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St. Pat’s Half Marathon Race Review: The last race in America

Date: Saturday, March 14th, 2020

Distance: 13.1 Miles

Location: Rockaway Park, New York

Time: 1:41:06

Presented by RockapulcoRun

HELLLLLLO I know everyone was waiting with bated breath for how I was going to handle the cancellation of the United Airlines NYC Half Marathon and I am here to tell you I handled it real well. When I found out Tuesday that the race was no longer happening, I quickly scrambled to find another race. Lo and behold there was another race! RockapulcoRun happened to be putting on a St. Pattys day half that saturday, and it was still going to happen so I quickly signed up. Crises averted.

When the race coordinator was explaining the course to the runners, someone shouted out something like “Thanks for hosting the last race of America.” I would love to take credit for that as I take pride in my big crowd shoutout jokes, but in good faith I can not.

There were certainly some last minute concerns with this. First, it was Saturday instead of Sunday, meaning I had to cut out the final two mile run out. Prob not an important run anyway. Second, it was about an hour drive from me. Despite some closures I got there relatively easily. There were a lot of people there that had done what I did, so it’s good that RockapulcoRun was still putting on the event, I think there were maybe 200 people there?

As for the race itself, no real fancy packet pickup, simply a stand at the race start where they were safely handing out the race stuff.

As for the gear, let me tell you I was taken for a loop on this one. I have gotten a bunch of different swag, mostly shitty t-shirts (this race included), but never ever have I received a loaf of Irish soda bread. Let me tell you it was fantastic. There also was a medal and a solid looking bib, take a look for yourself.

Okay it is race talk time. Funny enough, this course was the first half marathon course I had ever run. I think in 2017 I did a different RockapulcaRun half marathon, so I already knew what I was in for. Two loops of 6.5ish miles, all flat course and a view of a very grey boardwalk. In terms of sights to see, not my favorite course though running along a boardwalk isn’t to bad. A little windy.

I had a goal for this race, well not exactly this one but whatever. I wanted to run it in 1:45:00 and had followed the Hal Higdon Intermediate something training plan to try and hit that goal. Let me tell you, based on my time, I destroyed that goal. It was fuckkkkking painful though, for real I almost debated dropping out at the half way mark as I was exhausted and felt I had nothing left. The only reason I kept running was I realized that I had smoked the first half of the race and even if I had a poor second half I would crush my previous PR of 1:49:10.

This feeling of death happened for a few reasons. I came out the gate wayyyy to hot and this almost cost me the race. A 7 minute mile was not the way I was supposed to start this race. I tried to maintain a 7:30 pace and for a while I was doing alright, but I started to fluctuate around 5th mile and kept a 7:40 to 8:00 pace. I took a gel at like mile 5, and every couple miles I had a little more of it. I also took water at mile 7 and mile 10. This pace truly pushed me to the limit, I had been training intensely to be able to run faster miles, but I think that maintaining that speed for a full 13 miles was something that I am going to need to work on. I am not going to say I felt undertrained, because obviously I did a great job on beating my goal, but I think that my race strategy is really shit and it is costing me precious minutes. I make it much more difficult on my self because of my inability to set a good pace from the beginning. Whatever, I am fucking jacked up that I was able to beat my goal by that much. I already can’t wait to get started on another one.

Marathon Mike

Marathon Mondays Week 6: Measuring stick week

Not really sure what that is supposed to mean but I think it sounded cool and this being the 22nd time I have had to come up with a subtitle for a running training plan blog I am almost completely shot on new and original ideas. Either way it is Week 6 and as everyone knows that is the measuring stick week.

Last week was probably the first week where I had that internal conflict of trying to work my schedule around the time commitment it takes to follow the plan and my own bodies ability to maintain the fitness to attack the runs. I think that starts to happen around the 25 mile weeks, my body needs a few weeks at that mileage to readjust and I am not exactly known for me ability to take true rest days. The time commitment starts to impede on my free time, but I also understand that if I didn’t cross train on the rest days that I probably wouldn’t feel as overwhelmed. That is the price to pay for mediocrity though.

