On Sunday March 5th I did my first race of the season, the first of 4 half marathons on the schedule, the Chilly Half Marathon.
My training hadn’t been ideal after a week+ with the flu and a couple weeks away from the long run because of work, so personally my expectations weren’t high – my coach on the other hand expected much more and left me with two words as I approached the start line “be aggressive”. FYI: Me and “aggressive” don’t have a great relationship. I hate having to “sit” in the uncomfortable feeling of a “push” and to do it for up to 2 hours – no thanks! So I really wasn’t excited about what was in store.
My goal pace according to coach was 5:30, the goal pace I set for myself was 5:40. I ran the first 2 km easily. It was FREEZING cold (like seriously why is this race always SO COLD). And when I’d look at my watch my pace was around 5:20, I knew in the end I might be paying for it being to tired, so found myself going between thoughts of slowing back to 5:30 (which I did), and just running at that pace because it felt OK. I kept my eye on my watch and kept trying to slow myself down.
There was a head wind after the first turn as we headed back towards downtown Burlington along the beach strip. It was cold and windy and felt tough. The crowds in the downtown area were lively as we made our way along the short rollers. This course is a double out and back with one side being much longer. This has advantages and disadvantages as it’s a long time without any turns of excitement. So good, because it’s quick and easy to know where you are, bad because it’s sometimes boooring.
I started to feel some pain/tightening in my left inner thigh around 12km, then my left glute, and eventually my left ITband. As I haven’t been feeling great my strength training hasn’t been consistent and my little weaknesses are starting to add up. I just kept focusing on my knee lift and keeping my left ankle (the one I sprain all. the. time.) straight, something I’ve been working on with the Runners Academy for the past three weeks. I’ve found recently during my training runs that focusing on better running form is making me faster – because I’m running more effectively, although I need to keep it in mind until it becomes second nature. My plan: whenever my watch would beep for km or I thought of it I’d count myself 30 seconds of a stronger knee left during my stride.
Around 17km I started to slow down (5:39- so not actually as slow as I thought). I got passed by some friends I started with and began regretting the 5:20 at the start thinking it was doing me in. I started doing my numbers like crazy in my mind – knowing I might be close to my 1:55 if I could just get myself back under 5:30. My mind was racing to make this happen. Be Aggressive.
I ran upon this old dude who seemed to be holding a solid 5:25, so tucked in behind him like a shadow and held on and it felt ugly.
My brain kept trying to convince me to slow down – as I mentioned, I am pretty sure I intentionally do everything I can to avoid that uncomfortable spot I need to be in to “be aggressive”.
After two km behind this old dude and only 2 km to the finish I pulled ahead and turned my music on crazy loud to get to the end. I don’t usually run with music – spent 4 years not, but I did in Barbados and it was a good distraction for my brain to disconnect from my body. My finish line jam – click here.
So I grinded out that last km at 5:16 and finished at 1:56 (a 5:30 pace – guess coach knows) – just off my personal best, a time set here in 2013 for my seconded fastest half marathon.
I’m happy with how I raced. I’m glad that I now have an accurate race pace to apply to my training, and I look forward to this upcoming season and finally chasing down that PB.