Saturday, April 14, 2012

Giant Fricking Pansy (aka Martian Half Marathon Race Report)

Well I'll just cut to the chase.  2:03:55 by my Garmin.  (The website doesn't seem to have chip times...I hope they fix that.) As you may recall, here were my goals:
  1. 1:57:46 or better [This is an 8:59 min/mile average pace.  It would be cool to go sub 9:00 for a half, but this is unrealistic right now I think]
  2. Less than 1:58:49 [This would be an all-time PR]
  3. 1:59:59 or better [Sub-2:00.  Like the sub-9:00 min/mile goal, this is just a "pretty number" goal]
  4. Less than 2:02:45 [Minimum goal.  This is my "recent history" PR, since I started this running "bout" in May 2010]
  5. Finish...and do better next time!
So yeah, #5 goal was met :P.  Here's a little graph to show you what giving up looks like :
All that spiky crap at the end is me WALKING.  I don't think I have ever done that before. Except at the Phoenix full marathon in 2009 but I was injured, so it was allowed.  

 And here are the splits:
What in the heck was I thinking??
So yeah, like I said, GIANT FRICKING PANSY.  As of mile 9 I was still meeting my #2 goal of an all-time PR.  At the end of mile 10 I lost that but was still on track for #3 (sub 2:00).  But goals #1 & #2 were on the "fast side" of my pace band, and goals #3 & #4 were on the "slow side" and I seriously think the act of flipping my band inside out psychologically defeated me, even though none of of my goals were "slow" at all, by my standards!!  I completely stopped looking at the stupid pace band.  If I had, I would have realized that I was still on track for sub 2:00 even after mile 11!!!   And even after mile 12, I was still on track for a recent history PR (2010-present).  Argh, I'm such an idiot. 

The other thing that hurt me a bit was mile 7.  That was right after the turn around and I saw a bunch of people I knew running the opposite direction and I got some adrenaline from the excitement and accidentally went too fast (that would be an 8:48 on the hilly part of the course).  My legs were literally burning by the end of those hills, but by the time I realized it, it was too late.  But still, I think I should have been able to make it without walking, even if I did have to drop the pace a lot.  The walking was strictly a product of my GIANT FRICKING PANSY-ness (read: all in my head). 

So now what?  My first instinct was to toss the pace band idea.  It's like in school, when I played softball.  I loved practices but hated the games because they were too much pressure and I felt bad if I screwed up.  Having all these goals and stopwatches and pace bands (and blogs!) puts a lot of pressure on.   Maybe the next one I should just go out watch-free and run the upper edge of comfortable and see what happens.  (Okay, I'll probably still wear my garmin on like a race belt or somewhere that I can't see it at all, because running is pointless without post-race overanalysis!!)

On the other hand, I didn't do what I said I was going to do.  1) I didn't actually look at the pace band when it was most important to do so (at the end).  2) I didn't change my watch pace to km/hr like I said I was going to do, so I knew exactly what my average pace was for each mile.  So I saw that 9:33 and 9:51 out and proud.  Probably not good for my head.  HOWEVER, seeing the pace at the beginning was really helpful, because I was really holding waaaay back, based on the display.  I made myself stay slower than 8:50 and it felt like nothing, like an easy jog, felt like 10:20s or something.  If I hadn't had the pace on my watch I'm sure I would have gone out way faster, but not known it because it would have felt slower.  

Jeff says I need to get out of my head and stop overthinking things and just run.  Probably true.  But I feel like I didn't give my plan a fair shake, since I didn't follow it.  So should I retry my plan again at the next one (correctly), or go Garmin & pace band commando and let it be?

Music wise, I went without until about mile 4.5, which was when it stopped feeling super-easy.  Still not hard, but not easy.  Then I took the headphones out again at the end, at like mile 11 or 12 or something when I was angry at the world, including my songs, but really just at myself.

That's it for that.  In the words of Scott (my 2:55 marathon friend and unofficial coach): "Chalk that one up as a sacrifice to the running gods."  Also, a learning experience for sure. 

The race itself was nice.  The temp wasn't bad, and I didn't mind the rain, except I got blisters on both of my 2nd toes, which I think was from the dampness, because I don't usually have issues with that.  There were plenty of Porta-Johns before the race, and the lines moved quick, so that was a huge bonus.  My big beef with this event, and pretty much all Running Fit events that I've been to, was the lack of pace markers at the start.  You know, like sub 6:00 line up in front of this sign, sub 8:00 here, sub 10:00 here, etc, etc.  The starts of their races are always a disaster, with fast people lined up behind joggers, walkers, strollers, etc.  The course was nice, I used to hate out & backs, but I like them now.  It's nice to be able to see the elites coming at you when you're on the way out, and to see everybody else on the way back.  It's motivating.  Plus you know the return course and have a feel for how far along you are.  The course had some rolling hills, but nothing bad.  I liked it.  And of course the medals are awesome. 

