56:05. 6.2 miles. 9:03/mile (average), 15th out of 47 in my age group. Woof. Don’t get me wrong, that is a great performance (not compared to the crazies), but each race brings about “lessons learned”. The morning started out like any other, until I got out of bed. “What…?”, you say? It was one of those mornings that I just felt “off”. I get out of bed to appease my bladder, and I feel a strange pull/soreness in my upper right quad that I can’t remember if I felt the day before or not. I did a quick analysis of most recent workouts: “Yesterday (Friday) was an Off Day, Thursday was bike, elliptical, and arms day…no “leg” workouts or running since Wednesday”. Hmm…odd. Well it stayed sore & tight all morning. Fortunately, a few minutes into the race, it seemed to “go away” and didn’t seem to bother my performance. If you gotta be injured, that’s a good one to have, right runners?! 🙂
Another “off” item was my tummy. I’ve been nutritioning well all week. Except for that margarita on Sunday (that shouldn’t have done it) and a few bites of Laffy Taffy on Friday (possible culprit) and that “No Sugar Added” Blue Bunny ice cream on Friday night (most likely culprit). For now, I will continue to reminisce the days that I didn’t have such problems before a race…Ok, fine, that’s never happened. A girl can dream, right?
So needless to say, I was pretty nervous. Not to mention it was looking to be hot & sunny and 6.2 miles is farther than 3.1 miles. Can I “bust it out” for a solid 6.2 miles like I’ve trained my brain to do in a 5K? I had to keep telling myself to just run it like a regular Sunday training run…I can always maintain my 5K pace during long training runs, but fret during a race and somehow can’t seem to “hold” that pace. So much psychology in running.
The first 2 miles were a bit challenging: brick roads, hills, lots of turns (hard on the joints), and lots of fasties passing me. But once we got onto the bike trails (my beloved trails) it was a delicious run. Flat, shady, and I know random distances on those trails like the back of my hand. Again, psychology. I knew once I got on those trails I’d be fine. I know the distances, the elevation, and certain landmarks to tell me where I am and how much farther to go on the course. Oh, psychology. What a difference it makes.
Another lesson, which I’m surprised I’ve just now realized this: smile while you run. Ok, ok…I can’t seem to force myself to smile either. Middle ground: relax your face. I have a habit of grimacing toward the end of a race or training run. It’s hotter, harder, I’m tired, and my body hurts. Grimacing is a natural human reaction. I’m not sure what made me realize this for a second between mile 4 & 5, I relaxed my face. “It” (running) didn’t seem to hurt as much. It didn’t seem to be a chore. Now THIS psychology lesson is also pretty cool. Remember in Psych 101 when we learned forcing a smile when you are unhappy, tired, angry, frustrated, etc. will convince your brain that you are happy? Bingo. Relaxed face = happy runner. Smiling or not. (It was too hot for me to smile, sorry).
But I WAS happy because I knew I was on track to finish under 1 hour, which was my general goal for this race. I always have “dream goals” and my “general goals” for my races. For instance, in the Alton Half Marathon, I was secretly hoping to finish at the 2 hour mark (give or take a few minutes). I didn’t, I finished in 2:09:00 BUT I beat my time from my previous half marathon but 11 minutes (not bad for only being back in the saddle for 3 months) and I ran without foot pain. Goals accomplished. During this race, I was secretly hoping for a 54:00 finish time, but would be happy with anything under 1 hour. Had I remembered to factor in the .2 miles in my pace, I would have accomplished that goal. Oh well, lessons learned…