Sunday, August 17, 2014

But Was It Fun?

Today I ran twelve miles on the Towpath with the Towpath Turtles.  Shelby, Vimarie, and I had a great conversation about our race goals.

Pre-run Fuel:  Panera blueberry bagel, coffee with Thin Mint creamer, lots of water

During run:  GU Blackberry

Post-run Fuel:  1/2 cup milk with two teaspoons Carnation Breakfast drink, pasta with red sauce, zucchini, and a fried egg


This is EXACTLY how I look after running 12 miles in the rain.  I feel terrible that I somehow cut off Shelby and Vimarie, but hey, this is all about me, right?

As I wrote before, we discussed race goals for this year.  All three of us will be running the Natatorium 5k in the beginning of September and the Akron Half Marathon at the end of September.  I am very comfortable with my goal for the Nat: I have a pace in mind that I am sure I can sustain for 3.1 miles, and I have been practicing that pace at least once a week.  5k's are all about suffering: if you enjoy running a 5k, you didn't race it.  I always know that if I want to PR a 5k, I must endure pain and push myself.
This is EXACTLY how I look when I am suffering from a 5k.


 I tell myself that I can endure anything for fewer than thirty minutes.  I am ok with this; it is the half marathon that has me thinking.

As you remember from my race recap of the Perfect 10 Miler, I cut off about thirteen minutes from my previous time running this race.  What was different?  Well, I am mostly back in full training after my foot injury, and I also lost about fourteen pounds.  These are things that I am prepared to do to better my time in a race.  As I ran this race, I realized that if I am serious about my half marathon goal, training and weight loss aren't enough.  I need to cut off about twelve minutes in my half marathon PR, so I know I have some serious work to do, but not just on my body; I need to put my head in the game.  That is, if I intend to run a sub-two hour half marathon, I need to resign myself to the fact that it won't be a fun race.

I am mourning the loss of my fun race time.  Akron Marathon is very special to me.  For ten years the blue line ran by my house, and the kids and I would come out and cheer on the runners.  In 2012, I ran the half marathon, and I loved every minute of it.  Every picture you see of me shows that I am having a ball.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I am having a ball in the Akron Half Marathon, 2012.

I felt the same way running the 2013 Medina Half Marathon.

Ok, I was happy here because I was annoying David.

I realize now that my attitude toward racing has to change.  If I want to accomplish my goal, and it's a lofty one, I need to resign myself to more than discomfort; I need to think about suffering.  This means that I may have to change several factors that contribute to my enjoyment of a race:

1.  I may have to ditch the music.  I can't fathom running 13.1 miles without my race music, but if I intend to run quickly, I may have to pay more attention to my rhythmic breathing.  This is the most problematic adjustment to make for me, so I need to give it some thought.

2.  I need to carry a water bottle instead of walking through the water stops.  I usually hit up at least three stops during a half marathon, and this may be adding more time than I would like.  I like walking through the water stops; it gives me something I can look forward to.  I'm just not sure that it is worth the extra time, though.  Plus, I HATE carrying my water.

3.  I need to think about running with a partner.  I usually like to run my own race, but running with Shelby helped keep me accountable.  If we can find a way to coincide our fueling, we may be able to keep each other going.

4.  Most of all, I need to recognize that if I am having fun DURING the race, I am not working hard enough.  Now I need to tell myself that two hours of suffering won't kill me.

I have talked to several runners about this, and it's like this is the big secret to races.  Nobody ever tells you that if you're serious about a PR, you won't have fun.  I've got a lot of thinking to do.

When (if ever) did you realize that running a race wasn't supposed to be fun?

Like what you read?  Follow me on Twitter @itibrout.