Marathon Training Plan: Run by Effort

The FIRST program worked great with my half marathon so when came the time to think about how to train for a potential Marathon, there was no question in my mind. I downloaded their Marathon training plan. Like the Half, it only has 3 run workout a week unless one wants to add easy runs as cross-training. For now my cross-training plans include yoga, at home workout (a mix of push ups, pull ups, lunges and squats), and cycling for a few easy miles.

Now the plan is pretty precise on the pace, that’s what makes it work: speedwork, tempo and easy long run. The pace goals should be based on the last best 10k. Well I have not run a 10k race ever, my last 12k race goes back to March of last year and I’m not sure I can trust the changing paces on my 6 miles runs. So I’ve decided not to go by pace (gasp!). Let’s be honest, I took so much time calculating pace goals last time I training to find out that I was either faster or slower depending on the days. I’m also training for a hilly course and no 10k race pace around our area would give me an accurate feel for that.

So instead of building my training around numbers, I’m going to do it on feel. I know how it feels to make my body go faster or easier. So I’m not going to worry about a specific pace but run how it feels. Oh I will still record my pace afterward but I think that running by effort will benefit me ultimately since I don’t own a Garmin and will only run with my watch for the time being.

Do you run based on your pace goal or by effort?





Breaking the 23′

I wanted to go run yesterday. But I also needed to deep clean the floors of our house after my in-laws and their dogs visit.

By the time the floors were shiny enough I had less than an hour left before leaving for work. So I decided to run, as fast as I could, on a little 3.1 miles loop around our neighborhood. It was cold and windy which motivated me even more because I needed to warm up.

Maybe it was just what I needed because while this is not an official course in any way, I was back at my mailbox in 22’48”. Not only was I happy to run but thrilled to see my time. That is the best pace (7:21) I’ve run for a sustained period of time. Now I really need to sign up for a 5K and see how I can do in a race.

It sure feels good to get my speed back.

12th Asheville Citizen-Times Half Marathon

I woke up bright and early at 5am. Lucky me to be running where I live. I wanted to make sure I had my breakfast early enough to have no problem during the run. I wasn’t exactly hungry, but I still ate.
A cup of green tea, half a toasted bagel with almond butter and half a banana.
Then I started getting ready and putting on my outfit, got my water bottle ready. The temperature was cool, in the low 50’s so I put on a long sleeve shirt to keep until warm up time.
I woke up my husband aka. my support team at 5:45am and we headed out to the race by 6:30am. Luckily his brother lives right down town and lets us use a prime parking space from which we just had a quick walk to the race start.
I was surprised that it didn’t seem that busy at that point, I guess most people were warming up and running around downtown.


At 6:45 I left my husband to go warmup. I ran just under 10mns. Enough to be hot and ditch the long sleeves. I was glad I had used the bathroom at home several times because the line at the port-potty was not inviting.
I did meet a few people from my Wednesday running group and hanged out with them first as we started lining up, until I saw some people from work. We never did a group picture, which I figured would happen, we were not organized.

I blew a kiss to my husband and then focused on the start. The gun went and… nothing happened. It took several minutes before people started moving forward. Walking on top of each other at first, light jogging passed the start line and then at last running once around the corner.
I loved that feeling, the silence of the morning only broken by the pounding of the shoes on the ground. The pounding of 1200 pairs of shoes at the same time is something powerful and that I love to be a part of.
We went down Patton Ave and I could see a sea or runners ahead of me.

Runners on Patton Ave by Colby Rabon

We went down, then up on the first uphill. The mile markers threw me off at first as the 5K and HM started in the same place. I saw the 1 Mile followed quickly by 2Mile as my watch read 10mns. There is no way I’m running a 5 minute mile I told myself, this has go to be wrong. Indeed, as we got to the next hard hill I saw an other 2 Mile sign, this time I was at 15mns which seemed far more accurate.
As expected I passed people on the hills, running on the trails in Bent Creek has definitely given me the stamina I needed for that.

