Yesterday I ran in the Wolf Hollow Half Marathon in Nashua, New Hampshire. The race was held primarily in Mine Falls Park near the Nashua YMCA. I got the idea to enter the race after I completed my longest run since September (11 miles) last weekend. I said it was good idea to keep me motivated and ensure I continued to increase my long run. My plan was to run it at my "long run" pace and enjoy the trails of Mine Falls Park. I figured if I ran between 8-830 pace I would handle the increase to 13.1 miles easily. Sounds good on paper, right?
Regardless of what I say....I find it almost impossible not to run hard in a road race. Yesterday was no different. Looking back at my recent run history there is nothing that would make anyone think I was in shape to race a half marathon. Not to mention my body was tired and lethargic from the Thanksgiving day parties and the fact I had just ran in my first race since September three days before (Thanks 4 Giving 5k). Oh, and did I mention the weather? Freezing with a strong wind. Add all of this together and you would think I would run nice and easy like I had planned. Nope....
The race started right behind the Nashua YMCA. The first 2.15 miles were on roads and then we entered Mine Falls Park for two loops before exiting the park and a short run to the finish line. I started running what I thought was nice and easy and ended up running a 6:40 first mile. I won't bore you with the details but I ran the first 5k in 21 minutes. I didn't follow my plan and I paid the price. By mile 5 my legs had seized up and my pace dramatically slowed for the next several miles. Mine Falls Park has several short but tough climbs and each one really hurt. This was not the nice and easy long run I had planned and it was my fault. I continued to suffer for the remainder of the race. Just to give you an idea as I mentioned above I ran the first 5k in 21 minutes. I ran the last 5k in 28 minutes. It took everything in my power not to walk the last tough uphill around mile 12.75. I finished the race in 1:46:42 (809 pace). On paper it looks like I followed the plan....if only.
Lessons Learned = 0
Racing a half marathon the Sunday after the Thanksgiving Day festivities will always be tough. Add to that a lack of training and some cold, windy weather and you have yourself a recipe for failure. In hindsight I should have started at 8-8:30 pace as planned and ran a nice and smooth 13.1. I probably would have ended up with the same overall pace of 8:09 and would not have suffered for most of the race. Next time I am sure I will follow the plan....yeah right!