Well. It’s been a loooong time since I have posted on this blog. And a lot has happen since my last post. I just kicked ass in two half marathons… and here is how I did that.
Let me start off with my running history. I started running way back in January 2010. I was watching an episode of the biggest loser and the contestants were running a full marathon. Well, you know how these shows go. They are meant to motivate you. So there I sat, probably eating ice cream or popcorn thinking, hey! I can do that. So I set my sights on a half marathon. The Walt Disney World Half Marathon to be exact. That would give me 11 months to train.
I started with the couch to 5k training program and completed my first 5k in 33:05 with a 10:38 min pace. I was proud, not too shabby for someone who couldn’t run for more than 90 seconds without feeling like they were going to pass out!
Moving on with my training for the half, I completed my first 10k in September in 1:08:24 with a 11:00 min pace. Still training for the half I noticed my split times were getting slower as my miles increased. I also began to get shin splints.
Not quite sure where it was recommended. Some message board, but someone suggested I take a walk break after each mile or so to help with my fatigue and recovery. So I began to do that. Also, it should be noted that I was not doing any speed/tempo training runs while training. I was just putting in the miles that were called for. I was following either the Galloway/Higdon half marathon plan or a combination of them both.
January came and I was ready to run my first half marathon. While I attended the expo I sat and listened to Jeff Galloway speak. And I was wowed! You mean I can take walk breaks every 2-3 minutes and still complete this half! Fabulous! So I set out to run a 5:1 without ever running an interval schedule in my life. I finished my first half in 2:49:57 with a 12:58 pace :/ granted this was at Walt Disney World, where there are numerous character stops along the course just begging for you to stop and have your photo taken! So with it being my first half ever, I was some what satisfied.
Moving on I completed a few more half’s, some at Disney, some local to home. But I never really took my running seriously. I stayed “stuck” at my 12:30-13:30 mile per hour pace. Only trained when I had a race coming up and only put in the minimum training effort.
As you can see from my half times below… I wasn’t getting any faster.
Last year I finally had enough and actually wanted to get better. Not sure if it was the running groups I belonged in or certain people who inspired me. But I knew I could get better and it just took me that long to finally want to take the steps to improve. I knew that interval running was hindering me. I was using them as a crutch and a reason to stop/slow down and to not push myself. I was fully able to run 30 minutes straight before.. why couldn’t I now?
Introducing… Lee Shaw.
I met Lee Shaw back in the fall of 2012 in an online running group and then met him in person at the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend in January of 2013. I knew he was super speedy and I knew he was a USA track and field level 1 coach and has coached high school and college level kids. We joked around for most of the beginning of 2013 about how he could coach me. My first goal was to get under a 30 minute 5k. So he put a plan together for me… and I never finished. Don’t remember if I got sick, hurt or just quit. Probably a combination of all 3, but I never finished his plan. I gave up… I quit.
Summer 2013 came and went and I talked again about trying to break a 2:30 half. There was never the right time for me to train. My boys are busy, my life is busy and I probably wasn’t really at the point where I REALLY wanted to train. I was still using intervals and using those as a crutch to get me by in races. They were “working”.. as in I was finishing. But was I really satisfied? Not really. So in early fall I “tried” to be more consistent with my training. On my own training mind you… I was running the Wine and Dine half marathon in November and I just wanted to see if I could run this one without intervals. Lee told me to just try to run it and walk the water stops. My goal at that race was just to come in under a 2:45 without running intervals. Well, I fell short. 2:46:08. It was after that race I knew it was time to get serious.
Enter the training from hell. I knew that I just couldn’t following a training plan, I had to get serious about my nutrition and I had to lose weight. I was easily about 25 pounds over weight. So, I officially started my training in January 2014 with the goal of the Frederick Half Marathon on May 4th. My goal was to get under a 2:30 without running intervals.. yep.. to run straight through.
First off let me tell you a few things about Lee Shaw. I feel like I know him pretty well. He will never put you down or be degrading. However, he won’t take any BS either. You HAVE TO PUT IN THE WORK. It’s that simple. You have to be willing to work your ass off. No if’s, and’s or but’s. He doesn’t have time for it. He doesn’t care about your excuses. He doesn’t care if you have to get up at 5am to get your work out in or you have to do it at 9pm when the kids are in bed. Just do it. BUT, he will work with you. I am VERY busy. My boys are very busy with baseball, we are at the field 6 days a week. So each week we discussed my schedule and he worked the work outs around me.
