The good news: I set a personal record in the 5K (24 minutes) and the 10K (49 minutes) this morning. The bad news: those are not the races I was running today. All I had to do was run a 9-minute pace for 13.1 miles and I would reach my goal of beating 2 hours in the half marathon. Instead, I started running with the 1:45 pace runner (8-minute pace) just to see what it felt like.
Even though I had trained for a 9-minute pace, I was feeling pretty good at 8 minutes per mile and I stayed with him for nearly 6 miles. Yeah I feel great. Yeah baby… I’m superman! I can do this all day. Who can guess what happened next?
After mile 7 I thought I would back off a little, but it was too late. I slowed to 8:30, then 9:00, then 9:30. At about mile 10, I had a meltdown. Even though I had hydrated and fueled and stretched and visualized… my legs felt like lead. I walked through the next water station, cursing myself for going out too fast. I splashed a soggy Dixie cup of water right into my face and yelled at myself “Come on!!” (Well, apparently this only works in the movies.)
To make a short story shorter, I finished at 2:04:49. I got my knees iced up in the medical tent after the race, and I sat there on the curb thinking “Wow, I’m really stupid.” Worst of all, I did the EXACT same thing last year in the exact same race. I believed my own hype. I went after something I wasn’t really prepared to do.
So what have we learned? Slower and steadier wins the race? You can’t do the same thing over and over and expect a different result? There is definitely something to be said for playing within your ability and making slow incremental improvements. I knew this and I ignored it.
I could just kick myself for overdoing it… if my leg wasn’t so tired.