2019 Route 66 Marathon half: Not a victory, not a defeat, just a race that… went

Not my fastest, not my slowest. Somewhere in between.

I’m a firm believer when it comes to accountability. When you write about running, and particularly about how you’re training for a race, I think you owe it to folks to say how that race went. Even if it’s not filled with PRs and awesome, glorious race photos. So here goes.

In terms of training for half marathons, I’m not sure I’ve had a season go this well. A couple of years ago I was doing well but got sick two weeks before the race and didn’t fully recover by race day. As you might guess, the results left me wanting.

This year, I seemed to be on track to improve on last year’s performance. Everything was coming together. I dropped weight, nailed my workouts and really pushed the speed work. My times were coming down and I went into race day at the Route 66 Marathon half healthy and feeling dang good.

Maybe deceptively good.

The first three miles flew by. I was running ahead of my goal pace, but not feeling the strain. I had to stop at a Porta-John at that point but was in and out quickly and still under my goal pace. Six miles in, I’d run my third-fastest 10K, and considering the hilliness of that part of the course, I figured I was on my way to a good finish. All I had to do was relax in the flats, regain my breath and coast to the hardest part of the course, those hilly Miles 11 and 12.

There was only a slight southern breeze, in this case, a tailwind. The temps were cool, skies were blue. Miles 7-10 were mostly flat. No problem, right?

Wrong. I never recovered after those first six miles and found myself struggling with my cardio at Mile 10, something that didn’t let up until it was over. There would be no PR, and by the time I’d crossed, I’d broken a three-year streak of cutting my finish times. I clocked in at 2:15:11, not my slowest and not my fastest, just somewhere right in between.

Folks will tell me that it’s impressive enough to train for and finish that half marathon, a sentiment I’d echoed in the last blog post I wrote. But it didn’t feel that way to me. Instead, I was left wondering what went wrong, why the fitness I felt I’d gained abandoned me, and so forth. Well, I know why. Like a rookie runner, I came out too fast and it bit me.

But that’s OK. Live and learn. I know where I need to improve. In any case, I got to run on a ridiculously beautiful day, enjoy some seriously good finish line brews at the end and hang out with a fellow runner and friend who placed 50th overall in the half marathon. Yeah, he’s fast. And while the results on the clock didn’t move the meter for me, I did gain from what I did over the past three months. Now the goal is not to lose that hard-earned conditioning.

How do you deal with a race that didn’t go as planned? Gimme a shout and let me know. I’d love to hear your story.

The look of a guy who is just glad to be done. This was a race to learn from.

Bob Doucette

4 thoughts on “2019 Route 66 Marathon half: Not a victory, not a defeat, just a race that… went

  1. Good job, Bob, staying the course and giving your account of the race. I wonder if you ran many workouts at your goal pace? My best distance races were when I was doing race pace workouts of up to 60% the race distance. I think this helps keeping me from going out too fast and gets my mind/body connected to the pace I plan to race. Again, congrats on taking on the challenge and sharing the journey with us.

    • That’s good advice. I had some runs around the 5-mile range that were at or above race pace, and of course doing weekly speed work. Normally, the runs of 8+ miles were below the goal pace, mostly because I race faster than I train when doing long runs. But one takeaway I get from this is to run harder on those training runs. That said, I think a 10-minute goal pace was what I looked for, and for the first 6 miles, I was at or below that. Could be a combination of problems.

  2. It’s always disappointing when all the work doesn’t pay off. As you know, this can happen for a variety of reasons.
    I’m kind of split on how I handle a disappointing finish. Sometimes I’m hard on my self and try to take some lessons and improve my training and/or racing.
    Other times I try not dwell on it. I usually know what happened and it’s usually not enough training. I know what I need to do, but life gets in the way and that easy chair is so comfy!
    Over the years I’ve figured out most of my issues. I’m still working on motivation.
    Even when I take a poor performance as a lesson and inspiration to work harder next time, that lesson seems to fade quickly.
    Andy

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