I’ve had a couple days to process Saturday’s race, and I’ve started sifting through some things I learned that I can focus on for the next one. (Cue “The more you KNOW…”)
1. My pace – in the end – wasn’t all that bad. Maybe I’m just bad at math, or lazy because I didn’t bother to actually figure out what my pace was when I finished (Oh wait, I AM bad at math!), but finishing in 2:29:10 means that my pace was 11:23. Most of my runs lately have been in the 10:30 area, so for an 13.1 mile run, with the cramping I had during the first loop, 11:23 ain’t too bad. In fact, I’m pretty darn proud of that pace. Takeaway: I need to recalibrate my Nike Plus app, because it was telling me my pace was around 12:20. THAT was discouraging.
2. Still, I need to push harder during my training runs. That’s what will really make the difference in my pace and endurance. I think I have a tendency to slack off a bit with my pace, especially during long runs. I need to go into my runs with a training mindset with the goal to improve, instead of, “OK, let’s get this over with!”
3. I also need to find some hillier courses so I can get my leggies used to a bit more up-and-down terrain. I mostly run on the Cardinal Greenway (flat), around IWU (flatty flat flat), or the Riverwalk (one or two hills, all paved). There’s a mental strength aspect to this, too – in the case of running on the Cardinal Greenway, you run straight for however long you want, passing few obstacles for miles on a flat surface. In trail running, you’re dodging low-hanging branches, hopping over roots, leaping over streams, slipping in mud (all of which I did on Saturday during the race). You have to keep your mind engaged to do all that without falling on your face.
4. As I’ve tried to pinpoint what could have caused the cramping, I’ve come to three things: 1) what I ate for breakfast, ie, digestive issues, 2) nerves, or 3) the somewhat invasive chick medical procedure I underwent two days before. With the food thing, maybe I’ll play around with eliminating wheat right before a run. I’ve heard that can cause stomach issues. With the nerves thing, ehh, hopefully as I become more confident in my abilities that will go away. (Although my friend Beth, who runs a LOT, says she still gets nerves-induced cramps before her races.) With #3, it was a one-time deal, so that shouldn’t be a problem next time.
The next four weeks will be interesting. We go down to one car, so I’ll be biking to work several days a week. With our busy weekend schedules, I’ll probably have to go down to three runs per week instead of four. I think though, that combined with the biking, I should be OK as long as I really push myself during my runs. Possibly I need more angry 80s rock on the playlist. 🙂
Sometimes I still can’t believe I did it…