Now that the race is over and I’ve had some time to think, I have thoughts about what worked and didn’t work about the training cycle. Overall, a lot of things worked, since the race went well for me.
Hill work. I really think running up and down the hills at Chester Bowl was helpful. My legs felt extremely strong and I felt confident going up hills. Running hilly trails helped, too.
Running the entire course at once in training. I don’t need to do this every time, but since I’d never raced a half marathon, I wanted to make sure I was capable of it. It really boosted my confidence, especially since I’d been sick only a week or so before I did it.
Running by feel for most training runs. Since my GPS watch hasn’t been working very well, I used my phone to track my runs and just tucked it away somewhere. That means I had no idea what pace I’m running until I finished the workout. This helped keep me from “racing my training” or getting hung up on the pace, so my runs were more relaxed. I ended up kind of running by feel during the race, too, thanks to not starting my watch on time.
Running my own race. Yes, I noted when I passed people. But I didn’t make any special effort to get by anyone, nor did I worry if anyone passed me. I got passed at the end and didn’t really care. I got passed by a million people at the beginning and didn’t care.
Testing out only one source of food. Because when that food made me want to barf I thought I was in big trouble. It ended up being fine as I just ate at the wrong time in the race, but I should have had some other options for refueling.
Obsessively running the course. I ran the first few miles of the course way, way, way too often. I was obsessed with those stupid stairs, and they were a non-factor. I took them more slowly during the race than I had the last time I ran them, because guess what, other people took them slowly! It’s like I was surprised I wasn’t the only slow person in a race packed with elites. Test-running the whole course was good, but running it too often made me a little bit sick of it. One shouldn’t be sick of trails, they’re too freaking gorgeous.
Not warming up. I was too worried about other things and didn’t take the time to even run a half a mile to get some kinks out. The slow beginning helped me warm up, but there was plenty of time for at least some strides.
Abandoning strength training. I can’t believe my back didn’t hurt during the race! I was doing so well with yoga, but of course I had a lot more time during the summer. There was no reason I couldn’t have done push-ups on a daily or near-daily basis, at the very least.
There are other things, of course, if I want to nitpick every last detail, but these are the first few things that popped into my head. I worked hard in training; I was lucky not to be injured or sick (too often) and to have great race day weather; and there are things I can work on for next time. I didn’t come away from this race thinking “I’ll never do THAT again,” and I smiled almost the whole race. I’ll call this race a victory.