|John, Sherri, Yolanda and me, pre-race.|
I didn't run any appreciable mileage for the 3 1/2 weeks prior to the Valley-to-the-Sea race. I knew going in that it would be difficult and, despite my irrational hopes, that I would probably not make my PR goal of a sub-2 hour 1/2. I tried to tell myself that I had enough run fitness to make it work.
Lesson #1 - You will lose fitness if you do not run the appropriate mileage before a race.
Still, I was optimistic. I felt good on race day, had my pre-race smoothie, drank my coffee and water. It was cool (chilly even, for Maui!) at the race start and there was cloud cover the entire race, which helped keep temperatures in check.
Lesson #2 - Don't mess around with the hydration/nutrition systems you KNOW work for you.
I didn't wear my Nathan water carrier this race. The course was mostly downhill/flat. I wanted to run it fast (see previous PR goal) and didn't want the extra weight. I decided that water at the aid stations and 3 gels would be enough. But I'm used to carrying my own HEED and having it whenever I want. I was thirsty and the aid stations were too far apart (not really, but that's how I felt).
I started off fast (for me) but you can see why - steep descent at the beginning. I figured if I kept up a good pace at the start it would see me through at the finish.
Lesson #3 - Negative split, negative split, negative split! Don't go out too fast.
Would I have been better off to slow it down at the start? Probably. I should have kept it more at 9:00 mm. Mile 5 was a long, gradual uphill, which really dropped my speed and where my attitude started to go bad. Miles 6-9 were downhill again and when I really started talking to myself and giving myself a pep talk, and you can see it in my average pace, which was back on track.
For the record, my actual finish time was 2:10:34 - I forgot to press STOP on the Garmin. AGAIN. #74 out of 107.
At Mile 10, where the ground leveled off once again, the wheels started to come off. I was done. I'd had my last gel at about Mile 8 and thought it would carry me through, but I really started to lose it. At one point I just wanted to sit on the curb and cry like a baby. I don't know what got into me?! Yolanda and Sherri passed me at this point and I told them I was fading. They were encouraging and that kept me going for awhile. I really tried to HTFU. My legs were starting to cramp, but I kept up a slow jog until the end.
Here we are at the finish. I am so proud of Yolanda - it was her first 1/2 and she did great! I was just glad it was over, which makes me sad because I love to race and this one was on a beautiful course, on a great day, and had great volunteers and was run exceptionally well (thanks Rudy!). Which leads me to:
Lesson #4: You can't fake a 1/2 marathon.
My quads hated me for three solid days. I. Seriously. Could. Not. Walk.
My new Brooks PureFlow shoes, however, were AWESOME! I still had a couple of blisters, but they were minor. I will have to tape my feet in a couple of places, I think, to eliminate them, but my feet were not sore and neither were my calves.
Lesson #5: Some things DO work, even on a bad day.
Loved my Brooks shoes, Injinji socks ROCK, and even though I missed wearing my water carrier, I liked wearing my Zoot tri top for the race (the back pockets are awesome!).