Rotary Run for Tomorrow Half-Marathon Recap

I haven’t updated this site of my blog in a while, other than to gleefully post my confirmation of my registration for the 2015 Haspa Hamburger Marathon. A lot of this is because of the pick-up in course work, some traveling within Germany, and my trip back home to the States for the holiday season. But I’ve been running consistently and using the events in my life to set up a decent taper for the last week.

December running update

Due to my race this morning, I didn’t worry about running a lot while in Nuernberg last weekend and I didn’t worry about running the day of my arrival in MIA nor on Friday, allowing for a short easy run yesterday. I arrived a bit later than I would have liked this morning at the race, meaning I could not warm-up for more than half a mile, but that was probably a good thing.

Basically, I arrived fairly well rested at the starting line. However, my biggest concern before waking up at o’dark thirty this morning was the exacerbated plantar fasciitis in my right foot, and it proved to be an issue through this morning. Thankfully, two days of almost rest and a lot of tennis ball rolling helped relieve the drastic symptoms my feet were displaying from playing indoor soccer on Monday and Wednesday… but soccer is my first love, so I don’t regret deciding to play. At any rate, I taped my foot up this morning, and even though 13.1 miles of pounding pavement resulted in a nasty blister when I removed the tape, I was free of the worst of the plantar pain during the entirety of the race.

It was a good race. I would say it was perfect, but my competitive self would have liked to have gotten top 10 in the women section. I ended up being the 11th female to cross the line.

But, the weather was great (55 degrees Fahrenheit were ideal, and coming from the cold north German climate, it was more comfortable than my Floridian counterparts), I felt strong, gave it 105%, and have a new personal best:

1:38:52

When I say that I gave it 105%, I acknowledge to myself that I ran a race to feel proud of. Not 110% proud (I wasn’t dying by the end), but proud none-the-less (and not just because I PR’ed).

The first five miles of the race flew by. I actually ran mile one in 7:12, so I knew I had started off too fast. But I was feeling good, so I decided to only slow down a little and see what would happen as the race continued. It wasn’t a bad choice, considering that I stuck at a pretty steady 7:25 mpm pace for most of the race, but my last miles were closer to the 7:35 mpm, with the same effort of the first miles, so I know that I probably could have conserved my energy more wisely. However, seeing as this is the first real half-marathon I’ve run since winter 2012, I’m okay with having made a mistake or two.

I went into this race without a concrete plan. Similar to what I stated in  my intuitive running post, I wasn’t looking for a PR as much as a solid gauge of my fitness. Therefore, I also didn’t really plan a time or pace. I knew at the back of my mind that I wanted to get sub-1:40 and PR, but that was only because I felt like I was fit for it, not that I thought I had trained for it and therefore should get that particular time. I like this approach to racing, and may actually chose to use this approach in the future. The pressure of reaching the time one imagines for oneself during training, or having a training plan designed around a certain time, can actually be counter-productive. At least, for me, it has always lead to injury and disappointment. Today, I started the run thinking to do what felt good until the half-way point, and then after 6.55 miles, I would try to push myself.

Pushing myself came unexpectedly early, because around mile 5, I was overtaken by another woman who was running faster, but at a pace that was still comfortable for me. I decided to try and keep up with her, and having her beside me, telling me a few times that I was doing well or to take deep breaths, was nice. I appreciated her companionship for about a mile, until I decided I would rather slow down a bit before speeding up again. I guess she was also a reminder of why it’s nice to not run with music during a race (I had actually planned on running with my MP3, only to find out that it had no battery). While running with her, I also found out from a spectator that we were the 9th and 10th women on the course. Of course, after hearing that, all I could think of was staying at least as top ten.

So I pushed myself earlier than I expected, and therefore, after backing off again, took it easy longer than originally planned: until about mile 8. I crossed mile 8 at 59:30ish, so I just thought to myself that I only had five miles to go, and I could definitely finish those quicker than 40 minutes. Then, I thought, I could also do faster than 8 mpm, and I could maybe keep 7:30 mpm, and if I did that… I was also holding my number 10 place, so I was okay with just trying to keep the pace. That was my next goal and for the rest of the race, I just tried to keep 7:30 mpm. That is, until another woman caught up to me and I couldn’t stay with her since keeping 7:30 was barely happening and I just ran to finish without giving up.

(here’s the part I’m proud of), I didn’t give up pushing. I even put forth more effort to combat my slowly cramping thighs and weakening muscles (even though it was still only around 7:32 pace, I was pushing hard). A few of the thoughts that ran through my head were things like “people talk about the pain of the end of a race all the time,” “this pain is normal, I’m supposed to be feeling this” and “damn, even if I don’t get top ten, those other women aren’t that far ahead, maybe, if I don’t give up now, I can still catch up.”

By mile 12 and a half, I realized I wouldn’t be able to beat the other women, but I also realized that if I wanted to PR I would have to kick that in stone. I couldn’t run any faster than I already was (no end sprint for me, for the first time in a long time of racing), but I could hold on… and that I did–all the way until I saw the finish line and that I was at 1:38:30 and I just thought, man, I should try to get it under 1:39. Success. It’s not a spectacular time by many people’s standards, but as long as I am able to get faster as I get older, I’m happy. I don’t expect to be running some exceptional times for another seven years at least.

The course was good and fast. Florida is flat, but the race had one minor incline (a bridge over the turnpike). It was all pavement with a few different out and backs (three U-turns). I’m really happy with this race, since it confirmed the way I’ve been feeling in shape for a while now. The longer miles during the week as well as increased mileage have heightened my endurance, and soccer and bike riding have greatly improved my fitness. I’ve also lost about five pounds since my last race, and I think not having to carry around that extra weight helped in beating my previous PR by more than a minute and a half.

So, yup. I’m happy. I hope all of you had a good weekend and are happy as well.

Since I gave myself a glorious foot blister that has lost its protective skin covering, I am going to take it easy until it heals, perhaps biking more than anything else. For the rest of December I am also going to take it easy, running-wise, to give my fasciitis a chance to settle (I’m thinking of getting a boot or some orthotics or so) and to give my body some recovery from the 2.5 months of daily heavy activity. That way, once I’m back in Germany at the beginning of January, I can safely get started on marathon training. I’m excited!

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