You will not get a cookie cutter training plan. You will get one dedicated to you, your fitness level, your progress. TRUST ME, he will want proof of all of your workouts. Whether you video it (which I have), take a picture of the treadmill or GPS proof. You will be held accountable. But he will help you and answer any questions you have along the way. My biggest obstacle was getting over the interval running. It was a huge mind game for me. I would panic at running for more than 4-5 minutes. I felt like I HAD to stop. He never told me to just run. He would just advise me to run until I absolutely felt like I had to stop, actually in the very beginning he incorporated the intervals in my longs runs. It took some time before I could drop the intervals. He guided me on how to read my body, calm my breathing and focus on my form. It took about 2-3 months before I could run 3-4 miles without stopping. But I got there again.
He had me working out roughly 5-6 times a week. Mostly 6. He had me in the gym 2-3 times a week. Push ups, weights, core, walking on the treadmill at an insanely high incline. AND running 4-5 times a week.
An average week looked something like this.
- Monday – gym class and a 40 min inclined walked on the treadmill
- Tuesday – Either a speed or tempo workout and then either core work or push ups. (4-6 miles)
- Wednesday – Another gym class and then a treadmill walk or core or push ups.
- Thursday – A tempo run or speed work. Depending on what I did on Tuesday (4-6 miles)
- Friday – A nice easy run (4-6 miles)
- Sunday – Long run
Did I complain? YEP, every. single. day.
Did I listen? Most of the time. 😉 I am hard headed.
Did I want to quit? YEP, I actually almost did about 2 months into it. But he wouldn’t let me.
Is it a lot of work? YEP.
But it was worth it.
Slowly over the course of these past 4 months I got faster… my tempo runs were around 11:45s and not 12:30s anymore. My fastest timed mile was an 8:30! I could run 3-4 miles without stopping. I really started to watch what I ate and started to lose weight. I am down about 7 pounds from when I started. All of this training was paying off. I still had my doubts. I never ran more than 10 miles. And my tempo runs were all around 5-6. Could I really maintain an 11:27 pace for 13.1 miles. I had to trust my training.
My goal race was the Frederick Half Marathon but I was selected in the Nike DC lottery which was a week before Frederick which was perfect as it gave me a “practice half”. And am I so glad I had that.
He gave me a plan.. STAY WITH THE PACERS.
What did I do? LEFT THE PACERS… again. Remember I said I don’t listen and I am hard headed.
I felt GREAT at the start. These pacers were going too slow. So I went out too fast and I puttered out at mile 10. The Nike race was just an over all mess. My watched stopped, so my times were off. I panicked. I left the pacers and then they passed me. I am honestly surprised I got the time I did. But it was a wonderful learning experience. So Nike was a somewhat success. I got a PR.. but man, I ran an awful race. Just shy of 2:30.. better than my best half so far of 2:43:11.. but not good enough. I ran stupid.
I had one week to correct my mistakes. I talked to Lee, we went over what I did wrong. Well.. I pretty much knew what I did wrong. I didn’t listen to what he told me to do….. oops.
So I tried again at Frederick.
And that is just what I did. At first it felt too slow.. but I stayed with them until mile 10. At mile 10 I pushed ahead of them as they walked through the water station. Theres a reason to NOT start out to fast. I was getting tired around mile 11 and I know if I would have went out to fast again these last 2 miles would have been a lot harder. But I did it. I pushed a bit harder and I came in at 2:29:21. BOOYAH!
Could I have done this alone.. probably not. I needed someone on my ass everyday. I needed the push and the advice. But above it all. I needed to learn to trust myself, trust my training and listen to my heart and not my head and know that I could do this. Coach Lee Shaw helped me see that.
So, thank you coach Lee Shaw, and thank you Amber and Sean. For listening to me bitch, moan, complain, fight, curse and grumble throughout this whole experience. It was worth it. I can’t tell you how happy and proud I was to cross that finish line and see my time. I just hope my coach was too.