Temperature: 5 degrees C
Clothes: Lululemon running pants, Adidas base layer, Adidas top layer, Asics TrailRunners.
Distance run/type: 21.2k/Race pace
Feeling: Too hot. I had to take off my Adidas top layer and tie it around my waist.
The Chilly Half-Marathon, March 7, 2010.
This was my second timed half-marathon race. In fact, it was really only the second second or third time that I had ever run 21.1k. Two weekends before, I ran around 23k – 20k with during a 20k LSD group run, and the remaining 2k back home to my apartment. I remember feeling really surprised that I still had energy to keep on running. I guess that’s how you’re supposed to feel after an (long slow distance) LSD run. This didn’t really make me feel confident about the upcoming race, though. All winter long, I had been feeling void of any energy during training. I worried that I had overtrained when I decided to try running 5 days a week, in addition to 2 days a week that I would do resistance training at the gym. Eventually, I took my runs down to 3-4 times a week, plus two hours of resistance training a week. My running group was small, which meant that I constantly had to run harder and faster than I felt I was capable of, just to keep up with the group. Our training runs were at night, and since I wasn’t very familiar with the area, the fear of being left behind and lost drove me to try my best to keep up with the group. By the end of the 16 week training cycle, I felt exhausted, tired, and just wanted to get the race over with. I told myself that I was just going to try to run it, that I wasn’t going to try to do any better than my last half in the Fall. But you know what? I didn’t just finish the race, in fact, I didn’t even run it in the same amount of time that I ran my last race, I ran it even faster.
There were certainly several factors on my side on race day. My “prep” began with a huge plate of whole wheat spaghetti with a simple tomato and vegetable sauce that I made for myself the night before. I always feel nervous going out to eat before a race because certain foods make my stomach hurt and I like knowing exactly what goes into my food. It’s tasty to me, but not so much for others – when I invited my sister to join me for dinner, she politely declined as soon as I mentioned that I was going to be making spaghetti “my way”.
I spent the rest of the evening watching Alice in Wonderland (in 3D) and then threading my chip onto my shoes and pinning my bib onto my shirt. I heard that it was going to be a lot warmer than what we were used to training in, so I laid out half-length running pants, a tank top, and a long sleeve top layer. The morning of, I completely panicked by how cold it was, that I ended up changing my entire outfit – wearing long pants instead of short ones, and two long-sleeved shirts instead of a tank top and a long sleeve shirt. My friend Lisa and I made our way to the race start and commented on how neither of us really felt like we were just about to run a race – it felt somewhat surreal for both of us, but in a way, it was better than feeling like a ball of nerves. I knew that in the worst case scenario, I could just treat the race like an LSD run.
Within 5k into the race, I started feeling the effects of my last minute clothing change. The great thing about running 10 and 1’s is that you have 10 full minutes to plan out what you’re going to do during your 1 minute rest break. Each break, I peeled off one more layer of clothing – first it was my top layer, then it was unzipping the bottom of my pants to let the air through. Eventually, I rolled up my sleeves (very hard to do with a skin tight base layer!) and tried to ignore the fact that I was roasting as I ran. I took the first half of the race cautiously slowly because I didn’t want to run out of steam. About 20 minutes in, I took my first GU gel with lots of water. The halfway point wasn’t really a halfway point – it was one of those turns that isn’t a quick as you think – when I finally reached what I thought was the turn around point, it turned out that I had to run an extra half-kilometer or so to the end of another street and back. Definitely could have done without that part, but as soon as I made it back to the original route, I felt a second wind come on and I managed to run the second half of the race faster than the first half.
In the end, I came in more than 6 minutes faster than my last half-marathon. I felt completely exhausted but ecstatic at the same time. After gobbling down a banana, a cookie, and a bottle of water, I eventually found some of my friends, took some pictures and headed over to the Travelodge for some post-Chilly chili. 🙂
Definitely a positive experience, one that I hope to repeat next year… whether it’s actually chilly or not!