I recently read an article in Triathlete magazine about how race reports are boring. I agreed with a lot of what the article said, but I am also someone who loves to stay up late reading over past race reports before doing a new race so I can prepare myself for what it will be like. So, this “report” may be a little different than most– I will talk about what happened, what I liked, and what I didn’t like. But I will also talk about what is probably more important: what I learned.
I signed up for this race as a result of peer pressure. A friend from the Schweddy Belles, a group I run with sometimes, told me to sign up… so I did. Initially, I was signed up for the full marathon, which a lot of the other girls were doing. Unfortunately, a series of unfortunate events (i.e., four different infections and numerous urgent care visits) in the month of December messed up my training, and I ended up changing my registration to the half marathon. I felt guilty about this. Embarrassed. Like I wasn’t doing enough. This is a feeling I have often in my life. A few weeks ago, the possibility of completing the challenge opened up (a race on Saturday and a race on Sunday). I registered for the 5K, thinking that doing the challenge would somewhat make me feel less guilt about cutting the miles down. I don’t know why I feel that way. Those feelings ended up impacting me in an even worse way. I was admittedly undertrained, even for the half. (Vulnerable moment: I ran more miles this past weekend than I ran in the entire month of February.) My typical self-sabotage kicked in.
Fully prepared or not, I found myself in my car on Friday evening, driving west to Little Rock. There was a large group of us in total for the race that weekend (I believe 19). I knew some people, but others I didn’t. I got into town later that evening, and those who were there already met at Jason’s Deli for dinner. I had a healthy meal, skipping the ice cream– at least I’m learning not to self-sabotage in that regard. We headed back to the hotel, prepped for the morning, and I got some desperately needed rest after a long weekend of teaching.
We woke up bright (or rather, dark) and early Saturday morning and headed downtown for the 5K. The atmosphere was fun. Little Rock takes their themes seriously, and this year was “Game On.” One of the most fun aspects were these inflatable dice people could hit while waiting in the corrals. I regrettably didn’t prepare any costumes, but there were some cute ones. The 5K race itself was pretty fun. I ran with one of the Belles. We wanted to take it easy because we both had big races the next day and did 3:1 intervals at the beginning and then 1:1 at the end. The craziest part of the race was when the 10K leaders lapped us, complete with their own cops on motorcycles to lead their way. I finished the race in 41:41, got my beautiful medal (seriously– probably the nicest 5K medal to exist), and then proceeded to stuff my face at Denny’s.
After a shower and afternoon nap, we headed back downtown to the expo. The expo was nice. I wanted to get a Sparkle Skirt, but they had a smaller selection than they did at Disney last year, so I passed. I stocked up on some gels, socks, and headbands, and I got a free massage! It was a nice way to stretch out between the two races. We then got dinner at a local Italian restaurant which was delicious. I was starving by that time and ate so much bread and pasta that I felt like I was going to explode. Afterwards we had a quick trip to Walmart to get a throw away sweatshirt in case the morning was chilly, I set up my first official “flat Alyssa,” and then got some zzz’s.
I ate every bite.
The next morning came quickly! I don’t remember what time I got up, but it was early. I ate a banana as soon as I woke up and then a luna bar in the car a bit later, which seemed to be good. We got there with enough time to chill in the convention center, go to the bathroom, stretch, and make our way to the corrals. I didn’t end up really needing my throw away sweatshirt, but I am glad I had it! My goal for this race was to finish in under 3 hours. I had picked up a pacing bracelet at the expo the previous day which showed the time I should complete each mile by. The only part of the race that left a sour taste in my mouth was when I was quickly talking to the 6 hour pacers (for the whole marathon) who were in the corral in front of mine. There was a man standing near them who kept looking at me and nonverbally telling me I needed to go back to my corral by pointing back there. The mannerism of it was rude in my opinion. I had every intention of going back to my corral, and honestly, it wouldn’t have really mattered if I hadn’t. They didn’t have a delay between each corral. I understand that racers want others to follow the rules, but it upset me a little right before the start of the race. Oh well! I ended up passing the 6 hour group fairly quickly, with the plan to get ahead at the beginning of the race because I knew I would probably slow down later. This plan worked out great for me– I finished in 2:59:17– just short of my three hour goal! I ran the first 1/2 mile to mile nonstop to get out of the crowd, and then I started doing 2:1 intervals. Later in the race (I don’t quite remember when) I gradually decreased my run intervals down to one minute. Some highlights of the course:
- True miracle workers were handing out grilled pineapple. Pineapple is my favorite food in the whole world, and this was the best!
- Running down the River Market section was really meaningful. My Bike & Build trip went through Little Rock, and the group had a pretty eventful night on that street. I had the biggest smile on my face as I ran past those bars. People probably thought I was insane.
- There was a preacher (?) throwing holy water onto runners as they passed by saying “God bless you.” I thought this was amusing.
- The out-and-back section
- The TURNT dancers doing a Zumba routine on the side of the road. Definitely brought my energy up!
- The lipstick station right before the last mile. I love lipstick, so I wanted to grab some but I was also in a big hurry. My lipstick was a mess and it turned out to actually be lip stain. I looked like a clown, and I couldn’t really fix the problem- ha. It was slightly embarrassing. I would recommend that their station limits it to lip gloss and lipstick in the future 🙂
- PRing! I beat my previous (and only) half marathon time by over 12 minutes.
I embodied this when I got pineapple on the course.
So now for what I learned. I had a good race, but that was lucky. I was undertrained. I want to be different. I want to go into triathlon season fully trained, knowing that I have prepared the best I can and that the results should follow. In retrospect, I honestly think one reason I under train is because I am scared that I will put in the work and come out a failure. At least if I fail without doing the work, I have somewhat of an excuse. But I don’t want to be that person. I want to become stronger and more confident in my abilities. I’m working on implementing “no excuses.” I’m not perfect yet, but I have made progress.
And on that note, the next time I do a half marathon in a race… I will have swam 1.2 miles and biked 56 miles beforehand at Augusta 70.3!
5k- 41:41 (13:26/mile)
Half Marathon- 2:59:15 (13:41/mile)
Half marathon splits.