So I failed to write a post on Monday. Perhaps you noticed, it’s more than likely you didn’t but I’m going to attribute my break in habit to sheer laziness. Black Friday seriously messed with my sleep schedule and I’ve been off ever since then. No running, no blogging, no cooking – pretty much a waste of space.
But fear not! For I am back with…well not much. Since I haven’t been doing much of anything, this leaves little inspiration to write about. So I started backtracking…to the Sunday before last. AKA, pretty much the best day of my life thus far. Why? Well this happened (kind of a big deal) and I PR’d (a huge deal).
This wasn’t any normal PR. This was a significant PR. Like 8 whole minutes off my previous PR. That’s an entire mile – seriously. I still am in some sort of shock over it as I was merely hoping to break 2 hours by a few seconds not several minutes. Wooo I still get shivers.
What I want to talk is details leading up to this race – like what did change in my training, mental techniques to psych myself up, and race day plans. All the things that contributed to my new and improved time. Of course it definitely didn’t hurt that there was only a 53 meter total change in elevation. That’s meters, not feet, guys so don’t think I’m a complete puss.
Before the race…
Following my less-than-stellar-but-still-PR’d performance at the Haunted Half, I was dedicated to running a sub 2 hour half. It consumed me. Not really, but I did do a pretty good job of just accepting the fact that I was going to do it. I’m a believer in the whole mind over matter philosophy and once you embrace the fact that not completing a goal isn’t an option, it becomes a lot easier to reach it. I found myself becoming nervous just thinking about the race and knowing how hard I was going to work. It sounds kind of lame, I know, but sometimes mental hurdles are just as hard as the physical ones.
Something that I began to include in my training was hills. Now I always run hills since I happen to live on one and, well, Knoxville isn’t’ the flattest of places. As a result, rolling hills are usually included in my repertoire of runs. What I’m talking about are the steep hills. The ones that are intimidating to go up in your car let alone on foot. I ran those suckers. The weeks leading up to the race looks like this:
|Long Run (9-11 miles)||Rest||5 miles with 3 hills||Rest||5 miles with 3 hills||Rest||Rest|
Nothing too crazy but something intense to get my heart going. I am by no means attributing my success to the above training, but if you can handle running up a steep ass hill and maintaining some sort of pace, eventually you are going to get faster on a flat course. That’s just physics people. (Disclaimer – that may not be physics but it sounds right so I’m going with it.)
Race Day Plans…(see my standard rituals here)
I did a little change-up of my standard Kid’s Clif Bar and switched to a peanut butter Power Bar. Half of one actually. For me, the basic old school Power Bars (no fancy toppings or coverings) are nostalgic and bring me back to my high school swimming days. I ate a bite of that and a bite of banana together and it was delicious. A few sips of hot coffee and I felt good.
On another, more disgusting note, let’s talk snot. Specifically, the excess of snot and the illusive runny nose (I’ll spare you any puns for now) that comes with colder temperatures. Maybe I’ve never noticed it before, but I was shooting snot rockets left and right during one of my training runs and that is simply unacceptable during a race. Now I’ve been spit on (it happens, whatever) but if I ever get snotted on, chances are the snottee will be getting form tackled by yours truly for bad manners.
Point is, unless you are an elite runner who will be leaving all the other regular joe’s in the dust due to your immense speed, blowing snot rockets during a race is more or less frowned upon. But I needed a solution for my leaky nose! Well I needn’t look much further than the 19th century – I was going to carry a handkerchief.
This may sound weird or bothersome but I can assure you, it was neither (for me anyway). I stuffed that purple sucker in the waistband of my pants and was surprisingly glad I had it. Yes I snotted into it on several occasions, but I also wiped my face with it after a water station incident where I apparently had a hole in my lip. Running with water on your face when it’s barely above freezing is not fun, nor is the residual saliva you get on your lips that turns into goo. The purple monster got that stuff too (hungry yet?). Say what you will, I’m glad I had something to wipe myself off with other than my sweaty arm.
Finally, during the race is when everything really matters. I had my watch on and was checking my splits religiously. I calculated my current pace to determine how fast I had to continue to go to run under 2 hours. Once I got to mile 10 and knew that even if I stopped to walk fast I could probably make it, I began to push myself harder to see just how good I could do. I remember coming up the final hill – exhausted, because I really had been pushing myself hard, and seeing J, (little did I know of his plan for later that day) and threw him my gloves that I had been wearing during the race.
Then I took off. I have no earthly clue where it came from but I was in an all out sprint to the finish line and I still, even now, get kind of emotional when I think about how I garnered enough energy to SPRINT the last tenth of a mile to make it at 1:54.
I think running is 90 percent physical. Obviously it’s going to be hard to run any length without the proper training and endurance. But at least 10 percent is heart. That last 10th of a mile? That was all heart. That was the result of knowing that I was about to accomplish something that I never even considered was possible that morning. And I know 1:54 is not by any means all that fast of a time, but for me, it wasn’t just about the time. It was about reaching a goal and proving to myself that I could do it. Hell, that I could do it better than I even thought was possible.