Sunday, July 10, 2011

Running my own race.

Run your own race.

I have heard this advice and strategy my entire life. And, frankly, in every aspect of life. But, I didn't take this advice during my half-marathon last weekend and I am aiming to do better next time.

I am no running expert by any means but I do know this much about any distance race, if you go out to fast, it will bite you in the end. I have a tendency to do this. What can I say, I get caught up in the moment. It is hard not to. The only time I didn't go out in front during my swimming career, I won the gold medal. Hmmm…that is actually the first time I have put that together.

My most recent race is a far cry from the Olympic Games but it fills my competitive needs. I woke up at 3am to arrive at American Fork High School in time to catch the buses up the canyon to the start. It was dark, cold and 1700 ft higher than where we were finishing.

My girlfriend who is training for the Chicago Marathon with me also ran a partial downhill half the same morning. She, being the track athlete, gave me some sound downhill running advice the night before. She said, "Don't fight it. Keep your body loose running down and go with it." I thought about this with every step. It was about 3 miles in when I realized I might have "gone with it" a bit too much. I checked my watch and saw that I was running a 5:30 pace! Hmmm…I was a bit concerned but didn't slow down. Until I got to the flats.

At mile 7-ish, the steady downhill turned into a tiny uphill and mostly flat course. My quads were screaming and all I was thinking about was the fact that I had 6 more miles! I kept trying to concentrate on my form rather than the pain. But, I my aching legs kept grabbing my attention. The good news is, only a few people passed me. One, who did, looked so smooth and effortless, I actually said to him, "Now that is the way I should have run it." Classic.

I wasn't alone. A lot of us were in pain and just surviving. I managed to continue with a 7:15 pace but I walked through every water station and a few moments at the end. I needed to catch my breath. All the way in Colorado, my friend had made the same mistake. Why do we do this to ourselves….we know better. I was super happy with my time but I know I can do it better. I want to run the last half mile with gust and zeal. I want to excel through the finish line….can that happen? I know how to do it. Go easy the first few miles and then gradually build. When you go too fast, especially the first part of your race, it will bite in the end BIG TIME. Can I do it, YES I CAN….will I do it, I'll keep you posted.

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