Rock N Roll USA Half Marathon
|March 19, 2012||Posted by Emily under Uncategorized|
Saturday was the RNR USA Half Marathon. But you already know this because approximately 25,000 other people, at least 77 percent of which are running bloggers, also ran this race.
This may seem weird to you, since I’m a running blogger who likes to run and then write about it, but I really do not enjoy writing race reports. And since this race really does not deserve the traditional “and then the gun went off, and I started out too fast, and by this mile had lost my mental edge” kind of race report, I’m not going to give it one.
Instead, here’s the cliff notes version: the gun went off, I went out a little too fast, I sucked (and in related news: still suck) at hills, I lost my mental edge, and then a kind-of-sort-of managed to salvage my race at the end.
And now that that’s out of the way, I have more important things to discuss. I like to think of them as my race revelations. You know, the important things that go through your head while you feel like dying at mile 12 of a half marathon, like, “the world is ending” and, in related thoughts, “I need more mother effing speed work.” So, here are my race revelations from the dark miles of the RNR half marathon for you to enjoy:
1) I need to stop being a cocky asshole about racing.
I am the cocky asshole, not Alejandro, Alejandro is wonderful.
Before the race, I listed a few goals. One of them being to run a 1:34 because my race calculating bestie McMillan says that sets me up nicely to sub 3:20 a marathon. I figured if I could train through the RNR half, not rest or taper, and still run a 1:34 then I would be golden for blasting through that 3:20 barrier at Eugene.
But you know what? A 1:34 half marathon, while over 2 minutes slower than my current half PR, is still hard and maybe not a time I can just expect to hit because I think I’m so awesome at racing.
And to prepare for achieving this hard time goal, because I’m a total racing jerk, I went for a 10 mile run 36 hours out from the race with all but my warm up mile under my marathon goal pace of 7:37. Then proceeded to stay out extraordinarily way too late, teach a spinning class on Friday morning, and go to pilates that afternoon.
I know, brilliant pre-race strategy.
It was clear I had played the whole race prep thing wrong during my Friday lunchtime Pilates class when my body started to just give up. As you have probably observed through reading about my not-so-small fitness addiction, I am not someone who quits or half asses my way through exercise. But on Friday, I had no problem assuming a childs pose in lieu of some extra burning and core pulsing. Things you definitely want to feel less than 24 hours before toeing a start line.
And sure enough, from mile 1 of the race on Saturday, my legs were heavy.
And in turn, this effed (sorry, for the profanity heavy post, I need to expand my clean vocabulary) with my mental game. When I saw some sub 7 minute paces clocking in during my first few miles, while subsequently hating how tired my legs felt, I thought my entire race was screwed, so I let myself screw it over. By the time I got to the hills at mile 5ish, I had all but given up on the 1:34 thing. Way to stay mentally tough, Em.
Turns out I can’t just fatigue my body and expect it to perform. Crazy.
2) I need to learn how to go out slow, pace smart, and negative split.
Like, really. How many times have I said this? Write up my racing report card, fill it with Fs, and mail it to my parents. I deserve it. I am a pace strategy dunce.
I actually might have negative split this race, but it was only due to some very large and torturous hills during the first half of the course so I’m not even bothering to do the math. I don’t deserve any credit for negative splitting anything on Saturday.
Mile 12. This is not the face of someone who is negative splitting.
I suffer the same problem with smart pacing in my training runs. I’ll meet up with a faster friend to go for an easy run, we’ll start out the run, realize our pace is not exactly the “easy” pace we set out to do, say we’re going to back off and “zen” our pace, and moments later realize we’re back to a fast pace and repeat the whole process. By the end of the run, nothing about our Garmin statistics reflects success in achieving anything resembling a zen pace.
During the race on Saturday, I kept doing the same thing: I would look at my Garmin, realize it was too fast, try to back off, successfully slow down for a few seconds, and then next time I looked at my Garmin (usually within 2-5 seconds) I would be right back where I started.
Pace strategy fail.