Miles went by, several hills went by, some easier than other. We went by two Golf courses: the Grove Park Inn, and then the Asheville Country Club in North Asheville. At MM 7 we hit my favorite section, a little bit of trail along Beaverdam Lake. The dust was flying from all the runners.
I tried eating some of my Gu gel, but either the taste wasn’t working that day or I simply didn’t need it because I didn’t have more than a squirt or it.

At mile 8 a guy said behind me: “Ok, I’ve got to ask, is this a running skirt?” ” Well of course it is.” What did he think? That I was running a Half-Marthon with a regular mini-skirt?
Around Mile 9 and went by another girl with a skirt, I couldn’t help but say “go skirts” with a smile. She looked at me and smiled. Asked where I got mine and we chatted a bit on the downhill. She later said hi again at the finish line.
I didn’t see the mile markers until MM10. At that point we were going on the long but steady uphill of Lookout Road.

As we neared UNC-A we saw more and more signs. My absolute favorite, the one that I will take back with me from this race said “You should know that you are an inspiration”. It felt so good to read that and I gave the thumb-ups to its holder. Bet sign ever! Right after that I also saw a colleague from work cheering us. It’s so nice to see people you know.

Going by UNC-A I knew we had some downhill and then a bit of a straight line before getting back downtown to the tough finish. I started looking around me, passing and being passed by the same people. I felt like I was slowing down and I had to motivate myself to keep up the pace. There was only a little over a mile to go.

We went under I-240, we were now downtown. I knew there was one last hill to beat: Walnut St. A brutal uphill a few 10th of a mile before the finish. I powered run that one. I knew the end was near and I put all of my energy into it. I frankly thought I was going to throw up before I reached the top. But at last, it was Haywood Rd again, I only had to make it around the corner to be on the finish line. My husband was right there, he said he called me. I was too focused on the finish at that point to hear anything.

Nearing the finish line

At that point I decided to aim for the girl you see all the way to the right with pink writing on a black shirt. My sister-in-law taught me to set yourself on someone at the end and aim to pass them. So that’s what I did. I sprinted. I sprinted to the end and met with her at the finish line, we actually crossed at the exact same time, but it was enough to get me moving a little faster.

As I crossed the line, I realized thrilled, that the clock said 1h52… I was way, way under two hours. I cooled off a little, walking and jogging than gulped down two glasses of Gatorade. I hadn’t even used all my water during the course.  My husband joined me and we went by the finish line to greet fellow runners. Runner’s high much? Oh yeah, it was my people and I go to cheer them as they arrived and after that race. What a good moment.

A few minutes after the race

I cracked up when I saw my pictures later. I don’t really look like I just ran a Half Marathon. I just look happy.  What a difference it made to have temperatures in the 50’s. I had no muscle pain, no cramps, I just felt good. The only thing later that day would be a bit of knee soreness going up the stairs. Can’t complain.

My fake Tatoo to honor the Diamond Brand running group

While I ran the race with my work’s shirt as they paid for half the entry fee, I got one of those fake tatoo at the expo and told my Wednesday running group leader I would wear it for the race, and I did. I really wanted to honor the fact that I’ve training with them every Wednesday since the spring. That and the free gear I got thanks to the program too.

Post Run Stretch.

My husband had thankfully brought with him my long sleeves and fleece. It had rained a little at the end, just enough to cool me down very quickly once the race ended. I went to get some snacks on Runner’s Alley and quickly found myself shivering and my plate shaking. It was time to go get a shower and warm clean clothes at my brother-in-laws place. Meanwhile a colleague of mine had put our names down at a local restaurant. Timing was perfect, as I walked in warmed up from my shower into the restaurant, our table was opening up, what a perfect way to celebrate the race.

Well and now how about my time. Well… I finished in 1:52:09!!! Beating my goal of finishing under 2h by almost 8 minutes. I was thrilled. What a great way to finish my first Half Marathon. And what a good time considering all the hills too. I wonder what I would do on a flat course…

ACT 2011 Half Marathon Course

ACT 2011 Elevation

Stick Me in a Fridge, I’ll Run Faster

Mettez Moi au Frigo, Je Courrais Plus Vite.

