CHARLOTTE ½ marathon.
I went into this race excited, a bit nervous, but feeling very ready. This wasn’t a “goal race” at all, but a good stepping stone for a marathon in 7 weeks. I had been doing weekly long runs up until the race, with my last one being 19 miles, and feeling really very good in these long runs. I had some solid intervals, particularly in the 2 weeks leading up to the race that I felt good about: a track workout of ½’s and ¾’s (although admittedly, that did leave my legs feeling really challenged…. But that is as it should- it is a track workout afterall), mile repeats, ¼’s and also 2x 3-4 mile tempo progressions. I have been doing tons of hip/glute/hamstring/stability training since September and I know I am stronger and continue with daily core work. My mileage was weekly around 40-46 miles/week. (1 week was 50). Also, my nutrition was really what I consider spot on. I have been eating really super healthy, in fact haven’t even had cravings, and the week before (looking back) I almost wonder if I didn’t eat enough, or enough carbs- I basically saved carbs for just the night before the race, and actually the dinner two nights before also…. I was just otherwise obsessed with salads with roasted squash/mushrooms on it lately for some reason.
Anyway: I got to the race start early, it was windy, cold-ish but not as cold as I had feared it might be!! I was so thankful that it was 40 rather than 32 that I felt FINE! I warmed up jogging around about a mile super easy to just kind of get myself on my feet and warm, then there was a nice dead end street right by the start that I used to do my approx. 50 m builds. I felt good and legs felt fine and good! I was ready and kept bouncing around until start. I had a throwaway sweatshirt so I stayed warm until race and then I was good to go.
Here were my race splits:
6:57, 6:53, 7:16, 6:55, 7:34, 7:11, 7:36, 7:34, 8:41 (stopped to go to the bathroom), 7:52, 8:28, 7:48, 8:42 (stopped to pet a freaking chocolate lab puppy), 1:38 last .2.
Total 1:41:11, average 7:40.
Ugh. I haven’t been over 1:40 in a long time. My ave heart rate for race was 152, which is fine for me, (and I could frankly care less about heart rate- I do not track in training or races, I just happened to see this when I got my splits). My breathing was FINE the entire race. The problem was TOTALLY MY LEGS. First 2 miles felt fine- just warming up and annoying because it was so crowded and so many potholes and I was worried about tripping/not seeing a pothole. Then it spread out. I think that is when I noticed I didn’t have any “juice” or “oomph” in legs…. Even running solid pace felt just heavy, low, and flat. Through mile 4-5 I was still thinking, hmmmm maybe I’m still warming up??? And then it became clear, no they are not warming up at all, they are like feeling DONE TODAY? I passed the 6 mile mark, didn’t stop to go to the bathroom and soon after thought maybe that was a mistake, but I was like, please hang on until 8 and please let there be a bathroom there. Mid mile 7, some guy came next to me and told me I was doing awesome and he had been trying to catch me. I was surprised because I was thinking, this doesn’t’ FEEL GOOD AT ALL. After stopping at mile 8 to go to the bathroom I tried to get my head back on, thinking, okay, now maybe I will feel better and more like myself. But legs didn’t really feel that at all… it was more heaviness. My times weren’t terrible (other than the miles I stopped to go the bathroom), but it was just the feeling I had in my body. At mile 10, I really felt TERRIBLE, in fact. I reminded myself of a 3 mile loop at home and thought, okay, you are doing this loop now, so just follow that in your head. Hills never felt really hard/extreme/or looked to me like it was too challenging…. I think they were more kind of rolling hills- so maybe that was part of it- maybe I am more used to hills that are shorter/steeper in VA and these were more “sneaky” hills that were just longer inclines? These miles I was also really feeling the wind- in fact 2 times it blew debris into my eyes it was so strong and I had to try to get it out because there were like little particles in my eyes. Mile 11 we passed this restaurant I had been eyeing up and wanting to go to called “Flower Child” – it gave me a little bit of a boost because it was the CUTEST THING EVER- little flower designs drawn on the outside- totally unique and kind of boho style, a cute little outdoor seating area with lights and flowers!! So, I tried to kind of use that energy to keep me going, but I still just FELT MISERABLE in my legs and was starting to feel miserable in my BODY--- not my breathing or heart rate, but just like