2b) I am terrified of paces slower than my goal pace.
While I have no problem being 10 seconds faster than my target pace, I freak out when I see a pace slower then I want to be hitting. In my super logical mind, being under pace will put time in the bank, while there is no way I can compensate for a few slow miles. The whole, start slow, finish fast thing is just lost on me. Conserving energy to kick it in the final miles? Also a foreign concept. I am great at advising other runners to do this. The number one thing I tell first time marathoners is that you can’t go out too slow. But clearly I am incapable of actually adhering to this advice myself. Ship me off to Pace Camp, I’m ready for it.
3) I am problematically Garmin dependent.
I like to think that when we die, all of our unanswered questions will be answered for us. Topping my list will be: how many times, on average, do I look at my Garmin during a race? Thousands PER RACE would probably be low balling the answer to that, it’s more like thousands per mile (see: above reference to number of seconds between each Garmin glance).
I’ve talked about this before, but good God, I am entirely incapable of running by feel, listening to my body, and not being a slave to the numbers on my Garmin.
As I already mentioned, during the first part of the race, I let my pace defeat my mental game. I went out on the fast side, gave up in the middle, and then started to pick it back up in the final miles. And as I picked it back up, I lost mind battle number two to my Garmin.
I looked down at my watch, saw a 7:00 minute/mile beep at me for Mile 10, a 6:50 clock in for Mile 11, thought for sure I had started to kick too soon, would hit a wall, and again, gave up. Mile 12: 7:15.
But guess what? My legs weren’t done. Mile 13: back to 6:50.
Instead of trusting in my body to perform, I let my Garmin talk me out of it.
4) I really, really, really suck at hills.
Apparently my one session of hill repeats has not changed this fact. Shocking.
This course was much hillier than I remember it being from last year. In reality, I am probably just that much worse at tackling inclines.
And every time I got to one of the many hills on the course, I can assure you I was not practicing the whole “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” thing. More like, the tough give up.
If you need me between now and my goal marathon, I’ll be sprinting up hills over and over and over again.
5) I need to make some major adjustments to my training.
Specifically, I need to start doing speed work and start riding my bike again, even if I am not going to race many (or any) triathlons this year.
My approach to running has really just been: run a few days at a pace faster or around MGP, cross train to supplement my easy days, and then do a long run on the weekend. While I’ve used a few races for tempo work I seriously felt the lack of good speed work in my race effort on Saturday.
When I crossed the finish line on Saturday, I started talking to some triathlon boys about the whole hill thing. One thing everyone agreed on, biking does not hurt your ability to run hills.
In unsurprising news, all of the boys I was talking with who ride bikes on the reg, killed it on the hilly half marathon course. Coincidence? I think not.
Back when I actually used to ride my bike, I didn’t totally suck at hills. I swear, I used to be kind of good at them. Biking=strong hamstrings, hills=need strong hamstrings, so therefore, biking=strong hamstrings=suck less at hills. It’s crazy math, I know.
So, Big Red, I hope you’re ready to come out of your 7 month retirement, because I need you.
6) Local races are awesome.
Even though I was hating on hills all over the course, I loved seeing other DC endurance athletes, bloggers, roommates, and friends out cheering and racing.
My friend Meredith earned friend of the day by making it out to cheer me on at the top of the worst of the hills after tweeting about her hot hunt for karaoke at approximately 1:47 am on Saturday morning.
Thanks, Mer, you truly rocked the Rock N Roll spectating.
I saw people I didn’t even know had registered for the race, met new friends in the start corral, saw many of my favorites before and after the race, and ran into many friends out on the course.
If anything, the race was too big. While I managed to run into a boy who lived in my freshman dorm no less than three times, I didn’t see a lot of my other friends, or the many running bloggers in town for the race, at all. Apparently that happens when 25,000 people run the same race.
7) I still don’t know which marathon I am going to use for my goal race this Spring.
That is all for now.
Congrats to everyone who raced this weekend! Which, based on my google reader and twitter activity, was pretty much all of you.