Today I finished my 4th Half Marathon. Anyone who has read any of my blog entries knows that running races has seriously changed my life. In a good way. Today’s race reinforced my love of racing (and running) while still leaving me with plenty of food for thought.
I had high hopes for this race. Last year I finished in 2:36:41 which still remains my fastest race ever. I was really hoping today would be the day I beat that time. My fantasy is to eventually be a 10 min/mile runner but my hopes for this race were more modest – 2:30 or at least PR. Despite accomplishing neither of those goals, I consider today a modified success.
I had a few issues going into the race. Despite good training since the Disney Marathon in January (my mileage for February and March 2012 was higher than the same months in 2011), my last 2 weeks were poor. During vacation I missed a run and then I was feeling sick the next week and missed 2 or 3 runs. We stayed out late watching a Broadway show the night before the race and whatever I had for dinner last night didn’t agree with my stomach, leading to an embarrassing emergency bathroom stop before the show. And then there were the weather reports.
Despite my love of traveling to Florida whenever possible, I have never done particularly well with warm temperatures. This seems to really be a problem with running. Last summer I really struggled on hot days and trained poorly during summer months. My January marathon was a lesson in what not to do when running in warmer temperatures (my mistakes included overheating and over hydrating to the point that I lowered my body’s salt levels). Needless to say a predicted high today of nearly 80 with a low of only 60 was making me a little nervous.
I slept ok last night. I had a weird dream that it was e morning of my Disney Half Marathon (leading up to the Goofy medal) and Disney cancelled the race due to lightning. And then my alarm went off at 6:15am. I did my usual race day routine. Shower (I know it makes no sense to shower before running 13.1 miles in the heat), dress, eat pop tarts, drink Gatorade, and I was off to the races. It was super nice to be in a hotel room in NYC instead of up at 5am to take Metro North downtown! I was at the race by 7:30am.
My outfit today (pics to follow when available) included a tank top, compression shorts, my sparkle skirt, and hot pink compression socks. I expected to be chilly while waiting for the start and was a bit worried to discover that I was quite comfortable. Uh oh! I didn’t want to pre hydrate too much because then I’d have to pee the whole race but I drank some of the Gatorade before tossing the rest. I met some nice people before the start. I started back in the last grouping (NYRR doesn’t do true corrals like Disney but the organize you by estimated finish time). I find that the people in back tend to be friendlier than some of the faster runners. Or maybe I’m just biased because I’m slow!
The start was at 8am but it was closer to 8:15 before I started. My strategy was to try for 12:30 min/miles for the 1st loop in Central Park and then speed it up for the 2nd loop. The 1st mile was really crowded which was frustrating. Lots of walkers in my starting area. I do run/walk but found it hard to navigate to free space. My 1st several miles were around 12:15 pace and I even did ok on the Harlem Hill. At least the 1st time around!
I learned from prior mistakes. At water stops I drank Gatorade and dumped water on my head to sta cool. By mile 3 the heat was already apparent! I had my salt tabs and GUs and followed my usual strategy – salt every 30 min and GU every 45 min. I felt pretty good for the 1st loop.
I wanted to pick up the pace a bit on the 2nd loop. Starting around mile 8 I tried to speed up a bit. There was a very scary moment where a women was disoriented during the race and the collapsed! Mile 9 was my fastest in the race – about 11:15 pace. And then I hit the Harlem Hill again. I had been feeling good and thought maybe it just wasn’t as bad as I remembered it. I probably shouldn’t have pushed so hard on mile 9 because mile 10 was my slowest of the race. Maybe 12:40 or so. I tried to make up the difference on the last 3 miles but really didn’t have enough gas left in the tank. All were close to 12:00 pace – mile 13 was about 11:50 pace – but it wasn’t enough. I ran the last 3 min and finished 2:38:24. 2 min shy of my PR.
My legs aren’t as sore as they should be so I think the heat was a big factor. If the temps were 10 degrees cooler, I probably would have PRed. But I ran a good race and finished strong. I’m proud of that.
But I look around and see that I *should* be able to go faster. What’s holding me back? A few things. Some are easier than others.
1. I need to lose 10-15 lbs if I want to get faster. I’ve gained 10 lbs in the past year or so and that needs to go. It’s holding me back. I started reading Racing Weight and I want to make better eating a priority.
2. I need to cross-train. My quads are relatively weak. I need to swim, bike, or do weights. At least once a week. This is a bit harder. It takes a lot for me to run 3 days a week. How am I going to ind a cross-training day?
3. I need more miles. And maybe better miles. I could probably add a least 1-2 miles to my mid-week runs without too much trouble.
4. Other. My husband suggested maybe finding a coach. I don’t know how realistic that is. Galloway does e-coaching which costs $300 for 6 months. Maybe 6 months pre-Goofy I sign up?

Again it comes down to the question of why do I run and do I need to be faster to enjoy it. I don’t really know the answer yet but it sure gives me something to think about!