Murray Half Marathon Race Report: A Pretty Good Day

Short version
The race was good and a little disappointing at the same time. 2:10:36, my 5th fastest of 16 half marathons.

Long version
In October, I ran a half in 2:05, and I was hoping to AT LEAST get sub 2:10 in the Murray Half Marathon on April 13.  

Training-  I've been running fairly consistently since the end of January, though not following a training plan. I've been winging it as I came back from the ankle sprain in November and honestly enjoying this low-key approach to running.  My mileage had been fairly low (15-20 miles per week) until the last 3 weeks, when I jumped to 25+ miles per week.  

Why the jump?  Because I was so disgusted with the way I blew up at the LBL trail 23K, I signed up for a consolation trail marathon at the end of this month with only four weeks to train.  (Call me crazy.  If nothing else, it lit a fire under my training!)   I don't know if I'm trying to punish my body for the terrible race or just looking for some trail redemption.  To compensate,  two weeks ago I jumped from a longest run/hike of 14 miles to 17 miles.  It went well, and I ran fast (for me).  Too fast.  The next week, fatigue lingered in my legs.  Then last weekend, I did double long runs--a two-hour trail run on Friday and then a three-hour road/trail run on Saturday.   I hit a wall in that 2nd one at mile 11 and had to walk the last 2 or 3 miles.  Ouch.  One week prior to this half marathon, the double left me with tired legs on top of tired legs.   I haven't felt fresh legs in weeks.  I think I've forgotten what they feel like.   I ran only six miles this week and taught my one HIIT class in hopes of a bit of recovery before race day. 

The race- For ONCE in my life, I actually ran smart.  I didn't go out too fast, and I ran consistently.  I listened to my body and let it dictate the pace, not what I thought I was supposed to run.  I was *hoping* about 9:40 or 9:45 would feel right, or even 9:20 for a nice surprise. 

Not today.  I warmed up for one gentle mile, and it was time to start.  I reigned in adrenaline and ran at a moderatly uncomfortable pace for that first mile-- 9:55 pace.  Then the next two were 9:53 and 9:51.  I always know by mile four how the day is going to go.  By mile 4, I could tell that around 9:55 was the pace my body wanted to run for the day.  So I ran that.   In fact,  my miles were all between 9:50 and 10:03 for the first 12 miles of the race.   My legs just felt too heavy and fatigued to go any faster. There was no fresh.   At times, it was a bit of a struggle to keep up a 9:55ish pace.

The middle miles are always the toughest for me, and today my miles 8, 9, and 10 were the slowest at 10:01, 10:02, and 10:03.  I was sad to see I was getting slower.  After mile 10, I knew there was just 5K left.  I decided I had a little fight left in me and pushed to get back under 10-minute miles.  I was relieved to see 9:56 and 9:52 for miles 11 and 12.  I knew I was almost done, so I pushed to 9:38 for mile 13 (yay for small victories!), and about a 9:18 pace for the UPHILL finish of .17 (by my watch).    I missed my sub-2:10 goal by 37 seconds but finished strong.   It's hard to call that a bad day.

One goal for the day that I did meet was to run all 13.1 miles without stopping.  I never walked once, not even at water stops,  and didn't go to the restroom. I think it was only the 4th time I've run 13.1 nonstop.  I often have walked hills or through water stops or while searching for a good song on my mp3.   

In this race, my legs didn't do what I hoped they would do,  However, I didn't push hard to the point of hurting for two reasons---

A. I've forgotten how to do that and
B. I have a full trail marathon in only two weeks that I have undertrained for.   I didn't want to add much to the lingering fatigue. 

Course/race review-The course was my favorite kind of course---the perfect mix of hills and flats.  None of the hills were utterly ridiculous, and I've run more than a few of those lately.   I told myself, "I'm a mountain goat" as I ran up the hills.   After trail running, regular-sized road hills don't seem as daunting. It's a fairly challenging course (more than Tom King or the Music City Half in Nashville, which are flat, flat, flat), but I'm less sore and less bored with a little variety. It's not nearly as hard as the Country Music Half or Go Commando in Clarksville.   I enjoyed the mix of country roads with city streets.  The crowd support in this small-town half marathon was surprisingly wonderful as well.  Just don't stay at the Quality Inn.  You've been warned.   Overall, I highly recommend the Murray Half Marathon in Murray, KY.   I may be back next year to break 2:10.... or 2:05! 

Next up-   taper (thank God!!!!!) for the Backside Trail Marathon