Oh, I suppose I might as well recap the Rock ‘n’ Roll National Half Marathon, right? I mean, although I did totally forget to keep updating my training (LIES! I didn’t forget… there just wasn’t much to say), I don’t want to just leave the whole half marathon hanging out there, unresolved. So, here I go…
Base Goal: finish strong
Realistic Goal: set a PR (currently 2:20:33)
Optimistic Goal: 2:15:00 (10:18/mile pace)
Well, let’s just say that I kinda, sorta met my base goal. I finished strong in the sense that I didn’t want to keel over and die when I finished the race. I wasn’t terribly sore the next day. I didn’t end up hobbling across the finish (like my first half marathon) or with a runner’s knee (like I did after my second half marathon). But the real reason that I felt fine (relatively speaking – I was sore and tired) was that it was my slowest half marathon ever. Even slower than the first one, where I could barely even walk during the last couple of miles.
I definitely slacked off in my training for the half marathon, which is actually one of the main reasons I stopped updating about my training on here. I got all my long runs in somehow, but I was probably running an average of one short run during the week. Some weeks, I didn’t run at all other than the long run. Plus, I did zero strength training and zero cross-training.
I did finish the first 7 miles without walking. I think I took my first walk break somewhere in the middle of mile 8, but it was pretty short – maybe 30 seconds, tops. Once I got to mile 9, I started alternating walking and running… with more walking and less running as the miles went on, although I did run the last 3/4 of a mile or so to get to the finish.
I’m actually glad that I didn’t finish with a fast time. If I’d been able to pull off a half marathon with so little training, there’d be no motivation for me to train harder next time. My legs are bit sore from all the hills and the distance so I’m taking things easy this week – I did a 2 mile run on Tuesday, might do another one tonight, and then will probably do 4-5 miles on the weekend. I’m signed up for the GW Parkway Classic 10M in April, so I really want to focus on doing well in that race. Now that I have the distance, I need to get up the endurance and the speed. Basically, I’m treating the half marathon as if it was just a long training fun for the GW.
As for the race itself, it was a gorgeous day – at least 50 degrees at the start and probably about 65 by the time I finished. I kind of expected there to be more bands on the course (or at least, speakers spaced out a bit around each band so you heard them for more than 20 seconds), but the race support was fantastic. The expo was easy to navigate (I did get there towards the very end so my size shirt was all gone, but I just got the next size up), course support was fantastic (they even re-filled my water bottle!), and the finishers area was well organized. My stomach was sort of bothering me at the finish (I think I’d lost too much salt, since I wasn’t used to running in that heat yet), so I didn’t take too much advantage of the finishers area, but I saw tons of food – bagels, yogurt, bananas, water, Gatorade, chocolate milk… probably lots of other things I’m forgetting (I just grabbed a banana and the chocolate milk). They also had family meet-up areas that made it easy to find Adam and my friends after the race. I definitely plan to run this race again, especially if it continues to be run by Rock ‘n’ Roll since they did such a better job organizing it than SunTrust did last year.
Distance: 13.1 miles
Oh, and as for my new running shoes? I’m definitely a convert to the minimalist running shoe. Based on what I’ve researched on the subject, I understand that it’s not really the shoe that makes the difference in preventing injuries, but your form. However, because the minimalist shoes don’t have as much cushioning and support, it forces those of us who run with poor form (like me) to adjust to better form. Since I made the switch, I’ve had no running injuries – that’s saying quite a lot for me, since I’m very injury-prone. I would have thought that without getting in an adequate number of miles during the week, I’d surely get hurt on my long runs but I didn’t. The only noticeable difference is that my left Achilles gets pretty tight and my calf gets sore. I think once I strengthen my legs a bit more, that won’t be as much of a problem. So my verdict is that if you are prone to running injuries and think it may be because you have poor form (which I’m betting it is), it might be worth a shot to give the minimalist shoes a try. (But note that it takes a long time to get your calves used to running on your toes, so ease into it.) Of course, you could try to fix your form without buying the minimalist shoes, but just realize that the extra cushioning and support of standard running shoes can make it easier for you to slip back into bad running habits when you’re tired. But if you’re not injury prone? I’m not all that sure that the minimalist shoe has added benefits for you. That said, Adam never gets injured and after he made the switch last year, he definitely got faster. It may be just a coincidence, or maybe not – there’s no way to tell.