Posts tagged half marathon
This morning I ran my 7th Houston Half Marathon!
I said a few days ago that while I didn’t expect to PR, I did expect to beat 2:15 and set a new PR for this particular race. Sadly that was not to be, and I finished in 2:21:40. I’m not really disappointed though. There were a number of factors working against me and in the end, it just wasn’t my best day. (This really underscores for me how everything came together JUST right at RunGirl to enable my awesome PR.)
I also mentioned that my training has not been very good in the past month. That was definitely a factor slowing me down today, but on top of that, the following things conspired against me:
First, my stomach was NOT a happy camper this morning. I think it actually started yesterday when I ate way too much for lunch. I had room service ravioli for dinner last night (we stayed at the Hilton; I love the mini-vacation) which was actually pretty good. When I got up this morning, I drank some water, ate a banana and then ate a Clif Bar. I ate a Clif Bar before RunGirl too, but somehow this one just did NOT sit well. I could feel it in my stomach and had some weird heartburn-like stuff going on. For the first half of the race, I struggled with some mild nausea. I debated whether to eat my first gel as planned at mile 5, and decided to eat half of it. That actually helped — by the time we hit mile 7, the nausea had faded and I felt a lot better.
Second, the weather was icky. Now, it could have been a LOT worse — as late as 10:00 last night when I went to bed, the weather service was predicting thunderstorms from 7:00-9:00 this morning. Jose and I spent time coming up with backup plans in case the race was delayed, or had to be suspended. In the end, the weather pulled its typical “I’m unpredictable” routine. The temperature was in the mid-60s (which is about 20 degrees warmer than ideal) and the humidity was through the roof (90%). We got rained on from around mile 4 until mile 10 or so; I was soaked from head to toe by the finish but fortunately escaped any blisters. But at least we got to run, and there weren’t any thunderstorms! Yay!
Finally, the crowds. Ugh, the crowds! This race has gotten bigger since I first starting running it in 2004, and while I’m happy that we have such a popular local race, the crowd of runners — especially in the last 2 years — is starting to get out of control. Congestion used to be a problem primarily in the first couple miles as everyone is squeezed onto the viaduct. This year, I felt crowded pretty much the entire race. For the first 4-5 miles, we were at the mercy of the crowd — we ran whatever pace they ran. Sure, we did some weaving back and forth, but it was hard to make any real headway. And running the tangents? Forget it. Impossible.
In the middle miles, people started to spread out and things were easier, but I can’t even count the number of times I had to swerve around people who were running slower or walking. I even got slowed down in the last mile when the road narrowed and everyone got smushed together. In the last mile! And on the finishing stretch, someone stopped right in front of me to walk — with less than 500 feet to go! Next year I either need to get into the first wave or head to the start area VERY early to make sure I’m at the front of the second wave. I think it’s time for the race to add a couple more waves to alleviate some of the congestion.
My splits are evidence of the crowds because they are ALL over the map: 11:52, 10:15, 11:05, 10:40, 10:29, 11:16, 10:59, 10:25, 10:47, 10:22, 10:44, 11:01, 10:47, and 0:59 for the last tenth. My Garmin went crazy as soon as we entered downtown and actually ended up measuring 14+ miles, but those splits are based on the mile markers. The only weird one is the second mile but I know I hit the lap button late at mile 1. Mile 1 was probably more like 11:20 and mile 2 something like 10:50.
But despite all my whining, it was still a fun day. I started the race with Kelly and Melissa and we ran the first four miles together. When there was finally room to maneuver, Melissa started pulling ahead and we let her go. Kelly had thought about stopping at mile 6 because she’s been having knee trouble, but she decided to keep going. I was happy she did so I still had someone to run with! We ran together until the “1.5 miles to go” sign, at which point I told Kelly to go ahead if she wanted to try to finish under 2:20. My watch read 2:06 and I knew I wouldn’t quite make it based on how my legs were feeling. She ended up finishing just under a minute ahead of me, but it was still a PR for her. And Melissa finished in 2:13, which was also a PR!
