1. Train for months.
4. Grumble about your time to anyone wh0 will listen.
Anywho, I ran my second half marathon Sunday in Eugene, Oregon. I was aiming to finish in less than two hours, and all of my training indicated that I would.
The reality, however, was a bit different. I finished in 2:07:58, significantly slower than I hoped/trained for, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed. Not so much because I missed my goal; more so because I missed my goal and I feel like the reasons for that were preventable.
I completely underestimated how hard air travel would be on my body prior to a race. My sleep schedule was all out of whack. My nutrition was atrocious. I didn’t eat very well or nearly enough the day before the race. I had a huge, late lunch that didn’t contain enough carbs. I was so full for the rest of the day that I only managed to eat one slice of pizza before bed, which I had to force myself to do. I got to the race way later than I wanted to, and as a result, didn’t have time to putter around and wash down a gel with plenty of water before the gun went off. The hills toward the end of the race were tougher than I expected, and my lack of food didn’t make them any easier.
Here’s the breakdown:
Miles 1-3: Ok, it’s really crowded. I’m not going fast enough. I need to bust through and pick up the pace. It’s cold. My hands are cold. Oh well. Keep going. I really should’ve taken a gel. I’ll just down one at the first water station.
Miles 4-7: This feels good. I’m on pace, a little faster. I’m cruising. The course is pretty, things have opened up a bit and I can feel my hands again. Take a gel. Have some water and Gatorade. Feeling optimistic. (This is the best I feel the entire race.) On pace for a 1:58/59
Mile 8: Crap. This is a huge hill. I am a machine, I am a machine. What? I’m only halfway up the hill and feel like dying? What? This is miserable, but I will NOT walk. I’m passing tons of people who are walking. Why is this song stuck in my head? Only a little longer until I’m up this thing, then I’ll get to recover on the downhill that must surely be on the other side.
Mile 9: Phew, that’s over. Thank God there’s a downhill for me to coast on. Legs are a little tired, but that’s OK. I’ll perk back up here in a minute. Have some more Gatorade, choke down half a gel and my stomach turns. What?!! MORE HILLS?! I can do this. I can do this. On pace for 2:01/02. I can still get this.
Mile 10: Don’t walk. Don’t walk. You will hate yourself if you walk. You are only 5k away from being done, DON’T WALK. More hills. OK, you can walk through this water station to get a drink and eat some of those weird electrolyte-fruit-bite-thingies. But only for a second. MORE HILLS?!!!! Let’s do this. I can do this. Keep going.
Mile 11-12: *Hits wall.* Legs feel completely drained. I shuffling along. If I walk I will hate myself. Legs keep hurting. Maybe walking for a few seconds will make me feel better… OK, I’ll walk for a few seconds. OK, I’ll walk for a minute — maybe 2 minutes. Legs still feel like crap. I’ll run some more. Maybe a few more seconds of walking. I play this game for a while.
Mile 13: Get it together. Don’t embarrass yourself; the crowds are yelling, you can’t walk. Run the rest. It’s only another mile. It doesn’t matter how slow you are, just run it. Just finish. Cross the finish line and you can collapse and sleep all day. 2:07:58
So that’s that. I walked for the first time ever in a race. That even includes when I first started running in high school and was TERRIBLE. More than anything, I’m mad at myself for walking. It’s one of those things where when it’s happening, you feel like you’re doing your best. Then later, when you’re feeling better, you think back and say to yourself “I could’ve pushed harder. I didn’t do my best. It didn’t hurt that much.” Not a great place to be.
I’m left with this “Mission: Unaccomplished” feeling, and it’s not very fun. I realize that there are tons of people who would kill to run the time that I ran, so I don’t mean to be ungrateful or to come across as saying “this time sucks.” It’s not the time that I’m disappointed in as much as the reasons I ran that time and the feeling that I didn’t plan carefully enough. I guess it means I’ll just have to do another one! Mostly like the STL Rock ‘n Roll this fall. But what will I do until then?
I think I want to get back to my “roots” and do some 5ks. See what my speed is like after all these years. I’ve never raced a 10k, so those will be on the menu, too. Keep my fitness up while also taking a break from training for a half.
The EXCELLENT news is that there’s nothing major wrong with my back. I got into a great sports doc the Wednesday before. He popped my SI joint back into place and really worked me over to loosen up my hips and hamstrings. He slapped some kinseo tape on my back for support, and I was good for the race. So that’s a huge relief. I managed to make it through training without injuring myself, which is also awesome. AND, I have almost a solid year of consistent, significant mileage under my belt. Which means my base is strong and I’m ready for some harder runs.
So that’s what up. To quote Kid Cudi:
“The end is never the end. A new challenge awaits. A test no man could be prepared for. A new hell he must conquer and destroy. A new level of growth he must confront himself. The machine in the ghost within. This is the journey of the man on the moon.”