Monday, October 17, 2011

Long overdue--Race Review--San Jose Rock n' Roll half!

Wow, it's been busy month with no blog updates! For the record, I have been busy--which also for the record means that means there has been blog fodder, I've just been both choosy about posting as well as--too busy to post!

On October 1st-3rd my race support-AKA my husband and I traveled out to San Jose, CA for the Rock n' Roll half marathon. I'd been seriously looking forward to this race, and had a goal in mind to run a 1:20-1:21 half. I had been feeling pretty good, prepared and excited to go. The course was flat and fast, a bunch of my teammates were going as well as my coach who was ready to help pace a small group of us to around this time. It seemed like a perfect storm for good runnin.'

Well sometimes when you predict a perfect storm you get one--but not what you had envisioned you know?

A week before the race I also went up to Breckenridge, with the team for a weekend of running and bonding. It was a pretty fun weekend, but by the end..something wasn't right. I came home and my throat had that scratchy feeling, I had a headache, aches, pains--and a pit in my stomach. The pit that told my brain.."You might be sick." By Monday I knew it was true and I was rushing to the doctor. It turned out I had a pretty nasty cold..and all I could do was rest, rest, rest and try to get better (Check 1 in the minus box)

I ran less--no working out, nothing extra (no weights or plyos) and tried to get better..but the cold started rearing it's ugly head at night, making sleeping hard (check 2 in the minus box).

The husband and I talked about our options--including not going, but I still wanted to race--and I thought I could run through the cold. So Saturday came and off we flew to San Jose--and by then I was at least a bit better. In my mind I was still telling myself that my goal time of 1:20-1:21 was realistic.

We arrived in San Jose, I did the pre-race routine and run with my team--and felt okay, as ready as I could...and still telling myself my goal was realistic.

Sunday came, the race started and I ran the first 3-4 miles at the 1:20 pace (6:15). Right away the race felt really fast, and really hard. Generally speaking I know how to settle in, run a little slower at the beginning and pick it up in the later miles. Right from the start it felt HARD. I felt disjointed, that it was struggle and out of control. The concept of "Settling in" was non-existent. Not only that, usually where my music helps me get in the groove (literally) it was distracting me. By mile 5 I was actually asking myself if I should stop..which is just odd. Even stranger was that at the 5 K I had run 19 min, which isn't horrible and on pace, and at 10K I was 39 min, which again is on pace, but it felt as though I was doing HORRIBLE.

The upside was until about mile 7, I was running with another teammate and she was helping a lot, I knew we both had similar goals and unfortunately we were both struggling--which sucks but at least we were together. I thank her for her support in the slog.

By 8.5 miles I knew something was just off--and I actually STOPPED. I had to pull over, and have a personal talk with myself. I honestly had to re-evaluate what was going on...and let go of my goal. It absolutely sucked to have to stop to do that...and I'll be honest here--I've never done that before, so I'm not sure how I would do this again without stopping--but it cost me a lot of TIME in the race--so I've spent some time asking myself and thinking about how to re-evaluate mid-race, if this happens again.

I started running again, and rolled into the finish at my new pace of 6:30-40. I ended up officially running a 1:27--but take out my stop and I ran a 1:25.

As I finished I also realized my feet were hurting. A lot. After the finish, I took off my shoes to find three huge blister covering my feet.

I hobbled over to the "medical tent" ( I use this term lightly as the "medical help" I received included a dry paper towel--they weren't prepared for blisters--at a huge road race--go RnR).

I sat down, and immediately got a migraine. I think the term "For the Win," is probably appropriate here.

I have had migraines since I was a kid and it's always a possibility that I will get one but I rarely get one at or during races--given that so much was going wrong, including the inability to concentrate and settle in, the "distracting" component of the music and the fact that I got the headache about 5 min after finishing I honestly feel the migraine was right there--and I feel so, so lucky I didn't get it DURING the race. I would have freaked out. I also think that the migraine in combination with the cold obviously pretty much hampered my ability to perform at my best.

Honestly it sucks to go and want to do your best, and then things just start going wrong, but I also feel as though I learned some pretty valuable lessons:

1) Goals are flexible for a reason--seriously don't be afraid (or stubborn) about re-evaluating them! I hardly ever get sick, and I didn't understand how much things like lack of sleep and "illness" can sap it out of you when you try to race. I know it sounds naive, but when I get sick it's strep or flu--where it totally knocks me out completely and I didn't really know how to readjust. I thought I could just push through. Um. No, I actually couldn't. If I had been more realistic and also kinder to myself, and said, "hey new goals are run strong, and run 1:25, and have fun," I think it would have been a lot more realistic and also fun.

2) Remember the good: I imagined a different outcome, but some stuff went wrong and that didn't happen. I still ran a 1:27 (1:25!) and I got 3rd in my age group...and I would be willing to guess I'm in pretty good shape. That's how I'm looking at it!

3) Learn to be present and non-judgmental: Okay so I'm working on this one! A lot of times when I'm running if I'm not feeling it--even if it's just hard, or I'm tired or sore, I will totally start saying things like, "Why's it so HARD!?" "Why am I so SLOW!?" "What's going on!?" And then inevitably start pushing harder and harder and harder--forcing the run. This also happened in the race. Sometimes, that pace is just what your body needs to go--for whatever reason--and this concept of telling myself that this is where I'm at today, and it's okay...and then for instance looking at the scenery or enjoying that place or even just going with it and not beating myself up=super hard. This also refers to an ability to re-evaluate goals. In closing, flexibility, and releasing the Type A!

So, there you have it a bit of a blog update with a Rock n, Roll San Jose, with lessons learned.

What races have you done lately?

Has everything gone as you envisioned or have you had to re-evaluate?

How did you do it if you did have to re-evaluate?


  1. Good for you! I think the most commendable thing about your performance is your attempt at being flexible. While your finish time is indeed impressive, I can understand your frustration with the situation. Just chalk it up to "not being your day", I suppose. I guess this means you'll be blowing past 1:25 soon? More goals.

  2. Hi Sweets!
    It definitely wasn't the day I had envisioned in my mind ;D!
    Even though I didn't reach my performance goal of the time, you are right--the race experience was really valuable to me especially because of working on being more flexible.
    I haven't planned another race yet, but it will still be my goal to get faster in the half.

  3. I think being non-judgmental during a race is probably one of the hardest things. For me, and I'm sure for most people, it's hard to say "Okay, this isn't working let's slow down or do something else to make this work." To me, it kind of feels like defeat. I'm letting my stupid body or mind win (which ever one is causing the problem).

    For as big as RnR is, I keep hearing a lot of negative things about them - which makes me worry since I just signed up for an RnR race - and it's inaugural. great.

    Sorry you didn't have the race you wanted - but it seems like you learned some good lessons during your run. You've definitely got a 1:21 coming your way.

  4. I agree Jena. It's definitely not easy to adjust your goals and then your race plan DURING the race--and it is weird: If you had set the same goal before the race and accomplished it, it would be positive, but because you had to--dial back perhaps to be more realistic, it might feel like a "failure." I'm working on remembering that adjusting a goal and still reaching the NEW goal is better than Option B) completely falling apart and zoning out.

    I liked the RnR San Jose--it was a pretty good race! Just be prepared and go with the flow-a LOT of the things I have heard people say border on silly :P. Have fun--you always do so it will be great!