Final Thoughts about the OC Half Marathon and a Look at the Future

 

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With the OC Half Marathon now behind me, I have something I haven’t had in a long time…an empty race calendar! I’ve finished 6 races this year in just over 4 months. So, to see that hole in the race calendar feels amazing right now. To be honest, I’ve been feeling a little burned out on the whole running thing. I had thought that having races on the calendar would be enough to keep me going. I was wrong. The start of 2014 has been a learning experience for me.

Sometimes, when I read blogs of people who live in different parts of the world, I envy them because it seems like they live in places where life moves a little slower than it does out here in Los Angeles. So much is going on all the time out here that it’s hard to take the time to truly look around and reflect. That’s something I need to make the time for. By the time I got to the start line of the OC Half Marathon, I was feeling burned out. Once there, I thought I could somehow pull out a magical run without putting in the training needed for such a run. The Hollywood Half Marathon is another one I entered with less training that I needed and that turned out okay. The OC Half was an entirely different story.

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Getting to the above photo took a lot of work. One thing that the OC Half Marathon showed me is how much those missed workouts have cost me in conditioning. I didn’t get to the finish line at the Walt Disney World Marathon by taking entire weeks off from running and skipping mid-week runs. I got there by putting in the required work. If I want to be holding a finishers medal from the 2015 Los Angeles Marathon, I need to start putting in the work.

This week was supposed to be the week for be to focus on the Dumbo Double Dare and get into that workout plan. However, the OC Half Marathon has taken a lot out of me. On Tuesday, I realized that the OC Half Marathon finish time was my slowest half marathon ever. I finished nearly 1 minute slower than I finished the 2013 Tinker Bell Half Marathon. First thought was…really? I may have missed a lot of workouts in the previous few months. However, I did run more in those months than I did in the same time before the Tinker Bell Half Marathon.

Before Tink, here is how my workouts/training runs went…I trained hard for the Santa Monica 10K race in October 2012. Then, the next three weeks went by without one single gym workout or training run. Then, the first weekend of November 2012 I ran the weSpark 10K at Universal Studios. After that, I didn’t run or complete even one gym workout until two weeks before Tink. That week, I got 4 gym workouts in and included running on the treadmill for 3 miles each time. Then, the week before Tink…nothing. So, that was what my training looked like from October 6, 2012 – January 19, 2013. So, just over 3 months.

If I go back 3 months from the OC Half Marathon, I find a very different story. In that time, I ran in 3 races (2 half marathons and One 5K race), 19 training runs, and 4 gym workouts. While this kind of training is not stellar by any stretch of the imagination, it is far more training than I put in the 3 months prior to the Tinker Bell Half Marathon. So, I have been wondering all week-long how I finished slower. I think this is my problem…

Hills – The Tinker Bell Half Marathon was a pretty flat race to run. Yes, we climbed 2 over passes and passed this area…

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Twice. But, that was it as far as climbs. On the OC Half Marathon course, almost the entire eighth mile was going uphill. I didn’t even try to run on this mile very much. Then, there was that hill to start off the 12th mile which wasn’t cool. I train largely in Pasadena which isn’t exactly flat. So, the goal for this summer is to learn to conquer the hills. Even though the Disneyland Half Marathon will also be a largely flat race, the Long Beach Half Marathon and the Rock n Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon will have some hills to deal with.

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I don’t think I’ll forget this hill at the Rock n Roll Los Angeles Half. I PR’d this race even with this hill.

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The second contributing factor to the OC Half being my slowest was the heat. I’m not sure how hot it was exactly when I finished the race. However, it felt hot. The 2013 Tinker Bell Half Marathon was held in January and the temps were cool. This factor alone could easily explain the difference in finish time. After all, the difference between the OC Half and the Tinker Bell Half was less than 1 minute. The Disneyland Half Marathon will be another hot race. Last year, I was so ready to be out of the sun by the time we got to Angels Stadium. I lost a lot of time in the closing couple miles because of the heat. So, this becomes a mental challenge that I will have plenty of time to conquer. It starts with learning how to deal with the heat in my training runs. I can’t continue to skip training runs because it’s too hot outside. Instead, I need to carry extra hydration and be okay with running slower. I have no idea what the weather will be like for the Long Beach Half Marathon, the Rock n Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon or the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon because our weather in Southern California’s weather is unpredictable like that. I just need to learn how to deal with the heat better.

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This was probably the largest contributing factor to my slow time…lack of training. What makes me really happy about an empty race calendar is that it gives me time breathe again. In between the Surf City USA Half Marathon and the Hollywood Half Marathon, I had a few weeks where I didn’t train at all. Each missed week made me feel the pressure to put in a 10+ mile training run just to show I could still go that far. I had the same happen between the Hollywood Half Marathon and the OC Half Marathon. Again, I put in ONE 10 mile training run and thought that would be enough. It wasn’t. It didn’t make up for all of those 3-6 mile mid-week runs I missed and the 6+ mile long runs I missed on the weekends. It certainly didn’t make up for the missed gym workouts. All the misses added up. In the same way as success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out, failure is the result when the sum of small efforts gets skipped day in and day out.

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This needs to be my mantra again. Not only that, but make the time to cross train.

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This gap in my racing calendar gives me time to rally to win. I’m going small again. Small distances to re-build my conditioning and my confidence. Since the Walt Disney World Marathon, I’ve experienced a lot of failures and misfires. There have been weeks which have been stellar followed by weeks of missed opportunities. I think all the missed workouts has caught up with me and thrown me down to the ground. I NEVER want to have a 3 hour or more half marathon again. NEVER!

The eighth mile of the OC Half Marathon was my breaking point mentally. When I ran the Tinker Bell Half Marathon in 2013, I started with this goal of finishing the first 10K in 1 and 1/2 hours. I figured that would give me enough of a cushion for the last part of the half marathon to complete it in the required 3 and a half hours. It blew my mind that I could continue running past the 10K mark. I swore I would walk an entire mile with each mile of that race. Then, after a few minutes of walking, I would find myself running again. By mile 10, I settled into a pattern of walking the first 5 minutes of each mile and then it was run 30 seconds, walk 90 seconds. I carried that all the way to the finish line. So, even though my time was over 3 hours, it was less than I anticipated and I felt in control the entire rest of the race. With the OC Half Marathon, I finished slower than anticipated and felt like I let myself down. So, I finished feeling pretty defeated. I was happy to cross the finish line because I knew I could start over again with the Dumbo Double Dare training program. With this gap in races, I fully intend to rally to win and feel confident and strong at the end of the Disneyland Half Marathon.

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Tomorrow morning, I’ll be back it. This week has been difficult for many reasons and I have skipped more training. I’ll talk more about that on Monday. However, I think I’m ready to get back at the training. 4 miles tomorrow around Pasadena on the route I used to run at least twice a week. I can’t do anything right now about the missed runs and missed gym workout this week. However, I can at least get 1 training run and 1 gym workout this weekend and build from there.

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It’s time to embrace the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge

Lastly, if you haven’t seen this yet…on the runDisney blog, they asked for fans to vote on the race shirt design for the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon. Check that announcement here. These are the designs…

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Shirt Option Number 1…

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Or, shirt option number 2. Which one do you like best?


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