March 7, 2013 The weather is warming up (sort of), daylight is lengthening (definitely), and I have officially kicked off the race season with the Cupid’s Chase 5k on February 9th and the E Murray Todd Half Marathon this past weekend on March 3rd. As can be expected with early season races in the mid-Atlantic, the weather was one of the biggest challenges.
For the 5k, we faced 20 mph winds on the front half of an out-and-back course which contributed to a coach-pleasing negative split race. I ran a respectable 20:50, winning overall for the women in a field that reflected the fact that racing in early February is nuts and a lot of the fastest runners stayed home. As my focus has been on marathon training, I’m not set up for peak performance at shorter distances. Later in the season I’ll tackle the 20 minute 5k goal, but for now I’m very happy with being under 21 minutes.
In training for the marathon, I felt really good on my 18 and 20 mile runs, so I was hopeful that I would have a good race at the E. Murray Todd Half Marathon. The conditions were cold, windy and hilly, but the sun was intermittently poking through the clouds, and the winds could have been worse, so I was ready to race. I had instructions from my coach to go out at 7:30’s and bring it home in the last 5k, but I decided to give myself a little leeway and see what I could do. My first mile was 6:49 and I knew that was too fast to sustain, so I backed off the pace coming in closer to 7:10’s for the next 5 miles. My legs were feeling good though, and when another woman passed me in the 7th mile, I decided to try to keep her within striking distance. That pulled my speed up to 7:00’s for the next 3 miles, but she still opened up a 20 second or so gap on me. I knew the 10th mile would be uphill into the wind (thanks for the heads up, Todd!), and fought through it, somewhat closing the gap but slowing to a 7:20 mile. At that point I kept my eyes forward and turned in a 21:40 5k to finish the race. I finished just one second behind the woman in front of me as I just didn’t have another gear to turn to when I tried to sprint to catch her in the final stretch! It is unusual to have big (happy) surprises in long distance racing, but I definitely surprised myself with this one, getting a massive personal best of 1:32:24. I know I put all I had into the race, and happily have recovered well and have bounced straight back into another week of training. A day-after massage from Natacha at Phila Massages certainly helped speed the recovery.
I’m now fully focused on preparing for the St. Louis marathon the first weekend in April. I’m feeling confident that I will be under the 3:35 Boston Marathon qualifying time for my age group (knock on wood) and am excited to see how far under it I can go, but you never really know what’s going to happen until you run the race. That’s the beauty of it.
I generally focus on the positive, but to be complete I will give a quick update on my shoulder. I visited a doctor who was less than helpful to try to figure out what is going on. I have now been out of the pool for too long, and am growing increasingly frustrated as I try to balance not wanting to injure myself with my need to train. Hopefully I will figure it out or get better soon so I can get ready to open up the triathlon season in May! To anyone struggling through injury, I am right there with you. I’m incredibly happy to have other avenues, in this case running and biking, to keep progressing forward.
Keep on training, and I’ll see you out there!