Race reports are infinitely more fun to write when you… you know… run halfway decent. Coming into this race, I was in what I felt was the best shape of my life. I know that’s a cliched thing that NBA and NFL players say every summer, but I truly meant it. Three weeks ago, I ran a half marathon that was 3-4 seconds off of my lifetime half-marathon PR. The last three weeks of training have gone perfectly. So coming into this race, I was really hoping to do something special (for me). A sub-1:30 half marathon is something I’ve been hoping for nearly 10 years now, but it’s eluded me. A day before the race, I checked the weather. It looked like it was going to be around 71 at the start of the race and around 74 towards the finish. A touch warm, but likely do able. Unfortunately, I woke up on race day and saw the windows of my house steamed up for the humidity. I thought, uh oh… this isn’t good. Got everything ready and drove up to Detroit Lakes. I got out of my car and walked to go get my packet. Went on a warmup. Immediately knew I was screwed. 10 minutes into a 15-minute slow jog, I had already developed what I like to call “a glisten” of sweat. As in, I was sweating as much as I hoped to be by like mile 8 or 9.
Mile 1 – 6:47 – I knew that it was hot and I knew it was going to be tough, but I optimistically thought I could still run alright. The goal was to basically replicate the first 5-6 miles of my last race and run around 6:40 average. In my last race, I was running the first two miles incredibly easy and I went 6:35/6:38. In this mile, the effort was a little more noticeable and I still was 12 seconds off my pace. No biggie, though.
Mile 2 – 6:46 – Was hoping just to maintain right in here. It’s not the 6:40s I was hoping for, but I can deal with 6:45-ish pace given the heat.
Mile 3 – 7:04 – Felt like the exact same effort as the previous mile, but it was just slow. I was in a pack of guys who were hoping to go around 1:30. They picked it up after this mile. I tried, and I couldn’t. At three miles, I’m already 44 seconds down on my 3-mile split in my last race and the effort isn’t even close.
Mile 4 – 7:10 – Tried to stay as strong as possible, but it’s starting to become very obvious to me that I’m not going to run anywhere near a PR time.
Mile 5 – 7:48 – Wheels falling off. I’m a poor hot weather runner. I have a ton of examples of this. I’ve had three races I felt were “bad” this year. A 10k in June (hot), an 8k in July (hot), and this half marathon (hot). At a certain point in this mile, I made the conscious decision to back off and just run “long run” pace. In my head, I just mentally disengaged. I knew it was done. I’ve run enough hot weather races to know how this was going to end should I continue to push. I just took my headphones off and shoved them in the pocket and decided I was just going to watch people and jog it into the finish.
Mile 6 – 8:12 – Just putting in the miles here. Getting passed by all kinds of people. Don’t really care.
Mile 7 – 8:01 – The only thing I could think of was trying to see my mom so I could give her my iPod and my Garmin.
Mile 8 – 8:11 – Again, just putting in a mile here.
Mile 9 – 8:39 – Sweating. Buckets.
Mile 10 – 10:03 – Stopped to talk to my mom, daughter, and sister for about 2 minutes. Which is something that I never do unless the wheels are falling off.
Mile 11 – 8:15 – The nice thing about this race is after the third mile, they’ve got water every single mile. If you are in the long run mindset as opposed to the racing mindset, it’s quite appreciated.
Mile 12 – 8:45 – Saw a sign by a business that said “85 degrees” during this mile. I know those are usually a little inaccurate, but it was hot.
Mile 13 – 8:41 – Stopped again for about a minute to talk to my wife, daughter, and mom.
Last 0.1 – 1:56 – This actually is a 0.27 mile split according to the GPS. I ran slow, but I didn’t run 0.1 miles *that* slow. I saw a kid offer his mom a gel packet about 200 meters until the finish. I actually saw a guy I knew pass me when I stopped to talk around mile 10. He used to be a neighbor until he and his wife got a divorce this past year. For the past mile, he’d been sort of falling back to me. We got to the finish and I could have sprinted past him, but in my head, I just thought that would be a crappy thing to do since I hadn’t really been “racing” for the past 8 miles. Finish time – 1:45:42
I know deep down I could’ve dug deep and run a better time. Maybe it would’ve been like a 1:36. Maybe a 1:39. I honestly don’t know. It wasn’t going to be a sub-1:30, though, and as much as I hate to admit that I bagged a race, I just felt like I had nothing to gain. So what if I break 1:40? I’ve done that a dozen times. I just kinda thought the weather kind of secured my fate before the race started. During mile 5 when I finished running a 7:48, I was having some inner conversation with myself. I kept telling myself that I wasn’t even mad that I was running poorly. Through 4 miles, I was 71 seconds behind where I was at the same point 3 weeks ago. From my race report, I wrote about mile 4 at the last races “Best news is I’m feeling awesome!” I was not feeling awesome and I was running slower and I was putting forth much more effort. I guess how can I get that upset at myself if I’m running slower and working harder because my body is trying to cool itself.
It sucks running a bad race. It wasn’t just me. My friend Tom who has run 1:14 or 1:15 in a half before ran 1:22. Another guy ran 1:25 at my last race three weeks ago barely broke 1:30. There were a lot of guys who were 5-10 minutes off their normal pace. I’m pretty sure had I not bagged the race, I could’ve done the same. My goal changed from emptying the tank and seeing if I could PR to saving it for another day.
No more real races until marathon day. I’ve got a 2-mile race at a cross country meet in two weeks that I’m sure will be painful, but basically it’s just about getting myself ready for my marathon which is now less than 4 weeks away.