One Last 12 Miler Before This Weekend’s Half Marathon

>> Monday, January 18, 2010

Or “A ‘Tempo Sandwich’ Long Run.”

Or “Don’t Worry: There Are NO Gross Foot Photos Below! REALLY!”

On Saturday, I went out for my last long run before the Winter Carnival Half Marathon this weekend. I didn’t know if my heel, knee, or my tender feet (from some recent blisters) would hold up, so I came up with a route where I could bail out at mile 10 if I needed to:

I noted where the mile markers were on that map, and I taped the location of each of the mile markers to my forearm:

(I need to say right now that my mile splits were NOT exact - some were short; some were long. I’ll be noting that below when I note my splits.)

So I had “Plan A” and “Plan B” to work with on my run:

“Plan A” would be to warm up for 3 miles, push hard until mile 10 or 11, ease up for the last mile or 2, and end up with 12 (as seen in the map above). I would do that if I felt OK and nothing was hurting too much.

“Plan B” would be to warm up for 3 miles, push hard until mile 9, ease up for the last mile (up a big hill), and end up with 10 (leaving out that last 2 mile loop in the map above). I would do that ONLY IF my heel, knees, or feet were hurting too much.

I threw on my YakTrax and got to work. It was a beautiful 15-20 degree morning! I saw LOTS of runners out there, and I said “hi” to nearly all of them. My first 3 “warm-up” miles were 7:30 (downhill), 8:01, and 7:35 (a short mile).

My right heel was feeling a little sore, but it wasn’t bad at all. I tried to pick up the pace at mile 3.

Mile 4: 7:53 (bit long)
Mile 5: 6:47 (bit short)
Mile 6: 7:50 (bit long)
Mile 7: 6:39 (bit short)

(That’s 7:17 / mile over those 4 miles.) I knew I could go the full 12. My feet were fine. My heel was actually feeling better (I think the 3 mile warm-up helped with that a lot!). But I just didn’t feel too comfortable running out there; I just didn’t feel “right.” I’ve lost a lot of a mental edge over the last 2 months. I feel like I used to be able to force myself to hold a faster pace and convince myself I’d be OK. I was better at “working through the pain.” On this run, I kept speeding up, and then slowing down a bit. And then I’d have to convince myself to speed up again. My times were OK, but it wasn’t a good “mental” run.

I was getting warm, so I took off my mittens. (Yes, mittens. Mittens are one of the keys to running outside this time of year. Shut your face. Don’t make fun of my mittens.) At that point - running a little warm and feeling a little hashed - I realized that I looked much like I did when I was around mile 12 of my first Winter Carnival Half Marathon 2 years ago. In fact, I was wearing the EXACT same outfit, right down to holding my mittens in my hands:

My first half marathon, 2 years ago.

Here’s the next couple of mile splits:

Mile 8: 6:59 (just slightly long)
Mile 9: 7:11 (steep, short hill)
Mile 10: 6:59 (up a big hill)

I was happy with those miles! Mile 9 had a quick little uphill that hurt, and it didn’t affect my time TOO much. And mile 10 contained a BIG hill (River Road to Cretin on Marshall), so I was REAL happy to see that be 6:59.

At that point, I let up a little. There weren't many more hills, so mile 11 was actually faster: 6:48. For the last mile, I eased up a lot and used that mile as a cool-down, so that mile was 7:26.

Being it was such a nice day, there was no “frozen face photo” when I got done, but I still snapped one anyway. The resulting photo showed me something that I haven’t seen in a photo before: I have girlishly long eyelashes that constantly brush up against my glasses:


(My glasses aren’t foggy like that when I run; it just happens once I stop.)

Overall, my time was 1:27:42 (7:18.5 / mile). The middle 6 miles (the “tempo” part of this run) were 7:08.3 / mile. My feet got sore over the last 2.5 miles from running on uneven residential sidewalks, but no new blisters!

