Hiyo! Here’s a race day recap from start to finish for the 2017 Platte River Half Marathon:
On race days you’re suppose to try something new, right? Instead of my typical heavy breakfast of oatmeal, instead I ate a toasted bagel with cream cheese, jelly, & peanut butter. Good choice #1.
I’d planned to do a 4-mile warm up, mostly because I wanted to hit 90-miles for the week, and didn’t want to have to run any more after the race. However, when I began my warm up I felt too good and was pushing the pace during strides in the first mile. I just stopped myself at an intersection, grabbed hold of a street pole, and swung my legs out. Front to back & side to side, seeking composure. I began running again, this time a bit more controlled, yet I was still too excited to keep a lid on it.
I was warm enough, breathing heavily enough, stretched out enough… I was ready to race. Also, since I hoped to ease into “race pace” with the goal of a negative split (second half faster than the first half), I wasn’t worried about being “in the zone” at the start.
Last minute race thoughts: Celebrate. A race should be celebrated as the culmination of the hard work and dedication to prepare for race day. ~ As recited by Julia.
The second new thing I tried was my in race nutrition. I carried an 8oz soft flask full of highly-concentrated Hammer gel. The plan was to take a swig of gel every few miles before grabbing a sip of water at the aid stations. I’d carried a flask in training before, but never with this type of gel. I was hopeful that it’d be just enough to get me through 13.1 miles. As a result, my stomach, hydration, and energy levels all felt great all race long. I never really pushed out of my comfort zone, which was fine for a tune up race like this one. Good choice #2.
I’ve been told it’s not socially acceptable to broadcast music while running, so I needed an alternative to the metronome that I’ve become accustomed to listening to on long runs. If I could find a song that rocks a beat of 180, I’d be able to sing to myself while keeping my cadence in the ballpark of 180 steps per minute. Last night, Julia pulled up a list of rap and rock songs that fit the bill. My selection: Jay-Z’s Izzo (H.O.V.A). During the race whenever my mind wandered beyond what was “present,” I grounded myself with Hova’s smooth rap melody. The proof is in the pudding, as my race data shows an average cadence of 181 steps per minute. Good choice #3.
So the course itself was mostly a gentle downhill on then Platte River bike path. It was a nice and simple course, working in my favor: the fewer turns and distractions, the better.
Oh hello, NP5280 Cheer gang!!! Fantastic to see you all at mile 10. Thanks for the high-5ers and turbo boost!
I said yesterday that I wasn’t going to be a slave to my watch, and hoped to only look at it at mile 7 and beyond. I failed quickly. Within the first mile I glanced to see what pace we were trucking along at. I was reassured to see 5:40/mile at a relaxed and manageable effort. That reassurance went a long way, as the next watch glance took place at the finish line to stop recording.
I was really proud with my self control in regards to minimal watch watching. I heard my watch chirp each mile and saw the race markings on the same interval. I’d decided that looking at my watch during the race wouldn’t provide any feedback that would change my effort. Good choice #4.
The only focused racing for the day came in the last 2-ish miles, as I made an effort to catch the runner runner ahead of me. He was in a gray singlet and no matter how hard I pushed, he maintained a 100 yard berth. At this point, my internal monologue switched to “I think I can, I think I can.” Shortly thereafter, it morphed into “I know I can, I know I can.” It got more aggressive once again as we crested the overpass hill in the 12th mile. I wish I could remember those words.
I never caught him. As he passed through the finish shoot the announcer praised him as the 1st relay finisher. Sweet! He wasn’t my competition after all! My effort was good for 2nd place overall, 1:16:14, 5:48/mile, and a personal best by a whopping 4 minutes.
Better yet, I achieved a negative split:
- First 6 miles: 5:46, 5:58, 5:52, 5:50, 5:51, 5:45,
- 7th mile: 5:43,
- Last 6 miles: 5:41, 5:48, 5:44, 5:45, 5:46, 5:52
- Differential of 26 seconds! Consistent as heck.
Takeaways for my next race the Wings for Life:
- Pacing – Find a comfortable pace and stick to it. More importantly, TRUST that you will feel better and stronger later in the race by preserving your body and mind early in the race. There’s a lot of mental drainage when you look at your watch nonstop in the early miles of a race, while calculating pre-empted PRs instead of being present.
- Shorts – I wore the Lululemon shorts that I earned by logging runs to Strava during the month of February (fantastic promotion, by the way). The shorts have a mesh brief liner that causes some chafing on longer runs. Don’t think they’ll work for 40 miles in Wings For Life.
- Shirt – Sleeves? I always race in a tank top and today suffered some arm pit chaffing. Will I race in a short sleeve shirt in the future? Probably not. Wearing a t-shirt just doesn’t make me feel like a speed racer.
At the end of the day, I’m feeling fantastic. No pain, no aches, no soreness. Next weekend, I’ve got a long, fast run planned. It may or may not be a race simulation that will take place at 5AM. I’m hoping that’ll be the icing on my training cake and confirmation that all systems are GO for Wings For Life. I’ll have 3-weeks to rebound from that and let my body & mind relax before the next goal.
Endurance changes time,