I’m not going to PR. I’m not even going to aim for a PR. That isn’t me being humble. That isn’t me avoiding a “big goal” in case I fall flat on my face. It’s just the honest to God truth. It’s not in the cards for me.
Despite training towards a half marathon longer than I did for my previous goal races (Mighty Niagara Half Marathon – 5 months, after 5 year hiatus and Buffalo Half Marathon 2013 – 5 months, after 4 month hiatus), my training has been nothing close to what I did previously.
Yes, I’ve been working towards since September/October (approximately 9 months) but unlike the prior cycles, I didn’t run at Chestnut Ridge during the winter, which is entirely full of hills. I didn’t add in any speed workouts besides very short tempos, which were more like farleks. It helped that I still had a bit of running fitness when I picked up after that 4 month hiatus in 2013, which made it a lot easier to gain and progress, but I also ended up injured because I did it all at first – miles, hills, intervals, tempos, long runs.
So no, I’m not in PR shape but I’m healthy. I’ll take that any day over a PR.
Given that Laura is going to be coaching me through my first marathon this fall, I want to run through my race plan to make sure I set myself up for success when we start marathon training. I haven’t had the best luck with that in my previous halves, but the third time (as far as “goal” races go) should be a charm, right? Ideally, I’d like to finish feeling like I gave a solid effort but not balls to the wall only because I haven’t truly raced this distance in two years and I don’t trust that my body will recover quickly yet.
If you know me though, you know I have a time goal in mind even when I shouldn’t. Right now is when maybe I shouldn’t just because I have no clue what my fitness is for this distance; the Dismal Swamp Stomp 5k gives me an inkling but it was hot, humid, and I spent the previous day traveling. If I use that as a predictor and I have a great Sunday, I’m hoping to be somewhere between 1:45 and 1:50, but I know that the closer to my PR I get (1:42:49), the more I’m playing with fire. I do want to give an honest effort because I want a realistic idea of appropriate training paces for this summer, so it’s a little bit of a fine line.
My ideal “strategy” (hesitant to even call it one) is to keep my adrenaline in check at the start and not waste energy dodging people. That’s always been something I’ve struggled with but my strongest races have been when I relaxed at the start and let everyone else do the work. My pacing plan is to see the 1:50 group and stick just being them until around mile 3, then push ahead a little bit and see what happens. I’d love to finish my last 5k under 25:00.
I haven’t charged my iPod shuffle or picked out my race day clothes. I don’t have a playlist picked out. I’m totally under prepared in that aspect — I think I forgot what it’s like to train for a race and then do it! Friends at the gym are volunteering at the mile 15 water stop, which means they’ll be around mile 5 to cheer before the marathoners come through. One asked, “What are you wearing so we know what to look for?” and I had no answer. I have no clue! I’ve run in every single item I own, some I like more than others, but I’ve never had that “race day” outfit I pick. I’m not superstitious so we can rule that out, too. At least this time I have a SPIbelt so my shorts are irrelevant for once. I’m considering wearing my CrossFit Nickel City shirt because they’re awesome and are honestly the biggest factor in me being here today — injury free — but it’ll help them pick me out of the crowd, too.
Ultimately, we’ll just see when the day comes! I’m not going to stress about anything, not even my time. If anything, I’ll think about and be concerned with listening to my body and keeping this race smart. The weather so far looks perfect (for my tastes), not too windy, not too humid. I know Laura is a pacer, but not sure what time yet — if it’s 1:50, the plan might change to running with the group from the start 😉 Just a little practice for Chicago, ya know? Can you believe it? I’m finally racing a half marathon again.