This was me Saturday morning. Sitting on my kitchen floor getting ready to run the Showdown Half…not overly excited. I had registered for this race several months ago and it ended up working out perfectly with my training plan. I just wasn’t in it mentally though. I woke up a little nervous honestly. It had been 3+ years since I actually “raced” in a half. I had run the distance countless times in training but I’d gotten a little rusty racing at that distance.
I was at a loss for how to go into this race. If you flash back a few years to when I was racing half marathons and shorter distances, I was a completely different runner. I had never really spent any time lifting or doing anything other than running. I didn’t do speedwork, tempo runs, easy runs or recovery runs. All the buzz words I’ve become all to familiar with since I decided to really improve as a runner.
I’ve said this before but I wasn’t born with this running gene. I’ve had to work for it. Can you relate? I didn’t run in highschool or college. I hated running and thought only idiots would make themselves run…for fun. Who does that? This idiot.
Once I discovered that I actually enjoyed running, I was 25. I started running more and training for half marathons, but not for time. It took a long time for me to start getting “faster.” I started out an 11+ min mile(not that there is ANYTHING wrong with that. I’m not one to believe there is a certain pace you have to hit to become a “real” runner. If you are out there running, you are a runner…period) however, I was getting bored and thought working on my pace might spruce up running for me. 3 years ago I ran a 2:07 half marathon. I honestly thought I had peaked. That was it, the fastest I could go.
Fast forward to now. I’ve run a full marathon this year and am training for my second. I’ve spent time strength training over the past 3 years, working on pace, speed work, tempo runs, and my knowledge of running as a sport. I’ve come a long way since my first half that was a 2:20.
So, enter Saturday’s race. My previous half marathon pace is now my full marathon race pace goal. My tempo runs are all faster than this and so is my speedwork. So, I knew I was capable of running this race much faster than my previous finishing time of 2:07. In training I’ve hit double digit runs at an 8:40 pace over the past few years with improvements in my training. So, what to do??
I decided I wanted to beat my past time and that it wouldn’t take that much effort to do so. I knew I could hit a 2:05 without a lot of compromise to my training. According to the Hanson Method(which is what I’m following for this marathon), my long runs are to be 60-90 seconds SLOWER than marathon pace. Which means 10:30ish min miles….at least. For the half, I knew I’d have to “speed” up to a 9:30 but that it was also a very easy and manageble pace for me. I decided not to attempt anything crazy and just beat my last time. It felt like the smartest way to run this race. It was a training run..but it was also a great measure of where I was in training and I didn’t feel like I would get that running slower. So, I “went” for it.
I decided to run with the 2:05 pace group. I was tempted to go for sub 2 hours but I had to remind myself that my goal is still 9 weeks away, and I had 3 more run days after this half before I could get a rest day. I needed my legs.
The weather was amazing and a little cold and wet, perfect for this fall loving cold weather runner. I’ve told ya’ll I belong in the mountains. Anyway, I’m used to starting out slow. I’m like a turtle the first mile or two, then I ease right on into my pace. I’m not used to running with anyone so I usually take my sweet time. I can go from an 11 min pace to an 8 min pace those first 2 miles. That’s how weird I am. I’m just really slow to warm up for some reason. Plus, I usually have to shake out the nerves. When the race started the pace group fell right into a 9:45 pace and by mile 2 I looked down and we were pacing at about 9:15. Not quite what I expected. I decided to go with it and stick with them as long as I could.
If at any point I felt like my legs were hurting I’d slow down. I just kept telling myself to stay steady and even, run light, and stay focussed. I stayed on their heals for 10 miles, wanting to pass them several times. I felt great. I was going back in forth in my mind. I could pass them and go for it and get under 2 hours, or I could stay with them, stay smart and still accomplish a goal and feel good about it. I decided the later was the smartest.
Once we hit mile 10 I had to stop and fuel. I can NOT run and chew ya’ll. I know I should do gu’s which I might try this weekend, since I lack the ability to chew and run at the same time. But, the gu makes me gag. I am a honey stinger girl all the way and they have honey stingers in gu form. That’s my goal for this weekend. Break myself of the chewing habit. Anyway, when I stopped to chew my stingers and grab some water the pace group went ahead. I knew I had some time to spare so I let them go, stretched and kept going.
Then, the hills. Texas has hills….who knew?? Apparently we’ve been hiding them all in Fairview. Holy cow. I was able to do it because I train on hills, but tack them onto the end of a 13 mile run and it just plain stinks. I slowed down just a little but was still able to maintain my marathon goal pace. I got tired, thirsty and a little hot by mile 12. Still, I was able to maintain my pace. I felt this huge relief that training is working. Hanson’s is working. I got to 13.1 and looked down at my watch. 2:04 and some change. The finish line was at 13.2 according to my Garmin, which is never wrong by the way, and I was at 2:05 crossing the finish line. Goal accomplished.
I immediately started giving myself a hard time for not pushing harder and passing that 2:05 pace group. I knew I had it in me that day to get under 2 hours, but I also knew that I have all spring to run faster half’s, but only 1 chance at a marathon til next year. So, I let it go, enjoyed the PR and went home to figure out what I could do better for my long runs.
I was thirsty and didn’t fuel well. I hadn’t hydrated the few days leading up to this race or really changed my nutrition. I felt strong but knew I needed to change a few things. The last 3 miles were harder than I felt they should have been. This was my first run of this cycle over 10 miles so I gave myself some slack, but knew I had to be smarter leading up to my long runs on Sundays from here on out.
more of this maybe??? Yes…just yes
So, there’s my race. It was so much fun, I had friends there cheering at the finish line, and one friend I was able to run with most of the race. It was a great way to knock out a long training run, but it will be the only race I tackle for this training cycle. I need to focus on running long and easy and harder during my strength/speed and tempo runs. It was a great way to start the weekend though and I’m so glad I did it. After the marathon, I’ll start working on that sub 2 hour half.
Happy hump day ya’ll.
Did you race over the weekend?
Have you had success racing while training?