Sunday, March 27, 2016

Ashland 1/2 Marathon Race Recap

Some days you wake up and you feel great and think you can conquer the world.  March 19, the day of the Ashland Half Marathon was not one of those days for me.  I woke and felt lousy.  The Boss had to work because it was a Saturday and tax season doesn't take days off for races so I had to head to the race solo.  The night before I had a 3 mile shakeout run to keep the legs loose
and didn't feel too great.  Everything was sore and stiff, my back, my legs, pretty much my entire body.  I pretty much chalked it up to pre race jitters as I Frankenstein'd my way around the neighborhood.  I got out of bed  about a half hour earlier than planned thanks to this guy.
I made myself my usual smoothie for breakfast and headed out, really feeling kind of BLAH.
I got to the race, grabbed my number and chatted with a couple folks in line to use the porta potty.  I headed back to my car and told myself over and over again that once I got moving, I would relax, find my stride and it would be all good.  At the same time I had a lot of doubt that I would get close to my half marathon PR of just over 1:50.  I have run this course maybe 4 or 5 times now and it is a hilly course.  I had run the same course last October and ran about a 1:55.
I got out of the car and ran about a mile for a warmup.  I have definitely found that running warmups before races has helped me get my head right.  ***Please keep in mind that when I talk races, I am not fast enough to win(at least not right now ;), I am really racing against myself.***
We lined up at the start and off we went. At the mile 1 marker I looked at my watch and saw that the pace I had run was much slower than I wanted it to be and it was then that I decided to not look at my watch again and just run base on feel.  It took me about 4miles to finally get into a groove that felt like I had run before.  At mile 5 I grabbed a drink of water.  At mile 6 I ran into a guy I had run with back in the October race.  Nice guy.  I think he recognized my beard.  I didn't recognize him because he had a mohawk  back in October(his kids idea) and now his hair had grown back in.  We chatted a bit and I took off to the next water stop and had a Gu and some water.
At mile 10, there is a short, steep hill that everyone hates.  I had decided that if I started running up it felt my self slowing down  too much I'd just walk it.  I knew the last 3 miles were a couple rolling hills and a nice slow downhill at the end that would allow me to pick up my pace a bit.  I figured the energy I would expend trying to run up the hill wasn't worth the small difference in time I would have saved since I would have blown out my legs and might not have had anything left for the remainder of the race.  I might have been wrong but it felt right at the time.
I felt like I cruised through the last couple miles, passing some folks along the way, exchanging words of encouragement.  Since I am a little heavier(180lbs) and shorter (5'7) than a lot of runners, I always try to push hard on the down hills.  I consider it my gravitational advantage over some of the lighter runners out there, and this race ends with a low slow decline so I feel like it's right up my alley. (Skip to the 1:40 mark in this video)
I got to the finish and was shocked to look at the clock and see a time of 1:46:08!  A new PR!  I couldn't believe it.  For a day that started out a little rough, it finished better than I expected.  I guess at some point I need to just get out of my own head, and let all the training I have done take over.  Some days you are gonna have it, and some days you aren't and apparently some days you are going to feel like you don't have it and if you push through things will turn in your favor! 
I want to give a shoutout to the organizers of the race.  The course is always well marked and the food at the after party(no beer, but that's ok) is always really good.  The atmosphere is great and all the volunteers and racers are super friendly and that's really what it's all about!  Kudos to all the other runners out there crushing it!  Happy running!  Next post will be a little different as I will talk a little bit about why I run. 
Thanks for reading this longwinded post!  See you soon!     

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