So happy to write about my awesome half this morning! Everything just went right – I felt so fast and almost Zen-like at times! But let me start at the beginning.
First, I haven’t written in a few days -I went to yoga on Wednesday but didn’t have much to say about it, and Thursday I just did my last pre-race run on the treadmill. I felt really good but was wondering if perhaps I’d been a bit too cavalier about this race – I really have only been training in earnest for a month or so, and have only run 3 days a week. There are plenty of training programs out there that advocate that kind of running, but I wasn’t sure if it was the best for me. I thought dialing it back would help keep any budding injuries in check but I didn’t know if I really needed extra running time to get stronger – suffice it to say, I was looking at today’s run as a bit of a science experiment.
Last night I went to Road Runner Sports to pick up my racing packet and decided to try on a pair of compression leggings. I’ve read mixed reviews about their efficacy – some people swear by them and others think whatever the pro-compression people are feeling is just a placebo effect, but none of the articles I read had any negative side effects – either you feel good or feel the same in them. They were PRICEY – the most I’ve ever spent on leggings for sure – but I figured what the hell – if they’re going to keep my hamstring in check, why not.
The beautiful thing about this particular race was the 10am start-time, which meant I could really sleep in! Everything was easy – I got up around 8, got an Uber shortly afterwards, got to Soldier Field in zero traffic, and got right inside the United Club to keep warm with all the other runners. Because it was around 30 degrees with very light wind, all I wore were my full-length leggings, a long-sleeved t shirt, gloves, and a fleece headband. I knew it was the right combo because you don’t want to overdo it on cold days (once you start to warm up you get sweaty, and then you have this non-stop chill…it’s really not pleasant!), but once we finally got outside and lined up in our corrals, I was freezing, especially on the back of my neck. A lot of runners had jackets with taller collars and I wish I’d had mine – but I knew I was dressed right. Sure enough, within 5 minutes of running I was feeling perfectly climate-controlled.
I positioned myself at the 11-minute mile. I expected my first few miles to be faster, but figured I’d slow down and even myself out at some point. Instead…I don’t even know what happened; I just started going and never really stopped! My Garmin says I averaged 10:45-minute miles, and kept all but two at under 11 minutes. The first hour I felt like I was flying. One change I made was to increase my walk/run to 6 minutes running, 1 walking, so I know that made a bit of a difference, but still – I just felt really strong and confident. I think a lot of it has to do with that treadmill class – granted I’ve only been going a few weeks, but it’s those intervals of speed and incline that pack a punch and I think are paying off in dividends!
Probably the best psychological boost during the race was at the turnaround point – the course was just an out-and-back, so at the 7-mile marker all you did was turn around along the same Lakefront trail that you ran to get out there. I couldn’t believe how many runners were behind me – ultimately I placed faster than 500 of them!
I never really hit a moment of exhaustion. I ate a banana about 45 mins before we started and then had one energy chew at the hour mark and another maybe 20 mins after that – I never even had the third. For 99% of the time my tummy behaved; it was only a few moments here and there that I thought some cramping was coming on – but thankfully it never actually materialized until after the race!
In the end I beat my last half marathon time (in April of 2015) by 10 minutes, which is significant even though it doesn’t sound like much! That was all I wanted to do going into this race – get a new Personal Record (PR). Mission accomplished!
My game plan now is to cut back on running – hopefully taking an entire week off and then easing back into it. I really want to keep up with the treadmill class – maybe going to that once a week, running a few miles on the treadmill another time, and then running a bit longer on weekends – but my priority is recovery. I took ibuprofen this morning and still felt my hamstring’s soreness, so I know I need to rest. And the compression leggings – eh – obviously I don’t know how it would have gone without them, but I can’t say that my great race was necessarily because of them either, you know?
I really wanted a great race to make me feel like I had another 26.2 in me, and this fit the bill (although the one thought I had when I finished was that no way did I have another 13.1 in me!). I am hoping that a combination of rest and time will prime me for being ready for summertime training. This week I entered the lottery for the NYC marathon; if that doesn’t work out then I will try my hand for Marine Corps and for Chicago again. So we’ll see what happens!
And now I am finally off to savor my first cup of coffee…at 3pm. 🙂