Race day is now officially just under 3 months away! The nervous excitement continues to build, and training is plugging along quite nicely. :) The last 5 weeks have had lots of fun and great accomplishments.
September 13th was Howard County Police Department's annual Police Pace 5K, a cause close to my heart. I did the race for the first time back in 2007 during my first year of running. I registered for it last year, but decided not to do it since I was still trying to build my mileage back up following the stress fracture. This year I was determined to go and give it my all...it was my first 5K since July, and the last for the foreseeable future as I focus on high mileage. (I was supposed to do the 9/11 Run to Remember in Baltimore two days earlier, but due to downpours, decided not to participate.) The result of a couple of extra days of rest, good training, and lovely weather....a 37:14 time, a new PR! And, almost a minute faster than the PR I set in May on what was for the most part a significantly easier course. Also noteworthy....my time was nearly 8 minutes better than two years earlier! While I didn't win the free cruise, overall it was a great day!
The 5K was a good taper weekend in prep for the Philadelphia Distance Run, a half marathon, on Sunday the 20th. This was my third half marathon, and in my third state! This was also the largest race I've ever done. The organizers did a great job keeping all of the corrals separated and spacing people out on the course. Each group got their own start countdown and all, too, which I thought was a nice touch.
I headed up with the BWI crew on Saturday morning, very excited about our awaiting adventure. We made it to the expo for packet pick up and shopping, and met up with Philly friends from RunningoftheEars.com (R0TE) before heading for a good carb load lunch. The Goofy Gals from the Striders made it up later in the afternoon, and after some delays/issues at our hotel, we headed out for a lovely dinner where we were convinced the owner/manager must be in the mob! Then off to bed in prep for the big race.
For the most part, I was oddly calm leading up to race morning. I had no set goal/time in mind, and that might have been a big help. I was there to have good fun and just enjoy the experience. K and I planned to run the whole thing together, and it was her last chance to try out her race day strategy in prep for the Marine Corps Marathon later this month. The goal was to keep about a 13:30 pace. We started out conservatively and just chugged along watching the miles go by and enjoying some of the music along the way. We kept going along and picked up the pace a bit, doing negative splits all the way to the end. We met up with E for the last mile or so, and helped push one another over the finish line. The result, just under 3 hours...a few minutes off of a PR, but I wasn't trying for one anyway. (More importantly, per our Garmin's, our average pace was about 13:21.) It was faster than my first half marathon, and again, I did it on what could be considered a more difficult course. Afterwards, we met up with the rest of the ROTE crew, took pics with the Rocky statue near the finish line, and then did the mandatory run up the art museum steps. A great day, and a great race...one I would definitely do again! I must plan on some more visits to that fun city!
The Philly race fit in perfectly with my training, as the Galloway plan had 13-14 on the chart for that weekend. I was surprisingly sore for the days immediately following the race. I went out with the 10K class group on Tuesday evening, and felt every single footstep. All I could think was, OMG, is this even a hint of how bad I'll feel after Disney. The training plan had 8-10 miles for the next weekend. If 2-3 hurt, how would that good. Fortunately, I loosened up as the week went on, helped in large part to a deep tissue massage, and a couple of easy runs.
The crew was meeting up on NCR Trail on Saturday morning. I knew the crushed gravel would be a good surface and friendly on the body. The goal was 8 miles, but go for 10 if everything was going well and I was feeling good. I was slightly anxious as I had not done 10 miles by myself for sometime. I ended up having a great 10 miles...things just clicked and given everything going on in my life as of late, I think the solitude gave me a good recharge as well.
We returned to NCR the following weekend. This time, I had 15-16 miles on the chart. For the most part the highest mileage I'd ever done before was 14. I was anxious, but knew K would be with me every step of the way, and the crew would be out there, too. Like the previous weekend, everything clicked and went so well. The miles just kept adding up as we continued on our way. 16 miles was done, and I felt awesome, like I could have kept going. Wow, perhaps I'm doing everything right?
After another "short" week (9 miles), I've got 18 in store this weekend. This will be out on the good 'ole BWI Loop. Haven't been there in awhile, and hope the hills won't be my downfall, but I'm up for the challenge, and should hopefully have some nice Fall weather to help me out, too.