Saturday, October 19, 2013

What I Learned


I'm still trying to figure out exactly what went wrong with my Johnstown YMCA Half Marathon. Actually, a lot went wrong, but I need to separate out what I have control over vs what I didn't, and try to move on from there. Effectively, turn this into a learning experience while enjoying a few weeks off.

The Training Plan

What went wrong: We upped our mileage, both in terms of weekly and our longest run. C may have gotten into the best shape of her life from our training plan, but for me, I think it missed some important components. After months of being tired, I didn't work in enough of a taper, and I think was still tired walking into race day. I also don't think I was ready for 40 mile weeks, as I was tired for 2 months and never got in any speed work and walked on more of the runs than I care to admit.

Can I control it?: YES! Experimenting can create great results... or trip you up. I know my body can handle more than I throw at it, but I also should have eased into this last cycle a bit more. For the next round of training, we're going to modify the workouts to build in some breaks and some speed workouts.

The Positive Spin: I ran 40 mile weeks, week after week. Sure I was tired, but my body handled it. I also ran 18 miles, actually ran it (no walking) - which is the furthest yet.

The Cupcake Project
The Government Shutdown

What went wrong?: Our original race plan, to do the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Half, got shutdown when the national park 8 miles of the course was on was closed. We had to scramble to find a new race in only a few days.

Can I control it?: No... well, "Of the People and For the People," but in the larger sense, things go wrong, races get delayed, and you have to accept that.

The Positive Spin: With 4 days notice, we found a great race, booked a hotel and even managed to drive the course. Adaptability Badge unlocked- next time things are looking bad, I know we can dig in and find a solution. Next time I won't let it stress me out as much.

The Inclined Plane

What went wrong?: We got to the start of the race by riding this awesome platform, or Vehicular Inclined Plane, up to where the race started at the top of a massive ridge.This meant a net downhill course. Woohoo PR!!! Actually, the downhills were so steep and long (2 miles at one point) they hurt. This left shot legs for the uphills and flats.  There were lots of uphills too somehow.

Can I Control It?:  Yes. Working hills more frequently will allow me to deal with these challenges. I can't change the hills, but I can train for them.

The Positive Spin: My body/mind didn't give up on the race until after a few of the daunting hills and I mostly had a flat run back to the start. So, I actually managed to conquer the tough parts of the course. With training I'll be in better shape after finishing them.

The Heat

What went wrong?: My tolerance for racing in heat is somewhere in the mid to high 70s. Since Johnstown got up to almost (maybe actually) 80 degrees I was out of my element.

Can I control it?: No, I can choose races... but if I'm going to be doing more races in DC, I'm going to have to adapt.

The Positive Spin: I've gotten in the habit of running on the treadmill (see above issue with hills) in AC. A doctor I talked on my flight back home pointed out I should do heat training if I'm heading south for a race (purposely run short runs mid day in the summer) or in general just in case the temperature jumps.

Source Wiki.

What went wrong?: I overheated at the end of the race, and part of it was not having water.

Can I control it?: Not sure yet

The Positive Spin: I think overeating and drinking (water) the day before a race is a habit I need to get over. As marathon talk recently pointed out, I should eat reasonably and healthy, and we'll see if that helps. In the mean time I'll have to channel my inner camel.

Mental Failure

Running Time article on mental fatigue
What went wrong?: My mind gave out a few miles before my body started resisting. Part of it was the heat, the dehydration, the hills - but in the end I know I gave up on the race before it was over.

Can I control it?: Yes! To admit otherwise would leave room for it to happen again.

The Positive Spin: Train smarter - part of the mental fatigue came from last minute race planning, over training, and other life stresses. The biggest part was that I over-reached with some runs and ended up walking. Effectively, I trained myself to stop running. Sure, running too far is bad, but I should have taken the sign to modify my training schedule. The solution will be to draw on the feeling of having a race slip from you to push out the extra miles when needed, and the planning to not put myself in the position where I have to.

At 1:57, this was my slowest race since my first half marathon. Considering all the hard work (possibly too hard at this point) it was crushing. I was almost glad for a painful thigh as an excuse to take a week off from running.

It's now going on two weeks, with only some light weekend mileage, but no more excuses except a cold. I have 2 weeks of training before a 10k tuneup race, and 15 weeks till New Orleans Rock n Roll Half Marathon.

Will I look back at this and say, "oops, should have done all that" or will I smash my PR in NoLA? The good news is the weather will be somewhere between 48 and 67, my idea racing weather, according to averages... or between 20 and 85 by records....

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