Fueling the Half

I mentioned before that for this half I planned to have a fueling strategy. For the Disney Half, I didn’t really attempt any eating on the run. I was handed a vanilla Clif Shot at an aid station on the course, which I tried, but found it way too sweet and couldn’t finish it. Therefore it didn’t help me much when I felt like I couldn’t possibly run any more come mile 9-10. After suffering through a very hungry 12.5 mile run in this training cycle and experiencing a similar (actually, worse) my-legs-won’t-move feeling, I resolved to fuel!

running gels and chews

(First of all, I would like to say, I finally found the list of water/GU stations for the half. Just as my research showed, they would be providing GU at only one point on the half course, and way after I would need it, so I’m glad I decided to figure out how to do this on my own.)

I went down to Fleet Feet one weekday afternoon. I’m usually very salesperson-avoidant, but I was the only customer in the store and, since I didn’t really know anything about gels, I welcomed the help from the employee.

I told him about my experience with the vanilla Clif Shot, so he recommended that I try some fruit-based gels, instead of the vanilla and chocolate flavored ones. This is probably not something I would have done normally because chocolate and I are in a very close relationship. Then I recalled that piece of chocolate I ate during the Hot Chocolate 15k and decided he was right. Maybe sweet stuff and I just don’t get along while running.

They carried quite a few brands of gels in the store, and I was a little overwhelmed with what to try. I went for the classic GU, which is the brand most races seem to actually hand out on the course, and the employee recommended Huma, which he said was thinner and seemed to go down easier.

I also grabbed a bag of GU Chomps, which are essentially gummy things, just in case I had an aversion to gels period.

GU gels

GU gels

On my 14 mile run, I tried out the tri-berry at mile 5. It surprisingly tasted really good! I don’t know what I was expecting, but it was pretty yummy. It was thick, though, and I needed a lot of water to get it all down. Then the aftertaste hung around for another mile, which wasn’t great, so I kept drinking more water to try to get rid of it. I wouldn’t have access to this much water on the course, so I had to keep that in mind.

I went for the peanut butter on mile 5 of my next 12.5 mile run. I highly recommend this one if you are a fan of peanut butter. Tasted just like it, but didn’t stick to the roof of your mouth. Again, though, it was thick and I needed quite a bit of water to wash it all down. If that doesn’t bother you, then I recommend the GUs, as I felt they were both slightly tastier than the Humas (although filled with a lot of artificial ingredients, if that bothers you).

Huma gels

Huma gels

I tried these at the 10 mile point on my longer runs. The first one was the blueberry one on my 14 mile run. It was okay. It was thinner than the GU, as the Fleet Feet employee had promised. The Huma gels are all-natural and infused with chia seeds, which I liked, but the flavor wasn’t quite as good. Maybe I’m just used to artificial flavoring.

I went for the strawberry one on my 12.5 mile run. I did like it better than the blueberry. I also liked that since they were thinner, I could down the whole package and then wash it all down with some water quickly. Not like the GUs where I felt I needed to eat some, then drink, then eat, then drink, which I could see being very hard in race conditions. Thus I decided to go with the strawberry Huma for the Country Music Half.

GU Chomps

GU chomps

I actually liked these a lot–to munch on before I started running. I got the watermelon flavor, and, while they weren’t really flavorful, I liked eating one or two just before my run to make sure my energy levels were up at the beginning. I will probably carry a couple of these with me as well to eat in the corral.

I never really tried eating them on the run. I was supposed to on my 15k progressive run, but since that didn’t ever really happen, I just ended up munching on all of them before runs.

Anyone got a favorite gel they really like?

Week of 4/7/14 – 4/13/14: Country Music Half Training, Week 13

Only two weeks to go! I’m officially in TAPER! YAYAYAYAY!

