Providence Half: [Trying to] Go Fast [But I did] Take Chances

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AP & AS post Providence Half & Full Marathon

It had been about two years since I picked a race, trained for it, tapered for it, and stood on the line with antsy legs and a queasy stomach to chase down a goal. I have always run better in low-pressure situations. None of my high school or college PRs came at big meets, and, as it turns out, I ran a hilly, frigid 20k nearly 10 seconds a mile faster in February than I ran the half on Sunday. I’m a little sad, because I was on pace for 1:28 through 10 miles, and somehow forgot the advice I know I should know–that the last three miles are half the half–and went from psyched, visualizing myself crossing the line in sub-1:30 euphoria, to barely moving (I ran a slower mile than I ever have in a race from 12-13) in a matter of ten minutes.

I was a little frustrated with the obvious inaccuracy of the mile markers (which of course, had me wondering, in spite of how sore-sport I know it sounds, if perhaps the whole course had been off) and I was frustrated with my own chronic impatience (check out these splits: 6:26, 6:51, 7:12, 6:28, 6:48, 6:44, 6:40, 7:01, 7:09, 6:31, 8:11 (!!!), 7:06, 8:43 (!!!), :48). Looking at my splits, I do think there was something up with miles 3/4 and miles 10/11, if not also mile 12-13, though I will never know if I ran a 1:32:50 half marathon or a 1:32:50 13.3 mile race, so I’ll have to make peace with having put it all on the line, and having come up short of my expectations.

Nonetheless, the weekend was a good one, and the week I’m taking off running now is much-needed and well-timed. I had a good time with the friends I met each Sunday for long runs, and I got to see fellow Oiselle teammate and long-time friend Amanda Scheer finish her first marathon (in 3:14!). Also, I really wish races would stop sending me pictures of myself running. These are about the most depressing thing of all time. I don’t think I have a particularly poor self-image, and I don’t consider myself to be very appearance-conscious (I often forget to wear makeup or brush my hair!) but I see these pictures, my face contorted in pain, arms flailing, thighs looming large, shirt flopping, and I start to think I should run in a potato sack in the dark of night. While the race pictures from Providence have not yet appeared to haunt me, two recent 5ks I ran featured sports photographers. After seeing the first set, I assumed my choice of shorts had been the problem and tucked my spandex shorts in the back of my drawer. Unfortunately, after seeing the pictures from the next week’s 5k, I feel unjustified in blaming my outfit for the horror of either set of photos.

I’m excited for some new adventures: my brother graduates from college in a few weeks, the school year here is wrapping up, I’ll be in Portland for a writing conference this summer, and will get to meet some of the Oiselle women at See Jane Run in Seattle, Nick has been running and we’ve got plans for a 5k and baseball-themed road trip this summer. I’d like to focus on some shorter stuff for a bit, since it looks like I’ll be coaching cross country in the fall, maybe try to tackle my 5k PR as the girls I coach tackle theirs. As for halves, I know I can break 1:30. I ran my PR (1:30:20) at the end of a 70 mile week, in the pouring rain, on a hilly course. I ran the first half of my first marathon in 1:31 (admittedly, this was a disaster…) so I’m looking for a flat, driving distance, cool, accurately measured late-fall option. Suggestions?

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