“Tomorrow is another day, and there will be another battle!” ~Sebastian Coe
It was supposed to be a cinch, an easy 13.1, a taper week, a chance for my family to come see me run and a mental boost for me to run an easy 13.1 through Atlanta. Turns out, it was one of the toughest runs I have had in awhile.
I went to Atlanta this past weekend to see the family, relax and run the ING Half Marathon. Even though the half didn’t go nearly as well as I had hoped, I learned a lot.
The night before the half, we went to dinner at some friends house. They were wonderful, beautiful people. It was only hard because I couldn’t eat my normal pre-race dinner. I didn’t think it would be a problem but I could tell during the race that something was off. It’s so funny how when you run those distances, something little can make such a huge difference. Lesson #1: never mess with the pre-race meal.
The morning of the half, I rode with neighbors downtown. We left at 5am which meant I had to wake up at 4am eastern (3am my time). Woah. My body had no clue what was going on. I had decided the night before to add a banana to the lineup that morning for some extra energy. Normally I just have a Luna bar. I’m not sure if this was a good idea or not. I’m still trying to perfect the morning race meal but as you’ll see later, something just wasn’t right during the race and the banana may be to blame in part. We’ll see- the verdict is still out.
When I went to the corrals at 6:50 (the half started at 7) 18,000 runners were already on the move! Since when do races start on time, let alone early!? I was supposed to be in corral B but I was back by K and knew I wouldn’t make it. I pushed my way up to corral D. I probably could’ve made it to corral C but figured since I really wasn’t trying to race this half, it would be good to start farther back so I couldn’t go out fast. Wrong again. There I was dodging runners, all the while averaging right under a 9 minute mile for the first five. Oh brother. Lesson #2: Get a corral number close enough up so you aren’t dodging people for half the race. You add mileage (and time) that way.
Around mile five when I looked down at my watch and realized the pace I was keeping on what was supposed to be a long run on my taper week…I had what’s called here down south, a Come to Jesus talk with myself 🙂 I reminded myself that I’m in training right now and this was not my race. I couldn’t be sore for the next week because I had to hop right back into training. This was supposed to be my easy week. Even after the talk, it was easier said (or thought) than done. I felt like a stick shift car- jerky (or at least the way I drive one). I kept running as if it was a race and then had to pull back. Over and over I had to keep my competitive edge in check. I think that’s why I got SO tired. By mile 8 I was done.
How silly of me to think that Atlanta was flat. Wrong again! It was SO hilly. The good news is that after Dante’s Peak, I knew that no matter what the course threw at me, I could make it to the top. Mile 11 came and they started separating us for the half and full marathon. I can’t tell you how thankful I was that I wasn’t doing the full. I almost knelt down and kissed the ground. The last 2.1 were nasty rough and once I was done I felt awful. There was a lurching in my stomach, my head was stuffy and my legs hurt like hell.
On the way home I felt like I was going to throw up. My whole body was in revolt. I hated that my family had to see me like that. On my 4 hour drive back to Nashville I was upset. Really upset. Why did I have such a bad race? Luckily I have great friends, including a wonderful running buddy and a fantastic and knowledgeable boyfriend to listen to me as I hashed out what I learned from ING.
Lesson #3: Run the race you set out to run.
-I should have decided long before I was in my start corral, what my strategy was. It was a taper week and I should have treated it as such from the very start.
Lesson#4: You are tired at your finish line, no matter the mileage.
– Let’s be honest…I was terrified that the thought of breaking off to do the marathon almost made me cry. During the half, at mile 11 I was beat when just the week before I ran close to 19. How would I ever run twice with I did at ING?! Well, cause that’s where the finish line is. My line was 18.something the week before and that’s what I did. It was 13.1 for the ING. It’s all where the finish line is.
Lesson #5: Compression socks or as I call them, sausage casings, should be in everyone’s running arsenal.
-I got some CEP Compression Socks this weekend. I have been hearing from everyone how great these are but quite honestly didn’t want to spend the money. I finally gave in because I knew I’d be driving 4 hours right after the half and heard that compression socks are especially great for traveling after a race since you can’t ice and put your feet up. I love them (even though they are UT colors). My shins have felt so much better this week.
I ended up with a time of 2:03:19, not my best time by any means but for a long run, not bad. I was 3,531 out of 10,481 runners, 1.264 out of 5,863 females and 149th in my age division. Not great but not bad.
My body is just now recovering, just in time for a killer hill workout with the nasties tonight. I still don’t feel 100% and my body still doesn’t like anything I put in it but I am giving it till 6:00 to get it’s act together. The sun is out, the weather is beautiful and I’m ready to run.
What lessons have you learned from a bad race?