I don’t know what Saturday’s half marathon will hold, but I did NOT think I could run that 12 miler that fast! I WAS hoping to break 1:35 this weekend, but after that 12 miler, I could maybe get close to 1:30. I dunno. I stated on my blog a while back that this is NOT an “A” race for me, so I’m going to do the best I can, but still have a ton of fun. I might even run with my camera and snap some photos!

Anyway, thanks for reading everyone! Have a great week!


Carolina John 7:31 AM, January 18, 2010  

you did 14 days of nothing and then are surprised when you have to up your mental edge just a few weeks back into regular workouts?? dude that's what the first few weeks are for.

you'll be on top of your brain before you know it. and 7 min miles is still freakishly fast. knock 'em dead this weekend.

k 8:31 AM, January 18, 2010  

I went pretty much all of last summer and fall having lost my "mojo" when it comes to being ok with suffering on a run (not that I'm really fast or anything, but getting faster requires some suffering). I'm sure yours will be back in no time!
Good luck this weekend- can't wait to read about it.

GoBigGreen 8:43 AM, January 18, 2010  

Mental edge in January? On ice? Snizzle forecasted this week? You are doing great! Have fun this weekend:)

Greenking17 "TRI-harder" 9:27 AM, January 18, 2010  

Keep up the good work! Everyone is right, keeping a mental edge in winter can be tough...your doing it well, IMO! You need some time to rest and said it yourself, this is not your "A" race, so why put a potential injury on your resume. Just use it a s a barometer for upcoming events this season and into summer. Good luck

Steve Stenzel 9:28 AM, January 18, 2010  

You guys are all so right! I love you all! ;)

JP Severin 10:55 AM, January 18, 2010  

Hey... another thing is that you've been rocking some major fitness and are still kinda carrying it through... Be careful with your long tempo efforts so soon after your break. You could still be stale from last season.

Badgergirl 11:13 AM, January 18, 2010  

Thumbs up on the mittens. I'm not a glove kind of person, in fact my fingers get cold when I do wear gloves.

Nice job on the run and good luck this weekend!

cubicledad 11:45 AM, January 18, 2010  

Nice work on the run! Good luck!

Aimee (I Tri To Be Me) 2:10 PM, January 18, 2010  

Good job on your run...I wish I was that fast! Good luck this weekend!

Anonymous,  3:41 PM, January 18, 2010  

Hello speediness! Good luck on your half!

Julie 4:13 PM, January 18, 2010  

Hi Steve,
It is me again, I registered for the frozen half this morning and it is to late to turn back now:)

Please tell me I will be fine....and that everything will be fantastic....and that I will live!!!! I am just a wee bit nervous:)

Julie 5:33 PM, January 18, 2010  

Thanks for the mile to mile details Steve!! I appreciate it:)

CoachLiz 5:58 PM, January 18, 2010  

Take it easy this week and stick to your flexible plan for the race. Most importantly as you said, have fun!

ShirleyPerly 9:01 PM, January 18, 2010  

Funny about the eyelashes marks on your glasses!

I'm wimping out and running another indoor marathon in Wisconsin this weekend. I'll leave the outdoor races in freezing weather you locals.

SteveQ 11:43 AM, January 19, 2010  

I'll be out there watching this weekend. It'll be interesting to see if you nail a fast time, or if the recent fast runs were a bit too much that close to the race. Best of luck!

Borsch 6:45 PM, January 19, 2010  

Great run Steve! Hope the half goes well this weekend!

Jill 9:28 PM, January 19, 2010  

Te glasses made me laugh. Reminded me of the time I ran a half marathon and my watch copped an attitude and I ran it watchless. Best half ever! Ha. Have a great taper week and rest up, carb up and run strong next weekend!!

Spokane Al 9:51 PM, January 19, 2010  

Have a great race and rock on!

P.S. You may have been told about this invention already, but in case you missed it, a little company named Garmin provides a fine alternative to taping mile marker lists to your forearm.

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