Thursday, May 30, 2013

Going Next Level: Johnny Kelley Half 2013

            I had trained for half marathons many times in the past. I had used other people’s training programs to get to where I thought I needed to be.  As happens with experience in any field the more you do things on your own the more apt you are to listen to yourself and not others.
            My last half marathon I ran was three months ago, and that one I had basically run with my goal being to cross the finish line uninjured.  After injuring my Achilles tendon during my marathon training last fall I had been hesitant to go all out in any sort of training for fear of reinjury.  After successfully completing the Hyannis Half in February I decided that I had recovered enough and it was time to let it all hang out.
            In training for the Johnny Kelley Half I chose a different route.  Rather than do the normal long run, tempo run, recovery run, etc training plan I focused on speed.  Nearly every run I did during my training was the same: run as far as I could as fast as I could.  It didn’t matter if I could only do four miles or if I could do ten, as long as I went all out and was sufficiently gassed at the end I had done it right.
            My ultimate goal was to build up my stamina, obviously.  Ideally in going all out for ten miles I would be able to pace myself better over a half distance and set myself a nice new personal best.  My runs leading up to the Johnny Kelley Half were routinely 7-9 miles with a 7:30 pace.  Using this info I set my eyes on a sub 1:50 half which would top my PB by about 5 minutes.
            Race day came, cool and raw.  The race route had to be changed due to the fact that one of the roads was being worked on by the Army Corp of Engineers.  They said that due to recent rains the road work could be compromised by a thousand runners.  The race route had to be changed on the fly.  This decertified the course, and also left no guarantee that the route would be exactly 13.1 miles. Let me end the speculation, it wasn’t.  Using my running app on my iPhone to keep my abreast of my time and pace I found that the new course was 13.6 miles, a half mile too long.
            I started slowly as I had learned was best for distance.  I’m being sarcastic as I have often had a problem with starting too fast, going with the flow of the crowd, and ending up tired by about Mile 8.  As I got past 5 miles I felt good, my legs were feeling it and I realized that my PB goal was easily in reach.  The speed training for the half was working. 
            I stayed on pace throughout the full course which seems minor but for me this was the first time that everything fell into place.  I finished the 13.1 in 1:48, beating my PB by nearly 8 minutes.  When I was done I had nothing left.  I crashed in the nearby grass as I normally do.  I like to lay in the grass for a few minutes to catch my breath and let my body recover. 
            Normally after a longer race the last thing I want to do is run again. I am normally so sore and sometimes injured.  After the Johnny Kelley Half all I wanted to do was run again.  I had finally found a training plan that worked for me and the best part was that it was my own.  I hadn’t read someone else’s plan or asked for advice. I had my own idea and put it into practice and succeeded.  Sure, this was an idea for training for a race, but it seems to be sort of a metaphor for life also.  Sometimes if you listen to yourself and follow the path you believe is best you will succeed.  As I go on in running and in life I believe that the lessons and results from this race will help me more than I know.
            What did it feel like to set a PB in a race for you?  What did you do differently in your training?  When you set the PB what did that do for your confidence in running? Did it spill over into the rest of your life?