I took a blogging break for a few months – honestly, because I kind of lost my training mojo and just wasn’t particularly inspired to run, train or write. I figured when I felt I had something that I wanted to share, I’d start back up. I was finally inspired after this last weekend and officially have gotten my groove back.
I’d set a PR goal for the Frederick Half Marathon last year – I wanted to break two hours. My current PR for a half was 2:05 from Richmond in 2015 and I hadn’t really ever trained for a PR since then. I started in this winter on the Hanson’s half marathon training and after hitting a strong high point with a 10K PR mid-cycle, I lost some serious steam on training.
I mean SERIOUS steam. I went for two weeks without running, then I pretty much ran between 10 – 20 miles/week….no speedwork or tempo runs and maybe two long runs (one which was a trail run.) My cross-training was pretty solid but I didn’t think that would be enough. So, I’d pretty much decided I’d thrown away my sub-2 for Frederick.
I did think that I could still PR, though. Despite my training decline, I’m still a faster and stronger runner than I was in 2015. So, I figured that I’d just try to beat 2:05 and try for a sub-2 in the fall.
- I didn’t look at the course or the elevation so I really had no idea what I had in store. Rookie move, but I didn’t think I was going to need it
- Pre-race meal: Pork chop and a half a baked potato – this is my go-to, pre-race meal. I know it makes me a horrible Jew, but I always have great races after pork chop dinner
- Race Day Fueling: Paleo banana bread for breakfast; chia gel right before race start, tailwind in my handheld for the race
- Race-wear – Oiselle singlet and UA heat-gear leggings. It was going to be chilly but I run best when I’m cold
- Running support – I had a running buddy planning to jump in @ mile 8 to help me make my PR. She’s a faster runner than I am, so I knew I could count on her to help me get it done.
I have never been to Frederick, nor did I really familiarize myself with the parking situation, but fortunately, I just followed people with 13.1 and 26.2 stickers on their cars and found my way. I wasn’t “going for it’ so I wasn’t really stressing about the run. Although I still had my typical pre-race anxiety of coughing and constipation – I just can’t help that.
I lined up with the 2:00 pace group. All I had to do is stay under a 9:32 pace for the race – and the 2:00 group is 9:10 – so I figured as long as I could see those pacers – I should be fine.
It was a very small start line – I don’t know what the total number of runners was, but this definitely was a lot smaller than I’m used to. I knew crowd support wouldn’t be what I needed to keep moving, so I was musically motivated as I started off. I stayed at tempo pace for the first few miles, and then deliberately tried to throttle back to closer to 9:15 – 9:20 because I wanted to try and save my steam for the latter part of the race. I know I can run low 9’s for the first half…but wasn’t sure if I could maintain for the second, given my lack of training.
It wasn’t the most exciting course, I’m not going to lie. Considering that it was raining, I was impressed and appreciative on the crowd support that was there. It’s also a little more hilly than I’d realized.
I hit the halfway point of the race and I was starting to hit a tired spot, but I saw some birds at the water-stop and they got me going again. It’s really amazing how much a few cheers can help.
Mile 8 – enter Courtney. She asked me how I was doing and we figured out that I was good for a new PR, but “close” for a sub 2 race, so by mile 9, she basically told me that I should go for it and how we were going to do it. The plan – at mile 10, she’d run faster and I’d just have to keep up. Now that I think about it, she didn’t really ASK me if I wanted to do it….she just told me I was doing it.
Why the hell not?
I turned my Garmin around so I couldn’t see my pace and at mile 10, we started running faster. I know that it’s normal to hit hard spots to work through during a race, but I have never cycled as fast through them as I did in this race. I would be in agony for a few minutes, and then I’d work through it and be fine…and then 2 minutes later I was dying again.
Looking at my paces after the fact, miles 11 – 13 were all sub-9, which is pretty amazing for me. I wish I could tell you I handled those final miles with the strength of a warrior. But I didn’t. I whined LIKE A BITCH for a fair amount of them. I wheezed, I struggled to control my breathing, I announced multiple times “I can’t do this!” and I almost coughed up a lung. But Courtney ignored all that…she kept running and telling me I could keep going and I could do it. If I would have been able to catch her, I wasn’t sure if I’d hug her or beat her up.
But I just didn’t stop, even though every fiber in my being wanted to. I whined and struggled, but I kept running as fast as I could. There are two hills in the last two miles that almost brought me to tears, but I got through them. I crossed the finish line and came dangerously close to vomiting – but I didn’t. Then I saw my finish time of 1:59:56 and it was all worth it. I couldn’t believe I did it, considering the lack of training. I know that I short-change myself all the time on what I’m capable of, but clearly I’m much stronger and faster than I think I am. Now what I really have to think about…if I can do this when I don’t train, what am I really capable of when I’m all in?
Lesson learned – Always go for it. Why the hell not?