3 weeks ago I ran a solid effort at the 2012 Park to Park Half Marathon in Cedar Falls, IA. My first time at this event and what a great time it was! The elite participant package was as nice as I’ve been offered – appearance fee, dinner, nice swag (shirt, backpack, beer glass), and only 45 minutes up the road from where I live. Four weeks out from my goal marathon I thought it about perfect to test my fitness and run through this race as a good solid tune-up run. My experience has been that every marathon build up is pretty different in terms of how workouts feel and how the body is adapting to training. I’ve been feeling lousy during some workouts but the long runs have been pretty good. I had yet to hit a good solid marathon pace tempo run and I thought this half marathon would be a great opportunity to turn the crank a bit.
With a sore ankle and not too much confidence (having totally cut an 800m workout earlier in the week) I thought I’d try to run about marathon (5:30’s/5:40’s?) and cut down from there if I felt good at 8 or 9 miles. My warm up felt alright … I could feel my ankle, but nothing too painful. When the gun went off, I simply settled in with a good rolling group and let them pull me through some comfortable 5:18-ish pacing … I was pumped if sub-5:20 felt this good. Soon enough I was in no-man’s-land but still running very even, very controlled. At 10 miles I thought I for sure had a PR in the bank and probably even sub 1:09 … but my optimism was met with reality as I felt a bit tight the last 3 or so miles just squeaking in a new PR by 2 seconds for 1:09:45. My only goals for this spring was a PR at 10km and half marathon … 10km worked out but two disappointing half marathons left me wanting more this fall so I was glad to book a PR although I’m still hungry for what I’m truly building towards at the Lakefront Marathon in Milwaukee.
Looking back, this race probably did more for my confidence than my brain … I love grinding out through long marathon training blocks but sometimes when I’m secluded and doing everything alone I can feel a bit down, bored, or even under/over confident. A tune up half marathon or even 10km is a great way to change it up and see what kind of shape you’re really in with all things considered. The ankle’s feeling a bit better and recovery has gone well … bring on the marathon!!!!!!