Truth be told, I was going to write a full recap of the Marine Corps Half Marathon, But, then the race actually happened, and I figured it would just be easier to write about the lessons I learned so that I don't make the same mistakes in the future. Keep reading...it's a doozie.
I had been on the fence about signing up for this race. After spending most of the summer unable to run, I figured the ramp up time would be way too short, and I didn't want to risk hurting myself with Vegas a month away. 3 weeks ago I got through 10 miles, and my hip felt great. I figured it'd be fine to sign up, so that I'd be in good shape for the Tri 2 B Tuff series.
Then, it all went downhill. First, I went to New York. While I did a lot of walking around, I still gorged myself on all the delicious food (including chicken and waffles - omg), and didn't go for a run. As soon as I got back, I had a nasty sinus infection that kept me out of the gym for a few days. And then came Hurricane Matthew, and there went that.
We did get lucky though. Hats off to 1st Place Sports for rescheduling the race instead of flat out canceling it. Instead of the regular course with bridges, we did 4 loops of the same 5K course (plus a little extra to get to the 13.1 miles), which included no bridges or crazy inclines. It seemed like it would be a great day for me, but that went down the drain pretty quickly. How, you may ask?
1. The night before. I always do the same thing the day/night before half marathons. I have a gallon of water throughout the day, chicken parm for dinner, and pasta for extra carbs. This time, I think I had some mini bagels, beer, and not even half a gallon of water. Yeah, I'm not an Olympian, but my body was kind of confused.
2. Race expectations. My training runs have been around 9:30-10:00/mile pace, and long runs were, at the fastest, 10:40 per mile. After taking almost 3 weeks off running, it was only natural that my fitness slipped a little bit. I went into the race knowing I wouldn't PR (that would call for about a 9:45 per mile pace), but figured I could go about 10:20 or so per mile.
3. The Playlist. I always run to music, and for big races I make a custom playlist, with power songs set at certain points. When I made my playlist for this race, I thought everything sounded great, and put it on shuffle for the run. This ended up killing me when all of my power songs showed up in a row in the first 3 miles. I mean, really?
4. Water. I can't even explain this one. I wear a FuelBelt during every run, and drink water at every song. During this race I just...forgot. I wasn't that thirsty at the start, so I put off drinking water until it was way too late. Cut to me having borderline heat exhaustion (I stopped sweating at one point, despite it being in the 70s) and needing to chug water at every single fuel stop the last few miles.
5. Fueling. Every single half marathon pre-meal has been a bagel (obviously, a real bagel in New York, and a "bagel" in Florida, but I digress) with half peanut butter, half cream cheese, plus some coffee to wake me up. Before this race I had two mini bagels with Laughing Cow spicy cheese, and no coffee. You can guess how this ended - a desperate sprint to a porta potty at Mile 9, and an extra 5 minutes added to my time.
6. The sun. It's October. Here in Florida, we've had some cool (60s...) and cloudy mornings that made for perfect running weather. Yesterday morning was in the low 70s, crazy humidity, and 100% sun. And where were my sunglasses? At home.
7. Mental Games. Typically when I hit a difficult part of a half marathon, I just turn off my mind and focus on the music. I think with this course being 4 laps of the same exact thing, my brain turned on me pretty quickly. It was miserable to run the same thing over and over, all the while I was going "I have to see this thing 3 MORE TIMES?" Once my legs turned off, my brain shut down.
Could it have been worse? Of course. I'm grateful that I was able to finish, especially after dealing with hip and IT band issues for so long. But, I'm really disappointed in how I ran. 2:29 isn't my worst time, but this was the worst I have ever felt running a race. Hopefully I don't make all of these mistakes next time!
I'm Jenn! I'm a baker, blogger, sorta-runner, and writer living in Jacksonville, Florida!