Winning the Week before the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend!

When I took the week after the Rock n Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon off, I felt mentally and physically drained. Training for and running a marathon and half marathon that was two weeks apart took it out of me. As I recharged my batteries, I realized that, beginning with the 20 mile training run in crazy hot temps, my training for the Chicago Marathon got really erratic and had a lot of losses. I need to start winning again. The first part of that was making the decision to cut back to running 3 miles on  my mid-week runs from the 4 I was doing. Here’s how it turned out…


This week, fall decided to finally show up in Southern California and I couldn’t have been happier. Tuesday, I had no idea what to expect when I started. However, I was super happy to finally be able to wear my long-sleeved Chicago Marathon Finisher shirt out for a run! Since my 3 mile route doesn’t start off uphill for a mile, I went back to the run 30, walk 60 seconds intervals. In reality, I’m running 45 seconds walking 45 seconds. However, I need to think of it as 30/60. The first mile, I was loving the cooler temps too much and went out way too fast. I could feel it. My heart was racing and I was very much out of breath. However, I finished the first mile in a few seconds under 11 minutes. It’s been a while since I ran a first mile that fast. So, I went to my marathon intervals for mile 2 so I could slow it down a little. Also, at the start of mile 2, my lower back was starting to tighten up a little. Adding those 30 seconds of walking helped stem the tide of lower back pain and made it tolerable. It’s not that uncommon for me to feel this way in my first run after taking a full week off from running. I told myself not to panic and it would get better in my next run. I felt a huge amount of relief to finish the second mile in a time under 24 minutes. The last mile is such a faster mile for me as it’s largely downhill. Due to the way my back was feeling, I decided to keep the same intervals for the last mile. As the mile went along, I noticed that it felt so much better to run than to walk. Much to my surprise, I ended up running almost the entire last quarter-mile. It was totally not intentional. I got distracted somewhere in the run interval and noticed that the end point was coming up soon. I felt good running. So, I just went with it until I heard the Nike Plus App tell me “3 miles completed.” When I stopped the app, I noticed that I finished in 35 minutes, 20 seconds! Score! A sub 12 minute per mile average! Win!


I wasn’t done winning. Thursday, the temps were cool again! This time I headed out in my Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon shirt. I wanted to feel this race calling me to it. So, here’s the crazy thing. I was very focused on trying to slow down  my first mile this time. I kept telling myself to run slow and smooth. Guess what happened? I finished that mile faster than the first mile on Tuesday! I finished mile 1 in 10 minutes, 45 seconds! However, I didn’t feel like I had pushed myself too hard. Hmmm. Maybe, that first time pushing in mile 1 on Tuesday got my body used to that kind of speed again. Anyways, I still switched to the marathon intervals for mile 2. I was going uphill for mile 2. So, with the theme of the week to create wins, I went with it. Mile 2 went a lot better. My back didn’t start bothering me until close to the end of mile 2. Even then, it was nowhere near as much as Tuesday. I finished the second mile in just over 23 minutes! That was faster than Tuesday still. So, I switched back to the 45/45 I was doing in mile 1 to see how it would all turn out. The result? I finished this run in 33 minutes, 48 seconds! More than a minute and a half faster than on Tuesday! Win! To make things even sweeter, I didn’t need to run the last quarter-mile to make the time happen. I could have tried. However, when the focus of the week is on creating wins, I just rolled with what was already working.


Saturday morning, I headed off to the track for my first Magic Mile since training for the 2013 Disneyland Half Marathon. This was also the first time I would do a Magic Mile on a track. The experience is something I want to write a full blog post about. For now, let’s just say it was a learning experience. I didn’t sleep really well the night before because I was nervous about doing the Magic Mile. I have no idea why. Part of it may have been due to the fact I wasn’t 100% confident I’d get to run on the track. Also, Saturday was going to be a warmer day. So, I needed to get this done by a certain time or I’d face some warm temps in the remaining 6 miles. As luck would have it, there was no problems with me getting to run on the track! As a matter of fact, I was surprised how few people were on the track. I’ll talk more on this later. However, I started the Magic Mile unsure of how I should use run and walk intervals. I finished the 1 mile in 11 minutes. That was a little sad. However, I think that it’s largely because I didn’t do the Magic Mile entirely correct. I’ll fix that for the next time. It’s not that big of a deal anyways because Jeff says you should aim for a slower first Magic Mile and then take 30 seconds off that time each time you try. So, no matter what this time was, I will likely get tossed out when I use my Magic Mile times to predict my performance at the Star Wars Half Marathon (the race I’m training for currently).


After running on the track, I drove back home to grab my fuel belt. It was starting to warm up and I had 6 more miles to complete. So, I’d need some hydration. After I got the fuel belt, I headed out for 6 more miles. I decided on Friday evening to do 2 laps of the 3 mile loop I had done on Tuesday and Thursday as opposed to the 6 mile loop I have done at other times. I did this because that 6 mile loop had 3 miles of climbing and each of the 3 mile loops had 1 mile of climbing. 2 miles of climbing vs. 3 miles of climbing. With the focus on creating wins, I chose 2 miles of climbing and am so glad I did.

