I ran the Seaside half marathon this morning!
This was my 14th half marathon. After you've done a bunch of these, you kind of feel like you have this racing thing figured out. But today proved that there will always be lessons to learn.
1. You need to train well to race well. Life has been stressful lately. Blogging isn't the only thing that's taken a backseat; running has, too. I haven't looked at my training plan in over a month, I don't remember the last time I did speedwork, and all but one long run was cut short or skipped. So, of course, today wasn't going to go well. But that didn't mean I had moments of delusion before the start when I thought I could magically PR. Spoiler alert: that didn't happen.
2. Always carry your own fluids. I used to always carry water or Gatorade with me during races, but l didn't today. I assumed there would be plenty of aid stations along the course. And we all know what happens when you assume. By mile 4 I felt dehydrated. Not an ideal feeling when you still have over 2/3 of the way to go.
3. Don't rely on the weather. Fall is my favorite time to run. Well, isn't it everyone's? And today was a beautiful day in NJ… if it was early summer. The 10am start and temps reaching the 70s made me regret not running with Gatorade that much more.
4. Choose races wisely. I signed up for this race because it was in an area I knew well and was completely flat. Most races I run are pretty hilly, so I was really looking forward to today. I was so excited to run a flat race that I didn't consider any other specifics of the course. Most of the race took place in Island Beach State Park, a thin strip of land between the ocean and bay.
Not only was it ridiculously windy but there wasn't much to look at. I thought we'd be able to see the water from the road, but I forgot that vegetation completely blocks the view. This may have been the first time I was bored on a run. Miles 3ish- 11ish looked exactly the same. I felt like I wasn't going anywhere. Until today, I never realized how much I appreciate changing scenery on a run.
5. You don't need to PR to feel awesome. Even though this was far from my best race, I was reminded why I loved running so much. For 1:44:35, I didn't have to think about anything else except putting one foot in front of the other. Time like that is hard to come by these days. Despite physically pushing myself, I felt relaxed, refreshed, and proud by the time I crossed the finish. Completing a race- of any distance, at any pace- is nothing short of a great accomplishment.