I think if I had run a half marathon in January or early February, I would have been faster, but as things played out, I arrived at the start line in better swim shape and poorer run shape than I would have figured those short few months ago. Since my biggest goals of the season are a couple of late-summer triathlons, that may be just as well.
For those not aware, I’ll bring you up to date. After the Valentine’s Day Massacre Relay, I ran again too soon and have since been plagued with right hip and various other related issues. Racing again at the Charlotte Du probably didn’t help much. This is not something new and different that I’m going to spend a bunch of resources on trying to fix. This is something that has been happenining for years, seems due to a small structural issue at the base of my spine and flames up when I run hard. In the past, I’ve just managed my training, racing and recovery around it, and this year will be no different although I don’t think my advancing years are helping the recovery speed much.
Be that what it may, I rested and worked the problem down to something I can run through, so I took a look at what I’m trying to achieve in my early season schedule and decided to turn this race into the final portion of a solid string of workouts. I took it easy earlier this week, jogged only lightly on the hip a couple times then did a solid swim on Friday, 62 mile ride on Saturday and capped the weekend’s efforts off with this half marathon.
Riding partners from Saturday will attest to my growing sense of anxiety regarding my ability to perform in the half mary. The previous 5 weeks consisted of around 15 miles of run training per week, except for the week of zero miles after Charlotte Du. The longest run, I think, was 8.5 miles. This is not exactly a formula for success and PR’s at a half marathon distance run, and throwing in one of my longest training rides of the year the day prior, well, it wasn’t going to be pretty.
Pretty wasn’t the point though. The point was to be tough and use this run as a mental and physical prep for the rigors of the run at the tail of the coming half iron triathlon. That and to get through it without completely injuring myself beyond immediate repair. So this is why my reasonable goal for the day ended up being “under 1:30 if I can, but at least under 7 minute mile average for the whole run. I hope.”
So how did the run feel? At first, it felt OK. I had some speed, but I just didn’t feel as efficient and as relaxed as I would have liked in the opening miles. The hip was tight, of course, which grew worse throughout the event, but I was never in real pain from the problem. I’m sure my run stride was heavily accomodating the condition, for which I am now feeling the effects of (the following morning).
I got to the turnaround point, which I think was somewhere around half way or perhaps a little past that. I picked up my effort a touch and tried to hang on best I could. The wheels started to come off somewhere around the 10 mile mark. Even so, the GPS says I kept my mile pace close to or right on 7 minutes, probably depending on net elevation gain or loss. I think we were climbing more in the final miles but I can’t really blame the drop in pace on that because my legs were definitely feeling the lack of training.
I got passed by a female runner at this point and I can’t say that I cared. There wasn’t anything I could do about it. There were no surges or pace increases to be had at this point. It was all I could do to keep things rolling so I could get across that finish line and stop please stop. As for mental tactics, I found myself using inward technique focus combined with self talk about practicing hurting because White Lake Half will just hurt more. So no wussing out unless I want to train myself to wuss out, which I don’t.
All these gyrations got me across the line in 90 minutes and 31 seconds. So no, I didn’t break 1:30, but I did manage to average 6:55 pace. I finished 7th female and first in my age group, which, incidentally, is still 35-39 in running events because I’m not yet 40, much to team mate Maggie’s great disappointment. The 36 year old youngster was trying to boot me up in age bracket prematurely to improve her standings in the field. Ha ha! In due time teamie! Besides, if current trends continue, you won’t need to worry about age group, you’ll just outrun me.
Here’s a link to the results.