Sunday, October 26, 2014

Houston Half recap

First off, #holyhumidity.

So, the Texans actually winning and my bonking like whoa and nearly running a personal worst in my goal fall race (same one from my 2011 PR, which I hadn't run since then) was not how I pictured today going down. What the heck, universe?

I'll start from the beginning.

Despite training in more hot/warm mornings than cool ones, training has gone fairly well this season. I think the whole skipping the fall marathon and for once focusing on my favorite full has really agreed with me. I hadn't done many speed workouts that focused on half marathon pace intervals, but was pretty confident about getting one since I ran 5k, 4M and 10k PRs all on no speed training last spring/summer, the 5k in much more miserable conditions than today.

One change I made after last year's marathons didn't go as planned was taking the easy non-training runs extra easy in an effort to feel more fresh and recovered on race days. And since that translated to a few PRs, I've taken the same approach on this year's marathon training, letting my training buddies who want to train faster go right on ahead rather than trying to keep up. I'm definitely not planning to go back to my old ways, but I guess I was still overly optimistic about how 59-65F/100% humidity would feel at goal HMP (7:55-8:05).

Spoiler alert: It felt a lot harder, and that pace lasted all of 1.5 miles. As I fizzled out like a deflating balloon, I made internal goals with myself such as "Okay, sub-1:50," "Okay, sub-2," "Okay, NOT A PERSONAL WORST!" (I did manage to achieve that last one, finishing in 2:05:22.)

Around mile 8 was when things officially went south. I think the main thing I could/should have done differently (in addition to starting out more conservatively) was to carry my own frozen water bottle like I've always done for regular long runs. I was walking through all the water stations from miles 3 to the finish and all this did was cost me more time while I wasn't taking in nearly as much water as I would have taken on my own (and with more efficiency).

This must have been early on if I managed to muster up something of smile.

I don't think I've ever struggled in a half marathon like that, like, ever before today. Today's race was half #17 but I've really only run one of those in similar conditions. I didn't really think about that until during/after the race. Today took me back to NYCM 2011 (only it was a whole lot sweatier), another race where I seriously struggled and had to will the mental strength to carry on because I knew that I wasn't injured and was truly capable of finishing without walking, no matter how slow.

I also haven't trained with music all season — I never bring an iPod when running with other people, and doing that more often this time around has made it pretty easy to leave it behind for the occasional solo run. Today I found myself wishing for it — anything for a distraction. Not planning to go back to that habit either; just goes to show you how much I was struggling. (Also, I nearly passed out in the brunch line a couple of hours after the race. Get your hydration in check, friends!)

Anyway, you live and learn. At the end of the day, I knew that I'd have needed to get a long run in this weekend, and that's what helped me power through all the way through to that seemingly endless last half-mile. I've already got 5 halves on the horizon for the end of this year and next spring (I went a little crazy with early bird registration specials last spring), and the beauty of half marathons is that you don't need as ample recovery time as with fulls. There's always another not-to-far-off opportunity to try to hit that goal again.

The Houston Marathon Committee's charity division allowed all Chron runners without a qualifying time to bypass the lottery, so we returned the favor by packing meals at the Houston Food Bank (a charity partner) yesterday afternoon.

Friend/Chron running club co-conspirator/newly minted RHC member Ernesto coordinated yesterday's volunteer shift after wrangling said marathon spots.
So on to the next one. Which will be the RunGirl Half on Dec. 7, in hopefully more ideal conditions than today's (a fluke hot December weekend is not uncommon in these parts).