Runner’s World half–the race itself

Blonde Ponytail, MissZippy, Westford Mommy

With Jess, Elizabeth and PR-setting Robin post-race

Alrighty–so how to you top off an incredibly fantastic, run centric weekend? You run a race, of course!

Many of the participants in the Runner’s World Half Marathon Festival went for what the magazine dubbed the hat trick: A 5k and 10k on Saturday, followed up by a half marathon on Sunday. Impressive, no? I was NOT among them, I assure you. Cool as the hat trick sounded, I wanted to concentrate on the half as a gauge of fitness for my Dec. 2 marathon.

I went into the race with hopes that I would be in the 1:38-1:39 range, and certainly no higher than a 1:40. In the end, though, I finished with a low 1:41. I was pretty disappointed, but not crushed. I feel like a ran a solid first few miles, had some pretty slow/bad middle miles, but then pulled out a good push for the final four miles or so. Unfortunately my late surge was too late to salvage the number I wanted.

I can’t point to any one, glaring factor that prevented me from being where I wanted. Were my first couple of miles a bit too fast? Perhaps. Did running with a Garmin for the first time ever in a race affect me? I think that may have played a role. I am a solid, steady pacer at my strongest. With the Garmin, I found myself constantly slowing and then surging based on the numbers I was seeing on my watch. For me, that tends to wear down my legs. The last few miles when I ran stronger, however, I barely looked at it, but when I did, I found I was holding a very consistent pace. So based on this experience, I’m not sure what I’ll do about using it in future races (and I think I have a full post on this topic alone!).

A pace calculator would tell me that my 1:41 result isn’t going to get me sub-3:30 at CIM, but I’ve been at this long enough to know better than to rely only on that. CIM will be a very different animal in terms of course elevation. I’ll also have six more weeks of training under my belt and a three-week taper to boot. I didn’t give myself more than about six days of taper for my half because I was still concentrating on the bigger prize of CIM. And then there’s the plain and simple fact that it just might have been an off day. Some races are just like that.

Altra Zero Drop shoes

With one of the Altra Zero Drop guys, Kristin, Robin and Harold at the finish line. Photo courtesy of Altra.

In any case, after a bit of recovery, it’s back to marathon training for me. I’ve got two 22s in the next couple of weeks and I”m looking forward to having at them. The same goes for speedwork. I’m feeling pretty fired up to make some improvements before Dec. 2.

How does an off race affect you? Do you get discouraged or motivated? 

Many thanks to Runner’s World for my comp entry at the half.

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  1. says

    Yep! We are definitely in the same boat about the racing disappointments during marathon training 😉 But, I say CONGRATS on finishing another race! And I think your speedy time is inspiring!
    It’s good to know that improvements can still be made between now and CIM.
    I’m intrigued by your Garmin-less racing. I always wear mine, but maybe I should brave a race without it?!
    GreenGirlRunning recently posted..Just the Run I NeededMy Profile

  2. says

    Sounds like you had a fabulous weekend, even if the race wasn’t perfect.

    I’ve sort of given up on figuring out why one day I run/race really well and another I don’t. I just try to roll with it.
    MCM Mama recently posted..Cue the music…My Profile

  3. says

    Ah – I guess it’s all a matter of the way we mentally frame it, I like what you just did in letting it fire you up.

    It really depends for me. My last few halfs had been stinkers, as I was having issues (cramping, losing steam, mentally feeling yuck) and it was getting tougher to get fired up.

    Luckily, I was able to shake off the ‘doubt demons’ and my last half, though one of my slower ones, felt good – I had joy in the run. It helped me get my groove back and the passion has returned. (Thank God!)
    Jen recently posted..Atlantic City half race recap: Running with love on a beautiful dayMy Profile

  4. says

    Yeah, sounds like maybe the Garmin was the culprit. The weekend sounds like a blast! I tend to get discouraged after a not so great race, but it just motivates me to try and really nail the next one! Nice job!!
    Molly recently posted..The glass is half full.My Profile

  5. says

    You’re so going to kill it at CIM. Like you said- there are so many factors at play. You’ve put in so many months of long runs and the rock solid training that I think you’ve got the sub 3:30 in the bag!
    Sheil recently posted..What A Girl WantsMy Profile

  6. says

    I always let races get to me after the fact. I over analyze everything! At first I will be discouraged, but then I get motivated. You have the right attitude though. You still have six solid weeks of training and trust me, CIM is a FAST course! Just leave your Garmin at home. :-)
    Tasha @ Healthy Diva recently posted..Truckin’ alongMy Profile

  7. says

    Great run all the same, but it’s intereting your comment about the garmin. I think the surging is what causes problems for most of us for sure! Well done though, sounds like you had a great time.
    Robin recently posted..Marathon #8 is Done!My Profile

  8. says

    I always get discouraged. I think being a newer runner I expect every race to be better than the last and that is just not the case. I think it is interesting what you said about the impact of running with the Garmin…definitely something for me to think about.

