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A faster half marathon – Last long run and more speed work

These are the last few weeks of my half marathon plan with Garmin Coach Amy towards a new PB. I have my longest run, another set of increased speed repeats and a new time trial. My morning runs are getting darker, so I got my lights out of storage again and I’m paying more attention to my outfit: bright colors and reflective signs. When it’s dark I run mostly on well-lit cycling paths and low speed roads with limited traffic and while I’m always keeping an eye out, I find it important that others can see me as well.

Easy run

My run starts out in the dark, so I head out for a round in the neighborhood. After a short run, I realize the sun is rising and I want to see it from my happy place. I’ve mentioned this spot often here, it’s a small open space in the middle of the forest, just five minutes from my house. The open space attracts a layer of fog when it’s a bit cold and the sunrise behind the treeline makes for some great views.

Today’s run towards the sunrise got me 4,5K at an average pace of 8:32 min/km.

Time trial

Coach Amy wants me to do another time trial. Not sure why since the plan should be coming to an end. Maybe I messed up the plan too much with all my breaks in between. We’ll see. This time trial is just five minutes long, just like the benchmark runs and one of the earlier time trials in this plan. Average time to beat: 5:58 min/km.

I did the warming-up on the roads in my neighborhood, waiting for the sun to rise, then moved to my forest cycling lane for the fast part. I arrived a little early at the forest, so I pressed the lap button to skip to the next part and ran fast. After about a minute I check my watch to see my pace and see that I missed one lap press, the time trial hadn’t started yet. I stop and walk to catch my breath and continued. It’s just five minutes, right?

Four minutes later I felt done, checked my watch and saw my pace was near the goal, but not there yet. I had to speed up, but had nothing left to give. I pushed through until the five minutes passed, but didn’t get my goal. My average pace was 6:09 min/km. Not bad, just not the goal.

Long easy run

I’m away for the weekend again and decided to skip my long run, just like two weeks ago. I feel like I’m already very much near where I need to be to run my half marathon and these extra breaks in between suit me very well. It’s not how the plan is intended, but I’ve stated often that I’m using it more as a guide line. I won’t hold any grudges if I don’t reach my time goal. No run this weekend.

Easy run

I set out to do speed repeats today, but as I turn to my watch to open the run activity, I notice it has only 1% battery. That’s not going to cut it. Instead of the speed repeats I select an easy run, if the watch dies on me halfway through, it won’t leave me hanging in the middle of a hard interval.

It did die on me after 2,3K.

Speed repeats

My watch is charged and we are ready for more speed repeats. Coach Amy is increasing the length of each interval every week and we’re at 7 three minute intervals now with a three minute recovery in between. The intended pace is between 6:52 and 7:10 min/km.

  1. 6:43 min/km
  2. 6:32 min/km
  3. 6:42 min/km
  4. 6:40 min/km
  5. 6:28 min/km
  6. 6:33 min/km
  7. 6:30 min/km

Today’s average: 6:36 min/km. Last week I ran the seven repeats of 2:30 at an average pace of 6:11 min/km. My speed is definitely decreasing as the intervals get longer, but I’m still beating the target at every interval and that is very satisfying.

Long easy run

This will be my last long run of the training plan and I’m aiming to run for about 2,5 hours. I didn’t want a complicated route, I wanted a quiet road without traffic lights and to be able to zone out. So, I planned a bit of a boring course: 1 hour 15 east, turn around and go back. Course loaded, off I go.

The watch said to go left and I thought: no straight ahead looks nicer, I’ll go left a little further along the route and get back to the planned course. I turned right a few kilometers later and turned off the navigation. I used the little map on my watch to more or less guide me towards a route. Then I got lost. I found a tiny little forest in between the farmlands and while all logic said to go straight and follow the road, I couldn’t help myself and went into the mini forest. I’d never been here before and was curious to see where I’d end up. I ended up nowhere. There were many crossing paths and I choose wrong. As my path kept getting smaller and smaller, I started walking. No need to trip and fall just two weeks before my half marathon. I walked a little further, but eventually had to turn around as the path had simply disappeared.

I wandered around for a few more kilometers before crossing the highway back into known territory. I’m heading home. Even though this route was completely unplanned and mostly unknown to me, I completed the run at 17K in 2 hours and 26 minutes. Pretty well according to plan. I ran at an average pace of 8:37 min/km, which is a lot faster as most of the long runs I’ve been doing. Fall has brought cooler temperatures and I’m hoping they stick around for another 2 weeks.

Tired run

Today I really felt like a true runner. After leaving my car behind yesterday and going for a few drinks (taxi home), I had to pick up my car. It’s parked just 2K away from my house and my legs are sore from yesterday’s long run, but I’m sure: I’m going for a run to pick up my car. I need some groceries as well, so I take my hydration pack, take out the bladder, stuff in my card and a small jacket and off I go.

The first few minutes it felt like a horrible idea, but my legs quickly remembered what to do and I got into a nice rhythm. I run slowly at 8:52 min/km, but I arrive at my car, drive it to the grocery store and head in there all runner-looking on an early Sunday morning.

Summary

Only two weeks to go until my second half marathon and my first virtual half marathon. I still haven’t decided on a course and that’s partially because I haven’t decided yet if I want to attack the time I set for my first half marathon (time to beat: 2:51:35), or simply aim to cover the distance. I know I can beat the time, but can I do it without the race environment? To be fair, I didn’t have much of a race environment during my first half marathon either as I ran alone for the entire race. And I was injured. 

Convince me, do I aim to beat 2:51? Do I go for the goal time in the Garmin Coach plan at 2:38? Or just comfortably complete my second half marathon distance? Comment below!

2 thoughts on “A faster half marathon – Last long run and more speed work”

  1. Hi Daan! My notification system is malfunctioning…! The 2:38 scares me, I’m going with a conservative approach. Start easy indeed, then re-evaluate at 1/3 and 2/3. And maybe at 1/2, haha. Two more days until race day!

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