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.