MARCI FILES: Training & Running Two Half Marathons in Two Weeks

In February 2014 Amy and I signed up for another half marathon to run together, this time in San Francisco. We had already signed up for the TriRock San Diego Triathlon (in November) and thought we would be well enough in shape to run a half marathon only six weeks later. We tend to get these “great ideas” and later realize they might have not been the brightest, but then dig deep and believe that we can do this because we are champs! That being said, I decided this past July to sign up for a half marathon with my husband only six days after my half with Amy. My thought process went a little like this:

“My husband has never done a half before and I would love to run this with him. I should be in pretty good shape with the tri training and the SF half marathon training. If I were to be training for a full marathon I would basically have to run that distance if not one more mile that same weekend anyways…”

And then I thought:

“Wow, I am such an idiot! Why did I just sign up for this?!”  

 

All I could do then was put my headphones on and start training.

As the triathlon was nearing I could feel my body starting to get tired. I thought about it and realized I had been training and running races nonstop since 2011 and it was finally starting to catch up with me and take a toll. When I first started training I could feel myself getting faster and stronger and I was really excited to go on long runs and beat my personal best times before and see how far I could push myself. This summer was different from my other summers of just pure running because I was also biking and swimming, so I was building up muscles in different areas. It was also a very hot summer in Los Angeles and when the weather is warmer we tend to slow down to compensate the heat. This, of course, was discouraging to me because in the winter and spring I was running faster than I ever had before and was feeling great. Now that its deep into fall, the weather is starting to cool down and I can see my speeds increasing little by little.

After the triathlon was over I took about a week off so I could regroup and let my muscles heal, but then it was right back to training. Pure running, long distances. I definitely had great runs and I definitely had had bad runs. I have had thoughts on great days that I could run even longer! I could run a marathon! And then there were days when the bad negative thoughts chimed in and I felt like a pure, utter failure. “You can’t do this. You are so slow. You are a failure.” I never cried from a bad run, but I definitely felt the run blues and wanted to scream and cry and give up. But on those days all I needed to do was message Amy and get all the support in the world that I needed. She would constantly lift my spirits and tell me it’s OK and make me realize that it was better to get out there and have a crappy run than to stay in bed and be lazy. I always needed to hear what she had to say to make me realize that I wasn’t the failure I thought I was. The great thing about a bad run and a supportive partner is that the next time you lace up your shoes and have a great run everything feels reset and right.

Half Marathon #1

USHalfMarathon

3 days out from half marathon number one I realized I was returning to San Francisco where I ran my very first half marathon (the Nike Women’s Half) almost 3 years to the date exactly. I was nervous, but also excited to run another race with Amy, in a great city that would have amazing views and weather. It’s funny how something I have done many times before can still make me nervous and on edge. I was hoping to PR at this race, but I honestly didn’t think I was going to be able to. I knew my body was tired and I knew San Francisco would have hills that would challenge me, but at the same time I told myself “who cares! Just get out there and enjoy every minute of it! You deserve this! You are awesome!”  

The race was great!! The weather couldn’t have been more beautiful and it was an amazing experience to get to run over the Golden Gate Bridge TWICE! I didn’t PR, but this was my third fastest race out of six so I will definitely take that. The course was hilly and right when we crossed the start line we were running up hill. That will slow and tire out anyone. I probably started too fast, but I tend to do that at races because I want to weed through people and get into a comfortable pace. The entire course was a mix of up hills immediately followed by a downhill or flat road. The last half mile or so was uphill and I just don’t understand why races do that! As if we aren’t tired enough, let’s throw one more hill in there before getting to the finish line! All in all, though, I couldn’t have asked for a better course, better weather and a better running partner. If anyone is curious about running a race in SF, but are afraid of the crazy hills, run the US Half Marathon San Francisco - it was so much fun and probably not as hilly as other races in the city!

The medals are awesome and turn, but I was so excited I had mine turned backwards!

The medals are awesome and turn, but I was so excited I had mine turned backwards!

After the first half marathon I could definitely feel some pain in my upper back and my thighs. I had been stretching and foam rolling as much as I could, but it’s probably not enough. I wanted to lace up my shoes and go for a light run before my next half (six days later), but I was still feeling a little sore and definitely tired. My goal for the second half was just to go into it with no expectations and just to finish and feel accomplished. I definitely didn’t plan to PR, I didn’t even plan to come close. I also didn’t plan to run the whole race without walking. All I wanted to do was finish.

Half Marathon #2

SantaBarbaraVeteransDayMarathon

My second half was the Santa Barbara Veteran’s Day Half Marathon. It was an incredibly pretty course and the weather was cold in the morning, so I started to feel really confident about the race. While I was standing in our start corral I heard the two hour pacer talking about the course and what his plan was for the upcoming hills. Listening to him I started thinking I could run the first eight miles without stopping and see how that time compared with my PR time at eight miles.

DNF.jpg

My husband and I started together and as we took off I was in front of him. About 30 seconds into the race I had to pull over because my knee guard was slipping down. As I got back onto the course I saw my husband just a few feet in front of me and as much as I tried to catch up I just couldn’t. My body was so tired that I couldn’t even muster up enough strength to get back on track with him. I followed behind him for the first five miles, feeling proud of him for running so well, and then I just had to walk. I couldn’t run any longer. Maybe if I forced myself I could have gone longer, maybe to eight miles, but I was wrecked. I wasn’t so much sore as I was exhausted. For a split second I got really hard on myself and thought “I can’t believe you are walking, this is flat and downhill!”, but then I thought of Amy and I thought of the race we had just done together and how great of a job she did and I told myself to shut up and just relax. And that is just what I did.

My husband was now a good half mile to mile ahead of me and as he drifted further and further away I just trekked on, running and walking as best I could. The last two miles were downhill so I ran the whole thing in. I was certain I wouldn’t do very well time wise, I was certain that I would come in past my SF time, but I was going to be ok with it. I just wanted to finish. When I got to the finish and saw my time I was SHOCKED to see that I not only beat my SF time but I also beat my time from a half marathon I did in March by 74 seconds putting this race as my second fastest! My husband also did great, this being his first half marathon, and while he did beat me, I am very proud of him! (He thinks he can rub this in my face, but all I have to say is, ‘I ran two half’s in six days so I win!)

Four races in 2014 and I am done! Time to let the body rest and recoup while Amy and I find a new race (or two or three) for 2015!