Race Reports

The Run Down

My biggest hurdle planning for my half-marathon has been pacing. I don’t have a Garmin for pacing so I tend to just run with specific people or coaches. I often found myself gravitating towards a faster group on the shorter mid-week runs. As we got closer to the race, I planned on running with the group that I did my long runs with. However, because I did often pace with the faster group on shorter runs, I seemed to give off the impression that NOT running with the faster group might be sandbagging.

SO…basically that had me wanting to run with the 2:07 group (finishing in 2 hours and 7 minutes) but being encouraged to run a bit faster. THIS CONFUSED ME. I saw their point, even on my 9-mile run I ran at a 9-minute 25-second pace. That’s faster than a 2:07 half-marathon. BUT – that 9-mile run killed me. I knew I couldn’t run that fast for 4 more miles.

It was a tough few days trying to decide what to do. I finally just decided to ignore the faster group and still follow my gut, go with the 2:07 group because my brain was telling me that was the pace I could run and not want to die for 13 miles.

BUT – I can’t pace myself. I know that. I have to have someone pace me. And this is where the plan fell apart.

My coach, at mile 2, decided to hang back a bit. I realize now that she decided to hang back with the 2:07 group because I was pushing a bit faster. I wish I had processed that in the moment and just slowed down, because once she left? I kept going FASTER. I didn’t realize it. Not until I started hurting around mile 5-6 and then noticed the WORST THING OF ALL: I had almost caught up with the sub-2 hour group. That means for 3-4 miles I had been running FASTER than a 9-minute pace. On top of already running my first 2 miles a bit faster than what I wanted.

It went downhill from there. And I mean that figuratively. I WISH I WAS LITERAL.

I started getting bad quad pains/cramps and hip pains. I had to stop and stretch several times. Along the Greenway, the hardest part of the race because there are people coming back along the Greenway 2-miles ahead of you, everything got worse. And then, because I was slowing down, people were passing me going my way even. It was TOUGH.

Miles 8-11 about killed me. After mile 11 I was close enough that I could push myself to the finish-line. And I finished at 2:07. CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT? Basically, I met my goal, but in the most HORRIBLE way possible. I should have kept at the pace for the 2:07 for the entire 13 miles. Instead I started out waaaaay too fast and finished waaaaay too slowly. It averaged out okay, but lets put it this way: I finished 20 seconds ahead of the running buddy I should have run the whole race with. If I had stayed with her? I would have kept a constant, strong pace. Instead I crapped out halfway through and finished poorly.

BAH.

So, basically, on paper? I love my time. I’m so proud of my time! It was faster than I ever dreamed I could run a half-marathon. If that’s the PR I never suprass? I’ll be FINE WITH THAT. It’s a GREAT TIME.

But I’m totally disappointed in my performance. I wish I had been smarter. I wish I could share with you the dread I felt when I saw that sub-2 hour group ahead of me, meaning I had been running WAY WAY WAY too fast because I knew, “Shit. This is why I’m hurting. My muscles are not going forgive me for this pace.” And you know what? They still haven’t. My quads have been hurting for 48 hours now. THIS IS HOW BAD I AM AT PACING.

Everyone I know owns a Garmin but I don’t want one (yet) for two reasons. 1) They are expensive, even the cheaper one that I want is $120. 2) I worry I would obsess over it. I don’t want to spend a run staring at a watch anymore than I want to spend time over-pacing.

So…short story? I’m super-proud of my time and can’t believe I ran it that fast. Long story? I want to run the next one at the SAME TIME but with a consistent pace. Now, the problem is HOW DO I DO THAT? I think I’ll try to borrow Donnie’s Garmin for long runs until I get the hang of that pace. I don’t want to use it on race day, but maybe on my longer run days I could. Teach my body to learn what that pace feels like.

But cutting almost THIRTY MINUTES off my previous best half-marathon pace? PRETTY DAMN AWESOME. Even if my technique to getting there was dreadful.

12 thoughts on “The Run Down”

  1. Congratulations! I hope your muscles are feeling better today.

    No assvice from me – I’m happy to walk three miles!

  2. I am SO proud of you! I know I’ve said that ten million times. I’ll shut up soon, I promise.

    God, I worry SO MUCH about the same issue when I get to the point of running long distances! I don’t worry about pacing at all right now since I run such short intervals, but I know I’ll have an issue when they get longer. I can already tell that I’m probably running too fast right now, as my theory is that I could run much longer time/distance-wise if I slowed down a bit.

  3. First, YOU ROCKED IT!

    Second, I totally get your entire post. In Savannah, I stayed with the 4:45 marathon pacer because I had this same internal struggle.

    Even though I was supposed to stay with the pacer I still struggled with running ahead and then slowing down and then running ahead and then slowing down.

    It is soooo hard!

    You are right though had you just stayed at your pace you would have gotten the same results with less pain or finished faster because you would have had that kick at the end that wasn’t there for you today.

    Either way, YOU ROCKED IT!

  4. Even though it didn’t exactly go to plan, well done for your awesome time! I couldn’t run without my Run Keeper telling me my pace every mile. I NEED to know how fast/slow I’m running. I do really want a Garmin too but just don’t have the money for that right now.

    Oh and I couldn’t walk for about four days after my half marathon. Who knew walking down the stairs would hurt more than walking up the stairs!

