Hillsborough Half Training: Week 4

Total weekly mileage:

Planned: 21
Actual: 24


Ya'll, look at me kill it this week! I managed to run five days this week - that is a first for this training cycle and also the most I've run in a week since 2015! I am thrilled! There were a few tough/blah runs, but I feel so energized!

This was made possible by our failed date on Friday night - we had tickets to a comedy show, which was canceled at the last minute. We tried to cancel our babysitter (a friend with whom we often trade babysitting) but she kindly insisted that she come over anyway so we could get out and do something, if even only for an hour. We decided to go for a run together (an incredibly rare treat) and ended our run with frozen yogurt. A win on all fronts! 

This week's workout: 35 minute tempo

I remain a bit scared of tempo workouts, which is probably why I "overslept" my morning running alarm and pushed it back to the evening. Of course, that only made things harder for me: That evening after work (before my run) we packed a little dinner and hiked with the baby to our favorite river spot. It was his first time actually "hiking" - not in the baby carrier! It was so amazing to see him step carefully over roots, inspect leaves and sticks, etc. There I ate an enormous Whole Foods sandwich, drank half a beer, and swam and splashed in the river. An hour or so later the baby was clean and in bed and reality hit: Time to run fast for 35 minutes, with dinner/beer still not settled in my stomach. During my almost-mile warmup, I felt so gross that I thought about rescheduling, but decided to forge on.

This was such an effort. I had a stitch in my side the whole time, and while my legs were turning over easily I couldn't get enough air. On paper this looks like such a crazy slow pace for a tempo workout, but that's where I'm at right now. According to McMillan, my 25:25 5k gives me a 8:26-8:40 range for tempo workouts, which is just about right for both this week's tempo and the first one I attempted two weeks ago.

Long run: 8.6 miles

I had seven miles on my schedule for this week, but I'm trying to build up a little quicker because I think it'll really help me to have run >=13 miles before actual race day. I was tired in the morning but managed to get out the door relatively quickly after drinking a smoothie and a coffee. My legs were sore for the first mile, but I warmed up quickly and settled into a chill pace, about 10:00, and listened to an audiobook (The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri). The miles flew by and I felt better and stronger the farther I went.


Speaking of audiobooks, did you know you can get audiobooks for free on your phone through your library? I'm using the Overdrive app and I love it. I never thought I was someone who could listen to a book, but my longish driving commute changed all of that. If you listen to podcasts, you can listen to a book -- you just need to make sure it's an audiobook-friendly book (for me, that means a plot-driven book with a good narrator). 

Race* Recap: Parkrun 5k

It's true: I've only ever run one 5k in my entire life. I ran the Red Hook Crit in 2012. I remember that my first mile was 6-something, then my second two were about a minute slower. I guess I haven't learned anything in 5 years!

5ks terrify me and they are very expensive on a per-mile basis, which is why I never run them. (I paid just $50 for the Tobacco Road Marathon, which works out to just over $1.90 per mile. A $30 5k? $9.68 per mile. That's even more expensive (per mile) than the NYC Marathon. ~flips hair~ No thanks, I wasn't born yesterday.)

Anyway, my frugality can't be an excuse when there's Parkrun, a free, timed 5k every single Saturday here in Durham and many other cities worldwide. It starts at 8:00 (great chill start time), it's at a nice shaded park with a smooth greenway, there are real bathrooms, and the course takes you right past a water fountain. Ideal, perfect. Can't believe I'd never been there before.

There were about 40 people there, friendly folks. It's a run, not a race, they said (hence the asterisk in the title of this post). Even better! On the count of 3 we were off, and I was surprised to find myself near the front of the pack. We did three loops of a keyhole shape, down and then back up a decent hill about a quarter mile long. I appreciated the hill, it was like hill repeats and a 5k in one. Felt good to do such good work on a Saturday morning. There were enough people treating it like a race that I felt pushed. The first mile clocked in at 7:56, then the second two miles clicked off at 8:26 and 8:28. Yup - sounds about right. Still the positive split champion of the 5k. My finish time was 25:25, over 2 minutes off my 2012 time of 23:11, but honestly a little faster than I expected.

Digression: Every time I work through I training plan I am amazed by how humbling the process is. Like, I've achieved proficiency in running many times over now. I have run decent (for me) times that I'm happy with in lots of different distances. And time and time again I finish my goal race, take some time off, and then I'm kicked back to the start and have to start over from nothing, like a sand mandala. Nothing else in my life is like this - I learned to sew two years ago and have been steadily improving since, even when I set it aside for a few months. I have been growing professionally for the past decade, and can drop a programming language and pick it up again years later, skimming stackoverflow if I need to jog my memory. But running rewards only consistency. If I stop running, I regress. I can't jump back in at my old level of competency. It doesn't matter how many marathons I've run or how many books on training I've read - the only thing it cares about is whether I've put in the work that week. And can I say? It feels so good to put in the work again.