Sunday, September 14, 2014

Half-Marathon Disappointment

Unfortunately I had a very disappointing race for my half-marathon today, the Parks Half Marathon. My official time was 2:12:07.  In May, I ran the Frederick Half-Marathon in 2:07:16, so I had been hoping to improve substantially on that.

The weather was great.  It was probably about 60 F when we started, and it was a nice clear day.  I started with the 2:00:00 pace group, which was probably my biggest mistake.  The first 3 miles or so are flat to downhill, and it wasn't a problem for me to keep up, although it definitely did not feel as easy as my previous half.  But then we got to a hill between 3 and 3.5 miles, and the pace runner just zipped right up it without slowing down, and I just could not keep up.  When I got to the top, the pacer was still in sight, so I tried to catch up on the downhill.  I couldn't quite do it, and by then my legs were really tired already and my breathing was awful.  I realized that there was just no way I was keeping up with that group, especially since there is a killer hill at about 11 miles.

So I slowed down to catch my breath and figured I'd go slow until the 2:05:00 pacer caught up with me and run with him or her.  Well, that didn't happen for a few miles.  When it did, I tried to step it back up and run with her.  That just wasn't happening.  I was still so wasted.  So I kept going slower and hoped that I could keep ahead of the 2:10:00 pacer and at least do about as well as I did in my first half.

The second half of the race was just so, so hard.  It seemed so long.  I had to take some walking breaks.  Between miles 10 and 11, the race goes right by the trail spur leading up to my house, which was a brief temptation.  I stuck with it as best I could.  Right at about 12.5 miles, the 2:10:00 pacer caught up to me.  However, I realized that even if I stuck with her, I probably wouldn't get under 2:10:00.  That's because there were wave starts and within waves, a lot of depth, so she probably started a good 2 minutes after me - if I finished with her, I'd have 2:12:00, probably.  Anyway, that was pretty demoralizing, so there was no extra burst of adrenaline, and I didn't really try to stay with her.

The very end of the course has an abrupt left turn - up a ramp! - and then just a few hundred feet to the finish line.  I walked the ramp, even, not realizing how close the finish was.  I did manage to run it out as fast as a could for like the last 100 feet.  I was so tired and out of breath, I pretty much fell into the chairs so the volunteer could remove my timing chip off my shoe.

So it was really disappointing overall.  I felt extra bad because Bill had actually come to the finish line to greet me, and I did not manage to finish well.

Then, we got in the very long food line.  Everyone had been talking about how great the food was after this race, but I was not impressed.  No muffins or granola bars.  I did get a couple cookies and a couple brownies.  At that time of day (morning) and after a race, I have no desire for the pizza and sandwiches and hot food they had.  After about 10 minutes, I got really, really chilled.  Fortunately I had planned ahead and asked Bill to bring my sweatsuit, so I put that on and it helped.

This race was did not seem to be as well-organized as the Frederick half-marathon.  There were lots of water stations that were well-run.  The bib pick-up was poor, the results took awhile to be posted, and there was no expo.  There was no finishers' medal, although they gave finishers a commemorative glass; not sure that I prefer that.  The course itself was a little frustrating because the trail is not very wide, but that's not something they can do anything about.

What do I think went wrong?  First, I think I was too ambitious with my starting pace group.  If the course was perfectly flat MAYBE I could've kept up with them for quite awhile, but I knew the course wasn't flat.  If I'd started with the 2:05:00 group, maybe I could've finished with them, or at least only fallen back enough to beat my previous time.  Second, I have run the trail the race was on before, but I often avoid it because of the hills - duh, bad idea.  I think I need to run more hills in my training runs.  Third, I have to wonder how my (slight) anemia has affected me.  I've said before in this blog about how I've felt like a lot of my training runs have been hard - how much did the anemia contribute to that?  I've been taking the iron supplements for 10 days now, which is probably not enough time for them to really help me.  (My doctor wants to re-test my iron levels after 6 weeks of them.)  I can't really control that except for taking the supplements.

