I run my 5th half marathon on Sunday. 3 years ago, I would have been a nervous wreck about a the race in the week leading up to the big day. What’s my pacing strategy? What am I going to wear? Is it going to be too hot? Too cold? Have I trained hard enough? Am I over-trained (rarely)? But 3 years later and 3 years wiser, I am awfully calm about the whole thing. It doesn’t really feel like “race week.”
I think a lot of this has to do with my point of reference around running 13.1 miles. Now that I’ve run 2 marathons, running 13.1 miles is a bit a cakewalk in comparison. Sure, racing 13.1 miles isn’t necessarily my idea of an “easy” event, but it’s a lot easier and more fun than a marathon. There are many things I love about the marathon distance, but I really do love the half just a tiny bit more.
Going into Sunday, I’m feeling confident. I think my big, audacious goal of running ~1:50 is definitely doable if the conditions are right. I ran consistently and hard through the winter, trying to make it to Hill Club every week or substituting in speed work. I kept up my strength and endurance training every week with Afterburn classes. I have stayed injury and twinge-free (knock on wood) since recovering from Chicago in October. That’s a major moment for me. I went through a period of injury after injury in 2013 and I’m so thankful that I’ve come out from the other side and stayed injury-free ever since.
But, this Spring’s training cycle hasn’t been without hiccups. Searching for, and subsequently starting a new job has eaten into my training time. I have really tried to make running a priority and I think I’ve done pretty well doing that. But sure, could I have strength trained more? Yes. Could I have gone to yoga more? Definitely. Could I have prioritized sleep over work? I sure as hell wish I could have.
I’m going into Sunday just excited to be racing again. I haven’t raced since Chicago and am dying to get out there and let my competitive nature kick back in a little bit. If I was a betting woman (which, I am not, at least not a good one) I would say that I’m likely to run a 1:52, 1:53 Sunday. That would be a 3-4 minute PR. Looking at the course, the weather, and how I feel, I think that’s doable and highly possible. But of course, the wheels could completely come off and I could feel like how I did after finishing my first half marathon at New Bedford in 2012: like shit.
After the horrible anxiety I had leading up to Chicago (I don’t know if I ever wrote about it, but I vomited from the nerves in the middle of the night before the race…yeah…) I vowed to start taking these sort of things a little less seriously. At least with the goal of not worrying about what I can’t control—the weather, how my body reacts, how my legs feel—and focusing on what I can control—having fun.
[Marine Corps Marathon: the most fun I’ve ever had at a race…ever!]
So until then, I’ll be resting my legs and foam running like a beast. If you’re at Boston’s Run to Remember, tweet me! Always excited to say high to fellow runners.
Readers: Do you struggle with “race week” anxiety?
How has your outlook changed on races over time?
What is your go-to race strategy for staying calm?