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.
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.