Okay, so I’m finally making the time to write this recap. I will do better on these blog posts again 🙂 I have one for every day next week pretty much lined up!
You’ll have to excuse a lot of my pictures as many will be from Instagram. I got so excited last weekend that I did from that app vs my camera and my sweet wife also sent me quite a few 🙂
Saturday morning I had a quick 30 minute shakeout. Legs were feeling good and I was sooooo excited for Sunday morning. However, we needed to hit the expo on Saturday first so I could get my bib, swag and purchase things that I probably (absolutely) didn’t need. 😂
I walked away with some shorts, sunglasses, jerky and a jacket… not to mention the few other things I bought Sunday. Hey, it was a good race and a great expo!
I also got to finally meet Kathrine Switzer. She was the first female to run the Boston Marathon. She was SO SO SO nice and talked to us for several minutes about running, our wedding, etc! She totally made the expo! Last year I got to meet Des Linden, and this year her…. so these Rock N Roll Expos are pretty good!
My sweet wife was a trooper. Followed me around while I drooled over running products, fan girled over athletes, and talked about Sunday’s race goals until her ears probably bled. She’s the best!
As you know, I’m doing the Houston Full in January. This race wasn’t the goal and I only had a mini taper so legs weren’t super fresh. I’m also only 10 weeks post injury, but the last several weeks my legs have really been doing well.
This was to be my 33rd half marathon. As you know, I’ve done a ton of races… 100s…. and I’ve toed the start line for most without much training. The past year I got serious, and got injured twice…. which was the Universe’s way of humbling me, reminding me of how much I love this sport, and how hard I want to work to reach my goals and push my limits!
I had ran the same race last year and clocked a 1:59:59. My PR was a 1:57 from a year before that at the Richmond Half. I knew, even with 10 weeks post injury, I would crush both of those times.
My goal was a sub 1:50, which would be an 8:23 pace per mile or less. I also knew that the course had some hills, but what I didn’t know what that they changed the course without our knowledge and there would be 450 feet of elevation gain, mostly on some really long and steep hills. I’m glad I didn’t know.
Race morning started with oatmeal, a quick hot shower to wake me up, and getting to the start so I had time for a 3 mile warmup and some dynamic stretching.
It was the perfect temps at around 50 degrees. I got a little warm the second half as the sun came out, but the start was perfect.
The organization was great. I was in Corral 1, and there were up to 20 Corrals I believe. They had 5 and below gated which I liked as I was able to squeeze in last minute and get where I needed to be. There were a lot of people that shouldn’t have been starting that far up, and so I ended running around some people the first few minutes. If your corral says 11, start in 11. Race etiquette is you can start farther back, but don’t go further up as it can create more chaos as runners try to get into a pace and rhythm.
As I lined up at the start, I told myself how lucky I was to be toeing that line healthy, and with a few good months under my belt. I love this sport so much.
I also was very grateful for my coach and for my amazing wife. I thought about my race strategy, and told myself to stay present in the mile I was in. I also put on my playlist, which I realized 5 miles in was the wrong one. Lol!
I waved goodbye, and I was off! I didn’t want to start out too fast, but I wanted to quickly get into a pace I thought I could hold. Miles 1-5 were pretty consistent with an 8:17 or so average. I was feeling pretty good but my legs were feeling less fresh at this point.
Mile 5 and 6 both had a long steep hill. I remembered one of these last year, but not two. There was also a sharp turnout which I definitely didn’t remember nor was it on the course map. So, I knew at that point things might be different, but was out of my control so again… stay in the mile I was in. What could I do in that moment to stay on pace. What could I do in that moment to race smart but with some guts.
That meant cruising up the hills (and there were plenty) and not freaking out about my time while doing so. Slowing down on the ups, and flying down the down fearlessly (thanks coach) would give me some time back but would leave me some gas for the final few miles without burning up on the ups. Can really lose your own race by running the hills wrong. once you are in a lactaid acid deficiency, that’s it.
