October 28, 2007
I'd intended to title this "half-marathon training secrets" or somesuch and lead off with a joke about how the best training for a half-marathon is to train hard for a real marathon, drop out of the race and then run a half three weeks later while retraining for an upcoming real marathon. This is because I'd fully intended to run well in the half-marathon I ran this morning.
But I didn't run the way I thought I would - the way I thought I could, the way all my training seems to indicate that I can. I really thought the time had come when I could finally break 90 minutes and add second piece to the Holy Grail Stemware Collection (20min, 40min, 60min, 90min, and 3hr for 5K --> marathon). I ran 1:31:17, was 3rd woman and 17th OA, won some $$ for third, whatever. The 2nd-place woman ran on my shoulder until about halfway, found another gear (lucky her), and took off. I faded in the second half despite my most excellent half-marathon plan: miles 1-3 6:55, then 6:50s until 10 miles, then ram it push it clock it on home with whatever I had.
Trouble was I really didn't have much after 7 miles. Why? The first half was mostly into headwind. It was about 72F and 90% RH, so the tailwind coming home was hot and sweaty. This was a small race, and after 7 miles I was pretty much alone, with no hope of passing the few people I could see way in front of me. For a few miles I felt very much out-of-gas, and I was even hungry (I never get hungry in races, and can't ever eat during them anyway).
But so what? Everyone there ran in the same weather. The 2nd-place woman was even running her very first half, and 1:28 is a helluva debut under any circumstances. The rest of the "excuses" are nothing I've never dealt with before in races. I am beginning to wonder if maybe I have been overreaching. Maybe I have reached the absolute upper limit and should just...well, I dunno. I must be the slowest medium-mileage runner on the planet. I run 70s 80s 90s every week for a couple of years and I can't break 90 minutes for a half-marathon. I've heard it asserted that people like me should just quit trying. Today, for the first time, I am starting to believe it a little.
Posted by joe positive at October 28, 2007 12:56 PM
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Don't give up! Maybe try something new in your training? I am trying to break 90 as well, so I know how you feel. Good Luck!
Posted by: Runner at October 28, 2007 1:36 PM
You are cooking without spices.
This post is too complex to post back. Email me your phone number if you want. I'll call you.
Posted by: corrado giambalvo at October 29, 2007 4:29 AM
I'm sorry to hear your race didn't pan out as possible. First thing first: do not quit "trying". You know and I know you are more than capable of nailing down this goal; I absolutely have no doubt in my mind about this.
One thing I wonder--and I don't know your training patterns or what you've done over the course of the year--is that if you timed yourself for Chicago and are now little past peak. Maybe, maybe not. How much recovery time did you give yourself off the Chicago effort? Have you been tired? Etc.
One thing I'm learning, however slowly and through insane trial and error, is that what works for one may not work for another. Or that even what worked two years ago might not work now. I don't know. Your legs might just need some rest. Or you might need to restart the whole thing again...Whatever the case, I believe, without a shred of doubt, you will break 1:30 sometime soon.
Posted by: tuscaloosarunner at October 29, 2007 8:07 AM
I agree with Tusca. You have definitely not reached the upper limit and I KNOW you are capable of a sub 1:30 half.
I don't know if this would help, but for me I always feel like half-marathon pace for the first 8-10 miles feels too fast. For those first 8-10 miles I am petrified I am going to run out of gas and that maybe I'm just not in the shape I thought I was. But by 8, I find a rhythm and by 10 I am ready to drop the pace a little and bring it home. In the one recent half-marathon that I faded at the end, the fade started happening around half-way. I had a chest cold, it suddenly got hot and windy and the second place woman in that race started pulling away from me. All three things just mentally wore on me and I wasn't able to mentally shift gears, so my brain said screw it and I slowed down. Do you think your lack of downshifting was more physical or mental?
Also, since you say you've more or less been doing the same thing for three years, it certainly wouldn't hurt to explore other training methodologies and maybe pick the brains of a few coaches to see if maybe there is something different you can do to give your training a boost.
Anyway, you still ran a hell of a half marathon and you got some money too!
Posted by: Salty at October 29, 2007 9:35 AM
Don't believe it for a second!
It was one "off" race and nothing else! You've been running some great races and workouts the rest of the time. Don't be so hard on yourself!
Posted by: Alison at October 30, 2007 9:21 PM