Friday, April 22, 2016

Race Report - NYC Half 2016

This one has been a long time coming. The nice thing about the scorecard posts is that I've established a set format and it's easy to just fill that in. I can inject funnies or thoughts where I want, but mostly it's functioned to help me reinforce a habit and have some accountability for my choices and training.

As a result, any post that requires more concentration or thought has fallen by the wayside. I started this report not long after I'd finished the Naked Bavarian one but haven't set aside the time to finish. But now, here I am! LET'S GO.

If you've been following recently, you probably gathered that I haven't done much training at all in the last six months or so. This came to a head only recently after the Naked Bavarian and as I began to look into the future toward the triathlon for which I registered in the fall.

It is in that context that I'll be discussing the New York City Half Marathon. This race was really never my focus, as I was trying to make sure I didn't die at the Naked Bavarian. I never questioned my ability to run the distance, but I did know I would be pretty disappointed with my time for the following reasons:

1. The speedwork I have come to know and love is half-mile repeats. I haven't done a good set of those probably since last spring or winter.

2. The half marathon is my absolute favorite distance and at the peak of my fitness, I was able to crush it. Contrasting these widely varying performance levels has proven to be trying for my fragile ego.

3. I ran 14.5 miles the day before? I don't have a good defense for this other than that I still make decisions like I'm in good shape even though I'm not.

So let's start from the beginning. I went to sleep late per usual. Bucking tradition, however, I actually did wake up in plenty of time to get situated at the start. Maybe because it's been so long since I've done a NYRR race, I forgot what the acceptable margin of half-assery is. If I had known, I would have arrived at Central Park later. It was cold and being cold sucks.

Due to my previously fantastic half times, I was in a corral that was much, much faster than I would be running. I took note of this and did find a corral that I thought would be more suitable to my pace. I learned it was still way too fast for ol' out-of-shape Katie. But that's neither here nor there for the moment.

The gun went off and it took forever to get to the start line. Once I did, I started my watch (not my Garmin, because I'd forgotten to charge it like a noob) and started feeling out the race and my body and monitoring everything. I was delighted to realize that, for all my neglect, my body hasn't forgotten how to pace itself for a half marathon. Sure, the pace was slow, but I can still feel when I'm running a pace that is acceptably fast which I can also maintain.

I didn't look at my watch until I'd reached the first mile, which is a trick I learned a few years ago. This gave me enough information to know if I was doing okay but not enough to scare me. My first mile was around 9 minutes and I continued in my old pacing style for the rest of the way out of the park. The miles after the first one were even a little under 9 minutes (though not much).

The park, unfortunately, is not even half of the race. Even though I was doing a good job of keeping everything steady, it became clear that I wouldn't be able to maintain that pace for the whole race. It wasn't even that I was hurting a lot or struggling with breathing, I just started to feel tired. I kept pushing for the next couple of miles, but as we entered the West Side Highway, I had very little left in the tank (with like five miles still to go). It was more than just being out of shape, it was also the poor choices I'd made in the days and hours prior. I'd run almost 15 miles the day before, hadn't eaten anything, hadn't had much water, and hadn't bothered trying to get much sleep.

If there was one factor that sunk this performance, I can't pinpoint it because there are so many things it could have been, and that's okay. It's not something I'm eager to repeat, but certainly a learning experience and part of what lit a fire under my butt to try harder.

My medal feels a bit ill-gotten. I'm not even sure I've taken it out of the backpack pocket where I put it for the rest of the day (and boy, was there more to that day). It's okay. I'm learning to roll with the punches and maybe growing into someone who learns from her mistakes.

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