So my race day finally came. And <spoiler alert> – it didn’t go the way I wanted. I think I put way too much pressure on myself to run fast and then for some reason I didn’t. And I walked a lot. I’m trying not to dwell on it and I’m trying to learn from it.
So here’s what I learned –
- NEVER EVER EVER train for 20+ weeks for a half marathon. That is way too long unless you are starting from the couch….then it might be ok. But I was coming off Cherry Blossom 10ish miler and another half marathon. I took a short break in between but would have been better running a race in August or September. Of course my goal had been to race Perfect 10 but when I had the foot issues I backed down from that. Anyway, it was too long to really mentally and physically stay in the game for 13.1 miles. I wish I had discussed this more with my coaches in the beginning and had taken a different approach.
- Race less – run for for fun more often. I need to take the pressure off races and stop worrying about PRs. I need to focus on smiling and running happy. I need to have fun. I’m the only person that cares about the clock. As I crossed the finish line on that Wednesday everyone was cheering for me. I didn’t enjoy it because I was too concerned about sucking. NO ONE cared. I ran 13 point FREAKIN’ 1 miles! I should celebrate that. Even though I’ve done it before it’s a not a given that I was going to be able to do it that day. But I did. Every finish needs to end with a smile, arms up, and a celebration. Every finish matters.
- Taper longer….this was a risk I took based on a discussion with one coach. I do not blame my coach. It seemed like a good idea to go for another longer than race run 1.5 weeks before the race. I did get to my longest run ever and running 15 miles was a goal that I had but in the end I think that was a trade off and I should have gone for the race PR instead of the 15 miler. I am super happy about the 15 miler though and know that will mentally help for my next big goal.
- Stop fighting the pain. If something hurts do something about it. I probably played around with my foot too long. Treatment sooner might have changed things. When something went weird with my knee I should have had it looked at right away. It still hurts on and off.
- Focus more on a diet and recovery – being a runner doesn’t stop when you hit stop on your watch at the end of a workout. I need to ice, foam roll, and eat better. I do feel better about eating after running. Eating Clif bars after a long run or a track workout seemed to really help. At the beginning of the summer I was really struggling to make it through a week. All of my Thursday runs were very sluggish. I think eating right away really helped.
- Don’t burn up too soon – peak at the right time….this goes back to training for too long. I think I worked too hard in the beginning of the training cycle and it was not sustainable for me.
- Don’t wear black…I have no idea why I thought it was ok to wear black on a potentially sunny day but I ended up being really warm during the race and was wishing that I was not wearing black. This was really most likely a mental thing. When I think I’m hot then I’m hot. I have to tell myself that I’m not hot and things go much better. I thought the black was hot so I was hot and then I couldn’t get out of that thought pattern.
- Test a hat in the wind…all summer I was wearing a hat to keep the sun out of my eyes. On race day it was super windy so I decided to forego the hat (because I was afraid it would fly off)….which meant the sun was on my super big forehead and in my eyes. This was uncomfortable for about half of the race.
- Run happy in the conditions you are given …before the race the director said something about running the best race you can in the conditions you are given. Not all days are equal. I got a windy day with some sun that felt hot at times. I ran on a trail with conditions that were a bit tougher than I expected. At times it felt like I was all alone because there was so much distance between me and other racers. I really can’t compare this race to any others. Given all this I probably ran pretty well.
- Smile, freakin’ smile – this is self explanatory. I need to work on this. I’m doing this for fun….it’s not supposed to feel like torture!
What went right during this training cycle –
- I found some awesome running buddies and I made some great friends. This is super important to me…most days of training I had a blast because I got to run with friends.
- I got to cheer people on along the way to their journeys. I really enjoyed cheering my friends to their first (or second or third or fourth) marathons. It was a pleasure to run next to them.
- I was inspired by many other runners. Watching the first time marathoners fight their way through their longest runs ever was super inspiring. It makes me want to run longer.
- I ran…and I ran a lot and most days that I was good.
- I PR’d the 10k distance. So at least I got one of them! I am happy about that.
What i’m working on –
- Drinking….water! So I finally got that hydration pack and trained with it all summer and all fall but most days I carried a full pack home with me. If my pack was depleted when I got home it was mostly due to the water that I drank while driving home. I need to actually drink out of the pack. I try to stay super hydrated all the time. (TMI but I’m glad I don’t pass many co-workers to get to the restroom….I go a lot.) I think always being hydrated helps with running but I know I’m getting dehydrated during long runs…..the water is right there…I need to work on actually drinking it. Towards the end of the training cycle I was trying to take a sip at every mile.
- Fuel…I’m relying mainly on GU for fuel. I take one before long runs and usually track workouts. I don’t eat breakfast before running. I was taking the GU about every 4 miles. I would like to learn how to take something else. And real food would be nice. I think if I could eat before I start I might avoid bonking.
- Low heart rate training ….I’m just starting this and it’s super hard.
- And one last thing….I really am working on not being so hard on myself. I am….I swear….I’m trying.
And as far as a real race recap…..I ran, I walked, I ran some more, and I finished. Altis Endurance set up a great race. It was well organized. There were no timing chips but they recorded your time as you finished so everyone ran gun time. I was near the start so I think it would make my time different by like 2 seconds….but who cares? Trail runners don’t care so much about time.