Prep Phase Finale – Pittsburgh Half Marathon

I’m really slacking lately on the updating department. Two weeks have passed (and then some), but I’ve finally got around to talking about the rest of my “prep phase” for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon! Just like the rest of training, I’ve had a nice up and of course, a down.

Week 5 of 6
Monday – Rest [walking, basically forever]
Tuesday – 35 minutes w/ Dunkin
Wednesday – CrossFit
Thursday – Rest
Friday – Rest
Saturday – Rest [walking, forever again]
Sunday – 50 minutes easy

Week 6 of 6
Monday – 25 minutes w/ Dunkin
Tuesday – Leg Speed [10 x :30, with 1:00 recovery jog]
Wednesday – Rest
Thursday – Rest
Friday – 30 minutes w/ Dunkin
Saturday – 45 minutes w/ 2 “progression” miles
Sunday – 80 minutes long/hilly

The week after Lake Effect Half Marathon I felt a little under the weather. I was sore on Monday, but better as the week went on, until I started to feel sick. There was definitely something going around work and thankfully, I avoided the brunt of it, but I was still exhausted. Because of this, other than the CrossFit workout, I kept the rest of the week easy. There’s really nothing to write home about for those two runs.

That CrossFit workout was a lot of fun for me, though! We practiced rope climbs, handstand push-ups, and double unders. This time, I actually climbed a tiny bit of the rope and figured out a little more of the footwork. I’ve never tried a handstand push-up, so I knew I wouldn’t get close to that, but I got more comfortable with being upside down. The coach helped me lower onto my head for a negative handstand push-up, which was absolutely terrifying. After doing it once though, I realized I have more strength than I think. As far as double unders, I sucked. I did a lot better the last time I did them (which was the first time) though it was probably two months ago.

The actual workout was five rounds for time and a killer.
– 3 handstand push-ups [I did these with my knees on a box for modification]
– 8 deadlifts [65 lbs]
– 15 wall balls [14 lbs]
– 15 box jumps [I did step-ups at 24″, instead of 20″ jumps]

I finished in 14:31, for what it’s worth.

I knew I needed a good strength workout targeted towards running and this was perfect… and it was, but I pushed myself a little too much. It’s the first time I’ve done deadlifts at a weight I probably should be using (read: slightly challenging), as well as using the prescribed medicine ball weight (typically I used 10lb), and what really kicked my ass was the box jumps. I was stepping up TWO FEET tall. It didn’t seem that bad at first, but after the first set, I could feel it. I finished my rounds and had the worst leg cramp, which I’ve never experienced before. Talk about an odd feeling.

So while I was under the weather and resting for Thursday and Friday, my body was happy to hear it.

Now for the “up” part of the weeks; the final push for my prep phase was on point and a great kick off into race specific training.

Monday – 25 minutes with Dunkin
11:38 pace average/72% MHR
We actually did some fartleks! He doesn’t like to run next to me, so I could easily say something exciting like, “Good boy!” (or probably whatever you want with a high pitched inflection) and he’d start to pick-up his pace. If I came close to him, he’d run faster. After about :30, he’d gradually slow down until I said something else to him.

Tuesday – Leg Speed 
9:08 pace overall average/81% MHR
Leg speed pace average 5:35 pace (!!!!)
I had a half day, so I was able to get my workout in mid-afternoon. It was an odd time change, but I was happy to go to the cemetery and get it done. I switched my watch to count off 15 reps of :30 seconds fast, but manageable and 1:00 recovery. Unfortunately, it remembered my last time doing this and kept 10 reps. I didn’t even notice until about 7 reps in and at that point I was frustrated, but my legs were tired so I considered it a good thing. I was really happy with my splits here; for more than half my sets I was running sub 6:00 pace and it remained comfortable and controlled.

Wednesday and Thursday I rested. I honestly can’t remember what was going on these days that made me not do a thing, but apparently I didn’t.

Friday – 30 minutes with Dunkin
10:16 pace average/77% MHR
I took Dunkin out for a little run. I received some stressful news and wanted nothing other than to go knock out some speedwork, but Dunkin looked bored so away we went. It did end up helping a little bit!

Halfway up Mother Hill
Halfway up Mother Hill

Saturday – 45 minutes w/ 2 “progression” miles
8:41 pace average/81% MHR
I still felt stressed. In the afternoon I went out for an easy 50 minutes, but ended up just taking off like a bat out of hell. I didn’t want to slow down and I didn’t care that I was jeopardizing my long run. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. It helped and that’s all I can ask for!

Sunday – 80 minutes [hilly, long run]
9:45 pace average/78% MHR
It was pretty beautiful outside. It was still a little crisp, but warm enough for me to be okay with shorts at Chestnut Ridge. I wanted to run about 90 minutes. I did the first loop of the park, which is about 3 miles and just slightly hilly. My legs felt relatively refreshed. By the time I looped back to my car for some water, I had already decided to ditch one upper layer of clothing. After finishing the biggest downhill (okay, second, maybe third biggest) in the park, I found myself climbing rolling hills. I was not feeling it. I told myself to just make it out about another mile, that would put me at 5.5 for the day. It wouldn’t be the best thing, but I was running hills so it was reasonable. I hit that mile and figured I could stand another half mile. I played this game, eventually making it all the way to Mother Hill, which is an awful, awful climb. I had to stop twice on the way up. It’s a 3/4 mile 200′ climb, but the first quarter mile is mild at just 50′. You then gain 150′ over the next half mile. So, I did that and turned around feeling really happy I made it to the point I planned the night prior and could just cruise for 3 miles back to the car. I was absolutely toast on the way back, though.

I have an upcoming 8k race that should have decent weather this weekend if the rain holds off.  The last time I ran this race, it was in the ‘teens but we’re looking at 50s this time around.  The last 5 mile race I ran was at 8:05 pace and it was hilly; that was at the beginning of January.  So I’m a little unsure of what I can accomplish on a flat course two months later, but I’d like to go under 39:00.  My PR is 38:13, so I would be ecstatic if I could come close.  I think I’ll re-evaluate my progress and my goal for Pittsburgh after Saturday’s race, unless my legs are trashed and I have a reason for a poor performance… but we’re trying to avoid that.


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

5 thoughts on “Prep Phase Finale – Pittsburgh Half Marathon”

  1. Nice job!! You’ve had a great prep phase. I think you are going to do very well in the 5 miler, especially with all of the strength training you’ve been doing with Crossfit! I still have yet to try that. It looks so harrrrddd!!!


  2. You’ve done so good with consistency and getting the prep/base/build in. I think you definitely are going to have a great race this weekend at the 8k and certainly will beat January’s time!


  3. Those cross fit workouts sound like great training for the hills you’ll face in Pittsburg and so does that Mother Hill from your long run! The major hill by me is similar in length (the half mile portion) and a good 50′ less steep than your hill and it kills me every time I run it. Good luck in your race this weekend!


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