NJ Half Marathon Full Recap and Reaction

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I had kind of a breakthrough moment yesterday. When I was driving in the car on my lunch break a song came on that reminded me of last year, when I was scared and miserable all the time. I thought about how far I’d come since then, and how much I’d accomplished, and I pulled over to the side of the road and I bawled my eyes out.

I have this voice in my head. It’s very critical; more critical than my friends, my teachers, my coaches, my parents. After the race, it told me that missing my goal meant that I was a failure. That the body I’d worked so hard to heal was too big, too heavy to carry for 13 miles. That the messages I received congratulating me for finishing were like pity claps; people who felt sorry for me.

Keeping this voice at bay is something that I have struggled with my entire life. I don’t think I’ll ever completely silence it, and that’s ok. I’ve learned that keeping it at a certain volume actually helps me be more productive; that striving to be better is ok, just not at the expense of my happiness or health.

It only becomes a problem when the voice gets so loud that it renders me deaf to my own accomplishments.

That’s what happened on Sunday, and that’s what I needed to get past. Because I actually ran really well for someone who only trained for 8 weeks, who started from ground zero and had to build to 13.1 in two months, and who had never run the distance before, much less in the rain and wind. When I think of it like that, I’m really proud of how I ran, and excited to see how much I can improve when I put in more consistent, healthy training.

Whew. This is going to be a long post, because I haven’t even touched the recap of the race yet! Sorry guys. Let’s dive right in?:

I was super emotional when the gun went off, but I tried to go out in what I thought was a conservative pace. I stayed with the 1:45 pace group through 4 miles, and then I felt good, so I started trying to pick off girls in front of me to keep myself focused. I know I was consistently clicking off 7:50s, and feeling super relaxed doing it, not forcing the pace at all.

Going into mile 8, I still felt really good. We started going up a gradual hill, and I slowed down a little, but I figured that was natural pace adjustment and that when I went downhill it would even out. I was probably right, but I’ll never know, because my watch died about halfway up the hill. I remember audibly cursing, and then deciding that if I could find someone who looked like they were going around the same pace as me, I’d just latch onto them and try to stay near them, and maybe they’d take pity on me and give me a mile split or two.

Looking back, I think I just chose the wrong dude. He did not like me running with him, and he very subtly was picking it up, trying to drop me, the entire time I was near him. I should have cut the cord when I realized this, but I didn’t, because we were catching people and I was feeling better and I remember thinking like, OK this is when the race starts let’s go!!!

So naive.

After two miles with Dude-Who-Did-Not-Like-Me, I started feeling a cramp coming on. My shoulders were really tight, and I slowed a little to lift my arms over my head, hoping they’d loosen up. When I did, Dude-Who-Did-Not-Like-Me sprinted away from me as fast as he could, and I was alone.

This was when I started to fall apart. I think I really picked it up running those two miles with Dude, and then when I hit mile 10, I just ran out of gas. It was crazy; aerobically, I actually felt ok. I could have held a conversation with the person next to me! But my body was as stiff as a board, my legs just wouldn’t move, and my feet were burning (because, I found out after, I had about 10 blisters from running in the rain).

At that point, I think I was still on 7:50 pace, because I went through 10 miles in an elapsed time of about 1:18:30. A half marathon in 7:50 pace is 1:42:41; I ended up running 1:45:57, slowing down at least a minute a mile in the last 3 miles. It felt like the entire race was passing me; I was literally just watching as all the people I’d used to propel me forward in the first half of the race came back and passed me in the last 5k. I saw the 1:45 pacer go by, and I tried SO HARD to pick it back up and finish with her, but it just wasn’t there.

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Looking back, I’m actually proud that I didn’t walk at all in those last three miles, because I really wanted to. But something kept me moving, and I think a big part of it was all the people who had reached out to me the night before to wish me luck. I am so, so grateful to everyone that supported me during this whole process; my family, friends, the running community – which is the best, most supportive group of people out there – and my boyfriend, who had to listen to me rant and vent and complain and cry about this race for the last two months, and who woke up to run with me, sometimes in the rain, more than once.

I’ve already signed up for my next half (Rock N’ Roll Brooklyn on October 8th). I haven’t decided how much more seriously I am going to take it this time around, but I’ll make sure I let you know when I do. 🙂

Race Against Racism 5k Recap (Post Grad PR!)

 

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Though the focus of my training so far has been developing my endurance to the point where contemplating a 13.1 mile race doesn’t make me want to cry/die, I always like to have secondary goals to keep myself accountable during the buildup to my main goal as well. I’m a liiiiiiitle competitive, and while I do enjoy immersing myself in the everyday grind of training, I’ve found that I tend to lose focus on the big picture unless I’m given a steady diet of intermediate challenges along the way.

Knowing this, I tried to schedule some races into the buildup to the NJ Half to keep myself motivated (and to try out my race outfit!). I ran the Ice Scraper 5k on March 13, finishing in a time of 22:26, and this past weekend in the Race Against Racism 5k I somehow took almost a minute and 15 seconds off that time to take the win (for the ladies side at least) in 21:13! This not only surpassed my goal of 22 minutes flat, it’s actually the fastest I’ve run since graduating college. I was so shocked I double checked my GPS watch, mapped it on RunKeeper, and asked the race director if he was SURE it was a full 5k. Verdict was yes, so ya girl ran a nice little post-grad PR! 😉

(Side note: my actual 5k PR is 18:32. I joked with my boyfriend after this race that I’ve never been so happy to run almost 3 minutes slower than my PR. HA.)

The race itself was kind of bizarre. It started at 9am, so I thought I was running late when I started my warm up at 8:30. At 8:55 I was hurriedly changing into my flats and wondering if I had time to get some strides in when the race director announced we would be hearing a talk on racism – which lasted 15-20 minutes. It was thought-provoking, and a great talk, and I get that that was the point of the whole race…but it was cold, I was wearing only shorts and a tank top, and all I could think about was how tight my legs were getting while we stood there listening. I think if I was the race director I would have maybe saved this talk for the post-race awards ceremony, but that’s just my opinion!

Weirdness aside, the race was a lot of fun. I figured I’d be stiff from standing, so my plan was to work into it then try and pick people off. I sat behind a bunch of guys for the first half mile while my legs got used to the shock of sprinting, then passed most of them when we hit the first hill and never really looked back. Though it was suuuuper windy and a fairly hilly course, I felt pretty strong and like I could have kicked it into another gear if I had to.

(Further sidenote: it was super trippy and fun to race on Kutztown’s campus. The whole time I was reminiscing about dumb things we did when we still lived in dorms and ate at the dining hall every night. I highly recommend doing this race if you went to Kutztown, it’s worth it for the #remthemems factor alone!)

This race was such a huge confidence booster for me, and with two weeks till the NJ Half, it couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m getting more and more excited to line up to run 13.1, and it’s looking more and more like my way-out-there goal of 8 minute pace might (if all goes well!) actually become a reality. I’m starting to actually believe, you guys, and it’s kind of scary!

Thanks to everyone that texted me to wish me luck or see how it went; I honestly woke up on Saturday NOT WANTING TO RACE AT ALL but you kept me accountable 🙂 Not sure if that makes you good or bad friends but either way…thanks!

PS- Above graphic was taken from Kutztown Race Against Racism Instagram page.