Half Mary Musings | Week 5

I’m currently training for my first half marathon in Aviemore, October 13th, 2013. Half Mary Musings is my weekly reflection of how training went, what I’m doing well and what I need to work on. 

This week can be summed up as a very busy, haar-y, getting tough and lots of restaurant food week!

This is haar on a good day

Keep in mind these different speeds as you read:
easy run: 60% effort, you can run and easily carry a conversation.
long/steady run: 65% to 75% effort, at least 1 min slower than race pace.
threshold run: 80% effort, comfortably hard, also known as tempo
intervals: 85% to 95%, close to all out effort, leaves you out of breath.

Haar is a coastal fog formed over the sea which is then blown to land by the wind. This past week, the east coast of Scotland has been plagued by some of the thickest haar I’ve seen since moving here! The days have been warm but extremely muggy, and are totally overcast from the fog. The haar also makes for low visibility, as though you’re in front of a constant wall of smoke; it has been a while since I’ve seen a clear blue sky. This makes running a bit more hot and tougher to breathe, but we still survived! 

Monday: I actually did some abs!!!! After writing last week’s post and finishing it before 9pm, I had enough time to get in an entire ab work out. Too bad this was the only one of the week….

Tuesday: 45-min. steady run unplanned rest day.

This looked like: sleeping in my bed. What should have been an easy recovery run after the Forfar 10km, was actually one long, much-needed, after-work nap.

I got home with enough time to have a short snooze before heading out to running group. I used the time alert feature on my old Garmin FR60 and set it to sound after 20 minutes. My head hit my pillow and I was basically dead to the world. After what felt like about 5 minutes of sleep, I suddenly woke to see my watch timer hit 53 minutes; it was 6:38pm and running group started at 6:30pm. I had missed it. I ran out to my car to retrieve my mobile phone, and called Amy to tell her I wasn’t going to make it. While I was speaking to her, I began feeling woozy and pins-and-needles-y. I took these both as a sign to go back to bed. I dozed until 7:15pm when the hunger pangs and imminent start of the Great British Bakeoff premiere coaxed me out of bed.


The busy days at work and busy weekends lately have left me totally zonked, and clearly I was in need of the sleep but also the rest. I’m still not sure if my time alerts actually went off and I didn’t hear them, or if I hadn’t set my watch properly. Regardless, I was grateful for the rest, and apparently Amy and Wendy were too because they called it a rest day as well.

Wednesday: rest day and day of gluttony #1 for the week. After another particularly tiring and crap day at work, I came home incredibly tired. Rather than cook, I suggested Pat and I go out for dinner, which let me inform you, is incredibly rare for us during the week. We took advantage of a gift from his parent’s, and went to the Creel Inn for a delicious meal.

Clockwise from top right: My raspberry beer; my chicken stuffed with mozzarella cheese and wrapped in prosciutto; our starter of Cajun prawns, and Pat’s Asian seabream with crab cakes

This was a good choice. I also was in bed, lights out by 9:45 that night. Clearly I needed more sleep.

Thursday: 10-min easy run, 2 x 10 mins of continuous hills at threshold (approx 45 secs up/45 secs down), 10-min easy run.

This looked like: a hybrid of Tuesday’s planned run and the above. I was going to try a progression run, where you start slow and each mile becomes progressively faster, but after a (nice) constructive pep talk from Amy, where she basically told me that I sell myself short when I race and settle for less than what I’m capable of, we turned it up a notch and basically did a threshold run at intervalled times. Amy and I discussed how through all this training we’ve totally gotten out of our comfort zones and embraced it, but it seems that when I race, starting out too fast aside, I’m admittedly too scared to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. It’s so true and something that I plan to write an entire post on.

With Amy’s support and encouragement, we continued this intervalled threshold pattern for the rest of the run, kicking it into full out effort up hills at the end. Because of this push and (nice) kick up the backside, I ran a new 5 mile PR of 46:19.

distance: 5.02 miles in 46:19, (9:10, 9:18, 9:01, 9:25, 9:16)

Friday: rest day and day of gluttony #2. To celebrate a very busy and stressful term at school, some of my colleagues and I went for a very indulgent meal at Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italian in Aberdeen. It was coincidentally pay day, so naturally we all treated ourselves to a three-course meal with drinks.

