-john. Prerace I did my usual standing around, trying not to burn calories, and half heartedly stretching because other people were doing it.
While there were no pace groups for the race (it's a very small race), there were pace signs at the start, and I figured the 2 hour group was as good a place as any to start. The course is on roads for the first 1.5 miles before turning onto a paved rails to trails path for the remainder of the race. I decided to tuck in around the 2 hr group for the road portion and see what happened.
Most of the race was pretty uneventful, but here's a short recap of how it went:
  • By the time we got on the trail, I was kind of 'done' with the people that started around the 2 hour sign. No offense to them, but they were super chatting and their conversation topics didn't do anything for me, so I went on about my merry way.
  • In an effort to 'use the aid on the course,' I ran without my handheld only to find the first water stop was well over 3 miles into the race. Thank heavens it wasn't hot because my well tapered self would have suffered.
  • Though the pre-race instructions were a little confusing talking about different aid stations for marathoners and half marathoners (even though it was the same course), volunteers were happy to giving water to whomever needed it.
  • I found a nice group of people to tuck in behind for the second half of the race who were talking about the Kyle Pease Foundation, a group I've always wanted to run with and was happy to learn more about it.
  • No major pains or issues during the race, but I definitely was feeling my lack of fitness in the later miles.
So overall, the race went well. I got to enjoy a few hours of fresh air and fall leaves without any body parts falling off or feeling more injured by the end of it. My time was about 1.5 minutes faster than the half marathon I ran the same weekend last year before starting marathon training and that training cycle went well. Sure, I'd like to have thrown down a faster time and felt 'more ready' to begin marathon training, but it is what it is and it's all a learning process.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Update: Running, life, and Monster

Greetings! Yes, it has been a while. I have many things to update you all on, plans to reveal, and Monster photos to share (I know why you all come here).
Mia Monster was a witch for the 11th year in a row.
So let's start where we last left off. It was late September and I was in peak half marathon training but I was beginning to feel frequently tired and a bit run down. I down shifted my training to allow for more recovery time, but was also feeling tweaky as well. I began to worry that I was experiencing a little over training and perhaps flirting with injury, so I drastically slowed things down. As much as I wanted to run a good half marathon at Silver Comet (and teach it a lesson from the first time I ran it), my big running goal for the year is the full marathon at 26.2 with DONNA, so I put the breaks of half marathon training to ensure I would start marathon training in good health. Got to keep the eyes on the prize. And for added excitement, Hurricane Matthew hit my family's house in South Carolina, and I spent a lot of time driving back and forth to help them out with all the damage (everyone is ok, the house, not so much). So I replaced weekly long runs with weekly long drives.
Fall is the best.
I did still run the Silver Comet half marathon. I used it for a check in on my fitness and to see how my body felt after a long run. I was greatly helped out during the race by a nice cool morning. Coming off a month of light running, I would have paid dearly if it was a hot day. I will write up a recap on the race, but basically, I completed the race without much excitement (good or bad).
 In recovering from the race, I had a bit of an odd moment with one calf. While I wasn't feeling any sort of pain, I was unable to point my toes on one leg (other leg could point just fine). In thinking through things, I determined that the 'odd' step I took during a 10 miler in September that caused me to take a few days off at the time, probably did more damage than I realized. My best guess is that I hyperextended my soleus and have made sure to pay extra attention to my footfalls and running surfaces since then. This may mean my running will be reliant on the treadmill for a while to allow for a flat surface.
Shirts came in! Thanks to everyone who supported them.
I love seeing pictures of folks wearing them!
Since the half, I've run a 5k (ugh, yes, my least favorite of the distances, but when your friend is race director, you run and support them) and have eased myself back into regular training. So far so good. Right now I'm not making any goals for 26.2 with DONNA until I see how my body responds to added intensity. So the plan is, to keep building up slowly and safely as my body allows. Goal #1 is to be able to run the marathon. Once I know that it is likely, other goals will develop.
Recovery yoga was once again interrupted by a needy, napping hound.
So sorry again for the radio silence. It's hard to make a few easy runs per week and road trips to SC sound interesting. It's exciting to catch up on all of your races and training. I've read several first marathon recaps and they are always so inspiring!

How has your fall been? What is the highlight so far? Catch me up!
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