Slowest half = my hardest half.
I originally wanted to call this post, "How to NOT PR a race". Here's why...
How to not PR a race:
1. Pick a race labeled the "toughest half marathon in Florida". 4 long, high bridge climbs.
2. Sprain your ankle 24 days before the race.
3. Spend 3 days on crutches and only manage only a 2,3, and 5 mile run before your half.
4. Run your first 4 miles faster than you've trained.
Add those 4 things together and at mile 5 things get ugly. Chills, goosebumps, inability to feel hands....and a burning desire to quit set in.
But let's start at the beginning...
I set out to PR this race. I plotted out a training plan that included long runs, tempo runs, and repeat 800's. I had high hopes. My ankle injury derailed me, however I still had hope for a good run.
On race day, Kyle's sister, Kelsey, and I woke up at 515am. We wanted plenty of time to eat, use the bathroom, and warm up before the 705 start.
|Am I an elite runner or a jet plane?|
I felt like I had to go to the bathroom right before the race, so I got in line....a very long line. I didn't want to have to go on the course so I waited...for 20 minutes!! That's crazy!
I made it to the start with 1 minute to go and was off!
Miles 1-4 felt great. I had good speed and my ankle wasn't bothering me. I kept speed up the first bridge and made time going down.
Mile 1- 8:54
Mile 2- 8:20
Mile 3- 8:52
Mile 4- 10:13
I knew that I was going too fast. I kept trying to "slow down" but I'd find myself at 8:45 pace again. I needed to maintain 9:09 to reach my goal. I know the dangers of going out too fast, but I did it anyway. And I paid for it.
I came to the second bridge climb and gave myself a walk break going up it then I ran the way down.
I slowed to get Gatorade at an aid station around 4.5 and when I tried to run again I instantly felt awful. I couldn't breath, I had chills, and I honestly couldn't feel my hands. It was so weird. It felt like they were asleep.
Mile 5- 10:03
Mile 6- 11:10
I let myself walk for a minute or so to try and recover. I started running again and I was "gassed". I agreed with myself that I would run at a slower pace and allow myself a walk break every 1/2 mile.
It didn't help. By mile 6 I felt horrible. I was exhausted and not even halfway done. I seriously thought about quitting. I didn't know how I could go farther then I had already run feeling this bad. I could blame it on my ankle or on my lack of training....I could quit.
Mile 7 - 10:52
Yeah right? Quit! I'm not a quitter. If I quit I couldn't enjoy my post race cheat meals!
I couldn't imagine having to tell all those cheering for me that I didn't finish. Sure I could've said that my ankle hurt, but it didn't. My body just wasn't prepared for what I was asking it to do.
I pressed on. I had no strategy. I'd run a little then walk. I don't know which one was harder. It all hurt.
Kelsey passed me on her way back. She was close to mile 9 and I was just past 7. I screamed to her to tell Kyle that things were going bad and I was going to be much later then anticipated.
|Kelsey finishing - 1:35|
Mile 8 - 11:42
Around mile 9.4 I turned my Garmin off. I didn't want to see just how ugly things were getting. In hindsight this was another bad idea. I think if I knew my overall time I could've structured a run/walk plan and tried to finish better.
I barely made it across the third bridge. I was walking at an 18 min pace. Are you kidding me? My hands were on top of my head and I was just a zombie.
At mile 10 I passed our hotel. Again I had a burning desire to quit. I could go inside, get a key, lie in bed and cry. Oh how I wanted to. I couldn't fathom how slow I was going and how long it was going to take me to finish. It was depressing.
Somehow I trudged on. I'd walk, I'd run, and I kept beating myself up mentally.
My first 4 miles took 36 minutes...my last 4 took over an hour!!!
Somehow I managed over the final bridge and finished. I don't even want to tell you but it was in 2:25. The slowest half marathon I've ever run.
I saw Kyle and the beautiful/hilarious poster he made me and I just broke down in tears. I was covered in goosebumps, dizzy, and defeated.
|Isn't Kyle a good poster maker?|
|My great cheerleader!|
Kyle's sister, Kelsey, also said this was the hardest race she's ever done physically and mentally. She finished in 1:35 and took second in her age group.
I don't have some glaring revelation about how this race will make me stronger or how I can run faster. But I didn't quit. I finished. When every part of me wanted to stop and cry. I finished.
What wisdom I can offer you is this:
Don't try to PR on a clearly difficult race AND don't start too fast. Oh - and finish!
Love and a snails pace,
Carissa & Kyle