This week required some juggling around. I had tickets to the Preds game on Thursday night, so I knew I needed to move my longer goal pace interval run, therefore I ended up doing it Wednesday. Then I had to bump Wednesday’s easy run to either Tuesday or Friday. My legs were so sore from the weekend still, I decided to do it Tuesday. Thus I bumped my goal pace run to Friday. Confused, yet?

week of 4/7/14 to 4/13/14


Three miles easy. I had errands to run after work (the cats need to eat!) and it was supposed to storm, so I didn’t make it out to the group run. I did manage to finish my three miles right as it was starting to sprinkle. I did 5:2 intervals and had no problems.


The speed workout this week wasn’t really working on speed, per se. Just goal pace intervals. So nothing much faster than goal pace this week! (Well, except for when I accidentally go faster.) The plan said to do 3 sets of 2 miles at goal pace, so not too bad, just a longer than normal middle-of-the-week run.

When I started out, I kind of hated life. The first two miles seemed to drag on forever. I remember glancing down at my watch to check my pace at one point and being in complete shock that it hadn’t even been a mile. I averaged 11:36 min/mi for those two miles.

After my (short) two minute walking break, I started on the next two miles. Although this was the hilliest section of my route, I managed to do them a little faster, averaging 11:04 min/mi, which is actually slightly faster than goal pace.

I was feeling pretty good by the start of my third set and bounded off under an 11 min/mi. At one point, I passed a couple ladies walking and apparently scared them because one of them screamed. I apologized and yelled out, “I must be lighter on my feet than I thought!” I forget how quiet my Skechers are sometimes. I averaged 10:56 min/mi for those two miles.

It basically ended up being about half the distance of the half (6.6 miles total, including my warmup). Water stations are about every 1.5 miles on the course, so in some ways it simulated running goal pace and then breaking for water. Overall, it gave me a confidence boost for the half since I felt so good during it!

I did have quite a bit of knee pain starting around 4 miles in, which is weird because I haven’t been experiencing any on my long runs lately. I don’t know if it’s due to the shoes I was wearing or the fact that I was taking less walk breaks.


Woohoo, go, Preds! Finally got to see a shut out this season. 🙂


I went out right after work to do four miles at goal pace. But it started off rough when I got to the trailhead of the greenway to find the water fountain was gone. I hope they plan on putting another one in its place, because that was literally the only water fountain on the entire greenway. So I started out low on water.

In addition, I had been experiencing terrible allergies all day so I was doped up on allergy medicine. My head was not into running at all. I’d say this was one of the mentally toughest runs I’ve done all cycle. I made it through the four miles. And I did it at an average of goal pace, but I walked about three times.


I started out Saturday early by volunteering at the Moosic City Purity Dairy Dash. I was set up at the 10k pre-registration table, handing out bibs. I saw several people I knew, which was nice. I look forward to volunteering at more races in the future!

Afterwards, I went on a five mile run. Since I was already in town, I went over to Centennial Park. There was apparently some sort of walk going on, so I would run until I came upon the massive group of walkers taking up the whole path, then turn around until I ran into them in the other direction. This was supposed to be an easy run, but I started out too fast and it was hot, so I got worn out. I ended up doing fartleks for about a mile through miles 3 and 4 before finishing it out with an easy last mile.


This week I was supposed to do a progressive 15k for my long run. This means each 5k was supposed to be faster than the one before. I had decided to do the first 5k easy (12-12:30 min/mi), the second 5k at the slower end of my goal range (11:30-12 min/mi), and the final 5k at the faster end of my goal range (11-11:30 min/mi). (Goal pace is 11:30 min/mi.)

Except I didn’t make it out until after 11am and it was very HOT. I did two miles and called it quits. I then drove to the gym to finish it out, but they weren’t open. Oh well. I tried. I would have gone out later when it cooled off a bit and the sun wasn’t so high in the sky as to not provide shade anywhere, but I had tickets to see “Wicked” with Amanda. So I guess my taper started a little earlier than planned. Oops.

(Please don’t let it be 80 degrees for the half. Please.)

Summer 5k and 10k training!

I am going to be so happy when half marathon training is over. As I stated in my goals for this year, I want to focus on decreasing my 5k time. So after the Country Music Half, I’m going to take a couple weeks off to run how I want and then get started on that goal! To assist me in this, I’ve drafted up the following training plan. It’s based a lot on a couple of Hal Higdon’s training plans, specifically his Intermediate 5k and Intermediate 10k programs, with some changes (like I added hill repeats because I’m a glutton for punishment). The final result is a 16 week program, running a race every fourth week, with a 10k being the last one.

