Yep, I finished the Long Island Half Marathon! Three minutes slower than last year but I will take it.
I am never one to stress over anything but this race was an exception. After last month’s Fitness Magazine half where I didn’t feel well and had to stop, I couldn’t get the feeling out of my mind that it would happen again.
Not to mention, this race was a PR for me last year (1:45 and some seconds) so suddenly I had a time to beat.
Yesterday morning I told myself to stop the nonsense and just run the race. I made the decision to just focus on finishing; to focus on going comfortably quick yet not all out in order to ensure I felt good.
Rather than give you the traditional start-to-finish recap, I am just going to highlight some key moments, important thoughts and observations:
I did my pre-race breakfast a bit different.
Normally I prepare a bowl of banana oatmeal and split it in two; having the first portion when I wake up and the other portion about two hours later when I arrive at a race.
This time, I went with the entire bowl of oatmeal with a few raisins and saved the banana for the walk from the car to the start line.
I was not hungry at all when I arrived at the race so I left the banana in the car.
I popped a few jelly beans right before the start and continued to eat the beans throughout the race and felt really good.
One cup of coffee when I woke up was plenty. I used to drink more like two but since cutting my caffeine intake these last couple of weeks, the one cup was more than enough.
This race is absolutely terrific when it comes to water stations. Starting at mile two, there is a water station every two miles and then every mile towards the end.
The volunteers are amazing because they are there to hand you the cups rather than just having the water set on tables.
I made the decision to grab a cup of water at basically every station up until maybe mile 11 which definitely slowed my pace overall but I didn’t care.
I really wanted to ensure that didn’t get dizzy (like the last race) or thirsty.
What I wore:
I skipped my usual race skirt and Pro Compression socks in favor of my Lulu pants.
Great decision because no part of my outfit bothered me. Sometimes the bike shorts built into the skirt can ride up and I didn’t need that yesterday.
I put the compression socks on when I got home though because they are equally fabulous for recovery.
What I want to order are the Pro Compression calf sleeves instead of the socks. This way, I can still wear my favorite Gap socks as well as receive the compression benefits for the legs. Remind me to do this.
*I decided to line up in the 8:00 min/mile corral instead of the 7:00 min/mile group.
Starting a little bit back kept me from going too quick from the start and would help to pace me. Of course I wanted to do as well as last year, if not better, but I realized it was best to just finish this one strong without any issue than try to go out there like I was shot out of a canon.
I got super excited to see the male version of my Adidas Energy Boost as I waited in my corral to start.
*I was calm and fine once the race began. I definitely kept the first few miles easy yet they were clocking in around 7:40 min/mile I believe.
Note I say believe; my running app (MapMyRun) was pretty on target with the mile markers for only the first two miles. After that, it was calculating the mile marks much sooner than the race mile marks.
Next time I may run without my own GPS. I do believe it was throwing me a bit.
*I noticed that I was able to think during this race. Normally I am going so fast that I can’t think about anything other than crazy thoughts such as why I run and if I am indeed insane.
This time was nice. I was going quick but still at a comfortably quick level, checking in with myself to take note of how I felt yet still being aware of what was around me.
*Some call the course for this race boring; I call it home. Running past where I went to college, my dad’s old office, the home of my Islanders and along the roads and parkways I drive all my life is special to me.
Although I could have done without smelling Italian food coming from Cafe Baci at 8:00 am.
*Setting my playlist to shuffle should have been terrific except I kept hearing the same few songs which did not include the Rocky tunes I added just the other day specifically for this race.
*I am fascinated by how many walkers there were for this half. In some ways, I find walking this distance much more challenging than running it.
*I could have done without the whipping wind that greeted me for the final three miles. It was pretty strong in my face and at times, was pushing me sideways.
*The post race refreshment bag needs an upgrade.
This is New York. Land of the bagels and bakeries located on every corner. Is it too much to ask for real baked goods or at the very least, a true New York bagel?
What is this prepackaged excuse for a bagel and where did it come from? No excuse for this.
Not to worry, I fueled up with my favorites after the race:
My idea of a perfect post-run meal of cooked oats mixed with greek yogurt, berries and peanut butter were waiting for me in a jar.
And of course, my day concluded at The Cheesecake Factory.
I would tell you that I run to eat this blackout cake but the truth is, I have been eating it religiously for many many years, well before I called myself a runner.
I ran a good race. Am I disappointed that I finished three minutes slower than last year? A tiny bit.
Of course you want to run each race faster than your last, but that can’t happen every time. I like to think that starting in a slower corral, my slowing for water several times combined with the wind at the end played a role but who really knows for sure.
All I know is that I finished and felt really good. And proud. Running a race, even if it is the same distance you run at your leisure, is challenging and rewarding in a whole other way.
It is a totally different experience and like Janae said the other day, a race is like a celebration of your training. I thought about that throughout the race and it is just so true.
What’s next? I don’t really know. There are a few half marathons I am looking at for the fall but I will hold off until late summer to finalize that calendar.
Maybe I will look into a 5k or two in the coming weeks that has a good course to allow for running some extra miles after the race. I don’t love 5k races, I don’t love racing super fast or driving to only run 20 minutes.
We shall see. Right now I need to figure out what I want for breakfast. Hard runs and races usually play with my cravings leaving me not wanting my usuals.
Dare I say I want something savory? The thought alone is scaring me.
Anyone race this weekend? How did it go?
Would you be able to walk a half marathon?
What’s your favorite post-run meal?
Do you notice your cravings and taste buds are off after a race?