This article was originally posted by Charlene at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.
I admit that I have had a really hard time staying motivated since the Green Bay Marathon. I had no plans to race a half this fall until a friend of mine sent me a link to a poorly advertised inaugural half marathon in Madison that offered some really nice prize money 3 deep. I am pretty motivated by money and figured that it was possible that no one fast would show up.
My training cycle was unlike any I had ever done before. Normally I am the queen of consistency and get in every long run, tempo, and speed workout no matter what life puts up as an obstacle. But I just never seemed to get in a groove and the constant drastic temperature changes and humidity just seemed to wipe me out. I had a ton of trouble staying motivated and I admit that I skipped or shortened long runs and tempos. I had a lot of late night beer binges and ran a few long runs hung over. I only ran over 12 miles once. Al’s Run just happened to land on a bad day of the month for me and I ran 32:28 (6:32 pace) which seemed right about where I was fitness wise anyway. It hurt and was also my last hard day before my half two weeks away. Each tempo I struggled to hit under 7 minutes a mile and several I stopped at 2 miles.
The weekend of the race was also my daughter’s senior Homecoming weekend so all day Friday I was busy with parade prep and only ate cake but did drink lots of water/diet coke/gaterade. The morning of the race it was windy but sunny and somewhat cool. My Garmin died on the starting line but I decided to just race and see what happened.
I had no idea how fast I was going at all but thought it was most likely slow but at least I felt good. I passed quite a few runners after the first mile and just kept my eyes on the next runner ahead. I eventually settled in with a college girl and asked her our pace. 6:25. She thought it was fast for her too but we both decided to just go with it and if we had to walk that would just be how things were. I never asked her the pace or the mileage the rest of the time we ran together. She must have been my perfect running partner as we cruised together and were not far behind a few runners that I would normally think I had no business behind in a half. We kept the 2nd and 3rd place female runners within striking distance until my new friend had to stop to use the bathroom and I continued on alone. The 2nd half of the race I sipped on a Powerade gel and took a sip of water at the water stops. This seemed to work for me much better than taking the entire gel at once. I slowed somewhat as it was quite lonely out there but the pain that I expected never came. The last mile I struggled a little bit but mostly because I was alone.
I was out of the money but I knew I was in for a big PR as I was only a few minutes behind runners that normally run low 1:20s. The finish was downhill and I finished it stronger than I had ever finished any race. I was super excited and rushed over to the timers to find out my exact time.
This is when the story starts to suck as they told me it was 1:19 and my heart sank as I knew that the course was short by over a mile. According to other people’s Garmins it was about 11.9 miles so I did average approximately 6:38 pace which is 20 seconds a mile faster than i have ever ran for a half marathon. I would have loved to know my 10 mile split as I am sure that was a huge 10 mile PR. I wanted to cry about the loss of a new half PR as I have struggled for so long to run under 90 minutes and if the race had been the correct distance I am sure I could have ran mid to high 1:20s for sure. The girl I ran with came in about 4 minutes behind me as she had struggled once she no longer had me to run with. I am quite sure that if she had not had to stop we both would have carried each other even faster through the race as we were a great team.
It was nice though to run without a watch but I would have liked it if they would have provided mile markers so I would have had something to look forward to as the miles passed. I think that sometimes the watch defeats us. I also think that perhaps a 2 week taper is the way to go for me. Next spring I will return to being more consistent about training and will try the longer taper. This race despite my poor training I benefited greatly from being injury free and rested on the starting line. I was less sore than ever after the race and seem to be recovering fast. That might be from a lack of a last mile and change. I also seemed to run well over the hilly parts of the course except for the last bit as the change up in muscles seems to suit me well as I tempo a lot on hills during training.