Sunday, October 8, 2017

Racing Teaches Lessons

I ran the Indy Half at Fort Ben in Indianapolis yesterday. Nice half-marathon race course. Good organization. But it sucked. I was terrible. Finished in 1:51. That placed me 287th of 1657 finishers. My slowest half-marathon ever. I was thinking a 1:37 was within reach (my best is 1:32:35). The cool thing about racing is that it teaches you lessons. You can't hide your weaknesses. Your faults are exposed. Well, I felt pretty naked yesterday! Plenty of faults.

What went wrong? What are my weaknesses?

1. I can't run well in the heat. The race was warm and humid. Started around 67F and went up to 77F. Humid and a little rain in the beginning, then sun and heavy humidity. Not the best racing weather. I was hoping for 50s, overcast, and dry. I need cool race-day weather.

2. My pacing was wrong. I started with the 1:35 pace group. Felt easy for first 3 miles, then I realized my mistake. With the warm weather and my inadequate training, this was too fast. I adjusted, but it was too late. The damage was done. The 1:40 group passed me fairly early, then 1:45, and eventually 1:50. I tried to stay ahead of the 1:50 group, but it was not in the cards. I was toast by mile 10. I need better and more disciplined pacing.

3. My training was inadequate. I did some reasonable long runs, but not enough race-pace training. I needed more tempo, track, and upbeat aerobic runs. Hard to race at 7:30 pace if you haven't trained at that level. My bad. The warm weather really exposed my training faults. Even if cooler weather, I would not have maintained a 7:20 pace. I need faster training.

4. I should have consumed more calories (and caffeine). I ate one gel around 8 miles, but I think one at 5 and another at 10 miles would have been wiser. With caffeine (or caffeine gum). I felt really tired and depleted--probably due mostly to the heat and poor training, but maybe lack of calories played a role too. I need more calories and caffeine.

5. My leg turn-over was slow. My cadence averaged 156. That's what I do in my slow training runs. Slogs. Again, fatigue likely played a role, but I should focus a bit more on keeping a fast cadence in training. Strides and faster running should help. If I keep a slow cadence, I'm more likely to over-stride and fatigue quicker. I need faster turn-over.

6. I'm not strong on hills. This course wasn't super hilly, but there were enough to eat me up. Including a long one around 10 miles. Running up a hill in the sun, heat, and humidity is not easy. Especially for me. Central Illinois isn't the best place to practice hill running, but I can find a few hills. I need to incorporate hills into my training.

Lots of things to work on. I control everything but the weather. I have another race test in 4 weeks: the Indianapolis Monumental half-marathon. Time to train! And hope for cool weather.

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