Rewinding a bit, I first thought I'd focus on shorter races this season and then I thought I would jump in and train for the Cleveland Marathon with a couple of friends who were training for it. Ultimately, life was crazy and a full marathon seemed like too much and I decided to split the difference and train for the half. At that time I think in my head I hoped to get in shape for a 1:25ish half in May. That sounded ambitious, but doable.
I plugged away for a few weeks self-coaching and then I was lucky enough to hook up with Coach G about 10 weeks ago. Coach G coaches several of my great friends (most notably in blogland, the ever-fabulous E-Speed). He switched me up to a higher intensity moderate mileage plan and I thrived on it. I had a great time tapping into my fast-twitch muscle fibers and lactate threshold. I learned I really like tempo runs and can lay down some fastish 200's if I want to. It's been great!
One thing I realized is that even though I'm running way faster for every workout and even easy run than I ever did, this doesn't necessarily mean I'm going to log significantly faster races yet. It's frustrating to breeze through a sub-7:00 pace 10 miler every Saturday when that used to be hard for a 6 mile tempo workout and run pretty close to the same race times. Coach G assures me that this is for now. It will take time and if I'm patient the big breakthrough WILL happen. And deep down in my heart of hearts I know this. But right now I am not feeling particularly thrilled of racing my behind off just to log times I've been in shape to run since 2007. (Yeah yeah, I've had two kids since then, but it really feels like I've been in the same shape for 4 years!)
Going into the race yesterday, my goal, as has been the case for the last several races I've run, was to race my best and finish with a smile. Although there were mistakes I certainly made yesterday I more or less achieved this goal. I did have a time goal in the back of my mind. I wanted to run in the 1:25's (low 6:30's). I quickly realized that was not going to happen.
I was a little late to the start, but fought the crowds to line up with E (who had signed up, but was minorly injured and decided not to waste the bib and get in a little fun run) and fellow G trainee NC (who ran a 2:43:45 for the win and an OTQ!) I knew they wanted to go out around 6:15-6:20 so I would just keep them in sight and hopefully about 10-20 seconds behind. The first mile is very uphill and I came though in 6:45. I told myself this was good, but the negative nelly in the back of my head told me I was already behind. I tried to ignore ol' nelly, but she kept yapping most of the race!
The second mile was 6:20. Better! Maybe too fast, but I felt fine. The third mile was 6:4x. "Oh crap," said nelly. I chimed in, "It probably just meant mile three was long and two was short. You're doing great." I told myself.
By the fourth mile I remembered G told me to run like I can't fail. So, I decided to pick up the pace and freaking go for it. By the fourth mile marker I was passed by about 4 women and the darn split was another 6:4x. GAHHHHHHH! I thought. Nelly said, "see. You're stinkin' this race up. You run sub 6:30 6 mile tempos now and can't even do that for the first 6 miles of a race?" I couldn't give up yet. "No! I can do this. Maybe I won't run as fast as I hoped, but I always close well in a half and I can catch those girls then."
Miles 5-8 were more of the same. At each marker I came through with a 6:4x split and each time I had that back and forth between nelly and me. It started to wear me down. I knew mrp would be around mile 8 and although I wanted to just walk off the course and cry in his arms I mustered up the strength to finish this darn race no matter what. I saw mrp and signaled to him I was disappointed, but I had fun with it. Instead of crying I jokingly told him I was stinkin' up the course. I realized somewhere in there that I don't really feel a passion to run a 1:26 or a 1:27. Like I said, those were my goal times since 2007. I want to take it to the next level. I think this is why I let nelly have so much air time. I just didn't care enough to beat her back.
A little after mile 8 I spotted E up ahead in a little pack. I focused on them and worked over the next mile and a half or so to catch them. A pack of dudes swallowed me up somewhere in here and I was sure it was the 3:00 pace group. I really thought I was struggling then!
Around 9.5 I finally caught E. I told her I was sucking and just wanted to jog it in with her and have fun. She said she wasn't feeling that great either. I then decided I had enough and wanted to quit. I stopped. She looked at me like I was insane. I bitched and moaned about what I thought was my utter patheticness and I don't even know what she responded with, but whatever it was I started running again. We passed the 10 mile mark and I saw a high 1:07 on the clock (a far cry from the 1:05:30 I was hoping to see).
We then turned the corner and mrp was waiting for me and I think he was relieved I had company and seemed to be a good spirits. By now I was laughing about the craziness (my craziness!) and knew if I just ran under 7:00 to the finish I could break 1:30. My mile 11 split was 6:50 and then there was no mile markers after that but somehow I managed to run the last 5k right around 20:00. E was trying to motivate me with the two-step trick so I had a couple of miles to think and make sense of this one. I realized that I was incredibly ungrateful for the little athletic talent I have and taking my healthy body for granted. I was basically being a big baby because I'm not quite able to run the times I want to run. Wah-freaking-wah.
As I made these realizations, I started pushing the pace trough downtown trying to keep up with E who was trying to motivate me with the two-step trick. She peeled off with about 1000 meters to go and I gunned it. I turned the corner and saw the clock 1:26:xxx. Holy crud! I pushed and pushed the last 300 or so and managed to come in with a 1:27:35 (or 34 or 38--I've seen all three in the results since the race. I'm going with 35 for now). That was over a minute pr. As I was finishing I remembered my goal and suddenly appreciated the gift this race was. I smiled and waved my arms in the air wooing myself.
I wooed because I pr'd. I wooed because I stuck it out. I wooed because I wasn't beating myself up for not meeting a time goal. I wooed because I appreciated mrp who woke up @ 5 a.m. just to come cheer me on and the person who called my name as I was finishing and E who two-stepped me to this pr and NC who I knew was killing it out there and my trainee TL who was going to run a big pr and MZ who braved many a blizzard to train with me (he ran a 2:57!) and for everyone who has ever supported me or listened to me whine or ran with me or cheered for me or told me to suck it up. This one was for you!
After the race I checked the results and saw that two of the women who passed me at mile 4 finished within 40 seconds of me. If only I didn't stop! If only I would have just pushed and stayed committed. Bla! Shut up nelly!