Tag Archives: stomp the grapes

Off to the races

I haven’t run a race since my 5k on my birthday in July. That seems unusual, given how this part of the year is packed with road racing, and blessed with great weather. It’s just how it worked out after I hit my 5k goal and started looking for Half Marathons that excited me.

Now, alongside the buildup of the fall marathon season, I have my fall half marathon season. The Brooksie Way Half this coming Sunday is my first ‘casual’ or checkpoint half. I’m running it to add a notch to my belt rather than to achieve something. Then, in the PR conducive weather of November, on the flat, fast roads of Ohio, I’m running the Stomp The Grapes Half Marathon. That is my target race, there is where I want to put the hammer down and run faster than a 10 minute pace.

Yes, my target for my next PR is set! I’m going to run a 2:11 or better. I’m comfortable with that goal, and think that, like all my other goals until now, that it’s achievable with only a continuation of my current fitness track. No need for a revolutionary change, or a huge stretch for this accomplishment. And considering that’s faster by over 30s/mile, I think it’s enough improvement for a six month period.

It’s actually hard not to get drunk on the heady feeling of improvement, to say, “Wow, I can do a 10min/mile half easily, maybe I should shoot for a 9/mile”. But I know in my heart that would be wrong for me, and wrong for my body. Running the amount I have has given me tremendous rewards, physical and mental. That has been, in no small part, because I’ve been willing to let the improvements come as they come. Speed, such as it is, has snuck up on me. Last Friday, for example, I gave my best effort to a Friday 5k, and ran a 25:29, a 5k pace I couldn’t even have dreamed of when I ran my first 5k a year ago at 38:24. So I will pass over the tempting elixir of overreaching, and kepe my head down and my feet focused on a 13.1 mile performance in 131 minutes.

To make this happen of course, it takes more than wishing to make it so. I’ve been following a 4 day/week training plan of one easy run, one interval run (alternating between hill repeats and Nx800 intervals), my Friday 5k (a sort of tempo run, 1 mile w/u, 1 mile c/d, 5k), and the staple long run on the weekends. The plan had begun with 5 days, but it was too much mileage, and my long run suffered at least one week because of it. Coming to today, only a few days before the checkpoint race, I feel good about the plan. Every long run since that rough week has been strong, with a 10min performance in my 13.2 a week ago. Conditions, good attention to course use.

All this said (and, written in ink, as it were) I will take the Brooksie this weekend as a bellwether race. If I get close to the 10/mile mark in this run, I’m going to have to revise my target, go faster, because Brooksie is known to be a ‘challenging’ (read: sadistic) course, with some serious hills. Short of a real explosion, I don’t *think* I’d revise my goal down, because based on that training run last week, I feel like a 2:11 StompTheGrapes is a realistic expectation.

Question: What am I going to do when all this weight is off, and my body stops seeing the dramatic improvement of cutting an athlete out of a sloth?

Answer: I’m going to be very, very happy. And keep running.

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Thirty MPW & Fall Half Marathons

I ran a 31 mile week last week. No caveats, no asterisk, no tricks, no gimmicks. I ran 6 miles Tuesday & Wednesday, 7 Friday and 12 on Sunday. (I have always trained with ‘European’ weeks, because it makes more sense to me.) Man, I feel good. I feel like I never expected to when I started running. I feel capable, and somewhat athletic. I came here to brag about my 31 mile week because I am so proud of it that I’m like to burst, or at least to find a way to awkwardly work it into conversations with coworkers.

Lest we think this a fluke, for the past 5 weeks, I haven’t had a single week under 20 miles. After the Solstice Run 10k and the Let Freedom Run 5k, I dropped off on “speedwork summer” and have been focusing on running for fitness and keeping a training volume which would support some half marathons this fall. I’m so proud to have a reasonable weekly mileage, and staying “up to date” on my mileage has given me real motivation to get out there 4-5 days each week.

That goal of two more half marathons this fall has now crystallized into two registrations for races: The Brooksie Way Half Marathon in Rochester, MI and the Stomp the Grapes Half Marathon in Hartville, OH.

The selection process was totally nerd driven; I found a listing of half marathons, arranged them in excel, then posted columns with date, size, driving time and goodies. I eliminated the handful of really tiny half marathons in Mid-Michigan (several less than 100 finishers!) but I wish that intrepid race organizer the best of luck, and may run those events in the future. Check out Michigan Half Series for info. (This is a reminder to future me, plus info for anyone else looking for half marathons in Michigan!)

I also had to cut out many Michigan Half marathons that were 8+ hour drives away. Man, this state is big! After that I started looking for two races seperated by about a month, and originally thought about signing up for the Air Force Marathon in Dayton. Unfortunately, registration for that was full. So the field eventually narrowed to the Brooksie and StompTheGrapes, at least in part because A, Brooksie is local, and B, StompTheGrapes is giving out a race-embroidered fleece cap, which is awesome.

Brooksie is the larger of the two events, and probably the more challenging. Part of the Brooksie course is on some light trails, and reviews and the website indicate that the course is “challenging” which is race director code for “hilly”. So I’m planning to run that one as a prep race for pushing for a new PR in the StompTheGrapes, which looks flat and cold, which will combine into a great condition for me to race in.

Which brings me to the time to train again. I get to lay out a training plan that centers around a October 2nd progress half marathon, and a November 5th PR attempt. I know I’m capable of the distance; I just did 12 yesterday! So now I have to figure out how to construct a plan to meet a new PR goal. Many of the plans I find online are geared toward the first-time runner, or geared to the longtime runner. I need to figure out what the training plan is for the 2nd & 3rd race is.

I have some ideas; I’ll probably keep a nice long run on Sunday, and I’d really like to hunt down a spot for hill repeats here in MI. Aside from hills and long runs, I’m going to keep up with two 5 ish mile steady state no frills runs a week. That leaves one run that I can use for a speed enhancing effort, perhaps?

I better decide quick. Only 48 days to the Brooksie.