Really, I want to talk about what I learned during this race, because it was a whole lot. I went in with high expectations. Before my surgery in the spring, I had been training with one goal in mind: a sub 2:00 half marathon. I chose Seattle, I found a training plan, and I was working my butt off. In the middle of all that, I signed up for New York and started working with a coach for the first time. I knew that New York was the big far off goal, but Seattle was still my focus. Then I found out I needed surgery, and I was sidelined for almost 3 weeks. My first full run back after that was the day I would have been running RnR Seattle. I set my sights on AFC and decided it was going to be my race.
This was the same time our NYC training plan officially started, and it quickly became my focus. I almost forgot about AFC and my “big plans” until I got home. Then I didn’t really taper the way I normally would. In fact, I had my highest mileage running week ever. I had slowed way down on my training runs since arriving back in Phoenix and was starting to feel really doubtful about my abilities to meet my goal in this race. But then we went to San Diego and I remembered how much I wanted it and I posted all sorts of crap on facebook about how I was trying to break 2 hours, and I put all this pressure on myself to make other people proud.
Meanwhile, I tried to forget that on Saturday morning at 8am (the same time I’d be running the next day), I was hot just sitting outside. I tried to assure myself that since it was less hot than Phoenix, obviously I’d feel fantastic. Well, at 7am Sunday morning at the start line it was already nearing 80* with 70% humidity, and I thought “Well, I certainly wouldn’t want to be wearing any more clothing right now.” Most of my other races I started out freezing at the starting line, and that’s how I like it. I don’t do well in the heat, and I’ve always been
a big freaking baby temperature sensitive.
I went out strong in the race, and was determined to do what I’d set out to do, regardless of any challenges. I started off with Stacey, ran the first 2 miles just over goal pace. They were hilly, but I still felt okay. I got into a groove at mile 3, then mile 4 started with a super awesome downhill. I lost Stacey near the beginning of it, and just tried to let it be fast without pushing too hard and overdoing it. I ran mile 4 in 7:58. It was my favorite. It was also my first sub 8 mile in a race ever. Miles 5-7 were right on track, but at the end of mile 6 we turned a corner, and all of the sudden the sun was just so strong, and all I could feel was heat, and it felt like it was a million degrees out. My body felt totally overheated, and the idea of even finishing seemed impossible.
From there it was pretty much just a crash and burn. I had killed my 10k PR, then finished the first half in less than an hour, and still managed to blow up so far above my previous PR that it was kind of embarrassing. Once I realized (around mile 9) that I had no hope left of even a PR, I backed off, and just tried to get through it. I didn’t 100% give up, but I lost most of my drive, and took way more walking breaks than were actually necessary. I finished in 2:12, which isn’t my worst, but isn’t anywhere near my best either.
I may or may not have cried in the car afterwards. I’m a little dramatic. I get it. And I know that it just wasn’t the right time, but it still sucks when you put your goals out there for the world to see, and then don’t meet them, ya know? But I learned so so much. Let’s make a list of all the things I learned.
- I should have one running related goal at a time. Maybe some people can have LOTS, but for me, if my goal is my first full marathon, I need to not worry about half marathon PRs. I’m going to run a full freaking marathon 13 months after beginning my running journey. I’m building up my mileage, and working harder than I ever have. It’s okay if I’m not where I want to be with other distances right at the moment. I’m working towards something bigger.
- It’s okay to adjust your goals on race day. That doesn’t mean you’re giving up. Sometimes circumstances happen that are beyond your control, and some days you just don’t have it in you the way you imagined you would. It’s okay to step back and make some adjustments. If I don’t allow myself some flexibility, I will undoubtedly end up disappointed many more times.
- Pacing is hard. Did I go out too fast? There was a downhill, and I had a goal, and the answer from me would still be I don’t think so. I blew up, but I still think under the right circumstances I could have done it, and I don’t think starting slower would have changed how I felt at the end. But seriously people, what do I know? Maybe if I had shuffled along at the beginning, I would have won the race (hahaha I’m so funny). I still really don’t get pacing.
- I enjoyed racing so much more when I had no expectations. I haven’t really loved a race since The Lost Dutchman, and I went into that race with zero expectations. I wanted to not run it slower than PF Chang’s, and I took 9 minutes off my time on a more challenging course. I still don’t know how it happened, but my guesses would be a fast running partner and low expectations. I’ve had one run since them (my 10 mile time trial) where my brain was in the right place. Running is mental, but not just in the way that your mind tells you it hurts and to quit, but in the way that your mind focuses on the wrong things and convinces you that you can’t do it. I’d like to work on this.
- Maybe I should be more particular about what goals I put out there for the world to see. Or maybe not? Maybe I should just learn to be okay with occasionally falling short. Maybe I need a reminder that the people in my life want me to succeed, and are not in fact waiting for me to fail so they can laugh at me. I’m not in 7th grade anymore, and although I have a strong argument that this may have been the case then, it certainly isn’t now.
- Finishing is always an accomplishment. Does any runner actually believe that? I’d like to. I’m working on it. I think I used to.
In conclusion, I ran slow (garmin said I averaged 9:58), I had a temper tantrum, and I’ve mostly gotten over it. Now I’m trying to seem all smart like I know things. To prove I didn’t lay down on the side of the road and give up like I wanted to, here’s a couple of pictures of me pretending I didn’t hate life at the end.
Thank you Steve for making up for my crappy race by getting pictures with both of my feet off the ground, and my legs not looking fat or manly. I appreciate it 😉