So, I ran my fourth official half marathon last Saturday in Marion, Iowa at the Marion Arts Festival. It was by far my least favorite, and my slowest time of any of my half marathons, but I’m going to try and be positive about it, or at least take it as a learning experience.
Marion is the closest to home that I’ve ever run this long of a race, and for some reason I associated that proximity to an easier course, I think, but this course was rough. There were a lot of hills and turns. The only straightaways seemed to be leading into a steep or long, gradual hill which was very discouraging.
The race started at 7:30am, and somehow it felt warmer and more humid at the early start time than it did later in the race, so that was a strange experience. By mile 3.5, I was ready to walk but I ran with my friend (shout-out Meg/Amanda!) so I think we kept each other going for a while. I got confused during mile 4 and thought it was mile 5, so coming up on the 5 mile marker, expecting it to say mile 6, was another very discouraging thing that happened.
I think we started walking during mile 5, and that’s when I realized this was not going to be a PR, or even a really successful race for me. Once I accepted that fact, I was able to enjoy it a little more. It felt like there was no pressure, even though there really hasn’t been any legitimate pressure during any of my previous half marathons.
So from mile 5 and on, we rotated walking and running, setting small goals (i.e. run for at least a mile before we walk again, or run until the next water station then walk) which helped make the time go quicker. There was a lot of happy energy from the crowd at the finish, and I was feeling happy relief that it was over, so that was probably the best part of the race.
I kind of failed at making this positive, but I really do feel good about the race in that it was a learning experience. I learned that devotion to training really is important, mentally as well as physically. I also learned that it’s much harder for me to be devoted to training in only a six-week period. At this point, I need more than 6 weeks between half marathons to recover, rest, and start training fresh, and that’s okay.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to not training (or even running) for a little while. I’m excited to just run for fun this summer, and stay in the 3-5 mile range.
I plan on going into my next half marathon training cycle more rested, and ready to finally get a sub-2 hour time. Fifth time’s a charm! ◊