As the date of my second half marathon fast approaches, memories from the Mickelson Race in Deadwood, South Dakota surface. It ended up being a great race to learn from. Definitely, one that my husband, Mick, and I agree needs to be done each year. While I did not do as well as I had wanted, I was not discouraged.
The day before the race, Mick and I headed out to get some needed items. Not the best idea. This last minute stop put us way behind our time line. We ended up getting to our hotel around seven Saturday night. If it were just out little family, this time may have been okay. But we were meeting my parents, brother, sister-in-law, and their two children. The extra chaos of getting everyone situated left us eating dinner around nine. The menu was very limited for good pre-race meals and service was extremely slow. In hindsight, I should have ordered the better noodles from the kid’s menu.
Sleeping soundly in hotels has never been a strength of mine and that night was no different. I tossed and turned relentlessly. My sleeping efforts were completely in vain. Our five o’clock wake time came quickly. Thankfully, the extra adrenaline running through the body race morning makes getting up a piece of cake.
We woke up, got dressed and tried to eat a filling breakfast. With nerves on fire and heart pumping, Mick, my mother, and I boarded the shuttle bus that took us to the start line. It was a half hour ride and for some odd reason, they wanted you there an hour before the race. Snack tables were set up and serving delicious bits of goodness.
After chit-chatting and waiting for what seemed like an eternity, it was time to line up. Millions of thoughts crossed my mind as I waited to begin. Nothing, however, can truly prepare you for what you do not know. I started walking like I do during workouts, to warm up my and get my mind in gear. Then at the one-mile mark, I began jogging. From my reading on marathon running, it was said that many take the walk/run approach. Given my lack of training, I decided this would be a good strategy. Yet, as the miles progressed, I realized perhaps I had planned this out all wrong. By the finish line, I was thirsty, exhausted and slightly injured.
While I loved the participation and look forward to next year, there are so many things that I would like to do differently. Things that I am going to work on and experiment with for the next few races I have this year.
Some Key Items That Need to be Changed for Next Year.
There were many factors (some excuses) that kept me from being as prepared as I had hoped. The most important thing I took away was the experience. Now I have a better idea of what to expect and what to prepare for when running long distance. Aside from bettering my training, here are some points I will keep in mind for the next race adventure:
- Arrive early the day before. This will give me a chance to settle in, relax and enjoy the company of fellow racers. May even give me a chance to do some last minute shopping!
- Eat a quality carbohydrate meal the night before the race. Do not overload the belly. Split dinner into a couple small meals to avoid over eating. Above all plan meals wisely and do not wait until nine o’clock to start dinner.
- Have a good fueling plan for the day of the race. One thing I highly regretted was not eating more for breakfast. Half way through I started feeling extremely hungry, which definitely affected my performance. I will be looking into the different gel energy options for my upcoming runs.
- Have a source of water on hand at all times. While the drink stations are helpful, they were not available when I felt I needed them. At one point I was seriously considering snatching a bottle of water from a camera man.
- Make sure I am able to rest after the race is finished. At the end, my legs felt like led bricks and my tummy was slightly upset. What I wanted to do more than anything was sit down. Unfortunately, we were on a time limit with our hotel room and had to rush back to pack it up. It would have been wiser to stay another night so that our bodies could recuperate properly.
What I am Currently Doing to Prepare for My Races Ahead.
When preparing for a long distance race it is a good idea to maintain a training schedule. Like I mentioned before, I gave up training to recoup from moving and ended up not running again until two weeks before the race. Even then my runs were short and consistent. I thought I could hack it, but had a lot to learn.
Due to circumstances, my running is done mainly inside on the treadmill. WHile I did try to catch up using Hal Higdon’s Novice Half Marathon schedule, I was too far behind to make any headway. Coupled with the fact that I did not add any extras to mimic the outdoor experience. A mistake I will not make again. After a little more research for my post Treadmill vs Outdoor Running, I now have some new ideas on how to up my treadmill training to make it more effective.
Swimming continues to play a big part in getting ready to race. My plan includes one day of cross-training. While this is a good balance, my body seems to benefit from a light mile swim the day after a long run. I simply put on my flippers and slowly swim for twenty minutes (or a mile). During this time I focus on my breathing and stretching my muscles. With my watch keeping track of my distance, it is a great way to get lost in thought.
I have been keeping up with my long runs on Sunday mornings. Through trial and error, I realized that in the dry climate where I live, it is important to hydrate. Recently, I purchased a water carrier to try before the race. Sadly, I do not like the way it feels, but am thankful to have found that out before race day. Any new equipment I want to try out needs to be done before. It just makes sense. Same goes for my shoes. It is apparent now why there are so many types of running shoes. Trail shoes were made for trail running. For a very good reason I might add, but that is a story for another time.
Running half marathons are an event that should not be taken lightly. My first experience was an eye opener, but gladly not a discourager. It was such a great time, we left Deadwood planning next year. There are many things that will be changed, but one thing will stay the same. Our drive to continue to do this! It has become a family obsession. The move out west has forever altered the way we spend family time together. Now on to the next run! Leading Ladies here I come!