When I originally signed up for the San Diego Half Marathon (which takes place this Sunday), I wasn’t sure how it’d fit into my training schedule. I just wanted to race it because I heard it was a fun one and last year I couldn’t race it due to IRonman training. Then once I realized it was only 5 weeks post Surf City, 2 weeks pre Hot-Chocolate 15k and 7 weeks pre-Eugene BQ attempt, I figured it wouldn’t be a race I’d be tapering for or racing. When I was still self-training, my training plan had me running 2 miles easy before the race than running the 13.1 at my Eugene race pace (8:10 min/miles).
When I first starting talking to my coach I told him that my plan was to do a pace run for SD Half and then race the Hot Chocolate 15k. He said that sounded good. I had a hard week last week – tough tempo run, strength training Thursday that left me sore for days, an 8 mile run Friday and a tough 16 mile run Saturday. I was ready for a break!
Well, my coach gave me one in the form of a taper with a FAST race. On Sunday night I got my weekly training schedule from him and I was shocked when I saw my race plan for Sunday (exact except from the email):
Now for the pacing next weekend this is what I recommend:
1st 5 miles lock in at 7:40 pace. It is extremely important that you make adjustments and hit this pace as soon as you can from the start. It should feel relatively easy in race mode and that is the idea. You need to keep telling yourself in there first 5 miles to hold back and that once you get to 5 miles you can release and start pushing a bit harder.
2nd 5 miles @ 7:30 pace. For the next 5 miles pick it up but not too much. You should feel like you have released a bit and are running harder now but not quite “racing” yet. You need to feel like you are pushing yet still holding back just a bit.
Final 5km at 7:20 pace or better. This is where you let it all out and really start to race. If you have held back and hit the pace right for the first 5 miles and then still held off a bit during the second 5 miles, you’ll be able to really let it all go and race hard the final 5km. Take it one mile at a time during this final 5km. Just push as hard as you can for each mile and if you can go faster then 7:20 pace even better!
This will give you a final time of 1:38:34 or better.
I read the mail and laughed. I scanned it again. Did he mistakenly write 7 instead of 8? Does he mean 8:40 pace? Then I re-read it. No…1:38:34 is clearly written. WTF!!!??
I immediately panicked. I read it right before bed on Sunday night while also full of adrenaline from calling our 30 closest friends to tell them we were engaged. I told Mike, “How does he expect me to run an 8 minute PR FIVE WEEKS after my last race on NON TAPERED LEGS!?!” I wanted to write back immediately and tell him he was crazy, but Mike said I should sleep on it.
The next morning, I calmly wrote him an email asking if we could chat on the phone. That afternoon I anxiously got on the call with him. I told him that I was shocked by the paces he had put me at and that I wasn’t sure I could do it. He proceeded to tell me that he believes based on my last 4 weeks of training that I’ve progressed to a 7:20 tempo pace and that he thinks I can do a 1:40 half marathon. He then said that if we’re going to go for 1:40, we might as well break 1:40.
He then gave me more reassurance about my fitness and my training and said it is possible for me to have a big PR at this race. We also adjusted my schedule going into the race just a bit so that I would feel like I was getting more of a taper (still did tempo intervals this morning, but only 4 x 5 minutes within the 1 hour workout).
So…now I’m racing on Sunday and my coach is expecting me to PR my face off. I have mixed feelings. I’m scared, nervous, excited, anxious. Clearly, If i get anywhere near 1:40 I will be THRILLED It will give me incredible confidence going into Eugene. The course isn’t flat like Surf City (there is a very large hill from miles 8-10.5 but then also a long downhill from 10.5-13.1) and I am less tapered (16 mile run one week before, tempo intervals the Wednesday before). I only really have 4 solid weeks of training between Surf City and SD. I know that these past weeks of training have been high quality and I’ve seen my tempo pace go down each week (from estimated 7:45/50 the first week down to now 7:15-20 this week), but the skeptic in me doesn’t really know if it’s possible to improve enough for a 6-8 minute PR in 5 weeks.
BUT, that’s not the attitude I need to have. I need to focus this week and treat it like an A race. No matter what, this race on Sunday will be a great training run ( I also asked him that because i was concerned that it might negatively affect my race at Eugene if I raced too hard) and I have a feeling that I will PR. If I run anything under 1:42 I will gain a ton of confidence going into Eugene because that is the time that McMillan says I need to be able to run a half marathon in order to run at full at my BQ pace. I guess what I’m scared of most is testing myself for that 1:42 and failing. Then it might shatter my confidence going into the race (although I do still have 7 weeks left to train for Eugene).
So here we go! I’ve adjusted the times above a little bit for the hills – I’m not expecting to maintain a 7:30 pace going up the hill on miles 8-10.5 but I know I can book it down the hill at the end. If anything, even if my pace drops to the low 8s on the hill and I’m still tired, the downhill will give me a few miles in the low 7s without as much effort. If I’m really feeling good down the hill, I can possibly go even faster.
Let’s see what happens!!!
Have you ever had a coach tell you can do something you didn’t believe you could do? Did you pull it off?!