Hi everyone! So I’m still trying to process what happened during Sunday’s Her Tern Half Marathon (for the race recap, go here). As you may have noticed, I had a blast. I also got semi-injured. I also did not PR, or reach my sub-2:30 goal. And I don’t know how I feel about all of it. Warning: this post is going to get pretty real right now.
If you read my race recap, you’ll know that I was pretty much on pace to meet my goal until mile 9.5ish, where I stopped for water and then noticed that my right hamstring behind my knee was starting to hurt. I tried to stretch, but it didn’t really help. And luckily for me I found my blogging buddy Kelsey and we had a blast walking/running and taking fun pictures until we reached the finish line. So technically, the fact that I was 11 minutes over my goal time was okay because I had lots of fun and finished with a smile on my face – but also because I was in pain. In fact, I was still feeling the pain a bit yesterday and I definitely needed to rest, ice, and do a lot of stretching to recover. I’m finally feeling better and hope to ease into some running soon. But one thing that’s really upsetting to me is that before I stopped to walk I was feeling so fast and strong. My brain was being negative, but I felt like my body was okay and I was going to make it to the end. So I have to wonder: if I hadn’t stopped to walk for so long, would I have finished a lot faster (and possibly with a PR)? It’s one big giant “What if?” and I’ll never actually know. All I know is that I slowed way down in mile 10, and shifted my focus from the PR to having fun.
Why am I being so silly about all of this? The fact is that I’ve been trying to beat 2:30 for over a year, and I felt like I was finally ready – especially since this time I was properly trained and had 4 awesome coaches helping me get to where I needed to be. And when I was running so strong in mile #8, I was finally realizing that I really was stronger and faster than I think I am, and that I was capable of meeting my goal. So when I didn’t reach it, I felt frustrated. I didn’t feel that way right away – in fact, after the race I was having a really good time, and my only focus was eating cupcakes and then getting home because my leg was in so much pain. But by Sunday night my brain finally realized what had happened, and I was not really happy about it. On Monday when my coworkers asked how it went, I wasn’t even sure how to answer! Because two things simultaneously happened in this race:
1. I was on pace to PR (or miss my PR by a minute or so) for most of the race, despite my brain telling me that there was a chance I couldn’t do it and that I should just give up. In mile 9 I only intended to walk long enough to get a drink. When I saw an opportunity to slow way down because of my leg and finding someone to walk with, my brain was relieved and I gave up my chance to PR. And then my leg hurt for a few days, although the rest of my body was surprisingly less sore/exhausted than it’s ever been after a half marathon and I recovered really quickly.
2. I finished 12 weeks of tough training with a group of amazing girls and coaches, and it ended with a 13.1 mile celebration of what we’d achieved and how fast/strong we’d become. Between pre-race yoga, starting the race with a whole group of HTH training group girls, going to mile 7 with one of my running buddies, pushing through my strongest mile 8 in any race ever, and then finishing with some silliness and fun with my first real-life blogging buddy, it ended up being the most fun half marathon I’ve ever run. And I finished 10 minutes faster than the Zion Half Marathon back in March while feeling so much better post-race.
So how did the race go? It really depends on how I choose to look at it. And after some pretty intense days of processing everything, I’ve realized that this was probably one of my most successful and important races ever. I’ve always wanted to learn how to do speed training and join a running community, and through the HTH training group I finally got to do that. It felt like I knew so many people running this race, and we were all so supportive and happy the whole time. So maybe this was never meant to be my PR race. Maybe this was meant to be a memorable race because it was the first race where I felt like I belonged here in Anchorage, and the first time that I felt totally trained for a race. I know that from now on I’ll always have friends to run with at the Tuesday night pub runs, won’t have to race alone, and will have an outlet to talk about running stuff without driving my non-running friends crazy. HTH wasn’t the end of running with other people and doing speed workouts – it was just the beginning. And I’m so excited to get back out there and run fast with everyone as soon as I feel better!
And as for the PR thing, I’ve decided that I’m clearly going to need to do another half marathon ASAP while I’m still feeling fast and strong from all of my training! Now before anyone gets concerned, I’m going to stay super aware of how my leg is feeling because I’ve got quite a few things lined up in the fall already, as well as Ragnar Colorado in 2 weeks. No PR is worth getting an injury. But if I’m feeling good a month from now, I’ll probably do a last minute sign up for the Skinny Raven Half Marathon at Big Wild Life Runs here in Anchorage with a few of my HTH running buddies. If I’m not feeling 100% by then, I’ll try to run the Kenai River Half Marathon down in Kenai in September. I plan on staying in half marathon shape for a while (doing longer runs on the weekends) so that I can get more comfortable mentally and physically with running long because I still feel like that is my weak point. For now, I’m just looking forward to trying again in the future. You can never run too many races, right? 🙂
How do you handle coming up short of a goal that you’ve had for a while? Have you ever had to change your goals mid-race?