When I first stared this run, I was running my 45/45 intervals (or 30/60 as I thought of it). I did feel a little tired in the first mile. However, I finished in just under 11 minutes. Not bad considering this was actually my second mile running for the day. Also, it was about the same time as I had on Tuesday over the same route. I switched to the 30/90 intervals for the next mile because it saves me on the climbing. I finished the 2nd mile in around 23:30. So, I was still hanging on to an under 12 minute per mile pace! For the third mile of this loop, I went back to the 45/45 intervals. I knew I could finish out this mile with those intervals. However, the whole time, I was trying to decide what to do with the next mile. I decided to just stay with the 45/45 intervals as long as I could stand it in mile 4. Surprisingly enough, I kept that interval going for the entire mile. I was feeling sluggish at the end of mile 4. However, I got to the end of it in less than 48 minutes. As I approached the end of the mile, I got a big smile as I realized that, if I added the 11 minutes for my Magic Mile, I had finished 5 miles in less than an hour! Score! For mile 5, it was back to the 30/90 intervals. I was moving too well for me to jinx the last mile by pushing too hard in mile 5. It worked out fabulously as I got to the end of mile 5 in under an hour! Time to switch back to the 45/45 intervals and finish this run out! It didn’t take long before I’d finish in under 1 hour, 12 minutes (a 12 minute per mile average). However, I had to keep running. I was feeling tired, the sun was blazing, but I kept running. All the way to the end of mile 6. My time? 1 hour, 11 minutes, 10 seconds! I couldn’t believe it. For the entire week of running, each run was finished in under a 12 minute per mile pace! Winning big time!


Sunday morning started off with more awesome. I don’t get to play my trumpet very much these days. Whenever I get the chance to play, it’s always exciting for me. Sunday was no different. I got to play at the church I grew up attending. It’s always fun going back and seeing everyone again! One of my childhood friends is the music leader of the church and uses me as much as he can. I’ll be going back to play at the church for their Christmas program on the same weekend as Candlelight. I can’t wait! Sunday morning was tons of fun!


As much fun as that was, I still had one more workout on my mind to make this week a total win…getting back to the gym. I can’t remember the last time I was at the gym. In all of my previous marathons, it seems like I give up the gym workouts when the miles get up to 17.


I started out on the Elliptical Machine for 27 minutes. I completed 15 minutes going forward and 12 minutes going backward. Since I’m working on creating wins, I’ve stripped back the resistance for this first time around on this machine because I had no idea what to expect. The workout was perfect for me. I didn’t feel overwhelmed at any point. However, towards the end, I did feel like I was pushing a little bit. Round 1 was another win!


I use the assisted chin-ups and dips because I’m not strong enough yet to do them without the assistance. This is a machine where you want the weight you’re working with to actually decrease. The weights you use take off from your body weight to make the exercises more manageable. I did 3 sets of 15 reps with 210 lbs. for both the chin-ups and the dips. This machine was difficult. I was truly pushing myself. At the end of it, I could feel my arms twitching a little bit. I was able to do each set without any breaks.


Next up was the leg press machine. I completed 2 sets of 25 reps with 170 lbs. and 2 sets of 25 reps with 190 lbs. This wasn’t too difficult. However, I was feeling quite tired from the chin-ups and dips. I think my body wanted to quit a few times. However, I pushed through and got each set done without having to stop at any point.


The last machine was the ab crunch machine. I completed 2 sets of 25 reps at 70 lbs of resistance and 2 sets of 25 reps at 80 lbs of resistance. This was a machine that I had thought about skipping while I was on the other machines. I wasn’t sure if I should put this guy into the mix for this first workout. However, after finishing the leg press, I decided to go for the win of the entire week. I’m so glad I did! There was no running on the treadmill because I knew I had pushed hard on Saturday and didn’t need to add the treadmill just yet.


After a week off, I feel like I’m finding my training groove again! This week was a total and complete win! I want to be faster. I want to be able to run longer. I won’t get there by coming up with excuses to miss workouts and/or training runs. I need to hit each distance on the calendar without fail. I need 4 workouts per week to get where I want to go. The time for excuses needs to be in my rear view mirror. I’ve got the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon and Captain America 10K this week. After that, there’s nothing on my race calendar until the Star Wars Weekend. This is the race that I’m training for. With the exception of this coming weekend (because of Avengers), I’ll be staying true to the Rebel Challenge training plan that Jeff Galloway put out.

How was your week?

6 thoughts on “Winning the Week before the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend!

  1. Wow, great week! Mine went off the rails because I’ve got a nasty cold. I’m training for Surf City Half. I am volunteering again this weekend…”Start Line Assist”, which I have no idea what exactly I’ll be doing. If I see you, I’ll give you a shout out.

    1. Good luck with the Surf City USA Half. I really like that race. They have a great medal this year. I’m still deciding if I want to race it. Initially, I wasn’t because it’s the week before the LA Marathon. Since I’m not running the LA Marthon, it’s now a possibility. Have fun volunteering this weekend. Maybe we will get to meet. Please say “hi” if you do see me.

  2. Congrat to you and I can’t wait to hear your race this weekend. I have been off the rails for few weeks due to laziness and taking care kids in the middle of the night. However, I went to run on Friday night for 6 miles and it was a very great feeling. I have been training since Jun for the Star Wars runs and I can’t just give it up now.

    have fun this weekend 🙂

    1. Never give up! You’ve got 4 miles this weekend to run (I think). I’m now on the Star Wars Rebel Challenge training plan. Once I finish the races this weekend, I’ll have no more alterations in training for Star Wars. Enjoy those cooler temps.

  3. great training week! I am still techinically in recovery/active taper for avengers this weekend! My goal is to get in some weight training tomorrow as I havent lifted weights in over 2 weeks and then just keep tapering until this weekend.

    i am so JEALOUS of the cool temps! it was a bit cool in NYC but then warmed up and florida was unseasonably warm (basically as warm as when I was there in June) so I am looking forward some cool temps when I land tonight.

    Hopefully I will see you this weekend! let me know what you will be up to!

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