With my recent calf issues, I decided to treat the Rock 'n Sole Quarter Marathon as a training run. I was okay with that. I knew I wasn't really in the best shape to crank out a speedy pace, plus whatever time I ended up with would be an automatic PR since this was my first time racing a quarter marathon.
The course map
When I signed up for Rock 'n Sole back in December, I thought it would be a goal race for me so listed an ambitious finish time. I also used a past race result for a seeded start. As a result, I got to start in Corral A - the very front of the race. Since I wasn't planning on racing all out - especially not during the first two miles, I thought about moving back a few corrals. But ultimately decided to stay put. I would use this as practice to run my own race and not get distracted by how fast other people around me were running.
During the first mile, I executed Coach Matt's plan perfectly. I didn't look at my watch a single time and my pace was right on. I got passed by a bunch of people but reminded myself to run my own race.
Miles 2-4 is where my race started going downhill. Instead of getting faster after mile 2, my legs got locked into a slower pace and wouldn't get going. And instead of trying my usual tricks to run faster - insert surges, reel in runners in front of me, etc. - I told myself I was doing a training run and I should continue holding back. It was kind of like I mentally gave up during these miles, and even now I'm not quite sure why. I psyched myself out and chose the easy option. Very unimpressive.
Mile 5 was the Hoan Bridge and my pace slowed quite a bit. To get up the bridge I avoided looking to see how much hill was left and instead repeated to myself that there would be no walking. Do not walk the hill!! During the downhill, my legs actually felt ready to take off but I purposely held back since I don't 100 percent trust my calf yet. Also, this downhill was the very place I really strained my calf a few years ago so I wanted to avoid a repeat of that race.
At mile 6, I finally felt ready to run. Took me long enough, right? I latched on to a girl in front of me and followed her as the course wove through Summerfest grounds. With a quarter mile to go, I kicked past her - and two other ladies in front of us.
Mom also ran the Quarter Marathon!
I wasn't happy with my time but it did get me back into racing longer than the 5k distance again - my first longer race since last fall. Also, I know what I need to work on to race well at my next goal race, the Chicago Rock 'n' Roll 10k in July. By the time that race rolls around I should be ready to lay it on the line again and run strong and fast.
A beautiful finisher's medal!
My questions for you:
- Do you ever use races as training runs?
- What types of goals do you set for races if not running for time?
- Have you ever 'given up' during a race? If so, how did you get back on track after?
Remember - If you're interested in running a Rock 'n' Roll marathon or half marathon race this year, you can use the code RUNWITHSUN to save $15 off a domestic race or £3 off an international race. Hope to see you at a race this year!