Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Fork On The Road

When I set out to run the Tom King Classic Half Marathon in Nashville yesterday, my goal was very simple: to run at my marathon pace (secretly, really... a little faster). I wanted to use this race as pace training for the Country Music Marathon which is coming up on April 24th. I'd like to run the CMM in 4:30 which is a 10:17 pace. That was the plan anyway.

Quickly after the start of the race, an adjustment was made to my plan. This pace seemed awfully slow for a half marathon. I would leave the pace training to my training runs. Today I would shoot for a 2:10 finish time.

I have found that one of the most difficult things in a race is not to fall into the trap of running at the pack's pace. By all accounts it's always to fast. And yesterday was not any different. But... after a couple of miles I realized that I would go after the 2:10 finish time which meant a 9:55 pace, not to terribly off my marathon goal pace.

My first five miles splits were 8:34, 8:42, 8:51, 9:00 and 9:09. Pretty steady I thought, but way faster than my comfort zone. At this point I chose to slow it down some and try to get into a better running rhythm. The next five mile splits continued to be slower, but at the same rate of decreased pace as the first five; 9:19, 9:28, 9:37, 9:47 and 9:56. I was consistently loosing about 8-10 seconds per mile. Which felt comfortable. The last three were not any different. 10:06, 10:16 and 10:27. Finish time was 2:05:12. 4:48 faster than goal time. I was pleased.

There's a lot of talk in the running world about negative splits. One day, I think, I will have to give that a try. I will have to work on that.

The Country Music Marathon is only five weeks away. I will have to work on a more consistent pace in order to have a successful race. I hope five weeks is enough.

The weather for this race, historically has been less than ideal. Rain and wind and cold and all that. Yesterday's prospects were not any better. It had rained in Nashville for a couple of days and the weatherman projected more for race time. But, we live in Middle Tennessee and that is subject to change without notice. What to wear and how to dress was the question. Layers? No layers? Gloves? Tights? Shorts? I decided from the git-go that I would wear shorts. The temperature was mid 40's and that would be okay. However, layers? how many? It wasn't windy, but it was cloudy and the rain was coming. So three layers I wore. As it turns out, the rain didn't materialize during the race, it was not windy and the temperature was comfortable. Waiting for the race to start, I was wishing I had my gloves but very quickly I gave thanks that I left them behind. Somewhere around mile two, I realized that two layers would have been enough. Oh, well.

I remembered from last year that the course was wet and that the ground had puddles. I also remembered how horrible it was to run with wet socks. So this year I took some precautions. I found a new use for duck tape. Taped the mesh on top of the shoe to prevent water from getting my socks wet. See picture!  This worked wonderful.

Now to the fork on the road.  It is becoming very obvious to me that I need to make a choice.  Do I want to continue to train and run full marathons or do I want to concentrate and run for better times at Half Marathons?  This question I kept asking myself throughout the run yesterday.  I knew that if I wanted to push it harder, I had plenty in me to do so, but I didn't want to risk injury this close to the CMM.

What's more important to me and what would give me the most pleasure?  Pursuing a PR, but how fast can I really and realistically go?  And when would I know that I have run as fast as I can physically run?  What about the knees and the ankles?  How much use and abuse can they take?  Oh yeah, what about my back? Bulging and herniated disks, how much can they take?  What about the thrill of crossing the finish line at a marathon, would that equal the thrill of a PR on the half?

I'm not suggesting that I can't do both, but I don't think I can do both well.

But for now, the CMM is next.  Should my number come up for NYC, that will be on the schedule.  A decision will be made as to how many more I will run... however, in order to run an Ironman, I will have to have marathon training.  Decisions, decisions!