I started with arancini: balls of risotto and mozzarella, breaded and deep-fried, and served with a spicy tomato sauce:

For my main, my colleague Fiona and I split two meals; she ordered the Shetland Salmon:

And I had the Chicken Ragu with papardelle special:

Both were brilliant! I ended my supreme gluttony with a slice of chocolate-orange tiramisu with large dollop of orange mascarpone on top:

This meal was fantastic for food but also for company. I’m very lucky I work with such amazing and dedicated people, and although we can drive each other crazy at times, we stick together when things get tough. There was a time where I would’ve never have gone out with colleagues from my school, but now I’m the one who plans the outings (this time at least)!
Saturday: rest day and my father-in-law’s birthday lunch of beef brisket. I guess you could say this was also day #3 of gluttony, especially after 4 crackers topped with garlic and herb roulade during the cheese course!
Sunday: 80-mins easy/steady run.
This looked like: 89 minutes of running at conversation pace with Amy, average pace 10:35/mile
The haar was especially thick for this run and it made for some thick air to breathe. We also ran a similar route to two weeks ago but in reverse, which meant that the last three miles were undulating and uphill. I managed without any difficulty and used my new found uphill-running strategy of smaller strides to power up each hill and keep going. I also felt that by mile 7 I’d found my groove and could’ve easily continued.
After our run, I headed home to replenish and get ready for a nice ladies afternoon with Amy and Wendy up in Aberdeen. I tried a guacamole-ish sandwich topper for quick energy, a little protein and a filling-enough snack:

1 small avocado mashed with salt, pepper and garlic powder on top of multigrain (granary) bread. And a can of Pepsi! (also half a protein shake and a glass of skimmed chocolate milk).
We enjoyed a nice meal at Zizi’s in Union Square (gluttony #4!), then browsed the many stores in the mall. Too bad none of us took a photo!!!!!!
Areas of Strength:
– Feeling okay with missing a run: No part of me felt guilty about Tuesday night, I was more grateful for the extra rest and felt much better then next day.
– Getting enough sleep: despite it being a stressful week (which can lead to less sleep), I actually got more sleep this week and was in bed by 10:20pm at the latest each night. Pat on the back to moi.
– Noticeable improvements to my fitness: quicker easy run paces, quicker recovery and that running friend/foe Runger have all been noticed this week. At the end of Thursday night’s run, I hit a 6:28 pace for the last 10 seconds, which resulted in a max heart rate of 191 bpm; after a few minutes of cool down walking, it had dropped down to the high 130’s. Sunday’s run was effortless, despite the uphill end, and is a very encouraging sign. Finally, Runger has hit hard today! I woke up hungry, ate a snack between breakfast and morning snack, and have eaten two snacks tonight after my dinner of chicken chili with sweet potatoes and parsnip (added complex carbs to feel fuller longer), all because I keep feeling hungry! This is a good sign though, annoying yes, but good nonetheless.
– Basing pace on effort rather than time: my friend Sheila answered my pace-prayers this past week by posting this article to my facebook page. It talks about how to run your first half (or full) marathon by splitting it into three sections and running each section progressively faster. Looking ahead to future weeks of training, my programme is also preparing me for this.
Areas for Growth:
– Get that ab work done!!!!!! My only gripe of the week! I know a strong core will make me a better runner, what am I waiting for? This past week hasn’t been the most conducive for ab workouts, but this week (holiday week) should. I also read this article on why and how a strong core benefits runners, and pan to follow Lolo Jones’ workout (only 15 minutes) to better myself. Stay tuned!
– take some time to do nothing: so ready for this! We’ve had too many busy weekends and I’m in major need (and want) of doing nothing. We’re off to Oban this weekend for my husband’s triathlon debut, then we’re intentionally planning a few weekends of absolutely nothing, and coincidentally, absolute bliss 😉
I’m very happy with last week’s training and excited to see what the next few weeks bring! 
Do you do core strengthening? Have you noticed a difference?
What’s your most favourite restaurant right now?!?!?!
What’s your favourite post-long run replenishing snack?

One thought on “Half Mary Musings | Week 5

  1. Pingback: 2013: The Year that Was | I Eat Therefore I Run

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