In the end, I’m glad I ran, and I’m also glad I had such an awesome race at RunGirl. Even if my training had been up to snuff, I wouldn’t have set any PRs today. But I’d really like to notch another half marathon in the 2:10-2:15 range this season just so my RunGirl time doesn’t look like a complete fluke!! Depending on how my upcoming training goes, I’m toying with the idea of running the Galveston Mardi Gras Half Marathon on February 20. It’ll be a much smaller race so the crowds won’t be an issue. There’s also the Seabrook Lucky Trails Half in March. We’ll see.
So the Houston half marathon is Sunday!
In a weird way it kind of snuck up on me, even though since the event is normally on MLK weekend, it’s actually two weeks later than usual this year. This will be the 8th year I’ve participated in this event — 1 Houston marathon and 7 Houston half marathons. Each year is a little different but overall I look forward to running each year. The lottery system they implemented for registration this year was controversial, and I’m not a fan…but I’m still glad I got in and get to run. I would have been very disappointed to miss it.
My training since setting my huge PR at RunGirl has been so-so. For a number of reasons that I don’t feel like getting into, I’ve missed a lot of the workouts I’d planned to complete. Ironically, in the past two weeks while I’ve missed a number of workouts, I’ve also lost 3 pounds. Someone feel free to explain THAT one to me.
Anyway, I don’t expect to beat my RunGirl time. However, I DO fully expect to run my fastest Houston Half ever — something under 2:15, or 10:17 pace — as long as the weather cooperates. At the moment, the forecast is calling for temperatures in the mid-50s with a 60% chance of rain. That’s a little too warm and a little too WET.
If it’s raining, any time goals immediately get thrown out the window and I won’t be looking to do anything but finish. (Oh, and make sure Jose is waiting at the end with a bag of warm, dry clothes!)
I’m three days into my “Become a Morning Runner” experiment and it’s actually been a big success so far! It remains to be seen how I’ll adjust as the days turn into weeks and the novelty wears off — but for now it’s working great. I’ve hit the road each morning between 6:30 and 7:15. I ran 3.5 miles on Monday, a short 2.5 miles (aka 30 minutes at the “summer” version of my easy pace), and another 3.5 miles today. Some observations:
Positive: It is indeed cooler. Gloriously cooler. As in 80 degrees instead of 95+. This makes a HUGE, and I mean HUGE, difference. (According to SciGuy, we haven’t had a day with a high below 95 degrees since July 29. We’ve had many days where the LOW hasn’t even dropped below 80 degrees. Supposedly a slight break is coming soon, in the form of drier air. I can’t freaking wait!)
Negative: It is more humid. Way, WAY more humid. As in 80-85% instead of 50%. So while the cool temperatures feel so much nicer and I don’t get as overheated, the humidity is brutal. The first half mile is ok, but then I’m struggling to keep sweat out of my eyes for the rest of the run. I didn’t know it was possible to sweat more than I did on my afternoon/evening runs. But WOW. It is possible. The sweat doesn’t evaporate because the air is already so moist, and I just sweat even more.
Positive: It’s so awesome to come home after work and not have to worry about getting out the door for a run…because I already did it!
Negative: As I suspected, getting to bed earlier has been a challenge. I closed my eyes at 11:30 on Sunday night, 11:00 on Monday night, and 11:30 last night — which is pretty good compared to the usual 12:00-12:30 — but it was HARD. Around 8:00, I start telling myself both in my head and out loud that “I am going to bed at 10:30.” Obviously even that isn’t 100% effective.
Positive: So far, I’ve found that I have more energy when I get to work, which helps me get going with the day.
And finally, something that isn’t positive or negative, but just a question. This week I decided to run three days in a row — primarily because we’ll be in Miami from tomorrow through Sunday for my brother’s wedding and I don’t know whether I’ll have much time to squeeze in a run. But for next week, I need to figure out how many days to run. Three? Four? Every weekday? Hmm…
There was a giant ominous cloud in the sky this morning. Normally this would signal something about storms later in the day, or something, but I’m not getting my hopes up. Instead, I’m sure it’s going to be ridiculously hot. AGAIN. Sigh…
So you may remember this quote from my post yesterday: “Frankly, it’s easier to be a lazy bum than it is to train.” I’ve been thinking about that a lot recently as I start to lay out my training plans for this fall with the goal of PRing at the half marathon at the end of January. What has made me give in to being a lazy bum in the past? And what can I do to prevent it this time around?
