Last weekend, my friend Jenna and I ran our first ever half-marathon: the Henry’s Hope Verrazano Festival of Races Half Marathon (13.1 miles).
We didn’t stop running the entire time, which was my goal (unless you count the one second we stopped so I could take off my hoodie and take a sip of water, once the sun finally came out towards the end). We finished in 2:27:37, which gave us an 11:16 pace per mile; not terribly impressive, but for our first-ever half-marathon, I was excited to finish in under two and a half hours! We also stayed together the whole time, which we were happy about. We actually chatted most of the time, which I didn’t expect. Here is a picture Kiyo snapped of us at the finish line; we don’t even look too tired!
Going into it that Saturday morning, I admit that I was very nervous. I used this novice 2 training plan by Hal Higdon (for runners who fall between beginner and intermediate levels), but had to modify it quite a bit as a I went along and honestly didn’t feel prepared by the time the race rolled around. Shockingly, on race day I didn’t feel as depleted / exhausted at the end as I expected, and I didn’t even feel too sore that night or the next few days (don’t get me wrong, I was sore, just not as badly as I imagined I would be).
If you click on my above [modified] plan, you can view it larger and you’ll notice that not only did I take trips to Boston (February 20-24) and St. Thomas (March 21-25) during my training period, but awful East Coast weather as well as a few bouts of sickness set me back.
I knew as I went along with my 11-week training program that I really wasn’t sticking to it closely, so a few days after the race, I decided to do a real comparison of what I intended to accomplish each week, versus what I actually accomplished.
In the above graph, I compare miles planned (MILES P) versus miles completed (MILES C), as well as cross-training sessions and rest days. The main takeaways are:
- MILES: Overall, I ran 57.2 miles fewer than planned, but I still ran 131.1 miles in 11 weeks, averaging about 12 miles per week. That is close to the race length each week, which worked out pretty well for me. I think if I’d gone under 12 miles per week, I would have been much less prepared on race day. Before this training period, I’d already been running 5-15 miles per week, but it varied significantly week to week.
- CROSS TRAINING: Since I’m very passionate about my yoga practice, and had an endless supply of free passes to CYC (a full-body-workout spin class), I did much more cross training than planned. I did 25 yoga classes/sessions over the 11 weeks, and at one point Kiyo joked, “I hope you can stretch your way through those last few miles of the half-marathon!” I truly believe that this extra cross-training is what helped me through the half-marathon, though. Yoga provides intense stretching and strength training, and improves balance and posture, all of which I think contributed to my running success. CYC helped my cardio and endurance routine stay on track, especially since I didn’t run as much as planned. It also really worked my leg, arm and stomach muscles in a way that I’m not used to, and this extra strength probably helped on race day.
- REST DAYS: I took way too many rest days; 8 more than planned (that totals more than a full week off, whoops!). Again, I blame this on getting sick a few times. I knew that if I worked out while sick, it would take me much longer to recover, so I didn’t. A few of these extra rest days were due to my two trips, but I went on two runs during my four-day trip to the Caribbean, which I was proud of!
And now back to eyechow’s usual subject: FOOD!
On race day I was up by 6 AM, and I began fueling up with some instant black coffee and a very small smoothie: coconut water, lemon juice, wheat grass powder, frozen kale and frozen strawberries.
Since I figured the beverages could have been no more than 200 calories, and I was about to burn almost 1,300, next I had half of this small container of overnight oats (they don’t look pretty, but they were delicious!). The portion I ate included 1/4 cup of old-fashioned oats, 2 tbsp. vanilla cream, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a few raisins. Usually I would use almond milk, but we ran out and I needed to consume quite a few calories anyways; hence the cream. I estimated this was about another 200 calories.
At about 6:40 AM, Kiyo and I hopped in the car and drove to Brooklyn. We parked a couple blocks from the start/finish line, and as we walked to the race, I ate a cookie dough Quest Bar (another 200 calories). I also drank water throughout the morning to stay hydrated.
During the run, Jenna and I both snacked on GU Chomps (another 100 calories) and afterwards, I grabbed about a quarter of a bagel with butter (they were handing them out for free) because I was starting to get hungry again. Major takeaway from the event: it’s crazy how carefully you have to plan everything for a long run / race! Everything from your shoes, clothes, calories intake, snacks, hydration, training, transportation, etc. must be carefully thought out beforehand to ensure success. I’m happy to say we pulled it all off without a hitch!
We crossed the finish line at 11 AM and by noon, we were sitting at Rye in Williamsburg, with a bunch of friends who came out to celebrate with us. One friend brought me deep-fried Oreo’s and I have to admit, I had two before my meal even arrived, they were so good! Rye has adorable vintage decor and a great brunch atmosphere – busy and energetic but not too loud or crowded – and the delicious food was reasonably priced (the cocktails were overpriced though, I thought).
I ordered the Rye Benedict but substituted pork belly for regular bacon. It came with mixed greens and potatoes that were like a mix between home fries, hash browns and mashed potatoes. They were really odd and a bit bland, but I did enjoy the crispy exterior.
Served on a buttermilk biscuit and topped with Hollandaise, this might have been one of the best eggs Benedict I’ve ever had! It was the perfect celebratory meal – accompanied by a champagne cocktail, of course!
Location: 247 S 1st St. Brooklyn, NY 11211 Phone: (718) 218-8047