To preface this race recap, I have been feeling off in my speed workouts for about 3 weeks now. I do have a low thyroid, which I take medication for, and that is maybe off. So I got some blood work done this week. But I could also be tired and just needing a rest! The week of the race was a very big – and wonderful – week at work for me, and combined with life stuff I was pretty drained come Sunday morning. To cap that off I had come down with a nasty little cold. Soooo, in retrospect it was maybe not the best idea to race. But, hindsight is 20/20.
The night before the race, my friends from Arete, Paula & Heather, came over and stayed at our house to be a little closer to Napa for the 7am start time. Paula is recovering from achilles surgery and was going to cheer, so she dropped us at the start line. I’ve rarely woken up on race day and thought, “well, I don’t feel like doing this.” But I did on this morning, which was a big red flag. But I didn’t freak out or worry myself too much. At the end of the day, it’s just running.
We got a little lost getting to the start line and getting organized took a little more time than normal, so I was definitely out of my routine, but we did get there with plenty of time and it worked out just fine.
The plan was to go out at 7s and hold, and then cut down. My coach said, “eally latch onto 7:00 pace for that first 10K, lock into that rhythm and try not to do too much thinking, just let the miles pass. From there, the race starts at 10K where you have permission to start being competitive and gradually moving forward. Final 2 miles, I have seen your ability to close and I fully believe these can be your fastest two miles of the race. Truth be told, I believe your fitness is somewhere in the 1:30-1:32 range depending on the day (weather, course, etc…).”
I was excited about this race plan, but as soon as I started running, my body felt heavy and tired. I worked on pushing my legs and watched the pace on my watch somehow – inexplicably – get slower. It was like watching myself run from outside my body, in slow motion haha.
I actually took a gel at mile 3.5 hoping that the sugar and caffeine would turn things around. They didn’t, but it was worth a shot.
I hoped it would pass and I could still eek out a PR, but that didn’t seem to be happening. At mile 9, I did have a distinct thought that I felt BAD. But I did keep pushing my effort level forward. Somehow my watch was still slowing down. By mile 10, I found my friend Shiloh, who I knew was gunning for a 1:40 PR. In that moment I made a decision to help her instead of continuing to run alone for 3 miles and still not PR. So I told her it wasn’t my day and to let me help her, block the wind, get her water, anything.
I took my headphones out and tried to talk to her as best I could, not letting her get too far from the 1:40 pacer. If she fell back, I would fall back just enough to help her get back to the pace group. I was a little worried I was bugging her and throwing off her vibe, but we were on pace for her goal, so I decided it was probably ok.
As we ran through the finish together we hugged and determined she had in fact, run a PR. That made me REALLY happy. She very kindly thanked me for running with her. I feel like I owe her more than anything. She allowed me to run with her and take a meh day into a great one.
This was the first year this race offered a half marathon, and it was a beautiful course. It was a bit hillier than I was thinking it would be, and there was definitely a small headwind for the duration of the course. I don’t think either of those things mattered for my race. I felt off from the moment I started.
I went to pick up my race shirt after the race was over, and saw the 1:40 pacer while doing so. He told me I did a great job helping Shiloh, and that I should consider pacing sometime. This is a huge compliment, I think. Pacing is really hard, and Shiloh said he did a great job for the whole race. He’ll probably never know what a boost his kind words gave me.
The big positives for me:
- A bad race used to make me question my fitness, ability, or aptitude for running. This race didn’t. I just had a “meh day.” I think I’m exhausted – physically and emotionally, and need some tweaks with my thyroid medication. And it’s fine. I’m still healthy and able and will be back at it no time.
- I ran a 1:40 while feeling pretty bad. It was a big deal the first time I broke 1:40, so I do not take for granted that I ran it without really blinking while feeling like a train wreck lol.
- I have no physical pain. My feet, legs, body – feels good. I am TIRED. I need rest. But I’m not injured. It is a privilege to choose rest.
Loved getting to spend the day with Paula and Heather and the other Arete girls. They make everything fun!