That which does not kill us, makes us stronger. - Nietzsche

Sunday, October 23, 2011

race report - Cincinnati Half Marathon, and planning

First of all, the injury update: it's doing better. It's still there and annoying, but I've had a few sessions with my husband's chiropractor and I think they've helped. They've done some electro-stimulation on my tendon and muscle, and I've had two 30-minute massages entirely devoted to my lower left leg. However, I'm looking at the end of my PT insurance benefits, so I'm going to go it alone now and hope things continue to recover.

I'm able to run on it ok. I have some pain, but not enough to alter my running form, and it's pretty tolerable. I don't feel nearly as bad as I used to post-run, and recovery is faster. The chiropractor actually told me not to run. I was feeling awesome, so I ran anyway. I went back to see him, and he said if he knew my leg was going to feel as great as it did, he wouldn't have told me not to run. He gave me his blessing to run the Cincinnati Half.

I made some mistakes in this one. One of those was telling myself I wanted to run it because I knew a ton of people running it, but that I would run it purely for fun, not for time. I was deluding myself. Most of the people I knew who would be running it are faster than I am, and I am just not capable of doing a run for fun unless there are obstacles involved or it's otherwise an event I've never done before. Forget that. Of course I wasn't going to run it for fun. I was going to run it for a PR. I always run for a PR.

Except....I've been injured. I've been running twice a week since the marathon. I've been cross-training, but I've only been RUNNING twice a week. I signed up a week before the race, and the next day I came down with the cold from hell. So it's been a week of being exhausted the minute I wake up, coughing and sneezing everywhere, and collapsing on the couch. I took one day to work from home and catch up on paperwork, in my pajamas, kleenex by my side. I was starting to recover, but still not 100%.

Neither of those things sets me up for a PR, to say the least.

In theory, I should've been able to do it. My 13.1 time during the marathon was a PR, AND I ran 13.1 more immediately after that. So I figured it should've taken minimal effort to blow that away.

And when I didn't blow it away, when I didn't PR at all, I was pretty significantly bummed.

OK, here is the deal. I've been feeling bummed to a pretty significant degree lately anyway. I think it has to do with a lot of things - work got insane, post-marathon blues, not following a training plan anymore, less daylight - but ultimately, it's affecting my running and how I think about my running, and I've been doing more dwelling than I should on how I'm not as fast as I want to be. Heck, I haven't been able to recover the speed I had when I was training for the Pig. I get bummed that lots of people who have been running for a shorter period of time than I have can run way faster than I can and I wonder what's wrong with me.

It's time to end that. I'm not as fast as I was because I'm not training the same. I'm training enough to more or less maintain, but not improve. Of  course, it's fun to say that right now because I'm not 100% healthy, which is the best time ever to increase training, right?

So I've figured it out. Much as I would love to do a sub-60 10k in a month, and much as I can get pouty when I allow myself to because there are people out there who have never NOT done a sub-60 10k, not even as a beginner....again, I'm trying to end that. I'm going to train for it as best as I can, after I go easy this week (to recover from the 13.1 and kill the end of the cold). I want to go up to running 4 times a week, but most of them easy pace, shorter distance runs. I want to *try* speedwork, but I'm gong to try that with a shorter 10k pace tempo run on the treadmill to test the waters there.

December is going to be for maintenance and for playing around with different combos of workouts to see what works for me. Next year I'll be hitting the triathlon training hardcore - especially if I DO sign up for a 140.6 - and I need to figure out what kind of multisport schedule is good for me. Two a days? Swim followed by run? Morning? Evening? How many rest days? Do I like running two days in a row, biking two days in a row, swimming two days in a row? Etc. and etc. However, with the holidays, I get to cut myself lots of slack for parties and entertaining and visiting because I won't be following a plan. Hmm...maybe I'll do swimming lessons in December, too.

January starts Pig training, and I'm going to figure out where to put the swimming and biking in there, too. I'll probably be doing some strength training that will taper down as other training increases.

