Half Marathons

What Happened in Half Marathon #6

Hi everyone!  So I’m still trying to process what happened during Sunday’s Her Tern Half Marathon (for the race recap, go here).  As you may have noticed, I had a blast.  I also got semi-injured.  I also did not PR, or reach my sub-2:30 goal.  And I don’t know how I feel about all of it.  Warning:  this post is going to get pretty real right now.

hth finishFinish line picture with Kelsey – our official time was 2:41

If you read my race recap, you’ll know that I was pretty much on pace to meet my goal until mile 9.5ish, where I stopped for water and then noticed that my right hamstring behind my knee was starting to hurt.  I tried to stretch, but it didn’t really help.  And luckily for me I found my blogging buddy Kelsey and we had a blast walking/running and taking fun pictures until we reached the finish line.  So technically, the fact that I was 11 minutes over my goal time was okay because I had lots of fun and finished with a smile on my face – but also because I was in pain.  In fact, I was still feeling the pain a bit yesterday and I definitely needed to rest, ice, and do a lot of stretching to recover.  I’m finally feeling better and hope to ease into some running soon.  But one thing that’s really upsetting to me is that before I stopped to walk I was feeling so fast and strong.  My brain was being negative, but I felt like my body was okay and I was going to make it to the end.  So I have to wonder:  if I hadn’t stopped to walk for so long, would I have finished a lot faster (and possibly with a PR)?  It’s one big giant “What if?” and I’ll never actually know.  All I know is that I slowed way down in mile 10, and shifted my focus from the PR to having fun.

IMG_5898Taken in mile 11.  Yes we do kick ass!

Why am I being so silly about all of this?  The fact is that I’ve been trying to beat 2:30 for over a year, and I felt like I was finally ready – especially since this time I was properly trained and had 4 awesome coaches helping me get to where I needed to be.  And when I was running so strong in mile #8, I was finally realizing that I really was stronger and faster than I think I am, and that I was capable of meeting my goal.  So when I didn’t reach it, I felt frustrated.  I didn’t feel that way right away – in fact, after the race I was having a really good time, and my only focus was eating cupcakes and then getting home because my leg was in so much pain.  But by Sunday night my brain finally realized what had happened, and I was not really happy about it.  On Monday when my coworkers asked how it went, I wasn’t even sure how to answer!  Because two things simultaneously happened in this race:

1.  I was on pace to PR (or miss my PR by a minute or so) for most of the race, despite my brain telling me that there was a chance I couldn’t do it and that I should just give up.  In mile 9 I only intended to walk long enough to get a drink.  When I saw an opportunity to slow way down because of my leg and finding someone to walk with, my brain was relieved and I gave up my chance to PR.  And then my leg hurt for a few days, although the rest of my body was surprisingly less sore/exhausted than it’s ever been after a half marathon and I recovered really quickly.

2.  I finished 12 weeks of tough training with a group of amazing girls and coaches, and it ended with a 13.1 mile celebration of what we’d achieved and how fast/strong we’d become.  Between pre-race yoga, starting the race with a whole group of HTH training group girls, going to mile 7 with one of my running buddies, pushing through my strongest mile 8 in any race ever, and then finishing with some silliness and fun with my first real-life blogging buddy, it ended up being the most fun half marathon I’ve ever run.  And I finished 10 minutes faster than the Zion Half Marathon back in March while feeling so much better post-race.

jumping hthSeriously, I can’t get enough of this picture from mile 13ish!

So how did the race go?  It really depends on how I choose to look at it.  And after some pretty intense days of processing everything, I’ve realized that this was probably one of my most successful and important races ever.  I’ve always wanted to learn how to do speed training and join a running community, and through the HTH training group I finally got to do that.  It felt like I knew so many people running this race, and we were all so supportive and happy the whole time.  So maybe this was never meant to be my PR race.  Maybe this was meant to be a memorable race because it was the first race where I felt like I belonged here in Anchorage, and the first time that I felt totally trained for a race.  I know that from now on I’ll always have friends to run with at the Tuesday night pub runs, won’t have to race alone, and will have an outlet to talk about running stuff without driving my non-running friends crazy.  HTH wasn’t the end of running with other people and doing speed workouts – it was just the beginning.  And I’m so excited to get back out there and run fast with everyone as soon as I feel better!

IMG_5903So happy about wearing this bracelet around town – it has the finish line coordinates on it so I’ll never forget how important this race was to me!

And as for the PR thing, I’ve decided that I’m clearly going to need to do another half marathon ASAP while I’m still feeling fast and strong from all of my training!  Now before anyone gets concerned, I’m going to stay super aware of how my leg is feeling because I’ve got quite a few things lined up in the fall already, as well as Ragnar Colorado in 2 weeks.  No PR is worth getting an injury.  But if I’m feeling good a month from now, I’ll probably do a last minute sign up for the Skinny Raven Half Marathon at Big Wild Life Runs here in Anchorage with a few of my HTH running buddies.  If I’m not feeling 100% by then, I’ll try to run the Kenai River Half Marathon down in Kenai in September.  I plan on staying in half marathon shape for a while (doing longer runs on the weekends) so that I can get more comfortable mentally and physically with running long because I still feel like that is my weak point.  For now, I’m just looking forward to trying again in the future.  You can never run too many races, right?  🙂

How do you handle coming up short of a goal that you’ve had for a while?  Have you ever had to change your goals mid-race?

