Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Snake River half marathon: an experiment in my inability to restrain myself

In true 'non-blogger' blogger fashion, I took zero pictures at the race this weekend. I'll try to keep the recap down to a minimum since I lack selfies to prove I ran. There is no signal in the canyon so I don't bother leaving my phone on.

Snake River is not my favorite half marathon. I've run it 4 times, largely because it's a well timed race, usually partway into a training cycle and a good time to measure my progress. It is also a very cheap race. So even though I never want to run it, I usually do. It is a pancake flat course, and in a good year, can yield an excellent PR. It just has not been the case for me, usually because I am either mid-training, or not quite fit.

This year my plan of attack was ... no attack. I intended to run at my standard long run pace and see afterward what that yielded on my heart rate monitor-without watching it religiously. Well, I forgot the heart rate strap at the start, so that was out. I started with another friend who was running easy due to a big race coming up. In hindsight, we all knew I wouldn't hold back as promised.

The start of the race was great! My long runs tend to start at a very slow pace, and on a good day, edge down. Sometimes they don't. Granted I usually have a long ride on my legs when I run on Sundays, and this being a Saturday, I had slightly fresher legs than usual. We ran a bit faster than planned, and I was feeling super comfortable and relaxed. The race is a straight out and back. The temp was in the high 40s and climbing when we started. It was warm enough to run in shorts, a tank top and arm warmers. We had a headwind going out and picked up a 3rd runner who was hoping to run sub-2... which fell right in line with our target pacing.  Of course, people were passing us in droves... which usually happens to me more around the halfway point when I've run a stupid early race and am struggling. It was definitely difficult to hold back as everyone cruised by.

We stuck to our pace, albeit a little fast, but only a few seconds per mile. I had my trusty bottle of Osmo Active which I drink on every long run, so this was no exception. I was also eating Gu Chomps every 2 miles, which was a first with those-I did not like them though and won't be using them down the road.

As we approached the turnaround, all the leaders were flying back past us, which made it fun to cheer and holler at everyone we knew, and of course, made my legs a little anxious to move faster. I tried to keep it in check but as I neared the mats for the turnaround, my competitive side got the best of me, and I sped up (rudely dropping my friend in the process-Sorry!!! Please still be my friend!!). All of my running has been at or above 9 minute pace since I started training by heart rate. In the last 3-4 months I would say I've done MAYBE 40 minutes of running at sub-8 pace... and in 2 minute increments at the longest. I was curious to see what my legs could do.

Without keeping a hawk eye on my watch, I sped up to what felt like a natural tempo pace. That's the best way I can describe it. It was harder than my usual heart rate controlled paces, but my legs were managing it and it felt well under my control. It got HOT on the way back, probably mid-50s, but when you haven't run in that, and have a slight tailwind, you'll feel it, and I was melting. I was using my arm warmers to wipe my face off. I maintained a steady pace, without working too hard to keep it (or putting much thought into it.. hooray for muscle memory!) and kept with my chomps and Osmo. Usually after a turnaround, and hitting 7 miles, no matter how good I feel 6 miles just feels so far. I also have the terrible math skills of thinking that at 8 miles I only have 4 left. Every. Time. I just ran through one mile at a time, debating between backing off my pace, or maintaining the effort. They didn't exactly fly by, but they didn't drag either.

I got a little nauseous in the last mile, and a woman I caught attempted to match my stride for maybe 3/10 of a mile. I didn't care if she passed me or not, I just didn't want her running right next to me. Eventually she dropped back a little more. I started smiling and willing myself not to puke. Mile 13 beeped as my fastest of the day and then a minute later it was done!

Beforehand my coach had told me to keep it to 8s. I laughed a little when she said that, like there was any way I'd run faster?! Well, I kept it in the 8s for half! The other half, not so much, but the overall pace was still 8s, so that's something right?  I ran 57:57 for the first half (an 8:50 average) and 50:51 for the back half (7:46 average) for a 1:48:48. It was exciting for me to see that my legs can still run a sub-8 pace for more than a mile, and a whopping negative split wasn't too bad either. Though it wasn't my intent to race, negative split or anything else, it was still a solid day.

That said, I definitely don't intend to race much more, if at all, before Ironman. I have a 70.3 on the radar, but that will be a beast of a different breed so I am not too concerned with 'racing'. However, having a recovery ride instead of a long ride the next day, while smart, made me sad to lose time in the saddle. And the sore hips/butt weren't much fun either. Clearly, I can't be trusted to just 'take it easy'.

One of my favorite things about this race on a good day is how many teammates, friends and acquaintances run. On a bad day, it's just a tool to measure how crappy I'm feeling as certain people get further ahead. This day it was a lot of fun. This is the second time I've run this race with my boyfriend (and last year was the first time he saw how much of a sourpuss I can be when a race doesn't go my way-fortunately, I've come a long way in not being so grouchy). It's a lot of fun to have something like this that we both share an interest in.

And now, less than 4 months until IMCDA!! Bring on the big weeks!!

1 comment:

  1. Nice work, lady! I have yet to negative split in ANY race, so I'm incredibly impressed by this. I am trying to use this "pregnancy time" to practice restraint and holding myself back. It's something I really need to work on in the race environment. I had no idea this race along the Snake River even existed. I would definitely be interested in looking into it, especially since it is flat. :)

    I'm excited to hear whether you decide to do a 70.3 before IMCDA. Love that distance. Hopefully I will be able to make it up to CDA for the race. I really want to cheer people on and see what the environment is like there. :)