I got the opportunity a few days ago to run a local half-marathon this weekend, so what the hell? At first I was like, "heck no, no way, that's just dumb. I'll I've done since training again is base work and I don't even think my Garmin has seen more than a few minutes at a sub-8 pace." But I also had my first longer tempo run on tap for this week, so it seemed like more fun to do that in the form of a half-mary than all alone. I think this goes for anyone: that entering a race can be a good way to approach a tougher training day -- as long as you have the right perspective and don't get in over your head with pacing and all that.
This day was also important to me in another way: It was one year ago today that a sorta "blew" my knee on a long run last year, leading me to 2 months of NO running. That happened last Super Bowl Sunday. A lot has changed since then. This year my body is much more solid, strong and handling the training miles very well. Even though this half-mary was totally last minute, I felt confident that doing it would not put me at risk for injury.
That said, I wasn't even thinking of specific goal times or doing anything crazy. Just wanted to put in some harder, faster miles again and see how the body handled it. If I had any goal, it was to hold sub-8 miles for the whole thing, as well as not get in over my head and think that I'd bust out 7:00-7:10s for the whole race. And to put myself to the test even more, I did a good amount of riding the two days before the race. Gotta love a hard run on tired legs.
I also love a 5am race-morning wakeup, and meeting up with good friends. I rode up with my buds from my gym, the head trainer and physical therapist, and we sat around a nearby hotel lobby for a good hour-plus just waiting for the start. In that time, I managed to set up a nice lady's Garmin for her, have a talk with a chiro about compression socks (was sportin my 110% Play Harder socks, holla!), spot Hillary Biscay and Maik Twelsik wondering through the lobby, and learn that my friends' nutrition strategy included a shot of Red Bull/5hr Energy at ~mile 10 -- um, yuck! All that before 7am. Nice.
The half itself went well and was a blast. I felt solid, and running felt fluid. Nutritionally, I stuck to one bottle of Skratch (pineapples -- my new fav!) and had some banana on the course. For pacing, since it was somewhat of a question mark, I made an effort to push myself but also stay relaxed and keep HR in a reasonable range (160s). That equated to mostly a 7:30ish pace +/- a few seconds. Honestly, better than I expected. By around mile 10ish I realized a sub-1:40 was totally doable if I kicked it up a notch, so I laid down the hammer. My last few miles ended up being my fastest of the race, and I finished in 1:39:25. I was stoked to be able to finish strong -- and to be in control to do so rather than feeling like I was just holding on for survival.
I'm really looking forward to incorporating more speed work and intensity again, and getting back into "PR" shape. Fired up!
In other news, my mom ran a trail 10k today and got 1st AG and top-5 overall. She rocks.