Finally checking back in on my #3Months2aHalf Training progress.  Month 1 is COMPLETE!  It’s a long update, but full of exciting stuff.

I am happy to report that I am progressing nicely and am even more enthusiastic about the long runs this past week.  I was very apprehensive about my long run scheduled two days before my first official 10K race in the Jingle Bell Run for Arthritis in Ft. Walton Beach, FL.  I had just come off the long Thanksgiving weekend trip to North Georgia and a quick bout with the flu.  Needless to say, pushing myself on a long run in the dark with some sinus congestion was not putting me in a good frame of mind.  I fueled and hydrated throughout the day and pre-run I consumed my Designer Whey protein shake and my SWOLE Sports Energy Stack products, put my GU Gel packet in my pocket and set out to my pre-planned route.

During the run I was still feeling pretty down about the potential for needing to stop and rest or the mental breakdown that often takes over and makes me stop running.  I set out around 5:15, which is the beginning of dusk in North Florida and envisioned my route and how I would push myself through the lows of the run.  I started by crossing the street to my route and had wasted seconds with my running program running instead of starting it when I actually began running.  This added seconds to my calculated run that I immediately kicked myself for.  Finally, I put my mind at ease and concentrated on my course.  I generally have to make myself push through the leg aches the first mile and a half, which this run was no different.  I love to run during high traffic times to keep my mind off the course and the length of the run and this certainly helped on this planned 6.2 miler.

My running app tells me promptly at every half mile how far I have gone, my total elapsed time and my pace per mile.  The first update came and I was somewhat crushed to be at 16 minutes per mile, but gently reminded myself of my early start blunder and chose to push myself to get under my pace goal of 13 minutes per mile.  I topped my first hill and rounded the corner to what is the first set of gentle elevation in a somewhat hilly course I choose for my longer runs and I was already feeling achy in my legs but I didn’t let that stop me.  I decided when I hit mile 3 I would go ahead and break open my GU Gel and consume it while I was running the first monster hill, which I did.  My goal was, don’t stop until you top the big hill and then you can take a short break if you must.  I topped the hill and rounded the corner to the next set of steeper inclines and I got a new update, I was at 13:20 seconds per mile.  This was in line with the pace from the previous weeks runs, I was determined, I will make 13, so I pushed on.

Hitting the next steeper hill I made a new goal, top this one and then take it easy for a few steps, compose yourself and then you have a downhill and flat run for at least half a mile.  So I pushed myself to the top of the hill and then remembered that my running partner had coached me on my first long run, slow down, breath, conserve your endurance energy and get ready for the next one.  So I did, without stopping to walk.  I made it to the large intersection and luck will have it, I had a walk sign and didn’t have to stop and blew through the intersection to my flat course.

Then, here it was, the second hill that takes me past many fast food and dinner restaurants and lots and lots of traffic on a six lane highway (but there is plenty of sidewalk area).  Smelling the food, seeing the people pull through the drive-thru and bellied up to the outside bar area, I was even more determined to set a new goal and make it to my next corner, which is the second longer route of my run.  I made it to my corner and the pain in my legs began to subside and I told myself that I could make it to the water station that was at least another mile down the road.

Rounding that corner and pushing myself made me again have a flood of just make it there and you can walk feelings.  Then suddenly I reminded myself of how I wanted to approach runs and the mental aspects of it, 90% Mental 10% Physical.  I approached the water station and ran straight past it.  I was determined to make it to what my running partner and I call the beast hill which is the home stretch for the 6.2 mile runs.  If I had to, I would rest up the hill, but I would push myself to make it there.

All the while I am pushing myself to make it to the beast, the updates are still coming and I think the mental focus of making my 13 minute per mile pace took over.  I suddenly listened to the time update instead of the mile update and I had made it to under 13!  I was so excited and filled with emotion about this small feat.  I decided that I was taking on the beast and kicking its A$$!  I got to the hill and began my lean forward and pushing, slow and easy, concentrating on my breathing.  I made it all the way up without stopping to walk then pushed myself to my 6.2 mile mark AND KEPT GOING!  I pushed all the way to 6.4 and my time was 1:20 and I was so proud of myself.  I had just shaved off an entire minute from previous weeks time to 12:33 per mile.  I wanted to keep going to 7 miles, but it was getting so late at that point I decided to call that run on a great high.

What’s next?  Saturday I will compete in my first official 10K race with my running partner and I am really psyched about it.  I know that it is important to get a good pre-race day meal, a good night’s sleep and a good breakfast before the run, but not too much.  I will take the time to make sure I am completely packed with all my running gear since this will be a road trip.  The course is a flat course and my new goal is to finish as close to 60 minutes as I possibly can.  The next phase of my training program is speed work, so a flat course is just what I need.  I have set high expectations for myself, but truly the only one that matters to me is that in the end I finish the entire race without walking a single part.  This race starts off month 2 of training, so I will give another update next week with my race results!

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