On Monday morning, I had to be at work really early and left the neighborhood around 6:45. On the short 2-mile drive from the house to the highway, I must have passed at least a dozen runners, and suddenly I thought: “I should run in the mornings!”
Where did THAT come from?? I have NEVER been a morning runner (well, except for races, since they’re always in the morning) — even on the weekends. I tend to stay up late, and therefore like to sleep in. But as I thought about it, I realized that I could actually do morning runs without a huge impact to my schedule. My work hours are flexible, and over the years I’ve fallen into the habit of generally working 9-5, which means I usually don’t even get out of bed until 7:30 or 8:00. I run after work, and rarely go to bed before 11:30-midnight.
Running in the evening has worked for me for years, but there’s one BIG disadvantage: it’s too easy to blow off a run. Why? Because I had to work late. Or someone invited me out to dinner. Or I have errands to run. Or I’m tired, or hungry, or thirsty and I just don’t “feel” like it.
Running in the morning eliminates all of that. It forces me to get my run in before the day begins, and leaves little room for excuses. As a bonus, it’s cooler outside. (Last night I just about gave myself a heart attack trying to do some informal speedwork in the 100 degree heat.) In theory, I could make the switch to morning runs pretty easily. All I’d have to do is get up an hour earlier — which would be 6:00-6:30. To most people, that’s not actually early at all — it’s normal! The days I have to be at work early are minimal and always known in advance, so it would be easy to plan around them.
The more difficult part is that I would also have to go to bed an hour earlier. Even when I intend to go to bed before 10:30-11:00, I rarely do. Getting into that habit will take commitment. I’ll have to stop letting myself get sidetracked by whatever side project I’m working on. (Or worse, getting distracted by whatever dumb show is on TV.) And I’ll have to accept going to bed while Jose is still up. (We both go to bed at the same time these days. If I start getting in bed earlier, maybe he will too, but he might not.)
Anyway, after all those ramblings went through my head, I’ve decided to give morning runs a try. The daily schedule needs to look something like: in bed by 10:30, up at 6:30, run for up to an hour, and at work by 9:00. They say it takes 3-4 weeks for a habit to stick, so my goal is to run in the morning for at least 3 weeks — from Monday August 23 until at least Friday September 10.
Never fear, I’ll keep you all posted.
The Houston marathon and half marathon went to a lottery system this year for entry. This angered thousands of people, including yours truly — but somehow I got lucky and my entry into the half marathon was selected. They claim that 90% of marathoners and 63% of half marathoners got in, but I seem to know a LOT of people who were left out, which makes me feel both very lucky and even more annoyed by the entire concept of the lottery. It’s absurd to me that the HOUSTON event didn’t have a better way of ensuring that HOUSTON runners could do their own hometown event.
I could go on, but instead, I’ll get to the point, which is: I want to really train for the event this year. My half marathon PR is 2:15, set at the first half marathon I ever ran in 2004. All the half marathons I’ve run since then have been on less-than-ideal training because, frankly, it’s easier to be a lazy bum than it is to train. I’ve become an expert at completing half marathons on little-to-no dedicated training. I fully recognize that this is stupid, and yet I have done it at least a half dozen times.
But this year I’d love to set a new PR. And since I was lucky enough to get an entry when so many others didn’t, I don’t want to crap on my luck by not taking the race seriously.
So I’m looking into a variety of half marathon training plans — some are online and could be followed on my own, and others are local groups. There are benefits to each. I usually like running solo since I don’t have to worry about slowing anyone down, or getting caught up in someone else’s goal for the day, and I have the freedom to run whenever it fits into my schedule. But there is definitely something to be said for running with a group of people who will hold you accountable for being there and training well.
I’ll make a decision soon.