18 March 2012

RnR USA 1/2 Marathon Race Report - "You Run Better Than Metro."

Seen near Farragut West/Dupont Circle area of this weekend's half marathon:
"You Run Better Than Metro." I wanted to run over to the sign-holder and tell her, "You have NO IDEA how true that is."
I was planning on doing a warmup run before the race, but I didn't plan on it being the two mile OMG I'M GOING TO MISS THE START mad dash that it ended up being from the Capitol South Metro station because the Metro train broke down. At 7:35 (25 minutes before the race start, mind you, after already waiting 20+ minutes for the train that was supposedly just minutes away) I finally gave up and made a run for it. I got to the start area with 8 minutes to spare, found the bag check and arrived at my start corral two minutes before the gun went off. Whew. Race day butterflies? Not anymore, I was so focused on getting to the start, I killed them all.

So, the race. The plan was to not blow up. Steps I took were:
- Start conservatively.
- Drink water (it was hot for March!)
- Pray to Saint Patrick (patron saint of both beer and PRs since today was race day) for a negative split.

I also hoped to PR, but didn't know how reasonable a goal that was. The first few miles were flatish, miles 5-7 were uphill, and then the last 6 were an undulating net downhill. Perfect for a negative split, really, if I decided not to race stupid. I figured I'd start with 7:20-7:30 for the first 4-5 miles, try to hang on during the uphills, and then throw down the hammer the last 6 miles. I surpassed the first part of my plan, mainly doing around 7:15s-7:20s. I didn't slow down too much during the hills. But, I didn't throw down the hammer as much as just let it weakly fall to the ground. Sure, I negative split the race, but my pace those last few miles never went below 7:00. And when I finished the race, I didn't feel as sore as I figured I would feel. My finish time was 1:37:12. Not terrible. Not awesome. Not my best and not my worst. I felt like I executed a solid race, with the majority of my splits well under 7:30. I negative split the race, I didn't blow up, and my last few miles were some of the more speedy ones. My head didn't get in the way and I held it together mentally. Is it possible to be happy/unhappy with a race - to feel like you executed a good race but didn't get a great time? In some ways, I feel like I raced much smarter today compared to the 2010 Shamrock 1/2 marathon, which I ran about 2.5 minutes faster, but really struggled towards the end because I started off too fast and definitely did NOT pull off a negative split. I remember finishing that race and feeling really disappointed because I didn't run smart - I ran stupid. Today, even though my finish time was slower, I'm not terribly disappointed. Ambivalent would be the best description. This wasn't an "A" race and I care more about triathlons than running at the moment. When I had a dismal finish (for a variety of reasons) at the 2011 Washington's Birthday Marathon, I remember lamenting that I didn't feel like I could run like I used to. And I was asked this question, "Do you want to be a better marathon runner or a better triathlete?" My answer was triathlete and I haven't looked back since. My swim and bike can always be improved, but I'm much stronger in those two disciplines than I used to be. Maybe someday I'll want to go back and focus on solely running, but now is not that time. One thing I do need to work on, regardless of my status as a triathlete or a runner, is my mental game. I'm not very sore today, a good indicator that my legs could've handled more time in the hurt locker but I just didn't have the mental strength to put them there.

PS - look what I found! A race picture that doesn't completely stink!


Charisa said...

Nice work. I'm always happy/unhappy with races - looking for places I could be faster, etc. It's a good balanced place to be. Glad you made the start! :)

Em said...

You do run better than metro -1:37 is an awesome time!! And remember - it was 13.3 miles :-) and hillier than Shamrock. I think the key early season is being smart about racing and not risking injury or burn-out.

That said - if you could teach me how to run 7:30s I'd be thrilled :-)

Katie said...

this totally wasn't your point - maybe - but this post gives me hope. thank you.

onthebusrunning said...

Sounds like you executed a great race on a tough course in - let's be honest - some pretty warm DC weather. Nice job! I'm with you...I nothing this race.

Caroline said...

@Charisa - thanks! It's nice to know that I'm not alone in feelings of ambivalence towards races. This past weekend makes me appreciate those races where I know I really worked my tail off. Hope you are feeling better!!
@Em - Thanks! And those extra bits of mileage definitely added to the time! I think we can definitely learn from each other - I need to learn how to bike better and I'd be happy to talk to you about running, though I'm definitely not an expert!
@Katie - I'm glad you enjoyed the post - you had an awesome race yourself out there. Racing is definitely not always about the PRs, sometimes it's just about planning and executing a smart plan.
@Brad - it WAS warm! Sorry I missed seeing you guys during the race!!

AndyLipscomb said...

Anytime I've rushed to get to a race start (sadly, this has happened on several occasions) I've felt an impact late in the race. The energy expended from pre-race stress takes a toll. Still, you ran a solid half despite this setback.