As you may recall, I decided not to train for a spring marathon for the first time in 8 years. Instead, I was going to keep riding my high of a PR at Chicago last fall and focus on the shorter stuff. It was a good call for me as it took a LONG time for me to recover from Chicago, both mentally and physically.
This season started with a lot of soreness, aches and pains I normally do not have. I also struggled with motivation quite a bit. I had a 25 week training schedule, but really knew I didn't need that long to train for a half. So I moved workouts around and skipped them a bit too much.
But I also put in a lot of high quality work. My typical week included a speed workout, a tempo workout and a long run. It was quite similar to marathon training. The only differences were: (1) my speed workouts were faster; (2) my long runs were shorter (I maxed out at 17 miles); and (3) my mileage was lower as I peaked out around 50 miles per week.
Three weeks ago, I had the unfortunate problem of losing my running mojo. I just didn't care. The conditions for my goal race looked awful, so my coach and I decided to switch it up and have me focus on the Illinois Half Marathon. I was excited to make the change, but I was second-guessing my training, etc. non-stop. The Boston bombings didn't help as it made personal racing goals seem so irrelevant.
But I didn't work hard for nothing, so this week was ALL about getting my head in the game: tuning out the missteps in my training and focusing on the hard work. I had lunch with my coach, we talked about the course, and I declared my goals: I'd shoot for around 1:37, but would frankly be happy with anything under 1:40. Above all, I was looking forward to getting out there and racing. The time (for once) wasn't my main focus. Just run. Run hard.
We left for Champaign on Friday. I worked all morning, then left around noon to pick up my kids, meet up with my husband, and head south. The trip was just under 4 hours, but it was a whirlwind once we got there. We hit the expo, picked up our bib numbers, checked into our hotel and then headed down for the 5k. All three boys were doing it and for a change, I was the one spectating. None of them have been running much, but I encouraged them all to race hard and have fun. They all did awesome. We headed back to the hotel for a late dinner, then I hit the hay while they swam and watched a movie.
I woke up bright and early on Saturday at 4:30 am. I slept pretty poorly as my husband was coughing all night. I didn't mind though - I was just thankful I did not get the ugly head/chest cold all 3 of the boys had. It was a quiet, easy morning and when we left to walk down to the starting line, I felt great. My legs had been heavy and sore for weeks, but this morning they felt light and snappy. The weather was awesome - about 50 degrees, sunny, and a light breeze. I lined up for the start and was so thankful to be there. There was a moment of silence for Boston and then the National Anthem. As always, I felt moved and thankful.
The race started and we were off. I felt great and decided to go for it. I knew a PR was unlikely given my training and the fact that I am up about 8 lbs, but why the hell not go for it? Instead of starting out at the 7:35 pace I planned, I did the first 6 miles a bit aggressively (7:21, 7:19, 7:25, 7:24, 7:21, 7:27). Mile 6 had a slight incline and I slowed a bit, 7:41, but I picked it up for miles 7 and 8, 7:30, 7:19. At that time, I felt pretty good and was thinking how great it was that I only had 5 miles rather than 18 left. I thought I may just have a PR in me after all. But by mile 10, I was hurting and thanking my lucky stars I only had 3 more to go. I tried to focus, but lost a fair bit of steam (and time) those last few miles (7:51, 7:55, 8:06, 7:43).
As I turned into the University of Illinois stadium, I could see the clock was at 1:39:xx and gave it all I could to come in under that 1:40. Barely made it at 1:39:49 (7:38 average pace). :) After the finish, I met up with the boys and we hit the hot tub and pool in our hotel before we made the trek back home.
There was a time that this race would have disappointed me, but today was not that time. I did not regret going out aggressively even though I knew I wasn't in shape for a PR race. I am proud I went for it and worked through the pain those last few miles. I am so glad I can do this and that my whole family supports me.
I am also now ITCHING to get back to marathon training. This half stuff is fine, but I really want to get back into marathon training and top shape. If I want to hit my goal of 3:20 in the fall, I better be able to keep the pace I had in today's race for the entire 26.2. I'll admit that seems a little daunting, but I know I can do it if I refocus my training and go get it. After a season of little motivation, I am feeling it rush back in. Bring it on!
|Field Placement:||389 / 6193 (6.3%)|
|Age group:||35 – 39|
|Group Placement:||7 / 453 (1.5%)|
|Gender Placement:||66 / 3587 (1.8%)|