Stinger Half Marathon

I hear quite a bit "oh I can't race yet, I'm not back to racing shape where I can PR". So when should you get back to racing after an injury or pregnancy? There's no right answer. If you you're not an elite athlete its a bit different. Last year one of my big goals was to run my race, focus on a time goal for me and run independently of the other runners on the course. I knew if I ran my best on a given day my place would work out. But I'm not an elite athlete yet and not quite there for actually racing a 100 miler. The thing is when I focused more on just hitting my time goal on my race and on where I was at on that day I was happier with my results and I actually had better results. As soon as my goal is a certain place nerves take over and I don't run as well as I can. When I decided to run this race I kept that same mindset. No I wasn't running as strong as I was this time last year. But if I focused on a time goal that was challenging for me on the day I was running for where my body was at I knew I could have a great day. I think if you can go into a race with that mindset then you're ready to get back to racing.

I had originally planned to run the full marathon, but with moving and opening the pizza shop I just hadn't gotten in the long runs I had hoped for. That coupled with not having a babysitter and a baby that doesn't take a bottle made it clear that the half was the better option. I was disappointed, but at the same time excited to put on a bib and give it a go. Now to figure out how to run a half marathon. I really had no idea what to expect for a time and roughly set a 2:30 goal for myself, but knew as long as I was sub-3:00 I'd be happy.

Its a gently climb for the first 4 miles so I settled into the best pace I could for climbing. Climbing is always what takes the longest for me to get back. I also hadn't tapered and was going into the race with more miles than I'd run in awhile so 'fresh' was not anywhere near my dictionary. But I kept at it and ran nearly the entire climb. Then the course rolls for a bit before a big downhill. I started getting more of a rhythm on the rolling section and was glad to be out of the jungle and the humidity. The downhill was totally my style and even though my downhills still need some work it felt good to open up a bit. I love running down Little Moab and quickly passed several people on this technical section. At mile 11 I finally felt like I was warmed up and ready to go so I started to let it go a bit more. I was amazed how easy it felt to hold a faster pace than I thought I could.

As I was running downhill I started recalculating times and paces. A sub-2:10 seemed within reach if I pushed it. I'm not used to really being able to push it at the end but figured a half was a good time to try. So I pushed pretty hard the last 3-4 miles to hit that time. My newly calculated goal was to finish 2 min/mile behind the lead women. I figured 1 min for the fact that I'm not a short distance runner and don't train to run that fast so even in great shape I'd probably be 1 min/mile slower that the lead women in a competitive race and 1 min/mile for being 9 weeks postpartum and not in my best shape. I ended up finishing in 2:06, 25 min behind the winning woman and hitting both goals of sub-2:10 and 2 min/mile behind the leaders. Normally I'd be a bit disappointed to not be in the hunt of the podium and to be so far back in the pack. But focusing on my time for the day I know I actually ran a really good race. I ran about the best I could have on that day for the shape I was in and the training I'd had. Its a big step mentally to be proud of that race and hopefully I can continue to carry that through my racing.

Embrace where you're at and celebrate being successful for where you're at now, not in comparison to where you were at or to others!


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