  5. AHHHH! That is AMAZING! Just ignore HOW you did it for a while and revel in the fact THAT you did it! As someone who runs your old pace, I find this to be so super inspiring. (Okay, I think I’ve mentioned this in the comments on about 5 different running posts of yours. I guess I just really mean it! I kind of see you as my online running inspiration.)

    Anyway, pacing. I have the opposite problem as you – I am afraid of running too fast, so I generally run slower than I can. It helps me a lot to run with someone who I know I can keep up with, but who is better at pacing. I also don’t use a Garmin, because I think I’d just have to constantly look at it to keep myself on pace, and I’d probably end up tripping over a stick in the road or my own two feet by paying more attention to my watch than where I was going. You said that your running buddy was 20 seconds behind you at the finish – maybe next time you just stay with her and let her pace you? Or someone else who you know runs the same pace? For me, the easiest way to stay on pace is having someone to talk to in the beginning, and then by the time I get to mile 6 or 7 and don’t want to talk anymore, I’ve settled my body into that pace. Well, at least that was my strategy the time I set my half marathon PR and it seemed to work pretty well that one time. 🙂

    Again, CONGRATULATIONS! You are so awesome!

  6. That time is A M A Z I N G! Especially since my half took me 50 minutes longer to complete.

    What kind of phone do you have? I have a Droid and pace myself using the CardioTrainer App. As long as the GPS is working on my phone it is pretty accurate.

  7. Kim!! You are absolutely amazing! I’ve really enjoyed hearing about you runs, training and head trips! Your marathon time is OUTRAGEOUS!!! You would kick our nuts right now and we pretty much talk about that on every run we go on now! Thanks for sharing this journey with us! We love you and are so so so happy for you!!! And BYW- you look freaking AMAZING!!!

  8. Let’s recap, shall we? You are kicking ass at boot camp, doing 3 minute planks, out doing everything you set out to do, and having other people look up to you. You went from not being a runner at all, to training and running a half marathon, and doing it well. You’ve not only struggled with weight loss, but achieved your goal of wearing your wedding band again, something you said you’ve been unable to do for 6 years. You set a goal for your half marathon and rocked it, even if you didn’t go about it the best way possible. Don’t you think you deserve a reward? Something like a Garmin watch that’ll help you with your next goals, and that’ll keep your quads from killing you for the next 48 hours?

    I can’t afford to buy you the whole watch, but I’d donate money in a heartbeat to get you one. You’re simply one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever “internet met” and I want you to keep succeeding. I’ve lost 50 pounds in the last 7 months, in no small part because of reading about how you manage to keep going, even after having set backs and eating binges. I know that I’m not alone because you’re honest enough to put it out there for the world to read, and there’s no way I can thank you enough for that. Get the Garmin. Or let those of us who think you deserve it reward you with it.

  9. Congratulations! That is amazing! I know you’re proud of your time, but not the way you got there. Which is fine! Great! Because you learned something. EVERYONE does this at least once in a race. Again, nowhere to go but up! Bigger, better, faster. And you’re in such amazing shape that you finished well anyway! I used to run all the time with a watch & heart rate monitor. It helped me learn how hard I was working and what different paces felt like, when I needed to push and slow down. I used to be obsessed with checking it, and would practically freak out if I didn’t have it with me on a run. The obsession wore off over time, and I also haven’t been training as intensely, or for specific events, as I used to a few years ago. I lost the heart rate monitor strap awhile ago. I forget my watch sometimes, now. But I did learn how I feel at different paces, what my breath and legs feel like. I can nail a 10-minute mile pace now, even without a watch. So, I would say it’s helpful to try out the Garmin so you know what it feels like to run certain paces, and get the muscle-mind memory of that feeling. It’s just information, and it could help you know when to slow down or push in your next big race! All that good training and adrenaline at the beginning of the race has made many, many, many accomplished and professional runners do exactly what you did – you are in great company. 😉 And you will be even more awesome next time. That’s the nice thing about running – there is always another race!

  10. Dude, you rocked the race.

    Secondly: I found a heart monitor AWESOME for pacing. I know you don’t want to invest in a garmin, so that um, makes this suggestion worthless, but for me: HRM. All the way. I knew if I stayed in a specific HR zone I was “fine” — this both helped me pace AND had the added benefit of improving my speed but not increasing the effort. Next to speed work, there is nothing I found more beneficial to my running than heart rate training

  11. What kind of phone do you have? I have an iPhone and I use the Nike+ app when I run. It has a voice control feedback that gives me total time, current mile pace and average pace each mile. I listen to music and it just interrupts te music every mile so I don’t have to stop and look at anything. That app is a couple of bucks I think but there are free ones that do the same thing.
    Congrats on the time! I’m toying around with the idea of training for a half again, now that I seem to have gotten my shin splints under control and it’s not 1000 degrees outside.

  12. Yay for finishing!! I don’t have any sort of pacing equipment/apps either because I am poor and my phone is a circa 2003 blackberry. But while training for my last half, I found a song that had the same tempo as what I wanted to run. I put that song on my playlist probably about 15 times, so that it would periodically pop up on shuffle. I only listened to the song the whole time through once or twice; every other time it came up, I would listen to about 30-45 seconds of it before skipping ahead to the next song. Basically just long enough to make sure I was still running at that tempo. Unfortunately I have no insight on how to find that magic song. For me, I just noticed when this song came up on the playlist, I immediately fell into a pace that I felt I could maintain for miles and miles. It’s kind of a silly way to pace yourself, but then again running 13.1 miles seemed a little wacky to me before I actually tried it. 🙂

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