Last weekend I attempted to do my first ever race simply to participate. Consider it a tempo run with a timing chip. It was the Vancouver Rock'n'Roll half marathon.
I’ve never done this before, at least not for a race that’s usually a bit important to me. 5k jingle bell run, why not. Trail 10k supporting forest preservation, great! Never a half marathon at least not until this week. I shouldn't say NEVER. I have done races for fun. I've never attempted to try in a race but not try too hard.
I chose to run it like this because after signing up, I signed up for a Austin 70.3 which happens two weeks later. Maybe it could’ve been okay to give’r for the run and be ready to give’r for the tri, but maybe not. I just wasn’t sure, so me and the boss (coach) concocted a run plan for me to follow. She checked that I was up for the challenge of trying but not trying; I promised I was.
My coach approved plan
- 0-4km at 4:40-4:45
- 4-16km at 4:25-4:35
- 16-21km at 4:40-4:45
This would put me between 1:35-1:40 ~ 1:37 let’s say.
What I actually did
- 2km – average sub 4:00 – whoops
- 3 km – just under 5:00 – also whoops
- 4km – 4:30 – running scared of being too slow based on my last km
…Ok be calm, slow down, go by feel
- 10km – split 43mins - that’s an average pace of 4:18
… I’m terrible at this
…I tried to slow down but instead I sped up.
- 16km – I slowed down, but honestly only slightly
…in my oxygen deprived race brain I started to consider how fast I’d need to run to break 1:30… totally doable. WAIT. No. that’s NOT why I’m here.
- 17-18km – 4:25
…thoughst: at this point, I’m already running too fast I might as well keep doing it
- 19-21.1km – 4:20
…I finished in a solid 1:32:30something and people congratulated me. I got a finishers medal, juice box, space blanket and I was on my way. It was all great except I had failed.
I failed because 1:32 too fast for me to be proud of following a pulled back race plan and too slow for me to be proud of leaving it all out there. The competitor in me kept considering what I needed to go to get under 1:30 and the rational me that’s usually in charge had a really hard to getting a word in edgewise. My Garmin data shows the moment-to-moment internal battle and the worst part is that it wasn’t really that fun.
If you’re diligent enough to follow a tempo run with a race number on, do it, but as it stands, I’m sure not.
If you enjoy toeing startlines to participate no matter the distance or time it takes, that’s awesome; I have a lot to learn from you!
If you love racing, getting in the red and giving all you’ve got, save your startlines.
Startlines are sacred.