Learning to Race…not just running a race

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This past weekend I ran my 13th half marathon, the RnR AZ, and set a new PR of 1:35:29. I went into this race with hopes of getting a new PR, and estimated a finish around 1:37. So of course I was over the top ecstatic with how this race went. The one thing I’m most proud about though is not my actual finish time or the huge PR, but the fact that I am finally, after 6 years of running and 13 half marathons, understanding how to actually RACE.

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It is usually pretty easy for me at the start of a race to go out fast. As I cross the start line in any race it seems like everyone is flying past me, and the natural thing to do is to want to keep up with them. This race I really tried to hold back, I knew that for me personally I do better when I have a few slow miles at the beginning. My legs just take longer to get into a rhythm and if I start slow I feel much better mid-race. Below shows my actual splits for the half marathon, and the yellow sticky sheet was my race plan in a nutshell-written out.

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I’ve been running for about 6 years, but the last couple years I’ve been running consistently, and have gotten really serious with my running goals. Six months ago I started working with my amazing running coach who I owe my gains in running too!  This is the first coach I’ve ever had! LOL I did not grow up playing organized sports or any sort of team sport in school, so finding the competitive drive and mental toughness is something I am still working on learning.

During this race I had to dig deep not just physically but mentally. It was not easy holding these paces, and when it got tough a few mental mantras somehow popped in my head, and I just kept repeating them over and over…”I can do hard things” and then I would tell myself “this is not that hard!!” and “I feel so good and strong” I believe 100% staying positive and tricking your mind into believing something helps tremendously. The race was hard!! But if you tell yourself it’s hard and you are in pain then it will seem a million times harder and hurt 10x more!

I feel like I ran really smart, and that was key to having a great race. It was humid during the race, at least more humid than normal for AZ standards, so I took a sip of water at each water station. In past races I would not take one single sip of water! Crazy! Also, I had planned out in my head before the race when I was going to take my Honeystinger gels, and I stuck to the plan. I still get nervous taking gels, and it is easy for me to just keep putting off taking them during a race, but I forced myself to take them exactly when I said I would, and I felt great. I have been using Honeystiner gels in training and they work great for my stomach.

I felt strong throughout the race and all these small tweaks definitely helped! Each race is a learning experience. My goal is to keep learning how to race smart and strong!! And chasing more PR’s of course!

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Post Half Marathon RnR Az Jan 2017 
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