Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Streaking and Upcoming Races

Are you participating in Runner's World's running streak? You run at least 1 mile EVERY DAY between Memorial Day and July 4. Just 38 days. You can check out the action on twitter using #RWRunStreak. It may be a bad idea for me, but I'm going for it. I like challenging myself.

I got in Day #1 of my run streak last night at Oak Openings. Holy cow was it warm and humid, even back in the dunes! I giggled a little bit because there were SO many people around Mallard Lake but I didn't pass ANYONE out on the trail. It's like people think Mallard Lake IS the ENTIRE park (and they're SO wrong!). Despite the oppressive humidity, I still enjoyed myself. My music was turned down enough that I could still hear the birds and wildlife around me. And I almost tripped over a squirrel who didn't move out of the way until the very last second. Oh, and I ran the loop the opposite direction I normally do. Bad idea. I hate running UP the dune face and then DOWN the stairs. :-P

As (some of) you know, I hit my goal of a sub-30 minute 5k race a couple weeks ago, more than 2 months before I had planned on. I'd been saying for the past year that I had to hit that before I'd consider a longer race (I'm not counting my St Patrick's Day 7k, lol). Even though I'm really proud of myself, it left me with a decision to make ... do I now set myself a quicker goal and go for it again or do I start looking towards longer races ... maybe even a half marathon?

I'm already registered for one more 5k, Happy Trails. It holds a special place in my memory because it was my first 5k last year and it reminded me why I enjoyed being competitive and racing in any form. My "training" for Happy Trails last year was just finishing Couch to 5k and seeing how long I could run without walking. And no real trail/ off-road running. This year, I'm taking a slightly different approach. Since about half the course is unpaved trail, I'm putting my trail shoes to good use and running AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK on the metropark trails. I haven't been running at the actual park where the race is, but I'm very familiar with it (I used to live right around the corner from there) and I think the trails I've been running are more difficult. Plus, the race avoids the dunes and major hills and the trails I've been running out at Oak Openings don't. I go to group run every Thursday night and I'll use those as my speed workouts (since I was doing that already anyway. lol). The race course will be marked a couple days ahead of time, so I'll probably put in 1 or 2 practice runs the week of, though I heard the course is the same as last year.

As for the future ... I haven't signed up for anything yet since I could end up on the other side of the country by the end of the summer but, yes, I'm looking at a half marathon for September 1. The Boy Scout Council my dad and brother are a part of put on the "Soaring Eagle Runs" every year in Bowling Green, Ohio. Course can be viewed HERE. There is the "Boy Scout Half Marathon", the "Tenderfoot 5k", and the "Tiger Cub Half-Mile Run". They are "dedicated to recognize and support our youth and the Scouting traditions and values, from Tiger Cubs to Eagle Scouts." These races are an amazing value too. If you register online by the end of June, the half is only $28, $33 if you register before August 21, and $40 if you wait until the day of. All early registrations will get a wicking race shirt. It sounds like is great support along the course as well (but you can read more about that on the website if you're interested).

Since it IS my first time running a half marathon, I've been spending A LOT of time pouring over all the different training plans and I THINK I may have found one that works for me (well, at least better than the other ones I've found). I'm using Hal Higdon's Novice 2 Half Marathon Training Plan ... with a few tweaks:
That purple star on the 21st? My 26th birthday! :)

Cross training will probably be a combination of mountain biking, swimming, and hiking.

I'm planning to use Tuesday as my trail run days since they're only 3 miles. Trail running will make me stronger, plus I like running in the shady woods in the middle of summer. :)

Thursdays will continue to be my speed workouts at group run. It works out well, distance-wise, and I enjoy the opportunity to test myself against some faster runners since I usually run alone.

The major change I made to the plan was with the weekend long run. Higdon's plan has the distance increasing pretty much 1 mile per week, but I need something more gradual. Running this much (and often) every week is going to be enough of a challenge. My plan is to do my longer runs on the canal trail or a loop of the paved roads and trails at Oak Openings (if I can get up early enough that it won't be blazing hot - very little shade on this route).

My concerns:
- How will my body (especially my shins and ankles) take to running this often and this many miles? I'll need to pay close attention to aches and pains.
- I need to figure out a nutrition/ refueling strategy. I've never used GU or anything like that before. I guess it's time to start experimenting. Any suggestions or tips?
- I'm going to need new running shoes soon? I'm saving up the money now, but I know the bottom is going to drop out of my checking account very soon, so I'm nervous. How late is too late to introduce new shoes before a race?

What do you think? Any suggestions? Tips? Holy-crap-are-you-crazys?

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