15 thoughts on “What Happened in Half Marathon #6

  1. Missing your goal stinks, especially when you feel so good for the majority of the race, but I’m impressed that your revised goal let you have so much fun! I imagine it would have been easy to hobble to the finish in a pretty bad mood. A few years ago I missed my half goal time by 55 seconds after my first time training with speed work, and I was soooo bummed. But last year I finally got that time, and it was even more exciting because I had failed the first time. You’ll get under 2:30, and it’ll feel so awesome!

    1. See, my brain was like “If you miss your goal by like a minute it will be the worst thing EVER” and then it somehow convinced me that missing it by a lot was better. So I was able to be happy because it’s not like I tried my hardest and failed – I just tried hard and then had fun while failing. My brain is crazy while I’m running! I can’t wait to get there and feel like I finally earned it!

  2. Man, I definitely get the mile 8 / 9 blues. I’ve only beat it ONCE in 5 halves… but that one time was awesome and I keep striving for a repeat. Training groups are great. It’s so nice to go to a race and see friendly faces. And it really helps me feel like a “real” runner and part of the local running community!

    Anywho, you’re in great shape (with all of your recent PRs!) so your next half will be even better. 🙂 Hope your leg feels better soon.

    1. Thank you! I do feel like I’ve been so much faster in races lately and I’m wishing I could have seen what I could really do in this race. That’s why I need another one ASAP 🙂

  3. The what ifs are always going to be there, but we have to look past them (yea…really hard) and see what DID happen. We can’t change that! You did amazing and this just wasn’t the race meant to PR! That’s okay! You’ve got it on the next…and the next…and the next! You’re amazing dear!

    1. Awww thank you! I’m already feeling much better about it, but I knew I had to get all of this off my chest. I know there’s got to be other runners out here who feel this way after a race and they are not alone!

  4. I’m sorry you’ve had such a tough time processing all this, but it sounds like you’ve come to a good place. My first half marathon, my main goal was just to finish, but my not-so-secret goal was to break 2:30. My training runs had said it was possible, but race day was 90 degrees, full sun, 90% humidity, and I just couldn’t do it. I walked most of the last 5 miles of the race, and adjusted my goal to just finish without getting sick. You never know what’s going to happen, and you never know if the pain you’re feeling is just a little niggle that’s nothing, or something that could really mess up your future running, so it’s always better to err on the side of caution.

    1. Yeah, I knew after the race when my leg was really hurting that I’d made the right call, but it was still tough to process the lack of a PR 😦 Race day is so unpredictable! I’m just hoping I get a good chance to try again soon!

  5. i’ve never had to change a goal pre-race, but i did have to change a goal mid-training back in the spring. up through my 5th week of training, i was getting SO much faster and doing long runs consistenly and dedicating a lot of days and time to working out, and i knew a PR was headed my way and thought i might even be able to break 2:30 finally.
    and then opprtunities started coming up in my work life, and i had to make the decision to focus all my extra time on school rather than training hard. my spring half ended up being my slowest and it was hard to deal with the “what could have beens” but i know i ended up making the right choice by focusing on school/work.
    it’s hard, but i definitely think you made the right decision for you! and if you decide to do the half in kenai, you and i will be running halfs on the same day (i’m doing the chicago half)!

  6. I will say that missing your goal is sucky … I am in the same boat as you! I was a definite sub 225. Then I got sick (shingles) – that was over a year an a half ago – have not done that time SiNCE! grrr. However, I am checking of other little boxes – ran stronger, didn’t fade at mile 12 or kept solid pace or hadd a negative split. Or ran a solid strong steady race on the hilliest course ever. You know? CELEBRATE it ALL!!! Thing is…judging from those photos – you ha FUN! you did finish. You complete training. It is another race which will make you stronger, smarter, even more ready for the next level. Sometimes it is hard to read those blogs that someone is constantly getting a personal best always running “fast” and I cannot relate. I so wanna come and run with you…we could have fun and nail it! I am soooo close to getting back to 230. And you know what? You are too!

    1. I love your positivity! I have been trying to check off some boxes for this one, because I honestly accomplished some awesome things that I’ve never done in a half marathon before. Unfortunately that PR was a big one that I had to leave unchecked, and it’s hard to get over that. But thank you for reminding me that I did do a lot of awesome things to be proud of!

  7. There’s no such thing as too many races! I’m glad that though you didn’t PR, you had your most fun half to date, and it left your wanting to stay in shape for another one soon 🙂 Racing isn’t all about PRs (unlike my blog name might suggest…), but about what makes it fun for you. & seriously, your training for the HTH set you up for serious future success – having a group of fellow runners to train with and vent to can mean the different between sticking with it and saying “maybe this just isn’t for me”. Here’s to an awesome second half of 2015! 😀

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