Sometimes when you go into a weekend with a plan, nature smacks you in the face and you have to roll with the punches.
Saturday is my weekly group run. We were slated for 13 miles + 5 hill repeats. I was a little timid about the run after my semi-meltdown on the last 2 miles last week. I tried to have a good meal the night before and show up well hydrated. As 4:30 am smacked me in the face I stumbled around to get all of my gear on and head out. Brian, his brother Paul and I were all up in the kitchen when we heard this weird noise. It was rain folks – a torrential downpour. I still had to go and I took off.
I was surprised at the amount of people who showed up to run in the downpour. We waited it out – on top of the rain there was lightning and we don’t run in that. In the end the group run was cancelled (still have to do the long run on your own) and we did strength drills in the parking structure. It was good workout and got me moving and using muscles I wish I had. When we finished the rain lightning had gone so a small group of us went out for a short 3.3 miles.
For the rest of the day I was thinking about how I had to get in that long run. My group started talking about meeting on our own and still running our route and hills together and I totally thought I was going to join them. Until I looked at twitter and was reminded that the Hottest Half half marathon was the next day. I talked with Brian and Paul and they were both game. Brian and I would run the half marathon and Paul would do the 10k because of his achilles recovery. I knew I was going to miss my hill repeats but I knew if I raced the race I would end up okay in the end.
One of the nice things about last minute races is the fact that your head can’t psych you out. Was I going to run a super hot possibly miserable race that will make me want to jump in the lake? Yes. Was I going to let my head get the best of me? No. we got up at 4:30 for the second day in a row and headed out to make it to the race site by 6. We got their early enough to get prime parking and pick out race shirts that fit. We half napped/played on our phones until race time. I went ahead and jogged around a little and did a warm up to get my knees and hips ready to go.
Race gun went off and I was off. My pace felt really good to start – I kept looking down and reminding myself to slow down because it would be a long race. The course was an out and back (my least favorite) and I was doing really well. There was a pretty big hill around mile 4.8 and with my hill training I just keep repeating “Up and Over” in my head. I was also grateful that I didn’t have to turn back around and run it a few more times. I haven’t had much hill work, but I can tell the hill work I’ve done has already paid off. I was up, over and recovering much faster than anyone I was running next to.
At the halfway point I knew I needed to slow down a little. There was a section of the race that was brutally hot with no wind. I wanted to focus on slowing my pace rather than forcing my pace and having to walk/run. I’m super happy to report I only had to walk once – stupid mile 9. Otherwise the rest of the race went well. I paced as fast as I could get away with and drank as much as possible. I did learn on hot long runs I need to fuel a lot more than every 45 minutes. I think mile 9 sucked because I didn’t have the carbs in my system (I took a GU at 8.5) and felt sluggish until it kicked in. Truth be told that is my second fastest half out of the 5 I’ve run this year – about 3 minutes slower at 2:12:33. The one that went better was the Dallas Rock and Roll in early April with perfect temperatures and a fun course. On that alone I’m proud of myself. Imagine what I could do with cooler weather!
I do want to give a lot of props to the race organizers – this is the first time I’ve run a half in the Texas heat and no station was out of water. There were so many water stations – they all had water and powerade on the course. It was awesome. I was adequately hydrated and the volunteers were super nice and helpful!
I love being able to push myself and be amazed at the result. Hard, consistent work pays off. I may not be so happy while I’m doing hill repeats, but I can’t wait to cash in all of that work come December!