Iceberg on Mendenhall Lake, Juneau, AK.

My lack of presence on this blog is due to the fact that my husband and I went on a family cruise with his parents, sister, step-sister and their other-half. We left the lower 48 as they call it  to go to Alaska. It was cloudy all week and I can say that we had rain everyday exception made for Vancouver and Anchorage. You know what? I’m okay with that. After the hot summer we’ve had I was more than happy to see that the high for the day would be 58 degrees and to pull out my fleece from my suitcase.

What amazed me however was how much faster can run in the cool Alaskan summer. We stopped in the town of Hoonah. Not much to see there except for the excursions organized by the cruise line, so we went for a run. We talked to a local guy who said if we run till the road ends it’s about 3 miles. By the road   he meant where it turns to dirt. So I ran with my husband.

Sure I felt like I was sustaining a good pace, but I wasn’t trying too, I was truly following my legs and how I felt. Well we made it home and I put in the run on map my run. It turns out that I ran 6.48 miles at a 7:45 pace. I mean 7:45!!! I just started at the computer for a while thinking I had my data wrong. But I guess not. Let me run in the 50’s by the sea and show me some bald eagles and I’ll pull a pace PR.

When do you run at your best?

Planned Half Marathon Pace

Rythme Prévu du Semi-Marathon.

I’m trying to follow the FIRST Half Marathon training program. I say trying because I took it easy in May when my knee wasn’t feeling 100%. It’s still not 100% but it’s better and didn’t hurt one bit on a hard 830feet elevation change run of 9.3 miles Friday. So I take it that I’m on a good track (no pun intended).

Anyhow I had planned to do the 18 weeks training based on my March 12k trail race pace of 9:30. So my PHMP would have been 9:50 (9:30+20seconds). However my last long race was a 15k which I ran in 1:26:45, a 9:19 pace.
So I’m now reviewing my training plan because according to my 15k I could aim for a PHMP of 9:39. Maybe even 9:31 according to the Running Times. That seems hard to believe, but then again… My tempo run on Wednesday ended up at a 8:25 pace instead of like 9:39. Maybe I’m just underestimating myself?

So I now need to reevaluate all the training paces for the program. I think I’ll go with a PHMP of 9:39 and aim to finish around 2h06mn. Although I’d be happy with 2h10 or more like my first plan said. After all it will be my first half-marathon and it’s definitely not a flat course!

J’essaye de suivre le Programme d’Entrainement du Semi-Marathon de FIRST. Je dis essayer car je ne l’ai pas suivit a la lettre en mai vu que mon genou n’était pas à 100%. Il n’est d’ailleurs toujours pas à 100% mais mieux et je n’ai pas eu de problème lors de ma course de 15km avec 250m de dénivelé vendredi. Donc je suis sur le bon chemin.
Dans tous les cas j’avais prévu de faire l’entrainement de 18 semaines en me basant sur mon temps de la course sur sentier au mois de mars où j’avais un rythme de 9:30 (par mile). Donc mon RPSM aurait été de 9:50 (9:30 plus 20 secondes). Sauf que lors de la dernière course de 15km je l’ai fini en 1h26m45s, soit un rythme de 9:19.

Du coup je révise mon entrainement puisque d’aprés le 15km je pourrais avoir un RPSM de 9:39. Voire même 9:31 d’aprés Running Times. J’ai du mal à y croire, mais après tout… Mais j’ai couru ma course tempo mercredi au rythme de 8:25 au lieu de 9:39. Donc peut etre que je me sous-estime?

Bon du coup je réevalue les rythmes d’entrainement. Je pense que je vais viser un RPSM de 9:39 pour finir aux alentours de 2h06.
Bien que je serais bien contente de finir en 2h10 ou plus comme prévu au départ. Aprés tout c’est mon premier semi-marathon est c’est loin d’être un parcours plat!