Oh yeah. I planned to make this a recap. Sooo...the Cincinnati Half. It was freezing at the start, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that a trash bag actually keeps in a lot of body heat, so I tolerated the sub-40 temps. They also had coffee, which is AWESOME. I mainly carried it around for warmth, because I'd already had my ritual morning coffee and didn't want to get too jittery, but the half a cup I sipped on pre-race tasted awesome too.

My goal was a 2:15. I had a pretty decent pace going, but it was accompanied by a sinking feeling that I wouldn't be able to keep it up. I ran with an older guy named Bob for the first seven miles. He was nice, but I honestly got tired of talking after a while, and he kept going ahead of me (even though he said he wanted to go SLOWER than 2:15 as this was a training run for him.) So I let him. I'm so sick of shot bloks that I broke the cardinal rule - nothing new on race day - and had two gus instead. The vanilla orange one tasted awesome. The chocolate outrage was good, but waaaay too rich to be eating while running. I was happy with my pace, but 10 miles in, I knew I was done for. I SLAMMED into the wall at that point. I wasn't happy to be out there, I was getting annoyed with fellow runners (although to be fair, I had a right to be at times - like the one who was in the middle of the road right in front of me and suddenly stopped to walk, or the group of 8 run/walkers who would pass me, then stop to walk and force everyone to maneuver through their walking wall of people). It was just a bad time for those last 3 miles. I was pretty close - 1:45 at the 10 mile mark - but I ended up doing an 11+ pace for the last three miles and finished at 2:20:28. (Big note to add here: the course was .1 miles too long. That time was for 3.21 miles!)

I realized something, too - I don't think I like racing!! Last weekend, when I went out for a 10 mile run alone, and I genuinely had NO reason to feel one way or another about my time, so I was pleasantly surprised...and I cleared my head and enjoyed the weather and felt AMAZING - THAT is why I run. To be trying to hit a goal, and feeling like that is my ONE shot, and people are passing me and people are everywhere and I burn out too fast and barely make it across the finish line - that's just not enjoyable. Now, I know some of that has to do with the mental funk I've been in and my currently crappy attitude, but still - the pressure isn't fun. Now that the race isn't about being able to complete the distance, every one feels like it needs to be a PR, or what's the point? And it's just not fun right now.

I should mention that the last two races I've done (aside from the duathlon) have not been PRs at all. This is the first time since I started running that I haven't PR'd every race. It's not at all a good feeling to me.

Well, anyway....2:20 isn't bad. It's super close to where I was for Little Miami, and like I said, I've really been running to maintain and not improve, whether I like it or not. It wasn't all bad, not at all. Seeing friends on the course (two out-and-back parts) is awesome. Plus, Girls on the Run was doing one of the water stops and I said hi to all them. Running Buddy's mom was spectating and she cheered for me. Some of my coworkers were volunteering at the finish line. I got a medal. The river at sunrise, with fog sitting on top, was beautiful. And we all had a lot of fun hanging out afterward. That all made the race worth it, really.

And, as soon as I stopped running, I was coughing up half a lung, so I felt validated in my lack of PR, knowing that I'm still sick.

Now, I just can't wait until the stars align and everything is in a good place for me to start working on getting better, again.

1 comment:

  1. That's awesome you were cleared to run Cinci! I'm sorry you weren't happy with your race. You can't PR every time, but you can do your best given where you are in training at any given point in time.

    You know, I think I finished the 2010 Cincy Half just a few minutes slower than your time this year, and I remember a big group of run-walkers who would run and front of me and start walking six across. I HATE that. I respect the run-walkers, and I even did the run-walk thing for my marathons. Run-walking is fine, but walking (and running!) with a group of people and blocking everyone from passing... UGH.

    Good job on recognizing that you're so over racing for now. Running should be a stress reliever, not a source of stress. Do your thing!

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