So there were three runs worth mentioning from last week, the 4-miler, the interval workout, and the long run. I switched the days around because I had ran last week’s long run on Monday and wanted to give my body a little break, so the interval run was the first challenge of the week. You would think the extra sprint every two weeks really wouldn’t make much of a difference but after I ran the 6th one it took a fucking effort to do it one more time. Those sprints are brutal, the only saving grace is that they make the run go really quickly because the entire time I am thinking only about getting the next one done. Every time I hit around the .2 mile mark I can’t believe that it isn’t over. To be fair they are getting a little easier.

The 4-miler is only worth mentioning because it was a half mile jump from the week before. Idk something about 4 compared to 3.5 makes a difference in my mind. It is legit like 4 more minutes running but it is a mental thing. The long run I was beat on. I really did a poor job with it, I think the cumulative fatigue of my no rest days January is catching up to me. Felt slow and like the whole thing was a struggle. I did get it done though.

Looking at the upcoming week, I have a feeling that it is going to be one of the most challenging weeks. The tempo run is 40 minutes, I am not positive how I am going to break it up yet, but I would like to do it in one 25 minute block and one 15 minute block, separated by a 10 minute recovery. How I do it is largely going to be decided by how I feel that day, as I am playing soccer Tuesday night. The fun thing though is Saturday I am doing a 10k, I was lucky enough that there is one I can do so I will not be running my own race. Hopefully I am physically still standing by then because I need content for a race review. My goal is to shoot for 46 minutes, which is about 1:15 under my current PR. Only time will tell.

This blog felt long, have a good week everybody.

Marathon Mike

Marathon Monday’s Week 5: Frozen fun for everyone

Welcome back to the personal journey of one blogger’s attempt to be the most amateur runner of all time. With a corny subtitle for the blog, lets dive right into it.

Last week had it’s challenges as it has truly become the dead of winter and is now obnoxiously cold. It is the point of the winter where I see these former track runners out in nothing but dick showing shorts and maybe a long sleeve shirt and I realize that I will never make the sacrifices needed to be a great runner or a fucking try-hard. If you are going to wear short ass shorts why do it in the freezing cold when your dick is going to look all shriveled up. Sure you look tough I guess, wearing nothing out there in the frozen tundra but these tiny flaps that show all your bony ass cheeks and withered tree branch legs, but all anyone is going to care about is that lack of bulge. Not putting yourself in a position to succeed. Or maybe I am just projecting my own insecurities. Continue on please.

Dick rant over, last week I had two challenging runs. The tempo run I thought went extremely well. After the first 20 minute tempo I knew that I had some more gas in the tank and could handle the second part without suicidal thoughts. I think for the first part I averaged close to a 7 minute mile, the second part maybe 7:30. Not too bad. I mean those runs at this point are going to be as long as my long runs, the workout topped out at almost 8 miles so they are not quick workouts. I can see that even from the last time I did it there was an improvement in both speed and endurance, maybe this fucker Hal Higdon is on to something. The long run was nothing crazy, I did an easy 7 yesterday as I had to shift the runs around. Add in three gym days and I would say I really got a good week in.

Which takes us to this week my friends. This week things are starting to pick up a little bit, the 3.5-miler from last week gets upped to a 4-miler, and now that it is at the 4 miles I am debating switching Tuesday’s and Thursdays so that I can do hills on Thursday’s without it affecting my speed workouts. Did that make sense? Whatever no going back now.

The workout is back to the interval’s, just throwing another one into the mix. I know that my workout says 5 miles, but now with 7 rounds of intervals it is def going to be a little longer. The long run is 8 miles. An 8 mile run is right about where I start considering the long run to be long enough that it impacts my day. When I am not training for something I rarely run over 6 miles unless I am feeling rambunctious or try-hardish so anything above 7 starts to feel like work. Which means it’s time to go to work, have a good week everyone. What a closing line, and while it may seem like I am ruining it by adding this, I would be remiss in my duties of self-promotion if I did not take this time to point that out.

