2016 Goal Race(s) Decided

I think I may have jumped the gun on my off-season training post.  It’s hard to have an off-season training plan when you have yet to solidify what your goals are for the upcoming racing season.  Nothing much has changed, I’m still toying with different training methods, but I felt like I couldn’t concentrate on an off-season until I knew what my off-season was preparing me to do.  So what else did I have left to do but pick my goal and my goal race! [Remember that time I said I’d wait before hopping on the “next race” train?]

Pittsburgh Half Marathon.  Sub 1:40.Pittsburgh Half marathon

Less than a mile to go! (This is where I learned I still heel strike.)

My half marathon PR (1:42) is over two years old because I haven’t been able to truly race a half marathon since setting it.  In fact, at the time of the Pittsburgh Half, it’ll be about a month shy of being a 3 year old PR.  Maybe it’s a lofty goal since my recent times haven’t come close, but I’ve only been training to finish the distance in one piece.  (A giant double middle finger up to my posterior tibialis and my glutes!)  It’s time to train to race the distance again.  And boy, do I love the half marathon distance.

Pittsburgh has been an idea in the back of my head since J and I were accidentally there for a mini-vacation during the race.  It’s a city I love to be in and it’s one of those places that are close enough, but far away.  So I spent Thursday night reading all the race recaps I could find and analyzing the elevation profile before finally deciding.  Then Friday morning on payday, after putting some more money down on my credit card (yikes), I spent just as much registering for the race, booking a couple nights in a hotel, and signing up for the Buffalo Half.

pittsburgh half elevationPittsburgh isn’t totally flat, which might scare some people from choosing it as a goal race, but I tend to thrive on elevation changes.  Hills have always been a strong suit of mine since my cross country days in high school.  I recall doing repeats on a hill near us where as soon as our heart rate was down into target range after the first set, we’d go right back up.  My heart rate was always back in target range within seconds and I was running up the hill faster than many of the guys on the team.  Believe me, this isn’t a humble brag about being faster than the guys (definitely wasn’t), but hills were just my thing.  I had some success using heart rate training before a hilly race and paying attention during it to knock out a time I didn’t know I was capable of.  There’s something my body and mind loves about shifting gears with the flow of the elevation.  Flat and fast?  Not for me.  Running strategically because of terrain?  So me.

Then there’s Buffalo.  It’s a race I feel obligated to do because it’s literally outside my door.  I run these roads every single day.  I know each and every step of that course like the back of my hand.  It holds my PR.  I signed up partially because it’s a tradition for me at this point, much like the Turkey Trot 8k, but also because I’m going to want a second try if Pittsburgh isn’t my day.  Or maybe if Pittsburgh is my day, a second try to PR again.  I know, I know, I’m getting way ahead of myself here.

marathon runner injuryIt’s a little intimidating to talk about next year’s plans right now.  Each time I’ve tried to focus on “next” after having a successful “now”, something has gone wrong — injuries, work, you name it.  I just have this vision in my head of how much better I could be if I keep the momentum and base I have from marathon training using it to build off it for next Spring.  It’s totally uncharted territory for me — even back in high school, I took all winter off.  I’d be silly to not be excited about the possibilities.

Run all the racesWhat’s more terrifying about these two races is that they are just a month apart from each other.  Since 2012, I have run just one half marathon per year because of all those aforementioned things going wrong.  This year is the exception because I ran one half and then a full marathon.  Had I not been so nervous about the ice at Lake Effect this year and stressing my tendonitis, I would have finished, but injury free is the way to be.  So 2016?  I have planned THREE half marathons.  Some of you guys can knock them out like it’s nothing, but my mileage has never been able to handle that.  It’s time to change that.

It feels good to put something on my calendar again that’s a goal for the sake of hitting a certain time, rather than a distance.  Don’t get me wrong — I’m so happy that I ran the marathon and went through the training.  It was a much needed confidence booster and something I need to get myself ready for the goals I want to achieve… the thought of seeing 1:3x on that clock, though.


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Just a 20-something homegrown Buffalo sports loving, distance running, gin drinking kind of girl.

14 thoughts on “2016 Goal Race(s) Decided”

  1. Nice! Having an actual race, (or in your case 3!) definitely helps give purpose to the time in between. I still can’t seem to commit to any plans for the spring, but really feel like I need a tangible race to focus on. When do you plan to start officially training for them?


    1. Lake Effect will be a race I just make sure I’m up to running, it’s usually snowy so it’s just for fun! But I’ll probably start training for Pittsburgh officially at the beginning of February? I’m aiming for 12-14 solid weeks with a 2 week taper. Buffalo is going to be an afterthought 🙂


  2. Great goals! My half PR is also 1:42, and I am definitely itching to see a 1:3X half in my future. But I’m trying to staying realistic. It took me quite a few tries to break 1:45 so I expect it to be a year or two before I break 1:40. Can’t wait to follow your training (and steal some ideas for my own training 🙂 ).


    1. Thanks! I’ll be sure to share all the details 😉 sub 1:40 is super scary! Getting to 1:42 was a huge PR I didn’t expect (15 minutes between half 1 and 2) so I have no idea if I can even come close to 1:42 or not again. After not training to actually race in so long it’s a huge leap of faith!


      1. I did something similar with my first two halves: 2:00 to 1:48. It was such a surprise and such a huge improvement that I was like “breaking 1:45 will be easy.” Hahaha! 5 half marathons later I finally managed it. I’m preparing myself for 1:40 to take me just as long.


      2. Hahaha I probably should have thought about the fact that dropping another 2 minutes won’t come as easy as I’m hoping. I was aiming for 1:50-1:55 but figured only 1:55 was reasonable so my first few miles were sloooow. I assumed that I bagged enough time that I could aim for 1:40, but maybe bagging that time is what actually saved me?!


      3. I would just train like 1:40 is an option and see what happens on race day. As long as you aren’t training so hard that you end up injured, what is the worst that happens? You miss your goal and have to pick a race in a few months to try again. Best case scenario: sweet new PR!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I hear PGH is an awesome race. I think you will have a good shot at cracking your PR there! I think if your training mimics the course elevation, whatever the course throws at you won’t matter. Great pick!


    1. I’ve heard nothing but good about people from twitter who’ve run PGH. I have some good hills I can drive to around here and I PRd on a winter of long runs in the snow on them, so I’m hoping this year that’ll be the same!

      Liked by 1 person

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