    So I FINALLY got my Altras yesterday and they sent a mens 9 instead of womens. Argh!!
    Shut Up and Run recently posted..I Don’t Always Stretch, But When I Do I Pretend To Know What I’m DoingMy Profile

  9. says

    Nice work on the Half, though you didn’t hit the goal you wanted. Speaking of using watches in races, the last one I did (Gettysburg), at mile 5 my screen was blurring so I took it off and threw it out at the next water station. lol. 10 years of service was good. I wish you the best in training for your Dec. 2 race. 2 22s huh. Go get em.
    Kenley Jones recently posted..Gettysburg Blue-Gray Half MarathonMy Profile

  10. says

    It sounds like such a fun weekend.
    As for the half, you did fantastic. I don’t think that was an off race at all and if you did run slower than you anticipated, I bet it was due to the Garmin.

    I always run with that watch-partner but in a race, I won’t look at it until I’m nearing the end. Run by feel. If you’re having a great day, the pace you set may slow you down from really having a super-awesome race. If you’re having a crappy day, you might push too hard and fall completely apart at the end.
    Train hard. Forget all previous performances and look forward to a great day.

    CIM is going to be terrific. EVERYTHING about California is terrific.
    Joanne recently posted..What’s New This Week and TabouliMy Profile

  11. says

    I know it was a hilly course and you still had a great effort, especially at the end of such a busy and exciting weekend. Plus, your focus is on marathon training right now anyway, not half training. CIM is going to be awesome. :) Hugs!
    Erin Henderson recently posted..ChoicesMy Profile

  12. says

    Great job!!! I know it wasn’t what you were hoping for , but you still did awesome. I find the Garmin can be a good tool but I tend to push myself too hard when I use it sometimes resulting in more wear and tear on my body than necessary.
    Toni Church recently posted..Monday MotivationMy Profile

  13. says

    This race looks so cool, and I really really hope to run it next year. The start/finish area looks SO NEAT. I’ve driven through that area my share of times driving between maryland and Buffalo, NY.

    It may not exactly have been the time you were hoping for. But you had a (totally exciting) LONG, EXHAUSTING weekend. Had the race been on Friday I bet you would have crushed that course!
    Charlotte recently posted..10 Running Questions Everyone Wants to Know!My Profile

  14. says

    Put me in the “easily discouraged” camp! But I’m trying to get better about that. It sounds from your report like there are a host of logical reasons you didn’t run as fast as you meant to (being in the middle of training is probably the biggest one!). You will be in a different place at CIM, a much better more rested place. I’m looking forward to meeting you there!
    Terzah recently posted..Race Report: Detroit International Half-MarathonMy Profile

  15. says

    I hate having races where I do good in other’s eyes yet I am disappointed because I know I am capable of so much more. You have that sub-3:30 in you, I know it. A 1:41 in the middle of your tough marathon training cycle is awesome. I blame the Garmin and I blame the hills. Garmins play mind games and those hills were SO hard. I had multiple points out there where I couldn’t believe I was still climbing. I can’t wait to continue watching your training as I have learned so much from you and look forward to learning more.
    Robin recently posted..Runner’s World Half Marathon Weekend–Day 1My Profile

  16. says

    I think you still did well, even if you didn’t quite make your goal! I try to use an off race as a learning tool and not a disappointment. It’s easy to get down on yourself though! I didn’t know you were racing CIM! What are your weekend plans?
    Travel Spot recently posted..Last Week (5)My Profile

  17. says

    Congrats on your race! A minute or two off is not all that far… especially for a really exhausting weekend. And isn’t it a hilly course? It’s interesting you run better without the Garmin… I really wanted to drop it for my ten miler and didn’t, but I do the same thing with the surges and dropping back, and I’m really tempted to leave it at home one of these days!
    Laura recently posted..16 Fun Halloween Food IdeasMy Profile

  18. says

    I still think you did AMAZING! And I always run with a Garmin but really dont pay as much attention to it as I know some people do. I find I can get into a good groove pretty easily. I actually mainly use mine for mileage bec I never pre chart my runs. I didn’t even really look at min in the race Saturday until mile 8 and then realized I *could* go for a PR but it was still too much time to make up. Either way I say we both did great and it was such a stellar weekend regardless. :)
    Tina @ Best Body Fitness recently posted..#RWHalf: Inspiration AboundsMy Profile