Week Speed Work 3mi Easy Run 3-6mi Easy Run 3-6mi Easy/GP Run Long Run/Race
05.12-05.18 6x400m 5k pace 3mi 3mi 3mi 5mi
05.19-05.25 30 min tempo 3mi 3mi 3mi 5mi
05.26-06.01 6x short hill repeats 3mi 3mi 3mi 10k pace 6mi
06.02-06.08 7x400m 5k pace 3mi 3mi rest Barrel Fest 5mi*
06.09-06.15 35 min tempo 3mi 4mi 4mi 6mi
06.16-06.22 7x short hill repeats 3mi 4mi 4mi 7mi
06.23-06.29 8x400m 5k pace 3mi 4mi 4mi 10k pace 7mi
06.30-07.06 40 min tempo 3mi 4mi rest Music City July 4th 5k
07.07-07.13 8x short hill repeats 3mi 5mi 5mi 6mi
07.14-07.20 9x400m 5k pace 3mi 5mi 5mi 6mi
07.21-07.27 45 min tempo 3mi 5mi 5mi 10k pace 7mi
07.28-08.03 4x long hill repeats 3mi 5mi rest Smyrna Parks 5k
08.04-08.10 10x400m 5k pace 3mi 6mi 6mi 7mi
08.11-08.17 50 min tempo 3mi 6mi 6mi 8mi
08.18-08.24 5x long hill repeats 3mi 6mi 6mi 8mi
08.25-09.01 6x400m 5k pace 3mi 3mi rest Franklin Classic 10k

* The “Barrel Fest 5mi” is on there because I couldn’t find a 5k I liked that weekend. I did, however, find an interesting sounding 5 mile run, so my current plan is to run the miles in intervals: first mile at 5k pace, second mile at tempo, third mile at 5k pace, fourth mile at tempo, fifth mile at 5k pace. I am probably fooling myself to think I have that much control during an actual race. 😉

Pace Times:
5k goal pace: 09:00-09:30 min/mi
10k goal pace: 10:00-10:30 min/mi
Tempo: 10:30-11:30 min/mi
Easy: 12:00-12:30 min/mi
Jog: 13:00+ min/mi

Super Mario 5k

I came across this interesting article on Mental Floss that posed the question, “How far does Mario run in the original Super Mario Bros. game?

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

Calculating Mario’s non-mushroomed height as that of a normal man, they determined that the route from the starting position to saving Princess Peach at the final castle, using no warp zones or bonus areas was…3.4 miles.

Really? That’s it? Then why does it take so freaking long to beat the game? I can run that in less than 40 minutes, and I am slow. Granted, I don’t have to stomp on goombas and avoid hammer brothers, but still. You’d think Mario would be faster than me. Even with the bonus areas, he only runs 3.7 miles. If you include the swimming levels, he swims an additional 476 meters total, including bonus areas.

According to a speed demos website, the fastest speed run of Super Mario Bros. including all levels and no warp zones is 19:40, which is 5:47 min/mi pace (or actually faster, considering that includes swimming levels and the time it takes to jump on a flag and go to the next screen). So maybe I am just slow in all areas of life.

Week of 3/31/14 – 4/6/14: Country Music Half Training, Week 12

week of 3/31/14 to 4/6/14


So this was a weird one. First of all, it was the first 80 degree day we’d had this year. So it was warm, and I’m, obviously, not acclimated to running in warmer temperatures yet. I went to go run with the Mt. Juliet Flyers, and I immediately started my warmup too fast. As in, I started it at goal pace. So since I was already going that speed, I just ended the warmup period on my watch and started the three miles.

My calves were SO tight. This was not a comfortable run by any means. Between my legs and the heat, I was not having any fun.

Around one mile in, I looked at my watch to see my pace. It said I was around 11:45 min/mi, which is the minimum for goal pace. So I sped up a bit.

