Coach Spencer Runs in the Woods

Coach Spencer Runs in the Woods

Monday, October 24, 2011

1:24:15 Half Marathon- Almost 10 Minute PR

I entered the Rocktoberfest Half Marathon on a whim. I knew I could PR. I wanted to test out sub-3:00 marathon pace and see how progress towards that goal was coming. It also just fit into my schedule and was close to home. I was very pleased with the results.

The course was fairly hilly and ran along roads used in Charlotte road races for at least the 30 years I've been running- Morehead, through Myers Park, etc. I couldn't sleep the night before, worried about pace and how prepared I was. Silly to get nervous about a half marathon, maybe, but I was. Just didn't know what I was capable of. Regretted not knowing what 6:45 pace (my initial goal) really felt like anymore since I haven't been wearing a GPS watch lately.

I ran the first mile with some of my new TrySports teammates who I knew were going to run my target pace of 6:45/mile. It was downhill and I think we hit it in 6:12. I felt good so I picked up the effort in the next uphill mile and ran the rest of the way by myself. Hit the 10K mark in 40:12. I was nervous about a race of this distance but I really enjoyed it. Seemed really short (not bragging at all) and I was able to divide it up easily. "Half way there? Crazy! I just started!" or "Just 35 more minutes. That's nothing." I kept a very positive attitude & was confident the whole time. Once I hit the 2nd or 3rd mile, I knew I wouldn't slow down and I averaged 4 seconds per mile faster in the last half than the first, which is pretty remarkable pacing if I do say so myself. Though I was pushing it hard the whole way, I can't describe how easy it felt. Knew I'd finish strong. Thought about every step. Told myself to run as fast as I could each step. But still, ZERO fatigue, no problems, no slowing down, no getting passed, etc. Couldn't ask for anything more.

My PR had been 1:33:58, set in January. I was just looking to break 1:30 Saturday but ended up at 1:24:15 because everything just clicked. I took a gamble not knowing exactly what would happen because of my inexperience at that distance but I think I played it perfectly. A little faster early & I may have died. The ultimate goal is sub-3:00 by this Spring. There are a lot of "what ifs," but I feel certain I could've run that Saturday. Experiencing no fatigue, no problems & no negative thoughts, I'm pretty sure I could've kept that 6:25/mile pace until 20 miles and then fallen back to 6:45-7:00- let's go high & say an average of 7:00 for the last 10K. That would've given me 2:51. Even 7:00 pace for the last 13.1 would've given me 2:55 and that would've been a big slowdown. Will I go out in 6:25 for a marathon? I don't know why I can't be close to that and still have a good marathon. More work & testing, but I feel very confident. It's a good feeling.

I finished 12th place out of 709 finishers. Top 1.6%. Strange being that alone in a pretty big race.

Now, I register for Kiawah Island Marathon which is December 10 to see what I can do.

Really enjoyed my Sunday 10 mile run at ASC trails just before sundown. I used to love squeezing in as many miles as possible before dark on Sundays out there but haven't been in a couple of months. And sadly, with the faster paced, non-trail running I've been doing lately, I noticed it on the trails. I wasn't as nimble & didn't see the trail like I used to. Still fun.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Runner's World comes to my box at school. I flip through & look at the pictures but rarely read anything. Not all that interested in "8 Miracle Foods That Can Make You Faster," or "6 Tips For a Stronger Core." Maybe I'm jaded or think I know it all. I don't, but so little of the advice in there seems to apply to me or my runners. This month, there was an article about recovery with this chart. I thought it was a little funny as I saw it after my Wednesday hard run following a weekend 103 mile run. Nothing in the chart to tell me how long to go before doing a hard workout after running 103 but it says don't go hard until 26 days after a marathon. Really? If I followed that logic I think my running would be a lot different.

I am positive I do things that aren't in my best interest... often to prove something to my team. I'm still alive, but there hasn't been much recovery after running 50 miles at the Blue Ridge Relay or 103 at Hinson Lake. Two days after Blue Ridge Relay, I did 10x600 in 2:03. Ouch. Really hard. Sore. Three days after Hinson Lake, I ran 4 miles at 6:18/mile pace. I was sore then too but more than that, just completely fatigued still. I thought of every excuse possible to stop but kept going. One of the guys on my team said recently, "You're too hardcore for your own body." Maybe so. Maybe these aren't great choices, but if I followed what Runner's World seems to suggest- give yourself a day free of hard workouts per mile of racing, I wouldn't have run hard until 2012. 103 days, 3 days... same thing, right? :)