Half Marathon Taper Week Thoughts

i’m about a week out from running my first half marathon, post-kids. hilariously to me now, in the months after both of my boys were born, i half-heartedly wondered aloud to my husband about signing up for a race again – primarily driven by the intense need to reclaim parts of my body and time for myself, in those early postpartum days – and now, as i’ve finished up my 12 week training plan, i can’t even fathom having had the energy to stick to this training before this moment of parenthood.

i used to be a casual-ish runner in the Before Parenting Times; i ran several halfs (this was probs my most recent?!), could run a 5/10k on a relative whim if a friend asked. i ran trails in the mornings before work and did a 14 mile race up mt. evans. running isn’t net-new to me. i ran a thanksgiving day 10k in november and stuck to my training plan and felt pretty great about my first-post-kids race. of course, training in CO and running in OH helped – all the extra oxygen to breathe! so with all this in mind, in february, weeks before my youngest turned two, i decided to rip the bandaid and commit to running this half and i had foolish confidence that i’d hit my stride (pun intended) with training and feel really great heading into this taper week and next week’s race.

but alas.

i DID stick to my training plan, pretty damn closely! there were a couple times i traded a 5 mile base/weekday run for 3.5 to better fit into my life though, i didn’t think twice about it. at this point in my life, i can’t let any one thing consume me fully anymore – not work, not parenting, not running. i am more than the loudest, most pressing thing in my life and i need these disparate parts of my life to complement and contribute, not overrun (lol, unintentional pun but we’re rolling with it). but on the whole, i was diligent about hitting my weekday runs, even if it meant heading to the gym at 8p after i did the kiddo bedtime shuffle, and i laced up every weekend for long run, even when we had visitors – even when my mom visited and gave us a parenting weekend off and i could have slept in in a dark, quiet hotel room (9 miler from our hotel stay downtown which followed the actual race route, fun!). i freaking committed and held myself accountable.

here, in the last days before the race next sunday, i’m feeling: proud, stronger (well, cognitively i know i’m stronger), super duper tired and honestly ready to be on the other side of this race and training.

the most recent weeks, mileage ‘peak weeks’, have truly exhausted my body and mind. which then opens space for doubt and disappointment to creep in. ‘i’ve been following the plan. why the EFF IS THIS STILL SO FREAKING HARD.’ my first 10 mile long run was SO HARD and my body was SO TIRED. the following week, i did another 10 miler – the same route – hoping to feel more confident, stronger. nope. maybe 11 miles would feel better? still nope.

so in this taper week, i’m cutting myself some slack. i had set myself an arbitrary time goal at the outset of this and at this moment, i’m deciding my only goal is to have a good time. to not be too hard on myself. to cross the finish line and be proud of what i did. i signed up for this race to force me (and my family) to create space to prioritize taking care of myself. to not consume myself with work in the evenings. to get outside. to exercise. to spend time alone (and for my family to spend time without me). i’ve done all those things!! mission accomplished!! so who cares if i’m slower than i ‘used to be’? literally no one. my body is tired, strong and it will finish that damn race next week and that is badass.

there are, however, a few things i’ve pinpointed that i’ll do differently next time:

  • finding a plan that calls for more cross-training (my body is tired bc it’s literally only been running)
  • finding a plan that includes strength training expectations (see above)
  • learning more about how/when/what to eat and when (i can’t figure this out for the life of me. i don’t know why nutrition/macros are like an alien language to me but they are. i need to pay someone to just tell me what to do)
  • committing to earlier bedtimes, consistently (true in running and non-running; my tragic flaw)

because i’m excited for a little break after this — and then i’m excited to push myself to get stronger and do it all over again.

Race Recap: 2016 Pittsburgh Half Marathon (#GameOnPGH)

Disclosure: As a Pittsburgh Marathon Blogger, my race entry was comped but all opinions and thoughts are my own. 

After months of preparing and many hilly training miles run, I crossed the finish line at the Pittsburgh Half Marathon with a giant smile on my face!

Pittsburgh Half Marathon 2016 Recap // lynnepetre.com
(obviously, borrowed photo from race photographer)

Let’s back up.

Race weekend kicked off on Thursday evening with a blogger happy hour at Wigle Whiskey where it was great to mix and mingle with blog friends, new and old.

On Friday afternoon, I hit up the expo for packet pick up and to (quickly) browse the booths. I’m not a big fan of expos but Pittsburgh’s was sizable and had great brands participating and interesting demos/giveaways, including beer tasting. What?!

Then, on Saturday morning, I trekked downtown to run the 5k as a warm-up run and Saturday night, I met up with runner friends at Chelsea’s house for an delicious pasta dinner. Much later Saturday night, I picked up Heidi from the airport! We gabbed until very late and slept for a few hours before our alarms started buzzing at 5 a.m.

Heidi and I were both selected as bloggers for the race which meant we were given VIP access to pre- and post-race festivities. Pre-race, this meant access to breakfast (score!), indoor bathrooms and a special gear check table. We opted to try our luck with the pre-race breakfast and left Shadyside at 5:45 a.m. to find parking and still have enough time for breakfast ahead of the race. Traffic was (surprisingly) non-existent and we breezed right into a parking garage approximately a mile from the start/finish.

