I had high expectations for today’s race, the Dutchess County Classic Half Marathon. I’ve had a good couple of weeks of running, and although I’ve been traveling, I’ve managed to squeeze in few quick speed workouts (meaning the workouts were short in length, not that they were especially fast!). My performance did not match my expectations, and I’ve been thinking hard about why that is.
First, let me say the Dutchess County Classic is an awesome half marathon. There must be over 1000 runners, and the race is well organized and a total blast. The Taconics met early, with many of us arriving almost two hours early for the 8:45am start. It was fun to hang out and chew the fat, although I think next year we should bring some chairs. I’m not sure standing up for two hours is the most awesome way to spend a pre-half marathon morning.
There was kids race that was supposed to go off at 8:30, but it was delayed and we wound up starting the race late, I think a little after nine. I lined up with my training buddies, and Alyissa and I discussed doing 6:50 miles which would have gotten me in at well below a 1:30. This was, I can say with the benefit of retrospect, about as realistic as a flying freakin’ unicorn.
Let me note for the record that I’m not doing a fall marathon. Let me also note that my friends Alyssia and Bill are. And that many of my other friends, unlike me, are also joining them for their 20 milers. And, I’ve recently learned, doing two quality runs a week in addition to a long run. Let me also note, in general, and for the record, they are in way way better shape than me. But, sure, why not match my expectations to theirs? If Alyissa is going to do a sub 1:30, after 12 weeks of great training, why shouldn’t I run a sub 1:30?
Anyway, back to the race. The gun went off, and we were right at the start, so a great beginning. I looked at the Garmin (who my friend Bill has now taught me to refer to as the “wrist bitch”) and noticed that we were running like a 6:30 mile. Er, that’s not so good. I finished mile one at 6:35, and fell off Alyssia realizing I was going to have to moderate my efforts a little bit. Mile 2, 6:40. Still too fast. Mile 3, 6:51. OK, back in the freakin’ ballgame. Mile 4, 6:51. Feeling good.
I’ve always walked through the waterstops in a race. I’m a total spaz , I’m convinced if I ran through them, I’ll well hidrate my chin and shirt, but little else. I’ve always been able to slow down, walk a few steps, drink, and make up that time. I’ve always been able to do that before this race. Stopped for water. Mile 5, 7:14. Er, that’s not good.
Mile 6, 6:47. Nice.
Mile 7, 6:59. After trying to hold on to a 6:50. At this point, I begun a mental review about running, weighing the benefits that running gives us all, and reviewing the gift that it is in my life. I can summarize my thoughts: “I hate running. This sucks. How freakin’ long is this race? Maybe the measured it short. I mean it’s a classic. Maybe it’s a really well kept secret that this race is short. Man do I hate running.”
Mile 7, 7:16. Voices in head quiet.
Mile 8, 7:20. Thoughts “I hate running even more.”
Mile 9, 7:15. Stopped for water. “I hate running. I don’t hate water.”
Mile 10, 7:03. “OK, three miles, you bastard, run. Wait, did that say 7:03? Pathetic.”
Mile 11, 7:20, “Some guy in freakin’ Vibram’s just passed me. Well, he’s got good form. Maybe there’s something to barefoot running. I’d try it, except in about 2.1 miles I’m quitting running.”
Mile 12, 7:05. No comment.
Mile 13, 7:20.
I ran the race in 1:33:14 for an average pace of 7:02. I would like to point out that the course measured out to 13.2 miles. I’m just sayin!
So I guess I’m not the first one to notice this, but going out too fast can be a real problem. Knowing sigh anyone? Thank you. Now I can sigh too!
I also learned in a smaller race it’s hard to be alone — for a long time, there was no one in front of me, not because I was running the race of my life, but because the field was thin, and where I happened to fall there was no one running with me. More than a few people passed me at the end (5, but who’s counting? OK, I made that number up. Too tired to count!) but at that point I couldn’t hitch a ride because I was too exhausted.
I need to learn how to run through the waterstops — when I’m this tired there is no point in slowing down, it’s too hard to pick that up. My friend George pointed that out to me last year. I should have listened.
And finally, and most importantly, I learned that the half is too long a distance to take casually. I had a good summer, but without the targeting training of a fall marathon I wasn’t in shape to really perform. Next year, if I’m not doing a fall marathon, I’ll be sure to do one or two 20 milers before trying to have a good half.
I am happy, and had a great time, and I did PR. But I ran the New York Half Marathon in January, which is a much harder course, in 1:33:54. So I should have done better, but I did learn a lot.
My team-mates did great though, with Alyissa finishing 2nd woman overall and 1st in her age group. Fantastic. Next year, it’ll be fantastic all around!