Monday, October 25, 2021

Weekly Round Up Part 1 of 2: Half Marathon #8


A weekly round up: eats, workouts, watches, and reads.  This week was Too Big For One Post, so I'm going to break it into a two-parter.  Today I'm going to tell you about food and half marathon #8 and I'll pop back in a day or so to tell you about a bunch of movies.


Food got the short straw this week.  

Monday: leftover Shepherd's Pie

Tuesday: Costco orange chicken

Wednesday: boys' night out with their mom, hubs and I did a "fend for yourself" night where we each raided the kitchen for whatever we could find.

Thursday: one of those fun family adventure nights.  Stepson #1 was recently inducted into the National Honors Society, which is one of those extraordinary events that is worthy of a family sushi dinner.  I finished work and placed the takeout order, not really thinking anything of the weather.  It was just a bit cloudy and rainy, no big deal.  It was getting time for me to go pick it up when a tornado watch was issued.  As in our of nowhere it got pitch black, the sirens went off, the city's emergency system called us, and we all got the alert on our phones.  So down to the basement we went and for some fun time in the basement watching the storm coverage on a laptop.  It was pretty clear that our house wasn't in the path of the storm and sadly it was also clear that the boys' school wasn't in the path either, but they did have a few minutes of hope.  About 20 minutes later everything was all clear and I was able to go pick up our reward dinner.

Friday: single girl night.  The menfolk went off to boy scout camp.  I wasn't super hungry and the pantry was pretty lean.  Yes I totally had a Ramen noodle cup.

Saturday: was a fun but busy day.  We had an out of town family birthday party so that kept me away for most of the day.  When I got home I still had a lean pantry plus the need to eat something fairly substantial for my half marathon the next day. I made a quickie spaghetti carbonara.  Dessert was a bowl of Lucky Charms and my weekend beverage of choice was a glass of Skratch hydration.

Sunday: my family came home from the woods and I came back from my race.  No one felt like grocery shopping or cooking...that's why we keep ravioli and garlic bread in the freezer.


It was truth time this week...the saga of The Half Marathon that I was Not Ready For has played out.  ICYM, I'm in a season of fitness burnout.  My last half was a miserable experience and honestly I'm not sure why I went forward with this race other than being too stubborn/lazy to drop to the 10k. 

TL&DR==>yes I'm glad that I did this race and yes the results were as expected.

It was exactly one month since my last half, and since the race I dropped my mileage, started doing about half of my runs on the treadmill, and my longest run was 6 miles.  On the plus side, I've been feeling better, stronger, and less burnt out on the lower mileage and regular strength work, but obviously this is not the ideal way to go into a race.  Also, I didn't plan to run the two halfs one month apart, which is not ideal for my fitness level.  This race was originally supposed to be in the spring and was moved to the fall for COVID purposes.

I put away 3 four milers on the treadmill this week that felt good and then did a short run on Friday outside with some speed bursts in the final mile.  I took Saturday as a rest day and then 4 AM on Sunday found my alarm going off.  I was out the door by 5 and in the Big City before 6.

The temps were in the mid 40s which was a dream come true for running, but I knew that it would be chilly waiting for the race to start.  I wore capris and a long sleeve, and brought a sweatshirt and gloves to tide me over.  I was planning to either gear check or trash the sweatshirt and gloves depending on time, but I realized that as soon as the race was over that I was going to want the sweatshirt back pretty quickly.  Sure enough I didn't allot enough time for both the porta potties AND gear check, so I went with putting the gloves in my hydration pack and tying the sweatshirt around my waist.  It wasn't ideal but it worked, and let me just say that while the temperature was very comfortable for running, I got cold very quickly after I finished and was glad that I had the sweatshirt.

Speaking of gear and porta potties, this was the first race that I brought my knuckle lights to and I will definitely do that again for early races.  I brought the lights because I didn't know how far away I would have to park and how much walking in the dark that I would have to do, but they were sure useful in the porta potty.

The start of the race was incredibly crowded so there was no need to worry about going out too fast.  It was still pitch black, and although I've run several races in this city I've never run it in the dark before (quick clarification that there was enough light from street lights and signs to see where we were going) so that was a unique spin.  I wasn't haunted by the last time that I ran this race or by my lack of training, it was more like an adventure and I stayed totally locked in the moment for most of the race.

The first three miles weaved us through the city and then we headed off on an outbound road with a good view of the city parks.  I walked hills to save energy but overall I was feeling pretty good.  I knew that at some point my lack of training would kick in and that I would have to switch to run/walk, and I'd kind of penciled that in for the 8 mile mark, but I was able to put in a pretty solid 9 miles before I got to "why I am I doing this???" status.  From there it was a pretty smooth transition to "run if it's flat or downhill" and "walk if it's uphill".  Mile 11 was pretty much all uphill, so I walked without shame and got the motivation to run the rest of the way, even with a good long final hill.

