Pittsburgh Half Training: Week 6

Happy Sunday! Today is this blog's one-year anniversary! I'm so glad I started this blog because I've gotten to know so many awesome people in the running community, both virtually and in person. I'm grateful to everyone who stops by to read about my running journey, and I'm especially grateful to so many of you who have probably done more than you know to motivate and inspire me by offering advice, support, or just a friendly note over the past year. Thank you! 

And now, we must talk weather. The weather in Pittsburgh, like much of the country, was brutal again this past week, with temps and wind chills below 0, snow, and ice. Despite that, I got another great week of training in, and it's given me a huge boost of confidence. My runs in wind chill advisories and deep snow are fuel for race day. If I can run in these conditions, if I can beat Mother Nature, then I'm going to crush my goals for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon.

Week 6 Grade: A+

40 minutes total body strength training
45 minutes yin yoga, spine series

Easy run: 4 miles, 50:57 minutes, 12:44 pace
It was 8 degrees when I went out. Like I said on Daily Mile, it's a sad state of affairs when 8 degrees feels warm to me, after the negative temps and wind chills on Sunday. I did wear my face mask but was comfy. I set my Garmin to show heart rate instead of pace like I usually do on easy runs to make sure I'm not going too fast. I ran across some bridges and around the stadiums, and the sidewalks were mostly clear.
Sad that this is my typical run outfit most days--windproof jacket
& pants over other warm layers & face mask.
In the evening I did hip strengthening exercises and a few minutes of yoga poses and gentle stretches.

Mile repeats: 5.15 miles, 58:39
It was 15 degrees and felt like summer, ha ha! Seriously, I do fear that all this cold weather is going to completely ruin me for running in hot weather. I already have problems running in heat and humidity. Am I going to be dying when it gets over 50 degrees??? The sidewalks were mostly clear around the stadiums, so I was able to focus on my pace instead of dodging ice. I had three mile repeats on the schedule with a 10:10 target pace or less, with .25 miles of recovery between. I wanted to run the repeats faster than I did last time, and I had no problem doing that and hitting good paces. Splits were 10:03, 9:36, and 9:47. I tacked on easy miles for warm-up and cool-down. I was really happy with this run.

In the evening I did the Core Yoga video from Runner's World.

Easy run: 4.3 miles, 51:06, 11:53 pace
It was 1 degree with a "feels like" temp of -12 when I went out in the morning. Schools were closed or delayed because of wind chill advisories. I wasn't too worried about the cold because it was just an easy run and I wasn't trying to hit hard paces. But I also knew that with running slowly I wouldn't heat up as much, so I told myself I could cut the run short if it was too cold. I had four miles on the schedule, and shortly after I headed out realized I forgot to put on my warmest gloves. So my fingers were really cold at first until I warmed up after about a mile. Then I was comfy since I had on all my windproof layers. I headed across the 16th Street Bridge and into Downtown on Penn Avenue, then headed back, through the Strip until about 25th Street and then back. (Shame on all the Strip businesses that didn't clear their sidewalks!) Not only was I comfortable enough not to cut my run short, but I misjudged my turnaround point and went a little longer and was fine. What's funny about this run is that I again had my Garmin set to heart rate, and my pace was much faster than usual at the same low heart rate, with one 10:17 mile. I assume it had something to do with it being so cold, but it's interesting how pace and heart rate vary so much depending on conditions and how your body is feeling.
The cold was worse looking at my phone than it was running in it.

In the evening I did 40 minutes of strength training.

Rest day! I just did the hip exercises and some yoga poses and gentle stretches.

Pace run: 7 miles, 1:26:14
It was 19 degrees when I took my dog for a walk before my run, and I was hot! Like, I was sweating. The cold weather is ruining my sense of hot and cold!!! So I wore pretty much the bare minimum I could on my run because I knew I'd heat up quickly. I wore just a lightweight long sleeve top and tights under my rain jacket and pants. The snow wasn't supposed to start until around 10, but it started much earlier, was very wet, and came down with a vengeance. Because it was so wet, I put duct tape on my shoes to try to keep my feet dry. By the time I headed out, there was over an inch of snow on the ground. I was scheduled for 4.5 miles at race pace (11:00). During my warm-up mile, I didn't have high hopes for hitting my pace because none of the sidewalks or roads were clear, and it was tough going. But my first mile at race pace was surprisingly doable. My heart rate was where it should have been (average 154), my form was good, and I felt good. Split was 11:00, right on target. The second mile also wasn't bad. Split was 11:05. By the third mile, the snow had gotten deeper, and I felt myself working much harder. Split was 11:11, but my heart rate was way up to 168. My max heart rate is 179, and I knew that my effort was much more than it should be for race pace. I knew that the snow was slowing me down and making me work harder. So going into the fourth mile, I let myself slow down and tried to run what I felt was race pace effort instead of trying to keep to an 11:00 pace. At that point, the snow was very deep--three or four inches--and it was like trying to run through sand. Split was 11:48. I was considering cutting my run and not doing the last half-mile since I wasn't doing race pace, but I didn't let myself quit and kept trying to run at what felt like race pace. Final split was 5:47 (11:38 pace). Again I misjudged my turnaround point--this time by a lot--and ended up running a half-mile more for a cool-down than I planned. This is my first run in this training cycle where I couldn't hit my paces, but I did my best and am overall happy that I put in the effort and didn't quit.
Duct taped my shoes for a wet, snowy run. It helps!

Last week it was really tough to do my strength training right after my run. This time, I came home, changed out of my we wet clothes, stretched, ate big lunch, and then rested for a while before I did strength training. That seemed to work well, and I had enough energy to complete 30 minutes of strength.

Long run: 9 miles, 1:52:15, 12:28 pace
The sidewalks by my house were all icy when I took my dog for a walk in the morning, so I hoped North Park would be better. They are usually great with road maintenance. Not this time! I met Amanda and immediately saw what we were in for: lots of wet, messy slush. Amanda was running 15 miles, so we looped around the lake. It was tough going in some parts with all the slush, but it was better than running in deep snow like yesterday. Plus, it wasn't icy and the temps were actually decent for a change--29! It was also nice to see familiar faces--Mike and Nichole--running past. It was a good run, with the miles flying by as always and no real problems, but my shoes and socks were soaked when I was done. My feet weren't wet because my socks are super-wicking, but my feet felt like they weighed 10 pounds a piece because they were so wet. I should have duct taped my shoes!

After the run I did the Recovery Yoga video from Runner's World.

Winter has decided to stick around for at least one more week, as it's supposed to be another very cold week. I guess I won't put my face mask away just yet. Stay warm, everyone, and have a good week running and working out!

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