This was by far the least prepared I’ve ever been for a race. Not physically, as the training has been good, but the rest of it I failed.
Between Friday and Saturday, I walked about 12 miles. I did a full yoga class (which was more than the expected beginner outdoor free yoga, tougher stuff) for the first time in about 7 months. I stood chatting and assisting in the kitchen at a friend’s house on Saturday night.
I hadn’t really looked at the race course until late Saturday night. I drank 3 glasses of wine at dinner with good friends Saturday night. I didn’t even get back to my hotel until 10:30 PM. I ate yummy food, but I had never had any of it before Saturday night and woke up feeling not great Sunday morning. I didn’t roll or use the stick on my legs Saturday night or Sunday morning.
And finally, my warm up pre-race was almost nonexistent.
Really crowded and disorganized corrals made warm ups impossible.
So keeping all of that in mind, I should be elated with my race. I did not set myself up to run well, and as I write this on my train home, am feeling it.
I knew my biggest focus was on running negative splits. So I was happy to take off into an extremely crowded course, which made it nearly impossible to take off too fast. The first few miles were full of fans, and there was an early turnaround so you got to see other runners breezing by, which always makes me happy and excited.
As the course wound through Arlington I expected it to thin out, but never really felt it. It made it tricky to really build any speed during my 9 minutes of running interval, and difficult to jump off for my 1 minute walk interval each time. I felt strangely good and terrible at the same time. I wish I had worn my HRM because everything but my legs felt great, so I think my pace was feeling pretty good from a heart rate perspective.
My legs on the other hand, felt like lead. As I hit mile 5, I knew I needed to pick up the pace, and thought through how I wanted to progress my mile splits, but my legs wanted none of it. I felt a little like my electric toothbrush when the batteries are getting low: it’s on the highest setting, but just isn’t moving at its typical speed.
I slogged through the final few miles, and sprinted to the finish. I felt like yelling out “really legs? Now you decide to work?!” But I held it back.
Mentally, I stayed positive throughout the race, but just wasn’t really into it. I’m not sure what I was thinking about, but it was not my normal race thoughts around my pace, my breathing, singing along to the songs from RockMyRun. None of it was there. Adding to the mental games, my Garmin was ahead of the course marked miles from mile 1. This infuriates me to no end, especially when I was trying hard to keep to a pace.
In the end, I hit a couple of my goals:
– I ran negative splits. I ran the second half of the race about 30 seconds faster than the first half. Ideally, that would have been a bigger difference, but I’ll take it.
– I stayed positive. Like I said, I wasn’t really in the race mentally, so there wasn’t much to get negative on. I did internally give my legs hell a few times, and found myself very annoyed with a number of things about the course (separate race review to come) but overall ran a positive minded race.
– I ran 3-4 miles under my goal half-marathon race (according to my Garmin). According to Garmin, I finished with a pace about 16 seconds/mile over goal race pace. According to the official time, it was about 29 seconds/ mile too slow.
– I did not meet the time goal I’d set. According to Garmin, I was 10 seconds off. According to the official time I finished in 1:52:17.
Reflecting back on the race, I know exactly what I did wrong. I also know I’ve been under some crazy stress at work, which contributed to my mental “offness” (yep, that’s now a word). And I know that even under these less than desirable conditions I ran at a pace that would give me a PR in my half next month if I can maintain it for another 5k.
While my body isn’t calling it a success, I tested myself. I pushed as hard as my body would allow me given everything else over the weekend. My mental game wasn’t there, and I still ran a really good race. I will proudly add this amazing medal to my collection!