The Road Back: Race Report 3M Half Marathon

This is the first time in all ever I’ve raced with no strings attached.   It was liberating in a small way.  And as I sit and edit this blog post (NO! Y’all don’t get to see ALL the things I write to my coach, there’s gotta be some kind of editing/sense of mystery), it’s Monday evening and my legs aren’t that sore.  My hips are a little sore and freeze up when I sit for an extended period of time.  But my legs feel great.  Which is a clear sign that I stuck to the plan and did not run hard.  Usually after this race, it is unbearable for me to live, let alone breathe or think about breathing for no less than three days post-race.  The thirteen point one mile downhill run does a horrible number on your decelerators when you run it with a purpose.  But this year, because I took it easy my decelerators have nothing to protest about. 

However, when I went to do my “post-race-put-humpty-dumpty-together-again” chiropractic visit Monday afternoon, Logan (Dr. Sherman, the Team Novia official fixer of Novia’s musculoskeletal issues caused by triathlon abuse) looked at me and my whole body hurt before he ever touched me.  His ability to find hurt on my legs and back that I didn’t know were hurting is a bit uncanny….and keeps him in business…I digress.

I love this race.  And I love returning every year to run it.  Austin is the first place I lived when I moved to Texas so in a small way, it’s my forever Texas home.  And every year I run it, I feel an indefinable joy to be home if only for a couple of short days.  The race starts at 7:00 AM, which is before the sun rises, meaning, you get to welcome the sun to a new day.  Because the course winds through several neighborhoods (of which I have several stories and pleasant memories) you have folks who sit in their front yards drinking coffee cheering you on.  While most half marathons I’ve run tend to wind through residential neighborhoods with the inhabitants cheering you on, I dunno, there’s just something different about the chutzpah of the average Austin cheerleader.  Course support was great and even though I was at the back of the pack, the water/electrolytes were plentiful and delightfully frigid. 

Trying to think of cons for this race and I can’t.  Because 3M is the banner sponsor for the race you get a crap load of free 3M products in your swag bag which HANDS DOWN makes their swag bags the BEST ever.  The race is seeded by projected times, so there’s no one standing sentry telling you your bib doesn’t match the corral you’re in.  They allow you to self-seed.  HEB provides the food in the finishers chute at the end which means great stuff and LOTS of salty HEB chips.  Although they don’t provide finish line-to-start line bus shuttle at the beginning of the race, there was a shuttle back to your car/the start at the end of the race.  And the line to get on the shuttle moved quickly which was a huge plus for someone who has just pounded out 13.1 miles and just wants to sit down.

WAIT!!!  I thought of a con (it took a while) if you want a bunch of course pictures take a camera with you, because there were two photographers on the course, one halfway through the race and one a couple blocks before the finish.  That’s it.  I’m done, here’s the report.

Race Name and Distance: 3M Half Marathon
Date: Sunday January 24, 2016
Location: Austin, TX
Temperature:  38º F //Partly Cloudy // Feels like 38º F // 75% Humidity // SSW @ 1 mph
5:30 AM          14oz. Vanilla Muscle Milk

Top of Race and at intermittent/non-regular intervals throughout the race ate a total of nine shot bloks.  Also stopped and walked through every waterstop grabbing electrolytes when available and following up with water

Pre-Race Warm Up
Spent 10 minutes doing light jogging, leg swings, hip circles and stretching

Official Time   2:51:20 (13:05/mile)
Overall Place   4,794 out of 5, 287
Divison           369 out of 426
5K Split           35:39   (11:30/mile)
10K Split         1:14:49 (12:04/mile)
10 mile            2:06:10 (12:37/mile)

This will probably be the shortest race report I’ll ever write.  I stuck to the plan I did 10 on and 1 off.  I didn’t look at my watch (and didn’t want to) until around mile 11.  And because I didn’t want to look at my watch, I measured my 10/1 by counting.  I counted my stride (left then right equaled a stride and then repeat over and over).  I counted stride to 100 ten times and then walked counting stride to 100 one time and then ran and repeated over and over and over until I crossed the finish line.

A couple of things.  First you can see where the fatigue set in (I actually walked a little longer between mile 9 and 10 due to a gradual incline that was kicking my butt) which is why I asked for every day from now to eternity to be leg day.  Although we’ve been working leg strength, we haven’t been able to hit it as hard as my coach continues to ramp me back up to a full training load.  Leg fatigue set in and I just got slower and slower after mile 7.  Second, realizing that I did a lot of walking, looking at my splits, I was holding a decent pace during the time I ran.  Which really surprises me.  I am SO glad I didn’t look at my watch for so long.  I thought since this was a “bye” race of sorts, I would work on perceived exertion and on form when I get tired.  I perceived I was at about a 12:00 mile for the first 8 miles and I was actually running faster than what I perceived (when you take out the walking).  Additionally, even when I got tired, I forced myself not to collapse on myself AND to pick up my feet and not drag them the way I usually do.  And the final thing, the last 5 miles was tiring and I wanted to walk more than what we’d plan, but in my mind, I kept hollering: “YOU’VE GOTTA WORK FOR THAT WALK!”  And I worked, by picking up my feet, not slouching and trying to remain consistent in picking ‘em up and putting ‘em down.

Splits are below.  I count this one as a success even though I added 35 minutes to last year's time.  It wasn't meant to be run hard, and because I followed the plan, I learned some good things about myself when racing that I can nurture going into the new season.  I'm looking forward to running stronger at Cowtown.

Mile 1   11:01.4
Mile 2   11:23.6
Mile 3   11:40.6
Mile 4   12:00.0
Mile 5   12:36.8
Mile 6   12:48.0
Mile 7   12:15.7
Mile 8   12:58.1
Mile 9   13:28.7
Mile 10 14:16.6
Mile 11 14:02.2
Mile 12 14:06.3
Mile 13 14:36.2

What I Learned
My perceived exertion (PE) is off kilter, I perceive I’m going slower than I actually am.  WHICH in my opinion is great because I feel like finally my PE has switched for good.  In the past, my PE has been that I was going faster than I actually was.