Friday, March 20, 2015

(Non) Race Report: RnR DC

This is the second in a series of "non-race" race reports, but this time I went in knowing I wasn’t in racing shape and hoping only for a solid workout; that attitude made all the difference.

Race morning was wet, wet, wet: a cold, miserable rain. I didn’t dress for it appropriately; I should have at least worn gloves or arm sleeves, but I wrongly thought (like most races where it isn’t raining) that I’d warm up. But I did not. (Not until an hour or so after the race when I finally made it home and into a hot shower.)

Because of the rain, I didn’t wear my Garmin either. I know I probably could and many people do, but I just don’t trust it won't get ruined by constant splashing. I ran with a regular watch, so I have no splits to look back on and analyze, which is probably for the best.

I ended up running with two teammates, Maura and Kristin, which was a pleasant surprise. Maura was running her first half marathon and wanted to go out conservatively, which fit Kristin and my plans as well. I was nervous without a Garmin—I always go too fast in the first mile, and only 8,000 glances at my Garmin reel me in—but with the two of them we managed to hit the first mile right on our goal of 6:25. We kept on that pace until the Hill at mile 6, and then got back to it again after recovering from the incline. It was great to have them there to work with, and I felt a sense of purpose by helping (or I hope I helped!) Maura in her first half—it wasn’t going to be a PR day for me, but if I could contribute to her successful debut, then that was a win.

By mile 9 or 10, she took off and I just tried to keep rolling, but honestly I think I lost focus. I wanted to be done with the stupid rain and all the puddles (so many puddles! It was like running through a small stream at times), but the end kind of snuck up on me. With about a half mile left (really only a half mile to go?!), it hit me that I should probably GO and I picked it up enough to squeeze under 1:24.

Sticking out my tongue for unknown reasons. Maybe at the nasty conditions? 
“Screw you rain, I’m almost done and this is just a workout anyway.”
Photo credit: Cheryl Young
I had hoped for a slightly faster time, but wasn’t going to kill myself over that. And I know that I didn’t kill myself over anything—I didn’t give it my all and that was fine. My main goal was to not be as demoralized as Philly (last season’s half marathon “non-race”) and being realistic helped with that. The good news is I ran faster than Philly and it’s earlier in the season, so it appears I’m on the right track. I wanted a tough workout, and that’s what I got. The racing flats got dusted off (and subsequently drenched). Mission accomplished.

(I also got to share a quick hug with Tina Muir. She finished 3rd and is gearing up to have an awesome London Marathon. Her blog is a glimpse into the life of an elite runner; you should check it out.)  

I was really dreading this race because it was coming up so quickly and I knew I wouldn’t be ready for it. But now that it’s over I feel like I can refocus, settle into some hard training, and grind along for a few weeks before the first real race effort at Cherry Blossom. If it would just stop snowing…. Hey, weather gods, you know it’s spring, right?!

Snowing on the first day of spring.
Maybe spring will come tomorrow? 
Dream big,

Friday, March 13, 2015

Being Realistic (RnR DC Half Preview)

The snow has melted, there’s a glimmer of an approaching spring in the air, and runners everywhere are putting away their YakTrax and replacing them with racing flats: the spring racing season is upon us. This weekend is the LA Marathon, the NYC half, approximately 8 million St. Patrick’s Day races, and—closest to home—the Rock-n-Roll DC Half.

Like every year for the last six years, I’ll be running Rock-n-Roll DC, but “racing” it is probably the wrong word. I’m not being defeatist when I say this, but I will not be going for a PR. (Being realistic is a rarity for me; I don’t think I’ve ever said I’m not planning to PR on this blog before.) I know the shape I was in when I set my current PR (1:19:28) and I am nowhere near that. I can barely run 2 miles at that pace, let alone 13. And that’s okay, my peak race is still 3 months away.

But it’s a shame, because it will be a blemish to a perfect record at this race. I’ve PRed here every year, including 2010 when I ran the full. From 2009’s 1:34:39 (my first ever half) to last year’s somewhat disappointing (but still PR) 1:21:37, DC has been good to me.

In light blue on the right, running my first half in 2009.
I'm hoping to at least beat that time this weekend...
I can’t help but compare it to Philly, where the reverse is true. My record for the DC half is 6-0, but my record for Philly is 0-7*. (I’ve conveniently manipulated these statistics to not include all other DC races, where my record is far from perfect.) As I think about my plan for this race, I have flashbacks to my last race in Philly, another half I was unprepared for. I crashed and burned as the Curse won once more.

I don’t want a repeat of the demoralizing second half of Philly, so this time I’m going in fully accepting it will be a tough workout. I’m hoping a realistic outlook will help me nab a solid workout and put me on track to shoot for a PR later in the season. Maybe the luck of DC (or the luck of the Irish?) will give me a little boost as well.

Good luck to all those racing (or running/working out/whatever) this weekend!

Dream big,

*Update to the Curse: I did go for a run in Philadelphia when I was there a couple weeks ago, and—aside from getting caught in an ice storm on the drive home—there seemed to have been no running repercussions. Are the tides turning? On May 3, we’ll know.