Let me talk for a minute about the way my Garmin works. So, normally, if you just go out on a run just hitting start, it automatically counts each mile as your splits. And when you look at your pace it is displaying your average for that split. So when you go from mile 1 to mile 2, your average starts over.

I had pre-programmed my watch to do a workout. This means that I told it I wanted to 3 miles between a certain pace (11:15-11:45) and it was supposed to beep if I went outside that zone. However, what I forgot is that when you set it up like that, the entire three miles is one split, not three. So the average doesn’t reset every mile.

I forgot this. So on the second mile when I looked at my pace, I was discouraged when it said I was going 11:38 min/mi and I felt like I was running faster. Because I was, but it was averaged into the 11:45 first mile. This became even more discouraging on mile three. I had caught up with one of the ladies I typically do intervals with, and told her I was going to run with her through the next interval. Except she apparently decided this was a challenge. I felt like I was running at breakneck speed, but my watch said I was averaging 10:50 min/mi. I was actually running around 8:45 min/mi. As you might imagine, I wore myself out and had to walk for 30 seconds to catch my breath about a quarter mile from the end. Boo!

Once I got home and looked at my data, I figured all this out, of course. Because the entire run (3 miles + my piddling warmup) averaged 11:00 min/mi, which is faster than goal pace. *facepalm*


I started out Wednesday’s run with the realization that there was a rock stuck in the bottom of my shoe that I couldn’t remove. That really just sums up the whole run. I decided to do 5:2 intervals to keep it easy, and that was too much. My calves were so tight, running felt like torture. I began to wonder if I overtrained the week before. I was worried about my legs still being tight or possibly injuring myself before Saturday’s race, so I ended up cutting the run half short at 1.5 miles.


Thursday wasn’t any better than Wednesday. My speed workout was supposed to be 1600m (or 1 mile) 5k pace with 400m recovery. I didn’t make it out to the track with the group because (a) I was scared that my legs were going to be tight and I wasn’t going to be able to finish and (b) I spent an hour after work talking to Amanda on the phone. So I just went out to the park. My legs definitely felt tight on the warmup, but I started my first 5k pace interval okay. However, I had to stop after 0.7 miles. It just hurt too much. I walked/jogged my 400m, then tried to start up again. No go. I walked it out a little more, then tried again. Nope. My right calf was bothering me something awful, and it felt like it could possibly snap at any moment. I decided not to risk injury and cut it short.


After a relaxing rest day on Friday, I woke up bright and early for the Richland Creek Run. Full recap to follow, but it went well despite that my calves still felt a little sore. I ended up finishing the 5 miles with an average 10:19 min/mi pace and no walk breaks other than two brief water station stops. Woohoo!


I hadn’t been thinking about Sunday’s 12.5 miles all week, since I had been so focused on my race. Therefore, it almost felt like a shock to me when I woke up and remembered that I had my last double-digit run before the half. I got all my stuff together and headed out to East Nashville, with the intention of doing half on the flat Shelby Bottoms greenway and half on the much hillier Stones River greenway, which join together.

It started out rough. I kept to my 5:2 intervals, but it was hard because I was so sore from the race the day before. Just after my turnaround point on the Stones River greenway, I ate my peanut butter Gu (which I recommend if you like chowing down on peanut butter–tastes just like it but without the stickiness). Then I made a pit stop at a bench because the toe ring on my right foot felt like it was bruising me and I needed to rotate it. It’s weird; people always ask if my toe rings bother me when I run, but I can honestly say I’ve never felt either of them until this run.

I felt a little better after my Gu, although I hadn’t really been hungry to start with. I made my way back to Shelby Bottoms, which included a trip up the steepest hill that I think exists on any greenway anywhere. I really hate that hill and that’s only the second time I’ve ever run up it. I was thankful when it was time for a walk break when I reached the top.

stones river greenway hill

No photo could accurately show how long or steep this hill is.

The rest of the run was pretty uneventful, just tiring. I ate a strawberry Huma after mile 10, which I think is going to be my gel of choice in the half because it went down so easy.

Just one more long run before the half!