Race Recap: Red Blue Half Marathon (Spoiler Alert: It’s a PR!)

This weekend, I ran a much-needed redemption race.  I know a lot of people will shake their heads in disbelief that I said that, but it is true.  I’ve been struggling mentally, off and on, since dealing with my psoas issues that started in April – I’m not going to rehash it again.  I’ve beat that dead horse enough.

After I finally got myself together mentally, I began looking toward this little race as a BIG chance to redeem myself.  I reflected on my race performances over the past few months to see what I could improve upon and I came up with a few things to practice during this race.

This race benefited local police and fire departments. The fire department hung this flag over the finish line!

This race benefited local police and fire departments. The fire department hung this flag over the finish line!

First, I wanted to get out of aid stations more quickly.  The last half of Rochester, my walks through the aid stations got longer and longer – too long.  Even though a half isn’t the same kind of beast as a full, I knew I could use practice getting in and out of the aid stations as fast as possible.  I can’t run and drink from a cup.  PERIOD.  I realized after Rochester that the temptation to slow down while walking through the aid station is too great – especially when I am tired and in the last stages of the race.  I decided to try stopping, downing the water and immediately moving on.  It worked in this race, but the temps were favorable and cooler and obviously I didn’t have to contend with mile 20.  Regardless, I’m sticking with this plan.  It seemed to work.

Second, I wanted to race aggressively.  Last Spring, I was finally learning how to manage taking risks during races but then – psoas happened.  I had to baby it and take it easy and not push too hard.  For MONTHS.  My personality is to stay in the safe zone anyway, so I didn’t need any encouragement to take it easy.  I have to constantly remind myself to get out of the comfort zone.  So my plan for the race was to warm up, keep my heart rate in mid-high 160s and then increase from there.  I executed this part perfectly!!  (Although I may have had some help from the steroids that I’m currently taking for my shoulder.  LOL!!)  Honestly, I was afraid that I started out too fast, but my HR settled into the zone that I wanted by mile 2, so I decided to stick with it as long as I felt OK.  I was still feeling really strong at the halfway point.  I knew I was sitting at 15th female overall because it was an out and back course and I had counted the women ahead of me.  I was a little (OK..A LOT) ticked that I was in 15th, so I used that as motivation for kicking it up at the half.  I cranked it up and ran in the upper 170s until the 10-mile mark.  I passed 3 women (and a handful of men), so I was sitting in 12th at this point.  Number 11 female was still a ways off with her pink pullover and her ponytail braid.  I didn’t really think I had a chance to catch her but figured I might as well keep trying to close the gap.

Side note: at mile 9, I began calculating what my expected finish time would be if I could maintain my pace.  (Disclaimer: I am HORRIBLE at run math!!)  I was on track for 1:45 at the half and I knew I hadn’t slowed, so I was expecting to still be on track for 1:45.  I was at 1:12 and started calculating in my head.  I was running 8 minute miles, on average, so I multiplied….forty minutes to go would put me at the finish at 1:52.  WAIT…HOW is that possible??  I spent an entire mile trying to figure out how I was suddenly so far behind and FINALLY realized that I multiplied by 5 instead of 4.  THIS is why I just run by heart rate!

My third and final goal was to spend the last 5k in the pain zone.  Like I said earlier, I usually play it too safe and end up still having a lot of energy at the end of the race.  It works well for negative splits, but I’m always left wondering if I could have done more.  My goal was to cross the finish line on empty, leaving NO doubt about whether or not I could have pushed harder.  Mile 10 came and I gave it all that I had, which seemed like a lot but didn’t really reflect in my splits.  Miles 12 and 13 were THE MOST PAINFUL miles I’ve ever run or raced.  I was getting close to pink ponytail braid girl, but I was right in the middle of the pain zone so I didn’t feel like I had any extra to give at that point.  I also felt like I was slowing down and really thought I ran mile 13 at an 8:30 pace (until I went back and looked at the splits and saw that it was 8:10).  My Garmin pace was all over the place even when I knew I hadn’t changed pace *that* much – this may explain why the course measured short on my watch.  Even through all this pain, I never entertained the idea to slow down or walk, which was a BIG battle won!!

Happier with mile 12 and 13 splits than I expected.

Happier with mile 12 and 13 splits than I expected.

Another win for the day: I successfully french braided my hair. YAY!!

Another win for the day: I successfully french braided my hair. YAY!!

Regardless of my time, I managed to meet all the goals that I set for myself so this race was a big mental boost.  Speaking of time…..I ran this race in 1:45:11!!!  Going into the race, I felt pretty confident that I could run a 1:45, but I was trying to focus more on the processes which needed improvement as opposed to the end result.  However, I was VERY excited to cross the finish with that time!!  I was pretty sure that I placed in my age group, but had to wait around for what seemed like forever for any race results to be posted.  I did end up 2nd in my age group.  I missed first place by only 21 seconds and…..pink ponytail girl was the one that snagged 1st!!  So close! LOL

I joked with pink ponytail braid girl about chasing her the entire second half.

I joked with pink ponytail braid girl about chasing her the entire second half.

One issue that I have is how to handle these super flat races, as Houston will also be pretty flat.  It does make it easier to manage running even splits, but I ALWAYS think that I am going up!  I seriously thought I was going up virtually the entire first half and was looking so forward to the second “downhill” half.  But then when I actually got into the second half, I still thought that I was going uphill.  And even though going up hills slows me down, I can still make up some time and get my heart rate down on the downhills.  I’ll be working on wrapping my mind around how best to handle this so I can be as mentally prepared as possible at flat Houston!

Happy Tuesday!!  Its TRACK day!! <squeals>

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