Thursday, November 1, 2012

Mountain Run Half Marathon Prep

This Sunday, I shall find out whether my recently adopted training method of long mountain trail runs has adequately prepared me for a faster flat half marathon.

Exhibit A:

On October 20th, I did a lovely 12 mile out-and-back run on the Pacific Crest Trail where 2540’ of elevation gain rewards you with views like these:


Exhibit B:

On the 27th I ran up a local mountain aptly nicknamed “The Beast” then continued on to a fire station at the top of a different peak before turning around, for a total of 15 miles with 2879 feet of elevation gain:


In contrast, Sunday will involve running the first half of this:


The day after my 12 mile mountain run, we did a 5 mile hike with a friend with a a mere 1100’ of elevation gain. Just to make sure I totally killed my legs.

The other runs:

Week of the 22nd

Wednesday AM: Crappy 5 miles of speed work on a hotel treadmill while out of town for work again.
Thursday PM: Running club’s Halloween run, 5.72 miles. I skipped on the costume but did wear orange and black. Pace started at a comfortable 9:47, but crept into the 8s and there was even a 7:36 mile. Avg pace: 8:39.
Saturday AM: 15 Mountain Miles (above).

Week of the 29th

Tuesday PM: Short speed work at the track. 6x[400m, 200Rest] in 1:41-1:47,  for a total of 3.65 miles.
Friday AM: It didn’t even happen yet, but I’m predicting the future… 3-4 miles at goal race pace.

And what’s goal race pace?

Well. I don’t know for sure. I haven’t run any real races in a few months but my unofficial-5k-at-the-end-of-a-5-mile-run in 23:54 and my 10 mi tempo run at a 8:30 pace from a few weeks ago point to an equivalent performance of a 1:51ish half marathon. 

That sounds kind of scary and my taper crazies lead me to strongly doubt that kind of speed.  So here’s a range, based on my beloved Run Less Run Faster book:

Equivalent 5k Performance HM time HM pace
23:50 1:50:33 8:26
24:00 1:51:13 8:29
24:10 1:52:05 8:33
24:20 1:52:44 8:36
24:30 1:53:37 8:40

Really, my last half marathon in June was a 1:57:13 (8:57 pace) so I will be happy to run anything faster than that.  8:30 or 8:40 make for easy math along the way (17 min/2 miles or 26 min/3 miles). But I could make another one of these pace cheat sheets like I did for Philly last November:

Thanks to Kristy for this brilliant idea. 

Last fall I used my lofty goal of 2:07, which Kristy and Kara said I was capable of (but I was skeptical); then I ran a 2:06:48.  So maybe this Sunday’s pace chart should be geared toward the faster end of my goal again.

Other items to consider:

Daylight Savings! And it’s the good one, where you get 1 extra hour of sleep tossing and turning and waking up at 1am and 2am and 2am (<—DST bonus) and 3am and 4am… in a panic worried that I overslept my alarm.

Warm. Today was comfortable with a high temperature around 70. But no worries, it will warm up again for this weekend.  And because of Daylight Savings, the start time at New-7am will be the Old-8am; so I’ll be running until Old-10am, which will probably easily get into the mid 70s.  At least there is no rain in the forecast; last year it poured.


Is there a “home field advantage” in running? I have run parts of the race course fairly regularly since moving here in February.  Previously my halfs have been new territory.  Either I’ll be able to tell myself “you’ve run this section before, you’ve got this!” or I may poke my eyes out on some of the more familiar sections.

One of said “more familiar” sections:

Now pretend you are standing on this path and I am running toward you. 
That will be me at mile 7 or 8. I can’t tell because that stretch kinda looks the same.

Here’s hoping for something in the low to mid 1:50s…

PS, Good luck to anyone running in NYC this weekend!


  1. The Beast certainly looks like it has you well-prepared for the 1/2. Yay for a good forecast and I am so looking forward to DLS. :) I think you're going to do great...especially having some home-field advantage. ;) Wishing you a fun and speedy race girl. Happy Friday!

  2. I think you'll surprise yourself again at this half! It sounds like you need to come here and run the race I ran last weekend. Your elevation training is nuts!

  3. Good luck - you have been really growing so much in running, I love watching (reading) about it. I predict a great PR!!! You have put the work into it and now celebrate!

  4. Those race equivalent things are always funny to me. I run a faster 5k than my HM time would reveal. I run a 22:55 5k but keep an 8:25 pace for HM.


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