I wanted to be in complete control of this race. For the first time ever I believe that I was, for the entire run! My miles slowed just a bit 9-12, but it wasn’t because I raced stupid. It was because the hills were tough and my quads were on fire… but they handled it, always getting back down to pace. I just couldn’t always make up for what I lost on the long ups.
I knew from last year that the course was long. I also knew that through each mile marker my gps went off before each mile this year as well… another long course. There was also twice the amount of elevation I was expected. It seemed that I was always climbing up a hill!
When I saw mile 12, I knew I was going to be close to the sub 1:50, but would barely miss it if course was long. At mile 13.14 on my watch I saw a 1:49:40. I almost cried. Technically I had ran my sub 1:50 and on a hilly AF course. However, when I crossed the finish line I officially clocked a 1:51. Pace was an 8:22 average. I had done it and was so freaking excited.
Lynn saw me at the finish line, and of course I couldn’t wait to tell her about my race and small victories along the way. I raced smart. My mental has become stronger than its ever been. For that I’m grateful. When your mind believes, your heart and legs will follow suit. Control what you can, and embrace the rest (hills). I was very proud of this race!
I stayed in zone 2 and 3 for the entire race, so that tells me my heart rate stayed in check and I never burned through those small anaerobic states causing me to fall apart at the end. That was huge for me! My final 1.3 miles (yes, course was long) was the fastest of the race around a 7:40 pace. I was thrilled.
I really believe in my heart had the course been exact and flatter I’d have clocked a 1:47-1:48. However, I don’t know that so why wonder. I am instead embracing the accomplishments on the course I had. I walked away very proud! I am so looking forward to Houston, and the to other 3 half marathons I have after, all before June. The sky is the limit and as long as I keep showing up, embracing the suck, staying present and humble, grateful and hungry… I think my May half marathon may be magical and something I can only dream right now 🙂 It’s in San Diego!
I had a two mile cool down after the race, so after I knocked that out I had almost 18 miles for the day. Success
I was very happy with my splits, and of course checking out all the race stats, post race is like Christmas morning!
We enjoyed the after party, ate some breakfast tacos, and listened to the music for a few hours. Was so good to enjoy everything and feel good about what I had left out on the roads!
I also said hello and congrats to Ryan Miller, who won the Marathon. He is such a nice guy and sky is limit for him as well! We both go to the same ART guy (the amazing Dale Londos) so we run into each other from time to time. Congrats Ryan!!!
- Have a race strategy. I used to just show up, minimal training, run stupid and try to hold on for dear life. Made for some miserable races. I’ve started training smart and my coach is incredible. I’ve always been great about coaching others, but slacking on my own training. Never again! Too many goals. I also want to feel in control, and I want to know going into each race that I gave it my all. Run smart, but run with guts.
- I love this sport for so many reasons. I love that I get to test my limits. I get to challenge myself. I get to succeed, fail and try again! I get to meet so many amazing and inspiring athletes.
- Embrace the suck. I say this a lot, but it’s crucial. To really see what you are capable of, there will be hard miles and hard races. Know those moments will come and welcome them. The more you embrace it, the more control you have.
- Don’t be afraid of going to the edge of uncomfortable. This is also when the magic happens.
- Reflect on your race. What went well, what can you change for next time to improve. Every race teaches us something. Not just about our fitness levels but about our mental strength.
- Recovery is everything. I’ve preached this before as I’ve learned the hard way. The way you recover is crucial as it sets you up for your next workout. Easy days easy. Hard days hard. Let the body lead the way and give it time to adapt.
- Stay humble and hungry. Stay present. Accomplish a goal, and make a new one. May take time but it makes the success of it so much more sweet. I have some pretty big goals. However, I know that with smart training, smart living, a little selfishness, and a lot of gratitude I will reach them! Aim high, and celebrate all the success along the way…. even the failures. Why? They aren’t really failures as they keep you grounded, hungry and remind of you why you get out of bed each day to train hard. Stay grateful and keep showing up. Run with your head and heart and your legs will follow suit.
– Do you have any races on your schedule?
– What are some of your race goals for 2020?
Tell me something special you are doing for the holidays.