Marathon Mike

Marathon Mondays Week 2: New year, new me

Nothing I like better then making corny end of the year jokes and ironically saying “New year, new me” with absolutely no intention of changing anything about myself or habits. But as the end of the calendar year approaches, it perhaps is a good time to do zero reflection and only continue to look towards the future. Maybe you thought something sappy was coming, you were wrong.

I mentioned that for this training plan I was going to attempt to push what I was using as my casual running pace in order to try and get faster for this thing. I think that I had a great first week doing that in terms of how fast I ran, the drawback being that my body is feeling it. I know there are a lot of theories from much more accomplished runners and coaches on how hard to go for each workout but I honestly find it difficult to make a conscious effort to pullback or push myself on any given run. So much of it has to do with how I am feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally, so to properly abide by the popular 80/20 intensity ratio seems pretty difficult. The answer to that would be to calculate exactly how fast I need to go for each run, down to the pace-per-mile, but that seems like way to much fucking work or way to expensive to pay someone to come up with that.

Rant on pushing myself over, I want to actually talk about the week. The real challenge was the Wednesday run, which was supposed to be 5 x 400 at 5k pace. I kinda just ran those 400’s like they were intervals, so I basically gunned em as fast as I could. Having not done intervals in a while, this was absolutely brutal. I didn’t get to do any hills, I know the plan doesn’t call for any but this race is in New York City so I need to make some of these runs hill runs. I have time for that. The rest of the week went fine, I was really feeling it on Sunday’s 5-miler, but I had worked out after the run the day before and my legs were sore as hell. In a few more weeks it might be time to cut down on the leg workouts if I want to have any juice left to actually run faster on the longer runs.

Projecting into the future it seems like the only two days that have any variance are the Wednesday workout and the Sunday long run. The Sunday long run goes up a mile, which while not crippling it is worth noting. The workout though is where I am going to struggle. As you can see from the image below, my goal is to break up the tempo run into two 15 minute segments. I don’t honestly think I can keep a good tempo for a full 30 right now, so hopefully this will be a nice way to ease into it.

That about wraps up this weeks half marathon talk so hopefully everyone hit their running goals for 2019 and if they didn’t well there is always next year so don’t beat yourself up.

Marathon Mike

The Return of Marathon Mondays

The time for running with no purpose has sadly come to it’s conclusion, as I am pleased to announce the return of the illustrious Marathon Mondays blog series.

With that horrific introduction out of the way let’s talk about what has to happen to hit some goals. The race is the 2020 United Airlines NYC Half, which unless you have poor reading skills or simply glossed over the name of the race, is a half marathon. Once again this may be obvious, but it takes place in the lovely shit hole of New York.

This time I have some goals beyond simply finishing the race. The low end goal is to simply set a new PR, which for me would be under a 1:49. If I don’t hit that goal then its probably time to pick a new activity, because that would mean in the year and some odd days since I ran that, I will have gotten worse. The middle goal is to hit under 1:45, which is what I will be training for. The reach goal is a 1:42.

In order to hit that middle goal I have to average exactly an 8 minute mile for the entire race. While that is definitely a plausible goal for me, it is not something I can just do with no preparation. So in the most roundabout way, that brings us to a new training plan.

The race is on March 15th, and instead of doing a 16 week plan like I did for the marathon, I decided to do a 12 week plan. Part of that was to not have to finish the marathon and immediately start on a new plan, the other part was that I needed to build back up to race shape. I am trying the Hal Higdon Intermediate 2 Half Marathon Training Plan which is a less intense training plan in terms of mileage and workouts then the marathon plan I followed, if you converted that plan for the half distance. That was a mouthful.

My idea behind using a less rigorous training plan is to focus on getting more quality runs in, instead of just simply building up mileage. I don’t really need to build up mileage, so I wanted to focus on speed. With the added rest this plan accounts for I think I will be able to really push it on most of the runs and concentrate on keeping that pace under an 8:00. Hopefully I won’t be too gassed to run hard like I was for the marathon. Since I am probably going to spend a majority of the summer running, I figured with the extra time not running this winter I can indulge in some of my other hobbies. Also it is fucking cold out man I don’t want to be out there like I was all summer.

So without further ado here is the plan!