Road to my first half marathon – My furthest distance

This week I’m running my furthest distance ever and there is a goal pace and easy run on my schedule. 

My new half marathon race will be done on March 8: Vestingloop Gorinchem. Hopefully there will be no storms or other setbacks to come in between! 

Goal pace run

Another one of Coach Greg’s goal pace runs: a 15 minute warming up, 15 minutes at goal pace, 5 optional minutes at goal pace and a 15 minute cooling down. Today I run the warming up completely, attempt the first 15 minutes at goal pace and somewhere during the run I’ll decide if I’m up for that last 5 minutes. My runs the last week have been extra challenging while I was still in recovery mode from being sick a few days, so I’m going into this run a little less optimistic as usual. 


The warming up goes well, after 10 minutes I’m warm enough to start slowly building up towards that goal pace part. By the time it starts I am already running at goal pace, but it my watch is telling me that my heart rate is a little higher as it should be. Towards the end of the first goal pace part I am struggling to keep my pace and decide to skip the optional part of today’s run. I take a short walk break and then continue for a 5 minute cooling down. 

Though I feel recovered from being sick, my body is not yet ready to be pushed too far. That’s okay, I still have 2,5 weeks until my new half marathon race is scheduled. 

I actually ran the 15 goal pace minutes a little too fast at 7:23 min/km.

Easy run

It’s cold today with a feels like temperature of -1°C. It takes me a little longer as usual to get myself out the door, but I’m out by 6:30 and ready for an easy run. 

I ran 4,5K at an average pace of 8:13 min/km. 

Long easy run

After last week’s 17K run I had decided this week I would run 18K. I’ve set up another route on Garmin Courses, but this time decided to keep a little more control and set up the route myself. I selected trail running, picked some roads and let the app decide the rest. Usually when I select trail running there is about 30% of actual trails. Today ended up a little different. The first 3K were through town on asphalt roads. As I was leaving town the roads got smaller and smaller until they couldn’t be called roads anymore. I wanted to run off-road today because it forces me to slow down, makes me enjoy my surroundings more and makes the time go by faster. What I had forgotten was the massive amounts of rain we’ve been getting for the last weeks. I was already avoiding puddles on the road in the first kilometers of my run, but now I passed trails with puddles that looked more like lakes and had taken up the entire path. I stopped several times just because I needed to figure out the safest way to cross the water. I really didn’t want to misstep and maybe injure myself so close to my half marathon. Maybe this trail run wasn’t such a great idea. 
 
My watch gives me notifications with every turn, but sometimes it was hard to determine which path it considered to be the road ahead. I saw a split in the road coming up and my watch told me to go left, so I did. As I turned I noticed a fellow runner going through these trails, I wanted to warn him about the messy road ahead, but didn’t. About 30 seconds later I came to a full stop, the path was gone. Well, maybe it was still there underneath the lake that had formed here, but it was no longer recognizable. How did that guy pass here? I went way into the field and then circled back towards where I could see the trail again. One minute later I had the same issue again. This was going well. When I finally made it out of the field and back into the slightly dryer woods I checked my watch to see if I needed to go left or right. Strange that it hadn’t bleeped yet. Oh, crap. That left turn wasn’t supposed to be this much of a left turn, I had to go back, back through the field with a lake in the middle. I stood there for a few seconds arguing with myself, but then determination kicked in and I ran back out. This time I’m taking the other side around the water and that’s where I finally got one of my feet completely soaked. I had misjudged a chunk of grass and my foot sank away. The podcast I was listening to had just discussed stepping into puddles and how your feet will only be cold for a short period. Great reminder, let’s test that theory. 
 
The rest of the route is less wet and my foot does warm up pretty quickly, even though it remains slightly uncomfortable. I enjoy running trails, but I’m a bit relieved when I see an actual road coming up. It’s on this road a group of cyclists almost drives me off the road again. They would’ve hit me if I hadn’t swung my body to the side, luckily I kept my balance. I’ve ran about 12K when my watch beeps me to go left again, back into wet, bumpy trails. Nope, I’m done with those. I look around and I’m pretty sure I know how to get home from here via actual roads. My legs are tired, but still alive and 6,5K later I am back home. 


I just ran 18,5K at an average pace of 8:31 min/km! Not bad at all given the conditions of my route. With just two weeks to go until my half marathon, my confidence in finishing this thing has never been higher!

Summary
After this weekend’s extremely satisfying long run on Saturday morning, I went out dancing on Saturday night and have managed to sprain my ankle. My ankle has been an issue since I was 15 years old and broke it for the first time. Since then I’ve been in a cast multiple times, sprained it often and even had surgery done on it. The last years my ankle had been behaving very well, even through mini-sprains that I know would have been a lot worse in the past. I feel like my ankle has gained strength through or in spite of my running. 

Unfortunately today’s sprain was not a mini-sprain. The ankle is blueish, swollen and walking is a little painful. As I’m writing this I have visited my physical therapist who examined it and put some tape on it so I could remain mobile for the next days without fear of doing more damage. I will be returning for a follow-up next Monday and until then there will be no running for me. I really hope this doesn’t jeopardize my half marathon which is supposed to happen in less than 1,5 weeks. I know the most important part of training is done, so my main focus now is getting this ankle to heal fast enough. Fingers crossed! 

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