Yesterday I ran my first half marathon in a few years. I have been loving the full marathon lately and don't have a lot of time for races, plus they get expensive! But I had the amazing experience of Boston this year and decided to focus on shorter distances for a bit afterwards. A couple of thoughts about racing in general.
1) I need to be better about training for the race. It isn't that I need to run more, but I need to be better about training for the race. I get my mileage in each week, sometimes I don't get in as much as I would like but I still get in decent mileage.
Yesterday's race was a downhill race, but all of my training was on flat terrain. My running time is so limited that I get in what I can when I can. That means I don't really have time to drive up the canyon in order to train running down the canyon. That type of training requires a lot more time and more logistical thought than I have these days. So instead I lace up my shoes and head out the door, pushing through some my mileage close to home. Hurrying to get home to 4 kids and a husband that works 7 days a week (the joys of owning your own business).
I have acquaintances that don't get it and tell me I just need to make the time. I am polite to these people and give a simple reply about doing what I can. I don't explain that I am generally up between 4 and 4:30 in order to be running no later than 5 in order to get the running in that I do.
2) I didn't give myself adequate time to make yesterday's race an A race. Yesterday's half marathon was 2 months after Boston. That may seem like plenty of time to be ready to go hard. And it was plenty of time for me to push on my race, it wasn't plenty of time to allow for solid speed and tempo and training. I took it easy for a few weeks after Boston, which meant I only had about 4 weeks to get back to speed and tempo running, the hard training that is necessary for A races. I know plenty of people that pack their year with races, and that is fine. But if you do that you need to pick one or two races that are your A races. The races that you want to kill. The races that you are prepared to leave it all out on the course.
I approach every race with a few different times in my head. I have my ecstatic number, my happy time, my satisfied time, and my I"m going to the pissed all day time. I got to yesterday's start line (the start line was up gorgeous American Fork Canyon) with my times in my mind and ready to go. My ecstatic time was 1:30, my happy time was a PR (prior PR was 1:37), my satisfied time was under 1:40, and my leave me alone time was anything over that.
I had a solid race that I could walk away happy with. I finished in 1:34:40 and was happy. But I also know that if I would have trained for my race, if I would have gotten in some downhills and given more time for speed and tempo work I could have gotten that 1:30. So now I have a new goal, one that I will work for and earn.
That is the great part of running, there is always a new goal, a new number, whether it is in a finish time or a distance, you always have something to work for.