Looking back at last year’s Heart Mini race recap, I realize how different the race was for me this year. While my finish time was nearly identical (spoiler alert: I ran the race exactly one minute slower than in 2014), the race felt and meant much different things to me this time around.
I went into the 2015 race coming off an exceptionally great training run. And also, a big week of training. (Read: Dead legs.)
I halfheartedly wanted to run Sunday’s 15K race at my desired spring race pace and give it my all, but I wasn’t really THAT committed to it. While this was a race, it was also just a 9.3-mile training run to help me prepare for my spring half marathons. Ultimately, my husband, Keith, and I decided we would run the race together, at race pace, until Keith peeled off to add the extra miles for the half marathon.
Cut to race morning. It was setting up to be a pretty beautiful day, despite the flooding Ohio River, which had forced race officials to change the course at the last minute.
Keith and I found our way to the 9-minute pace group and set our GPS watches on a mission for satellite signals about 15 minutes before the race began.
Just as I crossed the start line, I looked down to start the timer on my Garmin … which was STILL SEARCHING FOR A SATELLITE SIGNAL. Sonofa! I sucked a calming breath through my nose and decided to stick with the pace group and start my watch at the first mile marker once my watch (hopefully) found a signal outside of the confines of the downtown buildings.
Half a mile in, Keith announced that his watch had a signal, while I was still cursing at my loading bar. We ran into one of Keith’s co-workers, and he helped me trouble shoot my watch — which included two restarts — as we cruised past the first mile marker.
Still no signal.
I was getting more frustrated and frantic. “Don’t worry,” Keith said, “You can just run with the pace group.”
“No, I can’t,” I pleaded, “I’m only running the 15K, remember? I’m not going to have any idea what my pace is or how far I’ve gone.” Oh, the agony.
“Here, just use my watch,” Keith gallantly offered.
I refused him because I knew if our roles were reversed, I would not want to run a half marathon GPS-free. I could suck it up. I would suck it up.
But as those pace balloons bounced farther and farther ahead, I felt the miles of my tough training week weighing me down. I felt myself giving up as I became more and more frustrated with my watch. Frustration grew to anger, and now I was irrationally LIVID with my stupid watch.
Keith offered me his GPS one last time. He took it off his wrist as he said, “Give me your watch. Take mine.”
I didn’t turn him down this time.
I clumsily strapped the monstrous thing to my wrist, and he gave me a tutorial about the features and functions while we ran at what was becoming a rapidly uncomfortable pace.
Around mile 3, I waved Keith ahead. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to hold the 9-minute pace for the entire race. It just wasn’t there yet.
Keep On Keepin’ On
A few minutes later, I relaxed a bit and started running more comfortably. According to Keith’s watch, a 9:15 pace. “Hey,” I thought, “That’s not so bad.” And suddenly, the giant Garmin flew off my wrist and landed on the other side of the road. I panicked and ran back to get it.
“$@#%! #%^&! WHAT DO I DO NOW?!?!”
I held the watch, now in two pieces, and fired the screen back on. Yes! It was working. No! This meant that I was going to have to carry the damn thing in my hand for, like, 6 miles.
I stood there for a moment, trying to figure out what to do. (And trying to figure out what all of the buttons on Keith’s watch do.) And then I did the only thing I could do. I kept going.
I looked at the sun rising on the horizon and remembered this was just a training run. No need to lose my mind. Just keep moving and get the miles in.
Soon enough, we reached the turnaround and looped back toward the city (and avoided the big hill at Delta we had to run last year). I walked through the water stops, took my ShotBloks and rocked out to some tunes.
As I got closer to the city, the only thing standing in my way was the massive hill of the interstate ramp. But I’ve been working hills into my training plan, and I felt really strong as I picked off runner after runner until I reached the top.
We cruised back downtown, where we had to add more miles. Here is where I really missed my watch. There were no mile markers, I had no idea how far I still had to run or where the course was taking me, and I was pretty gassed from that giant hill. It felt like we kept running for MILES in town (all told, it was probably only 1.5), but it hurrrrrrt.
We came up one last surprise hill (ooof!) and turned a few more corners to the finish line. I finished steady and really, really, REALLY ready to be done. The finish-line clock said 1:29:36, so I knew I had actually finished the race pretty darn close to my long-run pace — without the guidance of GPS.
I also had no idea what the ACTUAL time was, but I guessed I probably had 30 minutes to grab some water, hit up a port-o-let and wrap up in a space blanket while I watched Keith finish the half marathon. I took care of all of the necessities and found a sunny spot a quarter-mile from the finish.
I cheered on runners as they came into that last finish turn, and soon enough, Keith appeared in the finishing stretch (two minutes faster than scheduled!). I ran him into the finish as we both babbled about the race.
Here’s what I learned:
- I need a back-up plan for potential Garmin satellite issues during the Flying Pig Half Marathon.
- I need to mentally prepare for race day and find a better way to manage the miles (and discomfort), so I don’t do things like lose my mind over a GPS signal.
- I need to race with my brain, not react with my emotions. Logically, I knew I’d run a lot of challenging miles last week. So LOGICALLY, I should have started the Heart Mini slower and allowed myself the reserves to finish the race stronger, instead of fading into the distance.
- Christopher Cross’ “Ride Like The Wind” always puts me in a better mood.
- My Garmin can’t run a race for me.
- Training runs are for training. Some are good, some are bad, all are chances to learn. — Aidz