So, the big last long run before race day. Always an exciting day, whatever the distance. I’ve only run the half-marathon distance once before, but before my two 10-milers and even before my first 10K I had those jitters of “can I really do this new long distance? Am I ready?”

I’ve been looking forward to taper week for a couple of weeks now. Mainly because training for a half-marathon in winter means a lot of treadmill runs due to icy rain and snow, but also because I did a 6-week intensive schedule rather than a longer preparation. My long runs increased by 2 miles every weekend so yesterday I was scheduled to do 12 miles.

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I was testing out a future race outfit – This is actually a sneak peek! The base of my Princess Half marathon costume a month from now (sans accoutrements)… can you guess the character yet?

I was all ready and raring to go before I set out. I pulled out what I was going to wear and was actually dancing with excitement to get out there and get the miles in. I was nervous – I’ve never run 12 miles in my neck of the woods before so I didn’t quite know yet how I would adjust my route to accommodate the distance. But I was also really excited! It was a gorgeous day, the first in a long time! And by gorgeous I mean the temperature got over 50 at one point. Still too cold for my personal taste but considering 6 days ago it was 7 degrees, I was celebrating.

Then I ran into a hiccup. The headphone jack on my phone no longer recognizes that any pair of headphones is plugged in. It’s not a problem with the headphone, and nothing about the outside of the phone appears wrong. So my day, and allotted time to run my 12 miles before my evening plans, was curtailed by an hour long detour with Verizon Customer Service. (They were great! But I want that hour back anyway.)

I still wanted to get as much mileage in as possible. As soon as that ordeal was over I hit the pavement. Since I couldn’t plug my headphones in, and still didn’t know what my route was going to be, I decided to go with the flow. Whatever happened would happen. I didn’t put pressure on myself to get the full 12 miles in – a lot of factors working against me. Not much time, first run on hills outside in weeks, no music except for what I could hear playing aloud from my phone strapped to my bicep.

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It was a little chillier than expected going out but believe it or not, not having my headphones in was not bad at all! I was still glad I had music with me, even if it was hard to hear at times, but it was refreshing to hear my own breathing and feet on the pavement and be more completely aware of cars approaching. I’m always looking left to right when I have my headphones in to watch for cars before crossing anything, but being able to hear cars approaching from behind gave me a better sense of confidence too.

I mainly relied on my Garmin. I have been running with a trainer app that tells me in my ear when to stop for a walk break, and I occasionally missed the beep of my watch telling me it was a walk break time because it was too quiet over the sound of a passing car, but it was okay. I liked it! I actually felt like the running intervals were shorter than when I have the lady in my ear – maybe because I could see how fast time actually passed and how much time I had left before my break than having no idea and guessing the worst.

ImageHitting the hills were definitely hard work after a lot of treadmilling, but I made up for it with my speed practicing recently. Whenever I had a flat or downhill stretch I put the jets on and covered lost time. I ended up getting 10 whole miles in! Sadly I stopped my watch a second early, but my tracking app on my phone had me at 10.14 miles while my Garmin had me at 9.99.

ImageOnly problem? I got back to my house and was LOCKED OUT. No one was home and I hadn’t brought my key. I was freezing, as the sun had gone down over the course of my run, and had to be in Baltimore (just because I live in Maryland doesn’t mean it’s a short drive away, friends) no later than 8. I had to call a neighbor who had a spare key, run to her house (tacking on an extra half mile round trip) and back before I could take my glorious hot shower and put on my compression calves before I was off to my Golden Globes viewing party in Charm City with a good friend.

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We also had a glorious amount of pizza, wings, subs, and salads to gorge on while we delighted in Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. Best post-run recovery activity.

So taper begins!! Only 5 days left until the Charleston Half Marathon, my second half-marathon ever and first race of 2014! Am I looking for a PR? Sure, that’d be nice! But mainly I am so excited to get out of the mid-Atlantic and down to a beautiful city and spend the weekend with good friends, running, and nicer weather. 🙂

How was your long run this weekend? Did you race or train?

What distance and when is your long run usually before tapering for a half marathon? Do you taper for a half at all?

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