my shoulders and neck and head were even heavy and tired. I tried for miles 10 and 11 to really get into the intention of “acceptance.” I had done this as a “theme” in yoga the previous week—reminding myself to accept whatever my feelings were and not take more energy to FIGHT the SUCK. Just feel the suck and accept it. It did help for a bit. Got to mile 12, we turned a corner and I felt like 9.3 or 9.4/10 terrible. Maybe I didn’t even know if I could literally go another MILE- which was pissing me off because I’m thinking- this is not even ½ of what I need to run in 7 weeks, how is this feeling so hard???? And I saw a chocolate lab puppy- some guy holding him on the side like a baby in his arms. I just stopped and walked and asked if I could pet his puppy. I was so tired I just wanted to hide with the puppy forever. (he was 8 weeks old and his name was Bennett) but I had to go back to the race, otherwise I would look strange. So, I plodded freaking along just trying to MAKE IT. (plus I had to go to the bathroom again)…. It was literally step by step at this point. So odd to me. I couldn’t even look up. The last ½ mile I just was laser focused because I didn’t want to stop again, I just knew I needed everything to get me to that finish line, ugh. I saw the time over the finish and I was like, holy cow, I haven’t been in 1:40’s for a half in years….. (then also thinking, you freaking STOPPED TO PET A PUPPY SHARON!)
Anyway… moving on…. My legs interestingly weren’t sore at all. Actually my right calf was. It ends up that I was 4th in my “age group” so obviously not a TERRIBLE race, it was just how I felt.
*my calves were kind of bugging me also- maybe I needed to have worn calf sleeves because of the hills?? Although I don’t want to rely on those. And plus I had long pants on, so I didn’t want to have two layers on my legs.
*my legs – why were they so fatigued. I don’t know if I had done too much legs/too many classes the week of the race? Traveling in a car 6 hours the day before? I didn’t do legs up the wall the night before, I should have. Have I not done enough plyometrics… that is a possibility- I have maybe eased off plyometrics subconsciously because I’ve been doing so much stability stuff and not wanting to bother my hamstring/hip, but maybe that has not been good.
*hills—I haven’t been doing too many hill repeats focused on fast running up, so that could be partially why my legs felt like this was hard, although many of my long runs included very hilly routes just by the nature of being in reston. My marathon in 7 weeks will be flat, so I have been not focused on doing extra hills since that is my real goal.
*nutrition- I was feeling good because many times in the week leading up to a race I end up OVER eating and this was not the case this week. Maybe however, I didn’t get enough carbs? It was also a super busy week, so maybe I needed a downtime to get my mind and body quiet for a little bit more. I was go go go with family stuff, work stuff, every single thing (stressful tryout weekend the week before) (stressful freaking everything and lots of annoyances to be honest). I also forgot to buy a banana the night before and I’m used to having a few bites of a banana. I had a few bites of a honey stinger waffle in the morning, but…. Just a reminder to not forget the banana when I’m at marathon.
*maybe I was too focused on just getting away, rather than the racing part of it…. Which is fine too. I freaking love going away.
I’m 100% glad I did the race. After the first 3 miles, it was BEAUTIFUL BEAUTIFUL BEAUTIFUL- I loved about 6 miles of it where we went through these streets of CRAZY beautiful houses and large grassy yards and roads lined with huge towering trees. It reminded me of some neighborhoods in Richmond, and I totally loved seeing the unique houses. I would love to drive or walk through those roads again. It was so peaceful and it seemed southern.
It also reminded me of doing new races- some of the races I love, I have now done freaking FOREVER!!! And my body is so used to them, my mind is so used to them, and it makes it so much easier to do when you KNOW exactly what is coming up after a certain turn in the road. I am doing a new marathon in January 2020, a new marathon in the fall 2020…. I don’t have any new tri’s scheduled, so maybe I should also look to this to “surprise my body and mind.”
Overall, the race was important to the goal of using it as a TRAINING TOOL for my January marathon and to make me question some of the things I am doing and not doing in training for myself, and to re-evalutae some aspects of my training plan. I’ll be under 1:40 next time😊!! No more petting puppies during the race!