On one of the hills with about a mile and a half to go, I flipped my sleeve up and looked at my watch for the first time in the race.  I'd seen the 5:30 pace group pretty consistently, so I figured that I was in the 2:45 ballpark.  I read my watch wrong and thought that my elapsed time was 2:53, meaning that I was looking at well over a 3 hour finish.  All I can think it maybe it was 2:35 and my brain flipped the numbers???  Regardless, for the last lick of the race I seriously thought that I had run an epically slow be clear I wasn't expecting any miracles but wow that was a kick in the nads.  I said a few cuss words in my head and kept running uphill.

Finally I passed the 13 mile marker which began the guessing game of "how much over 13.1 is the course going to be?".  At that point I was back in the city but couldn't see the finish line and was pretty tired but my stubbornness kicked in and kept me running.  I could hear the announcers before I saw the finish and heard them calling off the marathoners' times as they came in.  I distinctly heard them say "2:49" which let me know that I wasn't over 3 hours like I thought.  And soon enough that sweet finish line came into view and I pressed the stop button on my Garmin.  I got my medal and I got my chocolate milk.

And I got my beer;-)  Finally, finally a race with a decent brew at the finish.  One of our local breweries was a sponsor and had a great selection of their beers at the finish in sealed cans.  I was able to claim my favorite and take it home with me.  It's sitting in our fridge next to the can of Miller Lite that I smuggled out from my last half marathon for my sister in law (the one who always has to BYOB to our family parties because the rest of us drink the weird fancy stuff).  And yes I got a banana to take home to my husband as well, per our long standing race tradition.

OK, beer humor aside, how was this race?  

  • My finish was 2:50:50, which was 30 seconds faster than last month's disaster.  Like I've said before, I really can't believe that I've worked so hard to get so much slower...but finding out that I wasn't over 3 hours or worse than last month is also a relief.
  • Mentally this race was a win.  Being on the race scene was enjoyable, and for the most part I felt good during the race.  It was a "fast" two hours and fifty minutes, and an entirely different experience that last month's "two hours and fifty one minutes of misery".
  • With that said showing up and finishing doesn't have the satisfaction of showing up and killing it.
  • Apart from the lack of training for the distance the other thing that's killing me in halfs is hills.  I spent a bit of time analyzing mile 11 in MapMyRun.  In the moment it seemed so steep but it was only 100 feet of uphill at a 5% grade.  I may never run a decent half but running a decent uphill mile is an action item that I can get into my training.
  • I'm not completely done with the half.  I have the super cheap advance registration race that I signed up for next spring, and I feel like I'll want to run my hometown half in September again.
  • BUT I am also done with high mileage until my body tells me that it's ready to go for it again.
  • Related: I am not saying that I will never run a full, but at this point Project Chicago 2025 seems unlikely.  

What's Next?

Several rest days!!!  Unfortunately I feel pretty beat up from the race.

I may be stepping away from the half world but that doesn't mean that I'm stepping away from racing.  I'm going on a year end racing bender, similar to my 2019 antics.

  • In two weeks I'll be running a 10k
  • Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving
  • 5 Mile race on Christmas Eve
  • New Year's Eve 5k

That's it for now...see you in a day or so to talk movies.


  1. Well done, Birchie!! Faster than last month AND you enjoyed it!

    I'm especially happy that you kept running on the flat and downhill parts.
    Nice that you kept pushing although you thought you're over 3 hours... mentally that must have been a tough one. How much do you feel did the cooler weather help you?

    You have plenty of fun races coming up to close the year, that's a great way to stay in shape.

    PLEASE don't write off Project Chicago 2025 yet...Long-term goals are the best! Yay!

  2. I totally get. My hardest halfs often have the worst results but then you forget and do it again. LIke you said, the atmosphere makes it worth it. I have another soon. And possibly too soon after my last one. We'll see. I have zero expectations other than finish.

    Even if you never run another (I bet you do0< you are still running and have uite a list of upcoming races. Enjoy them.

  3. Well done!! What you should be most proud of is that you knew you were undertrained, but still managed a decent finish time...and you did it on your own terms & enjoyed the race :-) That's not something that happens easily, so kudos to you!!

  4. Yay! I call this a huge win. I like how you came away from it with an action item (learn how to run an uphill mile.) Sounds like the rest of your races for the year are all fun ones. Congratulations!