Saturday, October 4, 2014

Beckley Half-Marathon 2014 : Jogging for the win?

Go big or go home. 
Obnoxious tights are the new race-winner.
It's all about the bright blue/green/teal.

I had every intention of not being competitive during this race.  I knew it would be hard, but I was hoping I'd be able to focus on keeping my lungs breathing, and not on passing everyone possible.

I have officially broken my no-watch-during-races rule.  I am loving being able to track my runs on Strava, and since this is my first race after 5+ months off, I really wanted to be able to see what happened between the start and finish lines.  And of course I will want to be able to analyze every race from now on...  But I think it will be fine.  I had good reasons for racing without a watch for awhile, but I think I've gotten familiar enough with my own running not to let it hurt my races anymore.  I've gotten used to running by feel.  I will admit that sometimes during the race yesterday when I glanced at my pace, I wanted to speed up, but I never actually sped up without first assessing whether or not I thought my body could handle it.  And I never ended up in trouble, so I guess it worked!

I started out "jogging" when the gun went off.  It felt slow and relaxed.  My watch may have been clocking me at a pace that looked dangerously close to 6:30, but it was downhill, and I felt really relaxed, so I let it go.  I was near the front of the pack, and there were two girls in front of me, but I wasn't worried about it.  I wasn't about to start racing them in the first mile.  I gradually gained on, and passed, one of them in the first mile.  It took longer to creep up on the other, but I passed her somewhere around the 3rd or 4th mile.  It sounded like she stayed pretty close to me for awhile.  At one point, I thought for sure she was going to pass me, but she didn't.  Eventually, I got tired of hearing her footsteps behind me, so I sped up a little bit, and then I never heard her again.

For the first half of the race, I made sure I was keeping my pace relaxed and my breathing deep and even.  I was moving along at a good pace, and I was feeling strong.  Once I passed the halfway point and was still doing well, I let myself gradually pick up the pace.  As each mile went by without any trouble breathing, I got more confident and pushed a little bit harder.  During the last 2-3 miles, I had no idea if anybody was going to overtake me, and I knew that if someone passed me, I would not be able to keep up with them.  But of course I was hoping that no one would pass me, and that I would be able to hold my lead.  Because why wouldn't I want to defend my title from last year?!

Turns out, I could have slowed down in the last mile or two and still won.  But I didn't.  Or not on purpose at least.  When I crossed the finish line, my watch only had me at 12.9 miles, so I jogged around the parking lot until it hit a little bit over 13.1.

Overall, I am super happy with how the race went.  It felt good to finally get out there and race again, and I am pretty proud of myself for running a smart race and not going out too fast or ever running out of oxygen.  My official finish time was 1:32:53.  Significantly slower than last year's 1:28:20, and also the slowest time I've ever run on that course, but after taking a summer off, I'd say it's pretty good!  This race was a great trial run for me to see how I handle the distance, since it's a pretty easy course.  Now I can look forward to the tougher Lewisburg course!

I did start coughing up a lung as soon as I switched from a jog to a walk, but I'm going to blame the cold air for that.  It was in the mid-low 50s throughout the race, and since I'm still not acclimated to cold(er) weather, it felt even colder than that.  At least my lungs keep working while I'm running and don't try to die until after I stop...

Last year, I got interviewed by a reporter after the race, and later discovered an awful picture of me crossing the finish line, as well as an article that made me sound like a total snob.  I got interviewed again this year, and was wondering how bad they would make me look/sound this time. Thankfully, there's no picture of me dying on the finish line this year.  I don't think I sound quite as snobby this year...but I still wouldn't say I am very good at interview responses...or maybe the reporter just doesn't try very hard to make people sound articulate.

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