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Maybe it was the high expectations I had of myself.
Maybe it was the fact that the heat & humidity beat me into submission.
Maybe it was that at one point in the race I quit – I simply gave up.
Whatever the reason, Sunday’s race did not go according to plan – and I’ve been struggling for over a week now as to how to write this race recap.
My thinking had been that since I had been able to cover the hilly Heartbreak Hill Course in 1:32 just two weeks earlier, that I would be able to take on the flatter Run To Remember course in 1:31.
Seconds before the starting gun I realized that I wasn’t excited; I wasn’t pumped. I kept telling myself to get psyched, but it just wasn’t happening. Yet for all the lack of adrenaline, I still felt like 1:31 was a very reachable target.
The gun went off, and after the inevitable walk, jog, run, walk, stop, run of getting across the starting line, I was off.
After covering the first 2 miles in 13:20, I realized too late that I had gone out too fast. I would cover the next two miles in 14:00 (7:00 per mile was the initial goal), but by that time, I was in trouble. The heat and humidity began to take its toll and every mile thereafter, except for the final 1.1 got slower and slower.
Still, through 6 miles I was still 20 seconds under target (having run miles 5 and 6 in 14:20 for a total time of 41:40). By the end of mile 7 however (a 7:22), with my pace continuing to drop, I finally dropped behind pace of my stated goal.
For a brief flicker of a moment I thought, “it’s rally time. Get our ass in gear Luau!” and I tried, I really did, but my calves just didn’t have it on that Sunday.
Truth be told, this race was uneventful and without the dramatics I have grown used to in my past races. There was no reeling in of other runners; no sprint to the finish to catch somebody I had been eying for the last mile. It was almost as if my attitude on the whole was simply blah. Maybe it was the heat and humidity, I don’t know.
I did close with a strong final 1.1 miles, but even there I was unable to catch any runners ahead of me. What pisses me off the most now is that I didn’t care (at the time anyway).
I would finish with a time of 1:35:54. Well off my PR two weeks earlier. Still I did finish 167th out of 5,248 total runners and 28th out of 474 runners in my age group.
In the midst of my slow implosion, I had what will be one of my more memorable racing moments:
Somewhere between miles 7 and 9 (it’s all a blur), a guy pulled up to the left of me.
He could tell I was lagging.
“Come on, Luau” he said.
“I don’t have it today,” I said trying to scan his face for some recognition, “my calves are shot.” We chatted briefly, talked a moment about the Boston Marathon and then it was time for him to keep moving. I was slowing him down. He tried to get me to come with him, but it just wasn’t happening. I still had no idea who this guy was. As he pulled away he said, “great blog! Long time lurker!” John had recognized me, either from my shirt or shoes or sunglasses or all three. It was a neat moment of realizing just how inter-connected this running community is.
Lifted by this, I rallied briefly, chasing John for about a half-mile before I once again had to slow down.
After I finished, I walked back about a 1/2 mile along the course to see if I could cheer/run in a friend who was running her first half-marathon. I settled next to some kids who I remembered cheering me in as I had passed them. Their enthusiasm had been fantastic and nearly 30 minutes later when I had made my way back, it hadn’t waned. These kids were cheering everybody on as they waited for their mom to come by. As disappointed as I was in myself, my spirits were lifted by the raw energy these kids were giving to the passing runners. You could see faces change as they approached and heard these kids yelling and screaming their lungs out.
It was standing here, cheering on the runners that I had another neat personal moment:
As I stood there clapping, shouting, encouraging, getting mildly dizzy from scanning the crowd for my friend, a tall guy with dark hair high-fived me as he went by.
“Hey!” he yelled.
I was a little taken aback, not sure what he was going to say next.
“I love your blog!” Another runner who reminded just how small our running world is.
Between John, Dark-Haired Runner and my dailymile friend Lynda B (who recognized me before the race because of my multi-colored shoes) I was able to take a lot of positives from a performance that was somewhat disappointing.
So to John, D.H.R. and Lynda, I thank you!
I did learn a few things though from this race:
•when the humidity is at 89% and then temperatures are rising quickly, DON’T go out too fast.
•don’t run a hard, fast-paced 12-Miler less than 36 hours before a half-marathon you are hoping to PR at. Friday night after putting the family to bed, I hit the treadmill to watch the Bruins while running my scheduled 12-Miler. In part because it was late and I wanted to get to bed, I ran it way too fast. As I trudged upstairs after my run, and despite being excited by the Bruins game 7 win, the weight of my legs gave me pause. I wondered if I had blown my race with that run.
•sometimes the random race where there is no expectation, like The Heartbreak Hill Half I ran two weeks before, are better opportunities to PR. It didn’t hurt that there was no pressure and it was a good 15° cooler.
I’m thinking maybe next year, especially if it’s hot and humid like it was for this race, I may switch to the 5-Miler and call it a day.