Sunday, June 3, 2012

DxA2 Race Report

Dexter-Ann Arbor Half Marathon Final Result: 2:05:17.  Details below. 

I'll start with the interesting things, before I get into the requisite overanalysis.  :)
Medal: no complaints.  Different from my other medals, so that's a plus.  Not a huge fan of the gold plating, but like I said, it's different.
T-shirt: not a fan.  It is VERY thin (read: transparent).  I should've probably gone with a L vs the M I'm wearing there. Red and white and blue and green is a bit random and too much IMHO.  I thought they were just red stripes on the side, but it's actually RED on the whole back. And it feels kinda cheap.  I actually prefer the green cotton ones we got two years ago to this one.  I probably won't ever wear it.
This was taken before Jeff tossed his cookies.  Actually his chocolate milk and 1 marshmallow.  Details.
The Good:
  • I learned from Martian I think and tried to keep an even EFFORT instead of an even PACE.  Even when I was really starting to slow down and wanted to walk and throw in the towel, I didn't.  (Contrast with Martian when I walked most of the last 3 miles).   I think this was really important on a hilly course, when trying to keep the same pace up the hills could really burn me out.  Same goes for the heat.  I just kinda rolled with it.
  • I started feeling VERY thirsty around mile 5 or 6.  Prior to that point I had been running through the water stops, pretty much sticking with the 2 hour pacer (I'd pass him on the downs, he'd pass me on the ups).  The water kept sloshing out of my cup and I would end up getting only one swallow.  No wonder I was thirsty!  At the water stop at mile 6 or 7 is when the two girls I normally run long with crossed my path.  I was very tempted to run through that stop and try to keep with them (and the pacer), but I was feeling worse at that point than I did at Martian at mile 8 or 9, so I decided to play it smart and walk through the water stop to make sure I could get enough to drink, and not crash and burn (or give up) at the end like I did at Martian.  I also took my Gu at that point.  It paid off because I started feeling better a mile or two after that.  I continued that walking through the water stops for the next couple stops (I didn't walk through the last two).
  • The support at the 501 water stop at mile 11 was awesome.  Thanks guys.  It really picked me up!  Joining a running group was the best idea ever.   
  • While my time was a little worse than Martian, I felt like I ran much smarter, and had a more enjoyable race.  
  • I also feel less upset about martian, now that I've had another race in the same ballpark time, that I DIDN'T walk at.  Before, I felt like I dropped the ball at martian and really did worse than my fitness should have given me.  Now, I think I'm conceding that I just haven't improved since October like I thought I had.  I've been in the same area time-wise for HMs since April 2011 really.  This course actually reminded me a lot of my April 2011 Country Music Half Marathon.  Similar temps, similar terrain.  I did 2:06:38 at that one, so just a touch slower than this one.  
  • I did a better job at not overthinking at this one.  When I started thinking too much about my time or comparing myself to other people or getting upset that I wasn't going to go sub 2:00 yet again, I did a much better job of getting my brain to shut the hell up and get in the zone. 
  • The race organizers did a great job with the water stops.  They were like every 2 miles or so the first half, and by the end they were every mile!  Plenty of water, gatorade and volunteers at all of them.  And they put signs out a ways back from the tables, so you knew which side to go to for water vs. gatorade.  Very well done. 
The Bad:
  • I was kind of surprised that I did worse than Martian, considering I walked so much there at the end of Martian, and didn't walk at all this time (except through the water stops).  They did have clocks out on the course though, and I was down to about a 10:00 pace from mile 10-11 on I think, after running 9:10s for the first 7 miles.   
  • I felt like I gave it my all, and was struggling quite a bit in the heat (the weather forecast said mostly cloudy and 59-65, but the sun was out in full force and it sure felt like warmer than 70 to me.  Warm weather and hills do slow me way down (I know, I'm like a broken record).  Some people were saying things like "this is perfect running weather!" and I wanted to punch them in the face.  I know it could have been so much hotter, and it has been in past years, but it was definitely not my cup of tea.  Anyway, now that it's over though, I feel totally fine.  I'm probably going to do some yoga today to start that habit.  The fact that I feel fine now makes me think I probably wasn't pushing as hard as I should have.  Jeff on the other hand, just threw up, and is now sleeping.  (He finished in 2:00:10, compared with his Martian time of 1:53 or something like that).   
  • Seriously, that hill at the end of the course SUCKS.  I just focused on putting one foot in front of the other.  My main goal at that point was to not walk.  I kept thinking of Dory... obviously I was running, not swimming, but I kept saying "just keep swimming, just keep swimming" in my head anyway. 
  • I wanted to wear a 501 logo top, and none of the tank-tops/singlets fit me right, so I wore my neon orange 501 tee.  That was a bad call.  I don't think I have ever raced in a tee, at least not in recent history.  It's always tanks or long sleeves.  At the beginning of the race I had my sleeves rolled up, then I unrolled them to see if it really made a difference.  The answer is YES, it does.  I felt 10 degrees warmer as soon as I unrolled them.  I decided to leave them unrolled until the halfway point so that I could roll them up then and feel a little "relief".  I think I rolled them up at the same time I walked through that first water stop and let the pacer my 2 running buddies get ahead of me.  (They both did great btw.  I think they were aiming for sub 2:00, one of them did it by a smidge 1:58:xx I think, the other was over my smidge, like 2:00:xx or something).   Next time I'm forgetting about the 501 logo and just wearing one my plain brooks distance singlets. 
  • I didn't get to listen to some of the new songs I just added to my ipod for this race. :(  Downer.  I should have gone looking for them to try to get a pick me up, but I wasn't really thinking. 
The Ugly:
  • Those just got out of the shower, no-glasses, crazy hair photos of me above probably fit in this category!  
  • And my stride/pace on that last hill to the finish on Main street.  Eek.  Survival Shuffle, for sure.
Lessons Learned:
  •  I like running GPS-less.  I'd rather not know.  (I actually wish I didn't have the pacer and the clocks on the course too, so I wouldn't have known when I had blown the sub 2:00 mark). 
  • Music is good.  When the going gets rough, a good song can move my feet a lot faster.  (I also put in my headphones at mile 6-7 at the same time as the sleeve-rolling and the dedicated water & gatorade consumption and head-dumping (water, not gatorade!).
  • It feels better to ease up early and finish "strong" than it does to crash and burn hard, even if your final time is slower. 
  • I still don't like heat, or hills.   
  • I don't think I will run this race again.  Well organized, but I think I'll stick with the 5 or 10K for future years.  Too much heat risk, and it's just not fun when it's hot.
Now What?
  •  Well, I am officially at a plateau.  That's three races in a row where I've done worse than I thought I should.  The steady improvement that marks all beginning runners careers seems to have ended.  (Both for HMs and 5Ks). 
  • Around the time I stopped improving, I started running more mileage and more days per week.  Perhaps I should go back to what I was doing before? The increased load certainly doesn't seem to be paying off. 
  • The obvious solution would be focusing more on tempo runs and intervals, but my hip just can't take that right now.  Also, I was/am pretty psyched for a summer of lazy/long/slow running. 
  • I am considering taking a week or two off right now, until I start my marathon training, to see if I can get rid of this hip pain.  It's not bad, just annoying, and it doesn't even hurt when I run, but it is limiting me in terms of how hard I am able to run (because I know it will hurt for days after).  Marathon training starts next week or the week after, depending on what plan I follow.
  • I think I'm going to quit focusing on time goals at races, and focus more on training smart and letting the times fall out as they may.   
  • I think a weight loss and cross training goal could also be beneficial, both for my hip and for my speed.  I'm about 155 lbs right now, which is "Clydesdale" for women, when such categories exist. (and I'm only 5'6", so I can't use the "tall" excuse).  145 should be reasonable I think.   I'll need to be careful though, because I have a pretty nasty weight history and have been stable for the past 1.5 years (bouncing around between 150-158, usually 154-156), and I don't want to ruin that and end up gaining a bunch back.   (For the record, I was about 150-155 at the time of my HM and 5K PRs in 2006 and 2005 too).  I have been everywhere from 100 to 200 lbs at this height, and every time I've had any semblance of stability it has been around 150-155, which is why I have hesitated to try to lose any more recently.  On the bright side, some quick googling tells me that losing 10 lbs equates to 20 seconds per mile, which would put me right where I want to be for a 5K and HM PR.  And I wouldn't have so much trouble finding running clothes that don't look like crap.  That turned into a really long rambling bullet point.  Sorry. 
I mentioned a lot of other races and times, so if you're interested, here is some supporting information.  Martian race report available here.  Below are the results from all my half marathons. 
All HMs, graph, illustrating my current plateau.  There were several running hiatuses (hiati? Is hiatuses a word?), between 2006 and 2010 so that I effectively "started running" in May 2010.   Click to zoom.
All HMs, text.  Click to zoom.
Random unrelated things from this weekend:

