November 19, 2015
Am I racing too often? Am I just that out of shape? Could my thyroid be acting up again and making my muscles tire out? Do I just not want to PB badly enough? Is it the little sleep I’ve been getting?
These are just some of the questions flooding my brain ever since crossing the finish line in the Rock n Roll Strip at Night Las Vegas Half-Marathon on Sunday.
The weeks leading up to the race weren’t the greatest in terms of training. But I wasn’t stressed since I’d already completed my goal race, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon (so this half in Vegas was just an extra race I added on thanks to a work opportunity). In addition, one week after Scotia, I raced the Adidas #RunMore10k (another disappointing race), which left my legs sore for days. In that time, I also traveled to Jamaica and Southern California, which threw off my training schedule and diet while also making life generally hectic. On the plus side, these two trips did temporarily get me back on a healthier sleeping schedule.
But then came the night to pack for Las Vegas (three days before the race). I attended a gala for work and stayed much longer than I intended, and I got home, napped two hours and then got up to tidy up and pack and then I realized it was 7 a.m. and time to get ready to go to the airport. Complete sleeping fail.
In Vegas, the days before the race were fairly busy, and the day of the race I had to up at 5:30 a.m. to meet for an early yoga class (whoever had made this itinerary obviously doesn’t race or they’d know we need our sleep).
With the race starting at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 15, we had a late brunch at Lago at the Bellagio and I was a bit perplexed as to what to eat (I’m more used to morning races where I know what to eat for breakfast). I opted for a macaroni carbonara starter and then a veggie frittata, both of which I didn’t finish as I was afraid of eating too much beforehand making me feel sluggish.
At 3 p.m. we were dropped off near the race start and made our way toward the lot where Kid Rock was performing on the main stage. A large line was forming, and I never found out what the delay was but for a long while no one was being allowed into the lot. Once we finally made it into the lot, we quickly checked our bags, used the portapotties and then realized we were at the very tail end of the corrals: we were in corral 47 and I was supposed to start in corral 7! So we started moving through the crowd slowly. I realized I was running out of time, though, so I started rushing and weaving my way through the crowd. I managed to get to corral 8 and settled in there rather than push through to corral 7.
My goal for the race was to PB if I could (I was thinking 1:50, which would call for a consistent 5:12 pace), and my B goal was to match my current PB of 1:52 (which I ran in the Nike Women’s San Francisco Half-Marathon last year). I figured in my recent marathons, I’d managed to reach the halfway point in 1:52, so going a bit faster for a 21.1k distance in which I don’t need to conserve any energy for another 21.1k should be fairly easy.
The weather didn’t play its part in helping me PB, though. First off, it was insanely windy, I believe there were wind warnings of gusts of 25 miles per hour. The temperature was low, too, but I was fine with the temp during the race since I warm up very quickly and sweat a ton. It rained lightly for part of the race, which I think upset some runners (“We’re in the desert!” I heard many runners complain), but it was quite light so I wasn’t upset.
I started at a slower pace (the route was slightly uphill) at about a 5:18 pace, but eventually was running several kilometres on pace or faster than 5:12…and then about halfway, I started to lose focus and just felt weary. I don’t even recall my legs feeling like they were exhausted, but it was more a sense of my heart not being into it, and I progressively became less enchanted with racing as my pace with each kilometre got slower and slower. I was also frustrated because this is a large race and I’d say a lot of the runners in it seem to be in it more for fun, dressed in costumes and whatnot. And while I’m all for people doing a race for fun, I do have issues with runners disregarding the corrals they should have been in. The entire race I had to work my way around runners slower than me who had no business being in corrals 1 to 8.
When I reached the section where the marathoners break off from the half-marathoners, I’d never felt more appreciative to be running the half rather than the full. I shouted (in my head) a little whoop of joy. Making my way back down the Strip towards the Mirage where the finish line was, it seemed to take an eternity until I could make out the finish line. But finally, I crossed the finish line and knew immediately from the time on my Nike+ that it was a very slow race for me, nowhere near 1:52.
After making my through the extremely long finish chute and gathering a ton of food in my arms (her, race organizers, give us a bag to collect these goodies!), having my photo taken, changing out of my wet singlet and wrapping myself in a heat sheet, I stood shivering and listless. It was a long walk back to the Mirage, and I was frozen and cranky and didn’t want to walk alone. And so I just stood there, too cold to get out my phone to text my fellow runners. And somehow, iRun managing editor Anna Lee stumbled upon me. I was so relieved to see her and have company for the cold walk (and I was also cursing myself for bringing only a thin Nike Drifit long sleeve rather than a thermal winter top). We trudged together as quickly as our tired, cold bodies could take us back to the Mirage where our car would bring us back to our hotel.
Once inside the Mirage, I checked my time: 1:58:49 (which is just a handful of seconds faster than my Rock n Roll Las Vegas half in 2012). I can’t say I’m happy about this, but I take some comfort in the rest of the stats: I finished 147th in my division of 2576, 907 out of 14260 women, and 2843 out of 23070 runners. And there’s also this crazy good medal I earned (the slots flip!) and the insanely good nail art by Tips Nail Bar I got for the race.
It does leave me pondering what to do with training come 2016; whether I should train for halfs to improve my speed or stick to the marathon distance so that I can continue to try to qualify for Boston.
And call me crazy but I still have one more race to go this year. On Sunday, December 6, I race the Cayman Islands Half-Marathon. With the warm temperature in Grand Cayman and my current level of exhaustion and general weariness when it comes to running, I’m hoping I can manage to enjoy this race and treat it as a fun race (and not pressure myself so much that I can’t help but try to race it as fast as possible and I feel inevitably disappoint myself again). I think there’s a level of disenchantment I’m experiencing with running and I’m going to guess it’s tied to doing too many races and the plateaus and setbacks I’ve been experiencing all year long (compared to 2014’s PB after PB).
For now, I will focus on the two weeks of training I have to complete, another 21.1k to race, and then I’ll use the latter half of December to figure out my running plans for the new year.
Filed under: Fitness Swellness