I was blessed with incredible weather (low 60s and no wind) and a flat course during my last half marathon, and while these factors went into the 1.5 minute PR, there were a lot of things I did right and a few lessons I learned. Here are a few of them.
1. Eat a big lunch the day before a big effort.
I am not a huge fan of gigantic pasta dinners the day before a race, but I do believe in big, carb-filled lunch. When I ran my last half last fall, I don’t think I fueled enough the day before and remember feeling tired and lethargic. I wasn’t going to make the same mistake.
This time around, I ate a gigantic smoked salmon club sandwich for lunch (read: salt and carbs). Casey and I went out to lunch and even though I really, really wanted the BBQ chicken sandwich, I opted for this carb-happy sandwich.
This was followed by a moderate dinner of eggs and toast. I had a protein muffin about an hour before the race, and Vega Sport at the start line 20 minutes before the race. I had a ton of energy and credit a lot of this to smart fuel planning.
2. It’s ok to start slow.
I ran the first two miles of the race with the 1:40 pace group – ie, 7:40 miles. The next few miles were closer to 7:35. Then 7:20. The final six ranged between just under 7 minutes and 7:15. Key learning? Easing into it works for me and I can make up the time.
3. Run with a buddy, or make a new friend in the start line.
I usually run races with friends but was flying solo for this one.
I met my race buddy Haley at the start line when we both confessed we wanted to run a little under 1:40. We found each other around mile 4 and were attached at the hip the rest of the race. She pushed me during a few of the middle miles, we encouraged each other to keep going when we hit every mile. Overall, it was fun to experience the race with someone else, but I also know I wouldn’t have done it without her.
4. I need to work on my turnover.
Haley and I caught a pack of a few runners around mile 12, and with one to go, everyone seemed to change into the next gear. Except me. My legs struggled to pick up the pace.
I need to start doing strides at least one a week after medium runs to mimic this last part of a race. I used to be a middle distance runner, for God’s sake, I am off to find my kick.
Whether a race goes good or bad, we can all learn a thing or two. What did you learn from your last race?