Half of Hanson’s Half

Our remodel is done and I hope to report with pretty pictures soon but first I want to write a little about the Hanson’s Half Marathon plan that I’m somehow managing to pull off!

TL:DR: I’m more than halfway through Hanson’s Half marathon plan with the goal of a sub-2 hour race on October 15th. Things are going okay but also they kind of suck and I kind of want to quit.


Backstory: I ran the Grateful Dad half marathon in June as a test to see where my fitness was. I had a decent base going in and I’d managed a few 10+ milers with tempos thrown in towards the end on tired legs and felt pretty good about my chances of running a decent race. My goal was to finish sub-2:10, but I was particularly shooting for a 2:07 finish based on my training paces and a few previous shorter races.

The day before the half, we drove down to Portland and met up with some friends and drank many beers and I finished the night with pizza and wine. I think I managed to get to bed by 11pm and set my alarm for 6am. I woke up around 2am with a headache. Oops. I popped a few aspirin and went back to bed.

The following morning the headache lingered but I didn’t feel too horrible. We picked up coffee, a bagel, and a banana and drove to the start (I’d convinced Robert to run it too). When the gun went off I expected the usual meh feeling I have for the first few miles of most of my runs but instead I felt really good and was easily running a 9 minute mile pace. I knew that I should slow way down (like to 9:45 pace) but I just couldn’t. I told myself I’d slow down around 4 or 5 miles but I never really got that tired. Finally, around mile 8 I was starting to feel like maybe that fast pace was a huge mistake. My legs were feeling fatigued. I sucked down some jelly beans (w/ caffeine) and willed myself to gut it out. At that point I was averaging around 9:20 pace. After the turn around a woman came up behind me and told me she wanted to run with me because she liked my pace. That’s a lot of pressure! I had my headphones on but I mumbled, “um, sure!” and she lingered just a step behind me for the rest of the race. I finished in 2:01:33! That was a shock. My previous PR is 2:01:50 but it was a really short course (12.7 miles) so this PR was for real. Had that woman not put the pressure on me I think I would have slowed down.

After that race I realized maybe I should try the Hanson’s Plan. I’ve had the book for over a year and it’s, well, intimidating. I’ve never run 6 days a week and I’ve never done more than one weekday workout (Hanson’s has 2). My main concern was would it work for a masters runner who is accident prone. Anyway, I dove right in. I started off on week 5 (because the “beginner” plan spends the first 4 weeks base-building) and I signed up for a tune-up race for Labor Day weekend (Sunriver Half, which I’ve run a  handful of times, with the plan that Robert would pace me) and penciled in the Snohomish River Run half marathon on October 15th as my PR half.

To summarize Hanson’s beginner plan:

Monday: easy

Tuesday: speed, and then later, strength (all track intervals)

Wednesday: rest

Thursday: tempo

Friday: easy

Saturday: easy

Sunday: 10+ mile long runs with effort

3 days are SOS runs (something of substance) and 3 are easy. The tempo builds to 6 miles and the strength sessions build up to 2×3 miles at slightly slower than race pace. I’m already averaging 40mpw and the plan goes up to 48mpw. That’s a lot for me. That’s marathon training mpw for me. The idea is: ACCUMULATIVE FATIGUE

After week 2 I almost quit. My right knee was killing me when I climbed stairs, I was feeling really fatigued, and I was suffering from wildfire smoke induced asthma. I took a few days off to regroup and also to get back into the habit of foam rolling and stretching (quad stretch = happy knee). Somehow I managed to come through after that rest period feeling great. I only missed maybe one easy day after that and I foam rolled and recovered like a champ.

Even though I was feeling good I was also kind of getting tired of the training plan. It’s 18 weeks! Who trains that hard and long for a half? What’s the point? If I shave a minute off my time is it worth it? Waking up at 5am is annoying (because I wake up at 3am and remember that my alarm is going to go off at 5am so then I can’t fall back asleep). But. BUT. What if I ran a 1:55 half. That translates to a 3:58 full (on a perfect day, in a perfect scenario, with perfect training). Do you know what that means?

I would qualify for Boston. Yep. I’m aging up. Any sub 4 hour marathon I run after September is a BQ for 2019 because I will be 50 years old for Boston 2019.

That’s crazy talk. And that’s why I’m doing this crazy training plan.

Fast forward to now. My tune-up race was supposed to happen this weekend but they just postponed it due to air quality issues. I had hoped to race my ass off with Robert pacing me and if I failed at getting even close to 1:55 I was going to back off Hanson’s and just go back to a 25-30mpw base-building fall/winter happy place. Paint some rooms. Cook some food. Brush some cats.

Now I don’t have an excuse to stop doing the plan. I’m still feeling good. It’s now or never, right? Right? Wrong?

Ugh. (I’m lazy.)

BTW, we’re still going to Bend for the weekend. We’d also planned to attend a beerfest and now that I don’t have to race (and really can’t even run due to air quality, I’ma gonna drink all the beers). Cheers!