Cowtown Half Marathon Race Recap

I signed up for Cowtown knowing I would want to get back into the swing of things after the 50, but I also didn't have a clue where I would be in terms of recovery.  I'm still not really sure where I am in terms of recovery.  Some days everything works like clockwork, other days, I am way more fatigued than I should be for low levels of effort.  So I signed up for the half marathon.  I'm glad I didn't try to push it for the marathon or 50k.  It was a wise move, for once.

The awesome Shannon agreed to pace me.  I don't think she knew what she was in for.

Like your typical glutton for punishment, I decided I wanted to see what the body could do and try for a small PR... which, I thought, shouldn't be much of a stretch since my PR is a year old, and I feel like I've gained a bit of speed over the last year.

Mile 1 - 9:15
Mile 2 - 9:17
Mile 3 - 9:09

Believe it or not, I was actually feeling good at this pace.  I knew it would be tough in the later miles, but I didn't feel like I was struggling at all.

Mile 4 - 9:17
Mile 5 - 9:18
Mile 6 - 9:19

Shannon is clearly faster than me and would pull ahead a bit, which actually worked at well, I just held back, got my head straight, and she'd slow down for me at just the right time.  It worked out well for how I was feeling.  By mile 6, I knew this pace would be really really tough to hold, but the legs were still feeling ok, so I continued to go with it.

(I absolutely LOVE this photo... this was the day... Shannon looking back to check on me, and me breaking a smile.)  To be honest, I was already uncomfortable by this point - not miserable, but certainly not my normal playful self.

At this point I spot a someone up ahead that I'm sure is my old friend, Carl.  You see, I haven't run Cowtown since 1998.  And in 1998, I ran it as a casual 10k (before they put the 10k on a different day).  Carl was one of the small clan I used to run with.  We were co-workers at the time.  I probably haven't seen him in 10 years.  I was certain it was him, so I made the decision to push a little and catch up...

(Carl is at the front of this photo in red... I'm directly behind him in purple)
It was nice to catch up, but I realized that I was pushing my pace way too much and that I needed to pull back, so I said good-bye and let him speed along.
Mile 7 - 9:02
Mile 8 - 9:24
In mile 8, the largest hill of the race started.  It starts very slight and then gets really steep right as you hit the 9 mile mark.
Mile 9 -9:39
Frankly, I'm shocked I held that pace even.  I felt like I was literally crawling up that hill.  I had a mental rope tied to Shannon's rear, and was using it to pull me along.  By this point my body was telling me I was done.  It was telling me to pack it up for the day.  I was positively miserable.  I had exerted all I had, and there was nothing left.  I considered calling my coach, I considered leaping over the bridge.  I sincerely felt that awful - and it was all respiratory.  Don't get me wrong, the legs burned, but they were still functioning, but I just could not breathe.  My chest was very constricted and painful.  Shannon was really working to keep my head in the game.  I even managed our signature "Sprinkler"...
And thus began "The Death March"
Mile 10 - 9:59
Mile 11 - 9:41
Mile 12 - 9:49
Disappointing... really disappointing.  I felt terrible, my chest hurt so bad.  My legs were burning, but it had nothing on my breathing.  I was utterly miserable.  If Shannon hadn't been there yelling at me to go, I think I might have just found a grassy knoll and cried myself to sleep - no kidding, I had tears streaming down my face.  I had Shannon right in front of me, and I asked her to just stay there.  I was doing best when I was just mentally connecting a rope to her rear and letting her drag me.  I felt like I was crawling.  I mean, looking now, my pace hadn't dropped off that much, but I felt like a snail.  I was done.  I'm honestly not sure I've ever quite been in that place during a half marathon - feeling so dead, but still continuing to push to my limit.
Mile 13 - 10:02 (my only mile > 10)
Last 0.3 - 9:57
Offical time:  2:06:03  (PR by 3:14)
(Had to take a picture with the cow at Cowtown - duh!)

They had Blue Bell Ice cream at the finish.  All I wanted was to sit and eat my ice cream.
Here is the part where I tell you how I feel, and you tell me that I'm crazy.  I know.  I know my line of thinking isn't logical, but I was so incredibly disappointed in myself at this race.  I saw friends after and they could see it in my face.  I was unhappy.  I said I wanted to run about a 2:05, I ran a 2:06.  I PR'd by over 3 minutes.  But I was just crushed mentally by the way I felt for the last 5 miles of the race.  I always get upset with myself if I see a huge pace drop at the end.  I start questioning my capability, my race strategy, etc.  Yes, I know the hills on the second half were harder.  Yes, I know there was a pretty stiff headwind up some of those hills.  Yes, I know I'm only 3 weeks post 50-miler and not fully recovered.  I know all of these things but couldn't shake the feeling.  Part of it stems from the fact that this was not my key race.  My key race was 4 weeks away.  This was not my goal pace, I had hoped to go for 2:00 in 4 weeks.  I thought I had a huge PR in me.  In order for me to have the confidence in the race in 4 weeks, I really wanted to end this race thinking I had something left.  But I didn't.  There was nothing.  I have no idea how Rock n Roll Dallas will go in 4 weeks, but this race definitely ate at my confidence.  I know my line of thinking is illogical, and I do know I left everything I had on that course, and I did get a nice PR... so I will try my best to celebrate that.