The Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend is less than 6 weeks away! As a matter of fact, the Expo will be 5 weeks from this coming Thursday! Yikes! Can you believe it? There are only two more back-to-back long run weekends before I will be lining up to start the 2014 Disneyland 10K. This is my second go-around for the Dumbo Double Dare. Last year, I was an unofficial Dumbo Double Dare runner. That just means, I ran the races but didn’t get the extra bling. This year, I’ll be officially a Dumbo Double Dare runner! After finishing that 11 mile run this past Sunday, I feel like I’ve got a pretty good idea what to expect of myself come Labor Day Weekend.
They say that you should not compare yourself with other runners. Although, it seems like everyone does from time to time. For those of us who aren’t the elites, we are never running to actually win the races we enter. We’re in competition with ourselves. So, in setting up an expectation for myself, it seems appropriate to compare this year against last year.
First things first. The above graphic illustrates just how different I’ve been in regards to training for this year’s Dumbo Double Dare vs. Last year. As you can see, last year, I got off to a rock star type of training. Seven of the first ten weeks, I completed all 5 workouts scheduled. On the three weeks that I failed to do this, I finished four workouts. Week eleven was my least active week of training. This year, I have only completed 5 workouts one week of the first 12 weeks. As a matter of fact, in the first 12 weeks, I’ve completed 4 or more workouts only 5 times. This year, the training got off to a rocky start with three, 2 workout weeks in a row. The first week, however, was the week of the OC Half Marathon. So, in those two workouts (both training runs), I put in more miles than the same week the year before.
What can I take away from this comparison? There is a reason I’m running slower than a year ago. I haven’t done the same work. While this is disappointing, it’s not the end of the story and there is nothing I can do about what happened in the first few weeks now. All I can do is learn from the experience and move on. I am proud of the fact that I’ve finally started finding consistency again since week seven this year.
Here’s where the area of opportunity comes in. As you can see in the chart above, while my first 12 weeks were stellar last year, I lost my mojo in the last 6 weeks. Somewhere along the journey last year, I stopped the gym workouts and relied solely on running during the last 6 weeks. So, this is where I have an opportunity to make up for what I missed out on in the first 12 weeks this year. I can focus on making these last 6 weeks strong weeks for me. That could lead to making up what I lost from last year at this time.
Here are the first 6 weeks worth of long runs that I completed in 2013 v 2014. What is interesting as I put the numbers side by side is that they are fairly comparable. It looks like there was a slight alteration in the Jeff Galloway designed Dumbo Double Dare training plan between the two years. Of course, when I was training last year, I was going purely by what the plan said. This year, I had the OC Half Marathon to end the first week of Dumbo Double Dare training. However, I was a little faster in week 2 over 4 miles this year. Weeks 3 and 4 look like they were flipped. So, I ran a slower 5 mile time this year vs the previous year, but a fairly similar 3 mile time. Skipping out on week 5 this year probably explains why my week 6 time was 11 minutes slower this year.
Continuing on it looks like the 8 mile long run and 3 mile long runs in weeks 7 and 8 were also flipped this year vs last year. I skipped the 3 mile run this year in week 8. Also, I was 5 minutes faster over the 8 mile training run last year. This is a theme. Last year, I was able to run in the Pasadena 10K race right in the middle of training for the Dumbo Double Dare. This year, they didn’t run this local race to me. Week 10 continued the theme or running slower this year vs last year. Also, this year, I didn’t actually finish the 9.5 miles required in that week. In week 11, there is another change from last year as the mileage was upped by 1 mile. That leads to finishing nearly 9 minutes slower over 11 miles this year vs last year.
Of course, long runs only tell one part of the story. Those mid-week runs tell another part of the story. In this chart, I’ve compared 2013 (midweek 1) and 2013 (midweek 2) vs the similar in 2014. As you can see, here is where the lack of training this year rears its ugly head. Weeks 1 and 2 were disaster for running in the middle of the week for me this year. By the time I finally got out and ran in week 3, I was actually faster than either midweek run from the previous year! So, it was an awesome week 3! By week 4, it was back to slower in 2014 vs 2013. Also, it looks like week 5 in both years wasn’t the best for me.
Week 7 was a strong week for me this year vs last year. Week 8 saw me miss out on the midweek runs entirely this year. By week 9, things look pretty even. Same is true of the weeks 11 and 12. I’m still running a little slower than last year. But, as you do the comparisons, things don’t look as bad as they feel.
With 6 weeks to go, it’s Rally Monkey time for me. I have a huge opportunity as I focus on these last 6 weeks of preparation. As I’ve thought about the Dumbo Double Dare, I’m tried to put together some sort of time goal for the Disneyland Half Marathon. As it stands now, I think that a realistic goal would be to finish the Disneyland Half Marathon in 2 hours, 55 minutes. That would be an improvement over last year by 5 minutes! So, it would be a runDisney Half Marathon PR for me. It’s not my overall half marathon PR which was set at the Rock n Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon last year. However, I’d be very happy with this time as it would be my third fastest half marathon and reverse this trend I’ve had of slower half marathon times.
How did I come at this time? First of all, the comparison of this year vs. last year as you’ve seen in the charts above. Last year, I finished the Disneyland Half Marathon in 3 hours even. I know that I’m running a little slower on my long runs this year. However, I’ve also had really spotty training for the first 6 weeks. The past 6 weeks have shown much more consistency. If I keep that consistency going through the next 6 weeks, I should see an improvement over last year. That improvement could lead to a finish of 5 minutes faster than last year. Lastly, a finish time of 2 hours, 55 minutes represents an average pace of 13 minutes, 22 seconds per mile. On Sunday, I finished 11 miles with an average pace of 13 minutes, 18 seconds per mile. So, it’s not exactly unthinkable that I could maintain this pace for another 2.1 miles.
In addition to that, I have used this running calculator as another source. According to the calculator, if I can average completing 3 miles in 36 minutes, I should be able to finish a half marathon in 2 hours, 54 minutes, 17 seconds. That would make for a 13 minute, 18 second per mile average (exactly what I achieved over 11 miles this last Sunday). When I averaged all of my 3 mile times over this past 12 weeks, I found that the average for me has been 36 minutes, 46 seconds. So, I’m really close already. Given my spotty training, I find it fascinating that I’m already this close to what I will need in order to achieve my Disneyland Half Marathon goal time.
The final stretch of training has begun. It’s time to be total clutch! My goal for the Disneyland Half Marathon is 2 hours 55 minutes. If I make that goal or beat that goal, I’ll have to reference this post as where I announced the goal for the first time.