Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lessons from a Half Marathon

On Saturday Allison and I ran the Middle Half half marathon. This was our third year to run this race and my fourth half marathon over all to run. Of the four I've completed, this was my second slowest time and about 6 minutes slower than last year's race. Allison, on the other hand, ran a personal best 1:55. Over 2 minutes faster than last year. She is such a rockstar!

The interesting thing about this year's race was that the course, for many of the runners, was 0.509 miles longer than a true half marathon. This was the same course as previous years, however, at about the 1.5 mile point in the race a police officer blocked the correct turn creating the longer course. The race director sent an e-mail  and posted it on the race's Facebook page, but there wasn't really anything that could be done officially because some people ran the correct route and some did not. Unfortunately, Allison and I did not.

As I have done in previous races this summer, I tried to think about some lessons I could learn from this race. I have come up with a few:
  • Training is essential - This year I suggested we try a different training method. I thought it would save our legs and allow us to recover easier from long runs. In hindsight, I think we had too much recovery time. While we did just as many, if not more, miles than in previous years, we didn't do enough long runs in consecutive weeks to allow our bodies to get accustomed to running for  along time.
  • Your mindset can help or hurt you - Leading up to the race Allison and I talked a lot about how we didn't think we were as prepared and couldn't imagine that we would be able to eclipse out times from 2010. In the days leading up to the race, however, I tried my best to get us both in a good frame of mind. I even set a goal, that I thought would be tough to achieve, especially for me. Starting the race I was in a good frame of mind, other than I couldn't find Allison. I did, however, lose a lot of that when I learned we got off track on the course.
  • Run your own race - In the two previous years Allison and I have started together. We typically run about 10 miles together and then she speeds up and I try my best to keep up. This year was different because we lost each other just before the race started. This was great for her because it allowed her to run at her own pace and listen to her body and not my watch. Because of this she was able to run a personal best time on a course that was almost a half mile longer than she had ever ran before.
  • Take motivation where ever you can get it - At mile 11 a guy came up from behind me and said, "We've ran this whole race together. I'm not letting you slow down now." After about a minute I started to fall behind. He then said, "I'm not kidding. Speed up and let's finish this thing together." I don't know if he slowed down or I actually kept up with his pace, but in my mind I was totally motivated by his kindness to me in pushing me past what I thought were my limits. I am trying to figure out his name because I want to contact him and tell him thanks again for helping me.
Between miles 10 and 11 I told myself, "I'm never doing this again." Then about an hour after the race was over I started thinking about when I can run another race in order to get myself back under the 2 hour time. I'm a glutton I guess.

This is a great race. Even with the course error it was still a great day to run. The weather was awesome and the atmosphere at this race is always great. I am sure Allison and I will be signing up next year when they open up registration.

What are some lessons you have learned from an activity or hobby you do?

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