We jogged to the Westin where the VIP hospitality suite was located in search of breakfast; after scarfing bagels with cream cheese and a few slices of fruit, we hit the bathrooms and navigated our way to Corral B.

Pittsburgh Half Marathon 2016 Recap // lynnepetre.com

I don’t know about the other corrals but getting into Corral B was kind of a cluster; there was a single point of entry and a race official checked all bibs for anyone entering. As the minutes ticked down to the start and there was still a huge mass of people waiting to get through, it felt like there could have been a better way to get runners to the start.

But the race did start and Heidi and I crossed the timing pad at about 7:10 a.m. As we pushed through the first 3 miles into the Strip District, a light rain drizzled down but considering the initial weather forecast (thunderstorms and heavy rain), we couldn’t complain.

Pittsburgh Half Marathon 2016 Recap // lynnepetre.com

Heidi and I spent the first half of the race catching up – we both have big summers on our schedule and haven’t seen each other since my trip to CO in December. So much to chat about!

Pittsburgh Half Marathon 2016 Recap // lynnepetre.comAround mile 7, I started to feel mentally tired and Heidi encouraged me to eat my Honey Stinger chews which helped give me a boost. Fortunately for me, Heidi dropped from the full marathon to the half and, selfishly, I loved that decision. She paced me the last half of the race and kept me on track to finish in under 2:05. Really, she was trying to pace us to a sub 2hr finish but I didn’t have it in me this race… I stepped in a pothole, like a n00b, at mile 9 and walked a few paces in mile 11 up the final hill (woof). We crossed the finish line at 2:04:35. Pittsburgh Half Marathon 2016 Recap // lynnepetre.com

Overall, given my long-ass taper, I’m pretty pleased with my race (and very thankful to Rabbit Heidi!). If I’d carved out more time to stick to my plan in the last 4-6 weeks of training, I know I could have finished at or under 2 hours, but alas. I don’t regret anything I did instead of running in the weeks leading up to the race. I enjoyed vacation, spent moments with friends and family, tackled work projects and sometimes, just needed downtime with my husband.

In thinking back to the route, I really loved weaving through neighborhoods I’ve only visited a handful of times since moving to Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh Half Marathon 2016 Recap // lynnepetre.com

We ran through or by all the Pittsburgh must-sees: Strip District, North Shore, Mt. Washington Incline, South Side, and Downtown. And in true Pittsburgh fashion, we crossed 5 bridges. I’m glad I had points of reference in most of the neighborhoods – it was helpful to give me context to where we were and anticipate what to look for next.

Crowd support throughout the half marathon route was amazing. The first half of the race had bands every mile or so while the second half of the race was full of snacks along the course. I couldn’t stomach any but I remember gummy worms, oranges, cookies, mimosas(!). Each neighborhood had people out holding funny signs and cheering; especially towards the end of the race, it was encouraging to have so many people out watching!

I will definitely sign up for the Pittsburgh Half again next year. The race was well executed, the course was interesting and support was awesome. Well done, Pittsburgh Marathon team!

Training Update: Pittsburgh Half Marathon (#GameOnPGH)

It’s the final week! ACK!

Officially, it’s taper time for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon but really, with the travel in my life recently, I have been tapering for the past 3+ weeks. We’ll see how this translates for the race on May 1 but not much I can do about it now except roll with it.

After Mexico, I was home for 4 days and ran 10 miles before hopping a plane to Denver for a busy week at work. I’d brought my gear to run in my old neighborhood and meet friends for OrangeTheory but, for a number of factors, I didn’t do either. From Denver, I flew into Philadelphia late Friday night to play in a volleyball tournament all day Saturday before driving 5+ hours home. Whew!

Track Running // lynnepetre.com

So these last few weeks have been light on actual runs but I’ve been very active which doesn’t substitute for training but is better than being sedentary!

This week, I’ve run a few 3 mile loops, am playing volleyball and doing yoga. I debated doing an OrangeTheory class but decided to not risk sore or tired muscles in the days before next week’s race.

A few weeks ago, before the crazy 6 weeks of travel, I’d set some goals for the Pittsburgh Half and I’m hoping they’re still realistic.

  • A Goal: Under 2 hours
  • B Goal: 2:00-2:05
  • C Goal: Under 2:10

If I’d stuck with my training a bit better these past few weeks, I’d have 100% confidence in myself but now, I’m going to go out and just do my best next Sunday. I know I can cruise through the first half of the race and my 10 mile long runs have been strong…but I wished I’d given myself an 11 or 12 mile long run to feel really good about aiming for my A Goal.

Regardless of what happens during the race, I’m excited to be running (especially after worrying about my knee earlier this year), to see my friends (HeidiChelsea, Lauren – looking at you!) and to experience Pittsburgh on foot. Whatever happens, I’m going to run with a smile and feel grateful for this opportunity!

T-10 days!