Thursday, July 23, 2015

Things I learned during my last half marathon.

Let’s just start off by saying that I am about 7-10 pounds heavier than I was earlier this year.  I have spent a lot of time doing strength training, especially legs.  I have also have been indulging in pizza and ice cream more than I should, so some of the weight is due to poor eating habits.  I do great during the week, but the weekends kill me.  I followed the Hal Higdon Advanced Half Marathon Plan.  It was challenging, but I feel that it did a great job of getting me ready for the Davis Moonlight Half Marathon, which was last weekend.

I set my half marathon PR at the Davis Lucky Run in March of this year at 1:50:20.  I knew that I would most likely not be able to beat that time because of the heat and my added weight, but I was excited to see what I could do.  I had been doing all of my long runs on a hilly bike trail and was diligent about my interval sessions.  Here is what I learned at the Moonlight race.

Starting off slow (about 30 seconds slower than my goal pace for the first 2-3 miles) really let my body warm-up and perform better for the entire race.

My Achilles tendon started to tighten about one mile into the race and I knew that if I slowed my pace just a bit and toughed it out, that it would eventually go away, which it did around mile 4.  Not giving up in my training sessions when I wanted to walk played a big part in hanging in there long enough for my tendon to loosen.

Training on hills really helped me not only power up hills during the race, but helped me recover more quickly once I made it to the top.  If you don’t do hill work, I would strongly recommend giving it a try.

Really pushing hard in my interval training taught me to never give up, even when my legs were ready to quit.  During the race, I would sprinkle in some small surges.  I would pick a person about 100 feet ahead and would make it my goal to pass them.  Through small burst of speed (only speeding up my pace by 20-30 seconds) that lasted about a minute long allowed me to gain some ground and then I would settle back into my normal race pace to recover.  It also makes the race fun and takes your mind off of the fatigue.  It is a huge mental boost to catch that person and pick the next target.

I had Gatorade Prime Energy Chews at 4 miles, 8 miles, and 11 miles.  I took them right before I hit an aid station so I could wash it down with some water.  I find that gels and some of the gummies can be hard to eat and still breathe properly, but the Prime Energy Chews were easy to eat and didn’t upset my stomach.

I would slow down (walk) when I grabbed my water at the aid station.  This allows me to get some of the water in my mouth instead of spilling it all.  I would drink half of the water and would pour the rest on my head, then take off again.  This is the first time I had ever poured water on my head (while running) and I feel that it really did cool me off. 

I was keeping pace with a guy for about 5-6 miles and while we didn’t talk much, we did ask “How’s it going?” and tried to motivate each other by saying stuff like “Keep it up!” it really made me realize that having someone with me did keep my mind off of the fatigue.

I always listen to music when I run.  It was always my assumption that I would get bored without some tunes, but about 8 miles into the race, my music stopped playing.  The funny thing is that I actually was able to just focus on my breathing and where I was going.  The time went by some much quicker than if I was listening to music.  I am going to try and eliminate music from most of my runs and see how that works on more of a permanent basis.

I finished the moonlight last year in 1:59:02.  This year I finished in 1:53:48.  I felt good and am ready to start my first full marathon training in August.  I am hoping to finish the California International Marathon in under 4:00:00 this December.  It will be a wonderful journey and I can’t wait to share it with you.

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