I ran an awful half-marathon Saturday. Let me back up: I ran my best-ever half-marathon two weeks ago. So I'm trying to figure out what went right the first time and what went wrong Saturday.
I think it all comes down to having a plan, sticking to it if possible, and having a back-up plan/goal. In my positive race, I had a target pace, stuck to it for the first half of the race, then realized I had enough in me to kick it up a little. I finished strong, well under my target time. In my second race, I guess I felt a little cocky & wanted to see how much I had in me. I had a strong start, but when the wind picked up, I didn't have enough left in me to maintain it. Then I was disappointed that I wasn't going to be as fast as I hoped. Then I thought about giving up -- what was the point of finishing in pain if I wasn't going to set any personal records?
In perspective and in all fairness to myself, Saturday's race was the second fastest half-marathon I have run. Would I have been happy with my performance had I not just run one much faster? Probably. So why am I beating myself up? I don't think in the end that it is about the time on the clock or about where I placed in my age division. I hate where I went emotionally on that run. I was THIS close to flagging down a passing police cruiser and asking for a ride to the finish line. I was THIS close to walking the last couple of miles.
All in all, I learned some lessons from my most recent race. I need to come to the starting line more prepared next time. For one thing, I need to pay closer attention to what I eat before and during a race. I'm certain that poor fueling played a role in my near-meltdown. Second, I need to have back-up goals. There will always be factors out of my control, and I need to prepared to adjust my expectations if something goes awry. Third, I need to appreciate that I can get out there and run at all. A finish line is a finish line.