Irina and her dog Lucy came over again yesterday for most of the day.  Jeff took her (Lucy) rollerblading to try to burn some energy.  Cute! 

Then we taught her to play Apples to Apples.  Actually she wouldn't shut up so I picked her up and held her hostage. She's not happy.  I am.  


  1. Great job, auntie Ty!! You're my hero. :)

  2. Still another great effort. You are sooooo close! I think what you need is a half that is flat and cool. Look into Capital City Half marathon in September. I PR'd there last year and it's a great race - flat and cool. I see you are doing Detroit Full. You could race this as a test to your training.

  3. Great job, Ty. Running in heat, hilly courses, and direct sunlight can make for a lot of suckage! I know the lack of tangible improvement is frustrating, but you might be stuck in a holding pattern until your hip is healed. Once it's healed, I think speed work and tempo runs, combined with a good mileage base, should help you improve.

    I'm glad it worked well to run without your GPS watch. The most fun I've had running a race (other than my marathon) was a half in which I wore my watch but only had it display the distance so I had no idea what my time and pace were until I got to the finish line.

    All you can do on a given day is give your best effort, and I think it can make it a lot more enjoyable if you just train smart and let the race times fall as they may. I recommend taking a little time off before beginning your marathon training. If you don't give your hip enough rest, it might nag you throughout your training.


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