March 6, 2013

Lessons from Princess Half

I'm definitely still in the phase where I'm learning a lot with every race I complete. As I mentioned here, the 2013 Princess Half Marathon was my fifth half marathon. By some standards, I'm a novice and others, I'm an expert. I think I'm somewhere in the middle but still leaning towards the former. I'm still perfecting my pre-race meals and nutrition, working on the best way to mentally prepare, and refining my best taper. Every race teaches me something new and I've got a few lessons from my Princess Half experience this year.

1. Not every race will be a PR. Up until this race, I have PR'ed every half marathon I've run...yes, all four of them. It seemed like a pretty good streak and while I knew it would eventually end, I didn't know what a bummer that would be. I wasn't planning to try to PR at Princess but I wasn't prepared for how to handle that. I tend to be pretty competitive and I didn't like the feeling of not improving my time.

2. Mental preparation is important. I tend to get pretty nervous for races. Not this one. I was cool as a cucumber, which was a bit negative for me. That nervous energy keeps me on my toes and focused. My mind was all over the place before and during this race.

3. Racing tired is hard. Since I hadn't planned to try to PR this race, I didn't taper at all. I ran 10 miles the weekend before, ran just under 3 miles at the meet up on Friday and ran a 5k the day before the race. Oh, and not to mention walking around the parks Fri and Sat before the race. My legs were tired for sure! I paid the price on race morning when my legs felt like bricks by about mile 4. I am not used to feeling this tired and it was tough.

4. Costumes can be distracting. I was so pleased with the way that my race costume came together. This was my first all out costume and it was a bit distracting. Most people seemed to ask me about the bunny ears and on the whole, they were ok; I adjusted them a few times during the race. The satin collar bounced and didn't stay put so I messed with it quite a bit. The felt heart started peeling off the white linen bib so I made a quick move to pin it at about mile 11. Don't get me wrong, I loved being dressed up but I'll probably think twice about a costume for a long race in the future.  Or I'll work on road testing it a bit more, no matter how awkward that may be in my neighborhood or at the gym...

5. A race plan is important. I didn't really have one. After running (no intervals) the Virginia is for Lovers 14k, I thought I might be able to do the same here. After about 4 miles and my legs feeling like bricks, I knew I had to get back to my routine 9:1 intervals. Without any semblance of a time goal or race plan, I wasn't well prepared and had a tough time figuring out what my times should be at various stages of the race.

6. Sometimes you have to dig. Dig deep that is. Around mile 9.5, I started giving myself a pep talk. I told myself I was going to have to find a bit of energy and inspiration to finish the race strong. It took me about a half mile and a good song on my playlist to find that motivation, but I found it and was about to pick up the pace for the last 3 miles to something that felt a little more respectable to me.

7. 13.1 is 13.1. No matter how fast or slow it is, it's still a half marathon which is a big deal and something to be proud of!

What are your racing lessons?
{Christine}

16 comments:

  1. I have a long list of lessons learned. (wrote a mile long blog post about it.) But then, Princess was my first half. Your 5,6,and 7 were big ones for me. Having a Race Strategy, and even a Plan B strategy can make all the difference.

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    1. Ooh definitely heading over to take a look! Really the strategy was the most detrimental. There's always another race... :)

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  2. I definitely agree with your list! The hardest part for me was not reaching a PR. While this is my second (third if you count a virtual race) half, I still know I could have beat my previous time. Between the crowds and choosing to stay with my roommate, who ended up walking a good portion, until mile 10, it just wasn't in the cards! I have already signed up for the Tower of Terror 10 Miler and plan on signing up for the Wine and Dine, so improving my speed will be a goal!

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    1. You will LOVE Wine and Dine. We ran it last year and it was fabulous!! We haven't done ToT, but have heard good things and hopefully it won't be so hot this year. Enjoy!

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  3. I recently learned the reason they say not to try anything new on race day. I don't generally carry water on half marathons, but in December I had a cold and was worried about dehydration, so I opted for a hand carry bottle at the last minute instead of my old hydration belt. I found it threw off my arm swing and my stride, and I hated it!

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    1. Ha we made all of those mistakes at our first half. It's amazing the difference, even if only mental, of knowing you've trained with gear or tried food, etc.

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  4. Congrats on your half...13.1 IS still 13.1! I've learned that some of the fun of Disney races is running in full-out costumes and that sometimes effects your time. My favorite lesson learned is run your own race. I'm never going to "win" the race, so I try to at least set a goal for each race (even if the goal is "get pictures along the course" and "run with my husband"). Your posts are great; love reading your blog!

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    1. Thanks Aly, We have a great time recapping our races and meeting new running friends on the internet and at races.

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  5. Very good pointers! I agree with you about the costume one, that's tough especially when trying to look cute (which you did, by the way)!! To be honest with you, I still learn something from every race I run!

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    1. I agree Karen. Every race is a learning experience and getting a PR is the icing on the cake!

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  6. I enjoyed reading this post....I haven't run 13.1 yet..and never run in costume... You looked adorable and your theme with the 3 of you was great.
    I have had days I've run a 5k and felt Great....and days I've done nothing different but felt BAD the entire run....
    I guess that is the difference between an on day and off day? lol Some of my long runs I feel strong and steady....and other times my long run is a struggle...just plain tired....
    Thank you for taking time for this post...I will remember this as I train for my first half...
    Congratulations again....

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    1. Thanks. Every race is different and no matter how hard you train, race day has weather condtions and things you cannot control. Good luck with training for your first half!

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  7. I agree! I know that I loved running in my costume, but if I want a PR I need less things in my way!

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    1. Yes, we will both be wearing much simpler outfits this weekend when we run our half marathons, Christine the Shamrock Half and Pam the Quintiles Half Marathon!

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  8. Just stumbled upon your blog and am enjoying reading your recaps! A lot of our races overlap - Wicked, Princess, Shamrock, and Run for a Dream coming up! The Princess was my first half, and I had issues with my belt - although I've used it before, I carried too much this time and fidgeted with it the whole time. It also made my bib want to spin around my torso. I ended up getting a Spibelt for the Shamrock - much simpler!

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    1. Ashley, Thanks for stopping by! Hopefully you enjoyed your first half marathon despite the belt issues. We love the Spibelts too! If you happen to see Christine at the Shamrock half, please say hellp! We love to meet our online running pals!

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