Monday, April 30, 2018

Races Force the Truth

When you race, the truth bubbles up. You can't hide unrealistic expectations. Your training is exposed. Sometimes your hopes and dreams are crushed. At other times, they are validated. This past weekend, at the Illinois Half-Marathon, reality set in...very hard. I was not prepared and I had no business trying to run a fast race. My dreams turned into a moving nightmare. It wasn't pretty.

I was doing really well through the first 6 miles. Then started to fade a bit from 6-9 miles. Then it all fell apart after 9 miles. Miles 10, 11, 12 really sucked. My legs were dead. Nothing could get me to move faster. GU gel? Run Gum? Loud music? No, no, no.

The chart above shows my declining pace as the race progressed. I went out too fast. Thought I could run a 1:38 or faster time (7:28 pace). I ran even faster than that at the beginning. Need to be more realistic in future races with a predicted finish time that I can achieve, then start at that pace. And train better. I'm not injured and I am looking forward to future races. I'll smash this sucker next year! Maybe a 1:37? 1:35? New PR of 1:33? Here are changes needed for a better performance next year:

Long runs. My longest run in the last 3 months has been 10 miles. And I've only done 3 of those! Longest run of the last 6 months was 13 miles (a previous half-marathon in early November). That is not enough distance running to build significant endurance for a half-marathon. I need many runs greater than 10 miles in the 3 months leading up to my next race (6-10 runs). And the distance should go up to 13-15 miles.

Total weekly miles. My average weekly miles for February-March-April has been 25 miles/week. Not exactly an endurance monster. I need more miles on a consistent basis. At least 30 miles per week with peaks above 40 miles. With more long runs, this should be feasible. I've always been a rather low-mileage runner. But adding just a few more miles will help.

Leg strength. I certainly need more total weekly miles to build leg strength and overall endurance. Also need to incorporate hills. Maybe even a touch of strength training! With stronger legs, I should be able to maintain a steady fast pace. Tempo runs also build leg strength. I'll mix in hills, tempo, and fast repeats to develop strong and resilient leg muscles.

Race pacing. I clearly flubbed my race pacing at this event. Went out way too fast and faded. I need to determine an achievable goal and race at that steady pace from start to finish. Maybe even begin slightly slower and get a negative split. Plus, I should build in more race pace runs during my training. In general, I have the speed, but lack stamina and endurance. My mind thinks I can go out fast and not die. This weekend showed me I'm wrong. I need to combine solid training with wise pacing.

NOTE: My niece ran her first half-marathon and finished in 1:33! She was 7th out of 327 in her age group. Awesome. Helps to be young. And fit. In my defense, my 1:40:57 finish time placed me 12th out of 121 in my age group. Not too shabby for an old ultra runner.

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