Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Race That Got Me To THAT Race

I want to tell you all about yesterday's marathon. In order to get us all caught up to that point, though, I feel like I need to recap The Melbourne Half Marathon, first. It was really one of the key components to my race, this past weekend. Also, I started this blog to have a place to tell my running stories. Soooo..here's another one!

I ran this half marathon, last year (pre-blogging days) and ended up with a disappointing (for me) finishing time. The course was very cool and challenging, though, and the city put on a great weekend of racing . When registration opened for the 2013 event, I signed up immediately. I wanted more pizza and free beer after the race redemption!

Fast forward a few months:
Minus the whole Jacksonville Bank Marathon debacle, my running and training had actually been going very well. I'd kinda tapped into a new Racing Mentality during The Shoelace Fiasco Race and felt like some really good racing experiences were about to be in my life. I got a teensy bit greedy and decided to try to double-dip with this race. I hoped it'd be a good gauge for some accurate goals for my upcoming marathon, but I also wanted a new PR.

Spoiler : It was both!

Here's the thing. Every time I sit to write this recap, it gets longer and longer. It was my 9th half marathon. It shouldn't have been such a big deal. But it was. It was a game-changer, for me.
a couple of options for Game Faces, on race day
Overly dramatic? Of course!

Do I care? Nosiree

I fully acknowledge that plenty of magical factors were in place, this particular morning. The weather was optimal, for a road race. I was un-injured and very healthy, all around. The course contains two big bridges, but was otherwise flat and well-marked.
note: anytime the course map directs you over a big, blue area...assume you've got a bridge to climb
 
The Husband and boys were there to cheer* and I even had some friends from the running group to hang out with before we all started the race. Again, it was a pretty perfect setup. Here's the big difference between this race and all the others, though :
 
I set goal paces for every mile and forced myself to hit them*. It sounds so simple, doesn't it? You set a goal, and don't allow yourself to do anything other than reach that goal. In the middle of a tough race, that sort of logic starts to make less and less sense, though.
 
Number One: Racing Strategy finally "clicked" in my slow brain.
 
Number Two: It. Was. Easy.
 
I'd probably get a lot more admiration for reporting back that I struggled mightily for 13.1 miles, but managed to eke out a PR. Yes, it was hard work. However, it felt good enough that I started getting emotional at mile 5, because I realized, without a single doubt, I was going to blow last year's finishing time out of the water. That's how good this race felt.
 
Another indicator: My final mile was the only one where I slipped off the Goal Pace Wagon...because I couldn't slow down. It was my fastest. I was that really annoying person who sprints by the tired finishers, with tear-filled eyes, head held high and a huge smile.
 
I crossed the finish line, finally securing a shiny PR, and felt like I could've gone and run the entire course, again.
me and my (always faster) friend, Jennifer. No, I don't normally race shirtless. We can discuss, later.
 
By this point you're probably wondering why this post isn't titled: The One Where I Brag and Annoy Everyone.
 
My intent is, of course, to not do either. It was just an "a-HA" race, for me. I share in the hopes that it can help/inspire and also explain why I had the aggressive goals I did for my marathon.
 
1:39:28 Chip Time (1:44:36 in 2012)
(1:38:36 Garmin)
3rd F35-39
30th Overall F
98th Overall
 
As always, thank you for reading. Thank you for commenting, too, even if it's only to yourself. Knowing that there are people to share this kind of stuff with makes it that much more awesome, to me.
 
*In the extended recap, there would be details about vomiting children and how hard The Husband worked to keep everything together, that morning. I'm so thankful for him.
 
*Also included in extended recap, would be those actual mile splits and plenty of other race details