I’m going to try to not sound like a brat… because for any of the runners I coach or have coached, I always say that if you set a PB you really can’t complain. It’s easy to take that kind of thing for granted when you’re used to improving and setting personal records often. I’ve been on the other side many times (the side where you run through 2 miles of a 5k and think hmm I’m used to seeing that time on the clock at the finish line). I did a little bitching and moaning and feeling sorry for myself after the race, but then I remembered my mantra, that Teddy Roosevelt quote “comparison is the thief of joy”. I have it written on the chalkboard by the front door as a reminder to be grateful for where I am and not compare myself to other people or to myself at age 25 (or whatever).
So I’ll talk about the positives. First, I was able to actually run and finish the race after a few days off (some weird glute/hip injury). Second, I ran my fastest half marathon time ever, always a good thing to be able to say. And third, I was able to practice some key mental strategies that I know I’ll be able to draw on in the future. So, now let’s get to the dirty details.
The race started at 8:00- as usual I was running late and barely got to the start line before the gun went off, but that’s nothing new. I settled in with a good group of speedy women and just told myself to relax and zone out, expend as little energy as possible, and run the tangents. About a half mile into the race one of the women in our group made an abrupt stop and turned off to the left. A few seconds later we heard shouting from behind us, which I couldn’t decipher, but one of the other women in our group realized that we had been following the lead men who had turned the wrong way (following arrows for another race that ran through the same park) and alerted us. Shit.
The group of the three of us turned around and started to weave our way back through the main pack. Logically I knew there was no reason to panic, but I was pissed (I think we all were) and the pack of us probably ran faster than we should have. My thoughts were all negative at this point: well, there goes the race… also why didn’t the other woman say something when she turned around? Did she say something and we didn’t hear it? (and if not, that’s bad race karma). We hit the “mile” in 6:35 (s0meone was calling out splits). There were some F bombs. In reality my first mile was 6:13, but the manner in which that was run (running downhill, an abrupt stop, turning around and getting back on track, then traversing the only real uphill in the race) was not ideal.
During the second mile the pack completely split up and I was running alone. This was the only mile that I checked my split (6:09 on my Garmin) and realized I needed to relax. I was still aggravated about running that extra distance, something I was reminded of each mile when my stupid watch beeped well before the mile marker. I managed to zone out a little and just run- this section of the course is on the Mohawk River bike path with only a few random spectators. Splits for miles 3 and 4 (6:15 and 6:08).
Mile 5 is where we emerge from the path and run a steep downhill mile (5:56 and that was holding back). I saw my family and got an instant boost from their cheers, which is needed along this part of the course. Miles 6, 7, and 8 were pretty tough. I had a few thoughts of dropping out. I had to remind myself to run one mile at a time, especially when I realized I was hurting a lot sooner than I had expected. I intentionally backed off the pace a little in these miles because I knew I was going to run into trouble if I started “racing” before 8 miles (6:22, 6:22, 6:31).
Right around mile 9 we start running along the Hudson River bike path, and this is where things got ugly for a few minutes. Mile 9 was my slowest split of the race (6:43). I was feeling sorry for myself. I even started thinking, well if I run 7 minute miles from now until the finish I’ll still probably PR… but somehow I snapped out of that negative thought pattern and just sucked it up. I did the only thing I could think of, which was to start counting. I instantly felt better and got into a rhythm. So for the entire length of the Hudson bike path I counted from 1 to 100, then started over again. Miles 10- 12 (6:24, 6:38, 6:34).
The last mile was tough, but knowing I was close to the finish I tried my best to pick it up. My legs were dead. That last mile was a 6:38 and I ran my last 0.24 in 1:22. Official time was 1:24:19, my fastest half by over a minute.
I had told my family beforehand that I would run 1:22- 1:23 (although secretly I hoped I could pull off something faster) and I know without the extra distance I would have run 1:23. But there will be many opportunities ahead to run faster, and I think ultimately it was a good learning experience. I ran as fast as I could on that day given the circumstances, and I’d rather learn these lessons at a smaller local race. The situation could have been much worse.
Okay… no racing for a few weeks. I promise. Next one will most likely be a cross country race with my Willow Street AC teammates at the end of this month. I don’t really ever know how to end blog posts, so… what are you watching on Netflix these days? I keep falling asleep in the middle of watching a show, so I need something that will hold my attention 😉