Here I am, back for another #WellnessWednesday! On the third Wednesday of every month, I’m going to talk running, whether it’s about my training or is a race recap. I’ve become a pretty avid running over the past several years (as you’d know if you’ve read basically any of my posts), and I used to post a weekly training recap. I’m not going to do that, but once a month, I’ll do a running roundup.
I had one race in December, and boy, was it a doozy. It was called the Decker Challenge Half Marathon, and they call it that for a reason. Decker Lake is outside of Austin and is known for its hills, which isn’t something that runners like to talk about.
Hills are the worst.
But back in September, I signed up for this little thing called the Austin Distance Challenge. It’s a series of five races through the winter here in Austin, starting in October with an 8k race and culminating with the Austin Marathon (although some people run the half marathon too). I signed up for the full track, which proceeds like this:
- 80s 8k race—October 2, 2016
- Run for the Water 10 mile race—November 6, 2016
- Decker Challenge Half Marathon—December 11, 2016
- 3M Half Marathon—January 22, 2017
- Austin Marathon—February 19, 2017
Since my ultimate goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon, I’ve been working on my speed. I’ve improved a lot in the last year, especially in shorter distances. But I still struggle with consistency over distance. Enter this challenge. The 8k race went really well for me (37:45), but the 10 mile race didn’t (1:24:58)—I wasn’t feeling great on race morning, and I was late to the starting line, so I spent most of the race weaving around people. Trust me, that is never fun. The week after the 10 mile race was my very first marathon, which was not part of the series. And despite not feeling well the week before, I had a strong first marathon (4:27:54)—it wasn’t as fast as I hoped to go, but it was my very first one, so I was happy. All of this is leading up to the Decker Challenge half marathon, and the point of this story.
All I Wanted was a PR
I’ve been in a bit of a half marathon rut. My very first one was great (1:53:38)—I did that without training for speed or anything. And then I got hurt, so I took almost two years off and started from scratch. Before the Decker Challenge, I ran 4 more halves (3 road and 1 trail), and beat that original PR by… four seconds. That was at the Outlaw half marathon in April 2016. So my new PR was 1:53:34, and I wanted to beat it. Badly.
Like I said, I’ve been training for speed. But there’s something about races that makes me doubt myself. If my calculations were correct, I probably could have easily ran a 1:45:00 or so, and I set my sights on that pace group. Except… the Decker Challenge only had 10-minute pace groups, so it was either 1:40:00 or 1:50:00. Ugh.
Knowing that I’d never be able to maintain the pace but feeling brave, I started with the 1:40:00 pace group. I kept with them for about four miles before I fell back. I was on track to beat 1:45:00 at around mile nine when something completely unexpected happened.
I felt the much-too-familiar sharp, shooting pains in my good knee.
Yes. My good knee.
I was so mad at myself and my body. Like, come on, seriously?? Give a girl a break! I could tell that the shoe on that foot was a bit loose, and figured that was contributing to the pain (this is part of my stride history, as crazy as it may sound), so I stopped and tightened it. That definitely helped, but it was still all I could do to grit my teeth through the final four miles of the race. I ended up finishing pretty strong and got my shiny new PR—1:47:09. It’s not where I want to be, but if you’ll take a gander at that Austin Distance Challenge schedule, I have another half marathon coming up where I can redeem myself. Lucky me!
In the week or so that has passed since the Decker Challenge half marathon, I’ve been upping my mileage and focusing on maintaining speed throughout longer runs. Both knees have been pretty solid (I got some new shoes, so that helps), and my running buddy has stuck with me up to seven miles so far at just under an eight minute pace. Plus, I like how he naps after.
I went long last weekend while we were in Cape Canaveral, going 16 miles on Saturday. It wasn’t as fast as I wanted, but it was humid and I ran out of water toward the end. I did it without pain and without walking, and that’s what’s important when it comes to trying to get a BQ*.
All is well.
Next month, I’ll be chatting more about how my speed training is going, and the following two months will have more race recaps (of the 3M half and the Austin Marathon).
Run like the wind.
*That’s Boston Qualifier, for those who don’t use running acronyms in everyday life. I’m mostly talking about my husband, who laughed at me the first time I said I was still shooting for a BQ.