Now for a summary of my runs since my last half-marathon on May 5:
  • May 7: 3.0 mi, 30:00, 6.0 mph, treadmill
  • May 13: 3.53 mi, 41:30, speed intervals (7.2 mph), treadmill
  • May 21: 6.0 mi, 60:00, 6.0 mph, treadmill
  • May 23: 6.0 mi, 57:41, tempo run at 6.2 mph, treadmill
  • May 25: 7.13 mi, 1:10:45, approx. 6.0 mph
  • May 28: 6.04 mi, 58:48, temp run at approx. 6.16 mph
  • May 30: 10.02 mi, 1:46:21, approx. 5.7 mph
  • June 3: 3.53 mi, 41:30, speed intervals (7.2 mph), treadmill
  • June 13: 12.0 mi, 2:00:00, 6.0 mph, treadmill
  • June 15: 3.53 mi, 42:00, speed intervals (7.2 mph), treadmill
  • June 18: 7.0 mi, 1:10:00, 6.0 mph, treadmill
  • June 21: 6.0 mi, 57:09 tempo run at 6.3 mph, treadmill
  • June 24: 9.0 mi, 1:30:00, 6.0 mph, treadmill
  • June 25: 3.53 mi, 42:00, speed intervals (7.2 mph), treadmill
  • June 30: 11.0  mi, 1:50:00, 6.0 mph, treadmill
  • July 3: 6.0 mi, 57:09, tempo run at 6.3 mph, treadmill
  • July 6: 13.0 mi, 2:10:00, 6.0 mph
  • July 8: approx. 4.0 mi, 55:00, speed intervals (7.3 mph), treadmill
  • July 10: 6.0 mi, 1:00:00, 6.0 mph, treadmill
  • July 14: 6.0 mi, 56:16, tempo run at 6.4 mph, treadmill
  • July 19: 8.02 mi, 1:28:12, approx. 5.5 mph
  • July 22: 3.6 mi, 41:30, speed intervals (7.3 mph), treadmill
  • July 24: 10.08 mi, 1:38:15, approx. 6.15 mph
  • July 27: 6.0 mi, 56:16, tempo run at 6.4 mph, treadmill
  • July 31: 12.0 mi, 2:00:00, 6.0 mph, treadmill
  • Aug. 3: 7.5 mi, 1:15:00, 6.0 mph, treadmill
  • Aug. 5: 3.5 mi, 35:00, 6.0 mph, treadmill
  • Aug. 6: 3.0 mi, 30:00, 6.0 mph, treadmill
  • Aug. 9: 6.01 mi, 59:47, approx. 6.0 mph
  • Aug. 11: 3.56 mi, 41:30, speed intervals (7.3 mph), treadmill
  • Aug. 16: 8.89 mi, 1:31:11, approx. 5.85 mph
  • Aug. 20: 6.0 mi, 56:16, tempo run at 6.4 mph, treadmill
  • Aug. 21: 4.73 mi, 60:00, speed intervals (7.3 mph), treadmill
  • Aug. 24: 11.05 mi, 1:56:51, approx. 5.7 mph
  • Aug. 28: 4.36 mi, 52:00, speed intervals (7.3 mph), treadmill
  • Aug. 30: 6.0 mi, 1:00:00, 6.0 mph, treadmill
  • Sep. 1: 3.0 mi, 27:45, tempo run at 6.5 mph, treadmill
  • Sep. 6: 4.0 mi, 40:00, 6.0mph, treadmill
  • Sep. 9: 3.0 mi, 30:00, 6.0 mph, treadmill
  • Sep. 14: 13.1 mi, 2:12:07, approx. 5.95 mph - Parks Half Marathon
I ran 246.61 miles in my training runs since my previous half-marathon.  Prior to my previous half-marathon I had run 288.3 miles for training.  Not as much different as I had expected, since I had more time before my previous half.

My next race is the Marine Corps Marathon 10K, which is on Oct. 26, the same date as the marathon.  I don't know how I'm going to do with that.  I think the course is flatter, and obviously the race is shorter, so hopefully it will go well.  There's not much recovery and training time between now and then.  I don't know how people that race all the time manage that.

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