This is Irina's medal from the 10K!  Mine is basically the same, but it says half-marathon instead, and I'm too lazy to take a picture, especially because she took such a great one!
I thought I was in front of Jeff until just before the turn around, when I saw him coming toward me after he had already turned around.  I wasn't *too* far behind at that point, probably less than a minute.  He did amazing.  1:55 or better.  A PR by a lot for him, not that he keeps track of that sort of thing.

Out on the course I also saw Megan & Ryan (,  Jeff  (, Rose (, on a crazy PR streak!), Melissa (first ever half marathon, congrats x 13.1!), and Reed (first ever full marathon, congrats x 26.2!).  I carpooled with David from the A2Runners meetup and he ran his first ever 10K, super speedy style (congrats x 6.2!).  I met Irina there, who (I think) did her SIXTH 10K today, and now has officially done more 10Ks than me (congrats x 10 x 6.2, which I think makes 62, but I'm tired so who knows).  I *think* I saw Megan of before the start of the 10K, with new baby in tow, but I wasn't sure, and I don't remember her posting anything about this race, so I didn't say hello, I just kind of stared at her creepily. 

For an introvert's sport, running sure is social!

Overall: loved the theme, loved the medal, loved the post-race food, loved the expo, liked the course, liked the shirt, TERRIBLE performance by yours truly, and PLEASE Running Fit: organize the line-up at the start by pace.  Please.  

Now, off to the Big House Big Heart Expo to pick-up our packets for the 5K tomorrow.  Phew.



  1. Love the review - and I agree with it! I wondered where you were, since I didn't see you after the race. I say F it. You kick ass in some and you suck ass in others. You still completed 13.1 and can now move and and focus on the next one. Or, back off and NOT focus, and just enjoy the run! It was still fun seeing you and Jeff out there on the out and back part, it really keeps me going!

  2. You did great!! :) Yay!!!
    You know my running better than I do. :) It sure was my 6th 10K! Thanks, buddy!!

  3. You had a great 9 or 10 miles. You'll get those last 3 next time!

    I don't do the pace band thing, but I do have my Garmin set to mark "laps" at each half-mile mark. It beeps and then usually I'll take a quick peek to see what my last half mile was. For example, if my predetermined goal pace is supposed to be 8:40 min/mi, I want to see 4:20 or below at each beep. No math (well, that isn't entirely true - I know early I'm likely to be a bit fast and late, I'll probably slow, but I seem to know about what my average pace is). Other than that, I really try not to look at the watch.

    Agree about the pace markers at the start of the race. It is annoying to dodge people (especially those who start out running and, whether by design or by lack of training just choose to stop in the middle of the course) and not fair to them to see hundreds of people pass them. The race just works better at the start if they start people by pace, using just the honor system. Worked out well at A2 Turkey Trot and Brooksie Way.

    Hope I see ya tomorrow. I'll be there with the family (getting them up and going may be challenging, but they said they want to go). Should be fun!

    1. I don't like that method because I don't get the "big picture". Like if I have a couple slow ones on hilly bits there's nothing to show me where I am overall. I'll be looking for you and the family tomorrow! My bib is #7955. (It is a really big race though, so I won't be surprised if we don't run into each other).

    2. Sorry we missed you. Rain didn't help matters. I did meet Erika from This Spartan Will (we won same contest for race entry).

  4. The way you were acting after the race made it seem like you did awful - this was by no means an awful race for you. Sure bad races happen and you can't PR every one but just think of this one as the first as you start this race season. Don't worry about it too much and stick with the plan!

    1. So yes, I agree, if you compare it to my most recent 2 halfs (Detroit 10/11 2:02:45 and Vegas 12/11 2:05:41) it was a perfectly fine race (though the pacing left a bit to be desired!). But I really did expect quite a bit better. I did a lot more mileage prepping for this one, and my average training pace improved quite a bit since then, so I expected to see a similar improvement in my race pace. Maybe my expectations were too high and I overestimated my improvement. In which case, you're right, today didn't suck that bad :P

  5. Sorry to burst your bubble but 2 hours is freakin' awesome! Are you kidding me? Don't be so down on yourself, you did great!. Personally I don't use pace bands, I just use the garmin and seems to work for me. I probably only look at it 3-4 times the entire race. I forgot to mention you in my post so I went back and edited it to add you. Thanks for shouting out to me. Hopefully we'll be doing another race together so we can talk more. I have a hard time talking during the races especially since when you saw me I was already at 11-12 miles. Great job!

  6. I'm so sorry it didn't go as planned but you still did great. This course is semi-tough in my opinion and the rain at the end was a bit of a deterrent. So glad we got to meet today! Thanks for asking about my calf. Sorry if I gave u a weird look at first, I was in the zone and was like,"what's going on?!". I'm convinced you'll get closer to your goal time next half! Congrats again! And yes, that was Megan u saw before the 10k.


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