At the end of 2017, I began training for the Snicker’s Albany Half Marathon. For those of you who have followed my journey over the past two years, I made it part of my winter activity to mix it up and run a bit. Last year, I took on the Tallahassee Half Marathon in Northern Florida. This year was no different, but my goal was to go with a course that was flatter than the course in Florida’s Capital City. The Albany course is notoriously flat, with many participants in the full marathon event qualifying for Boston.
The past two years, I have taken running fairly half heartedly into the lead up to the half marathon. It was a good quick 30-45 minute workout that I could get in and my longest run (singular, not plural) was 9 miles leading to the half.
This year, I wanted to approach things differently. My goal was to not only to beat my PR from Tallahassee, but to obliterate it. I publicized a sub 1:25, but, in the back of my head, I was shooting for a 1:20. Does this sound familiar? I know many athletes who have these dueling goals — one for sharing, one that is unspoken.
With that in mind, my plan was to increase my running intensity and time from Thanksgiving on. It was laid out beautifully to do more longer runs in the month of January and February with plenty of shorter, threshold based workouts throughout the week.
As the saying goes, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Nothing could have held more true. Up through Christmas, training went well. Then, we made a family trip to Kansas. I have clearly become soft living in Florida, but temperatures were colder than average — in the single digits — and not above freezing for the highs. These temperatures were the first of many excuses to come.
Once we returned, everyone in our house passed around some sort of respiratory illness. Having a history of this type of stuff turning to sinus infections and worse, I laid low. And laid low. And laid low. That dang thing hung out with a nasty cough for weeks!
Once the cold-season plague had lifted, I got back on track and running again. Then, age caught up with me. A raking related injury, (yes, yard work) laid me up for another ten days with low back pain that made it hard to sit, stand, bend over and lay down, let alone walk.
At it once more, I was set on damage control mode. With 6 weeks wasted out of the first 10 weeks of the year, the best I could do was work on building mileage to a decent amount and hoping for a 1:30 finishing time.
1:28.22, 22nd overall and 3rd in my age group. This was a mere 6 seconds better than my previous PR at Tallahassee half marathon in 2017. It was a long ways from my original, intended goal, but was surprising given where I felt my fitness was going into the race.
There are several things that I have to note looking back at the data, however. Let me preface with the fact that for the past two years I have not run with a watch. The first year, I forgot it at the house and, the second year, I decided not to wear it because I didn’t the year prior. This year was different. I had pace and heart rate but tried not to use it during the race. I wore it for the information it would collect. This is what I learned from the data.
- Miles 1-4 were a bit faster than they should have been – no real surprise here. I felt good, and how could you not at the start of the run.
- Mile 8 I began talking myself out of the ability to run as fast as I was. Mile 9 was my slowest mile at a 6:50
- I negative split the last 5.1 miles
- Mile 13 was my fastest at 6:22 pace
- The mind is as powerful or as strong as you make it be. I talked myself out of a lot through miles 8 & 9. One key thing was the gentleman that caught me right at mile 8 that I should have/could have stayed with and gone off his pace.
Ultimately, a bit of adrenaline paired with a lot of grit and determination paid off! If you look at my pictures during the race, it is apparent that I was not in a comfortable place. Let’s be honest, I looked like a moving corpse.
Kudos to the City of Albany for a well run event. Other than a few intersections at the end that didn’t have police support, it was a very well done event.