Sometimes your training and the available race schedule doesn’t always line up. In these cases you have two choices, taper or train through. Do you taper for the race knowing that you’ll miss some training that’s going towards the bigger goal or do you train through knowing you’ll probably have a sub-par race? There’s no easy answer.
I signed up for today’s marathon last year at a discount price thinking it’s a fast course and that I don’t have to take it too seriously. At the time I didn’t know I would burn out and need to take some time off from racing. When I finished Surf City a month ago, I was not happy about the fact that my next race was another half marathon. I knew I was due for some shorter races so when I resumed training, I didn’t plan on seriously racing this half marathon. Of course when you’re as competitive as I am, you can’t just sit back in a race without other motivating factors. When I drew bib number 17, I knew I’d have to run respectably. But I made the choice to train through today’s race. I’ve recently changed up my training to be a little more intense on the easy days and a little less intense on the hard days. So I knew I wouldn’t be totally burned up from a Thursday workout, but I wouldn’t be feeling like a spring chicken. And that’s about how I felt. My legs were a little weary from the gun, but my aerobic system was great and that’s more important.
I decided instead of trying to knock it out of the park, I’d run conservatively and not watch my pace too carefully. I was trying to run by feel. Then a few miles in, if I felt good, I’ve give it a push. Fortunately two of my training partners were running similar paces and we were able to work as a group for the first 7 miles or so. It was nice to put it on cruise control and not have to worry about dropping pace as we moved up the field. The first few miles clicked off in just under 6 minutes. Perfect, I thought. I ended up dropping some time on the Washington St hill, but I picked it up running down 6th Ave coming to the finish. I will say, after I recovered from the hill, I felt pretty fresh and enjoyed the last two downhill miles to the finish. My breathing was fine and I was trying to switch gears to take advantage of the downhill. When I finally got the turnover, I passed a couple guys and started stalking the next runner, who I caught in the last 50 meters. The finish is really fast because of the last two miles. 12 and 13 were 5:37 and 5:24. I felt like I was running a 10k. I can’t say I’ve ever run mile 13 at 5:24. When I got to the finish line, I thought it said 1:17:38, which sounded plausible based on my 8 sub-6 miles. Then I finished and looked at my watch and it was 1:18:38. Damn! I thought I banked some time, but my Garmin had been fudging the distance. It’s a problem I’d like to remedy. So.. the time I ran was alright. It would’ve been fine, except that I thought I ran faster. 1:18:38 on tired legs shows me that I’ve still got the fitness.
I’m hoping to recover quickly so I can get in a mid-week 10k workout and then run well at St. Patricks Day 10k next week on fresh legs. I’d like to be in the 34s somewhere. I know I’m not in peak form right now, but I’ve got a fantastic base fitness from the fall that I’m relying on. Another few weeks of this base training and then I’ll start to lock in the faster paces. Training through this race was the correct call. Because I figured it out beforehand and told myself not to worry about the time, I really enjoyed the race. I was all smiles in the photographs. That’s how a fun run is done.