5.20.2014

Post-Race Recap: Colfax Half-Marathon

Thank you, Source.
So, as has already been established (see previous post if you need to get caught up) I successfully ran my first half-marathon, and now it is time for the post-race recap. From what I can gather on the internet, post-race recaps are supposed to be in detail, broken down my mile and pace and energy level and that's all cool (I find them interesting, at least), I just can't do that. First of all, I have no idea of my pace for each mile (and I don't actually wish to share my average pace or finishing time) and second of all, I can never remember things in that much data-driven detail. I know I had fun and around mile 9 I felt a bit tired and around mile 10 my feet and ankles were killing me and at 12.5 miles I ran as hard as I could to finish and around 12.8 miles I saw my dad and at 13.1 miles I was done.

So I guess what I want to do with this post is just record my pre-race anxieties, my challenges and my successes, in the hopes that it might help someone else.

Here we go....

My dad took this photo right before I hit the finish line. I simultaneously loathe it and love it. I may or may not have been elbowing someone next to me. (No, I absolutely was not doing that; I'm pretty sure I was checking my watch.)
Pre-Race Anxieties

  • Asthma - I was diagnosed with asthma in third grade, and I couldn't complete a mile until grade 7, when I was by far the slowest runner in my grade level. I tried training for the half-marathon without the inhaler at first (stupid, I know, but also I know some asthmatics can do it and I really wanted to try). Anyway, I was worried my asthma would flare up, I'd have an asthma attack, and basically my asthma would kill me.
  • Knee - One year ago I was still doing rehab on my knee: I was riding a bike for forty minutes and running for ten minutes, on a 1:1 run-walk interval. I had no idea how my knee would function in the training or in the race distance.
  • Energy/Strength - My coworkers call me frail because of my thin frame. I know that sounds like a humblebrag, but it's been something that I've internalized for a long time. Skinny does not equal strong, and I wondered how much my body could handle.
  • Being Alone - I originally planned to do this race with my friend Thea, but she wasn't able to do it this year (next year, right, Thea??) so I walked to the start line alone. I didn't think it would make much impact, up until I parked my car and saw so many other people heading toward the race in pairs and groups.
Challenges
  • Keeping Up With the Training - By far my biggest challenge. Between work stuff, friendship stuff, hospital stuff, boy stuff and sore muscle stuff, I had a hard time keeping up with everything. In the end, I made it work, but I had to learn to be flexible about pacing and training days. I learned to appreciate every work out, no matter how small or what kind of work out.
  • Asthma - As I mentioned, I was trying to do it without an inhaler, and for a while I convinced myself that I didn't actually have asthma. This did not work for me. Duh.
  • Mental Game - In particular, not comparing myself to that dude I went out with once who runs 50 mile races, or the other dude I went out with who runs a half-marathon in under 1:20, or to my Facebook friends who were training for their first half as well and were obviously faster than me, or the older woman who could pass me at a snail's pace. Comparison is stupid. I still do it. But I try not to.
Successes
  • Taper and Carbo Loading - This reminded me so much of the horse show circuit and swim team prep. I know taper works because I've done it and I've seen it as a swim coach, but it was still hard. I had to constantly remind myself that doing a hard workout would not actually impact my race in any positive way. Also, staying hydrated the day before the race made a huge difference in my hydration on race day (of course, I'm comparing this to when I went on my long runs).
  • GU Gel (Salted Caramel) - I heard about the gel from other blogs and runners, and I figured I'd try it. I'm not sure how much it actually helped, but I do know that I didn't really hit any form of a wall (minus my feet and ankles killing me). I had half a packet right before the race, and took half a packet at every 45 minutes, washing it down with water. That seemed to work and my stomach handled it pretty well so I'll probably stick to something similar from here on out. 
  • Running My Own Race - I read this blog entry by Lauren Fleshman about redefining success and setting out to run your own race, and it made a huge difference on my approach to the race. I lined up feeling comfortable with my goal time, and I started out feeling fine with running a race plan I came up with. I was worried about walking, but I shouldn't have been. Lots of people did a run-walk interval the same as me, and some people ran so much they burned themselves out to where they couldn't do anything but walk. But they ran their best race, and I ran my best race. Success!
  • Asthma/Knee - Surprise! Neither were a problem. My run-walk intervals worked with my asthma so ridiculously well that I'd like to build off it to longer run portions. So many people around me (all women, actually, which I found interesting) were using their inhalers or needed to borrow mine, and of course I was happy to oblige. And my knee? One year after my massive surgery, not a problem!
So there it is. My first post-race recap. I won't blame you if you didn't make it the whole way. I won't blame you if you didn't even read this. But hopefully it'll help someone somewhere along the way.

You know what would have been awesome? If Dad had told me the medal was backwards. I was tired and dehydrated, you can't blame me.

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