Monday, November 05, 2012

Race Report: 2012 Battleship Half Marathon

The Battleship North Carolina

Yesterday, Nathan and I ran the Battleship Half Marathon. I'd been blogging about my training pretty regularly, I had completed a really strong 13 mile run two weeks ago, and I was feeling good about my chances of setting a new personal record. (Time to beat: 1:58.) My hopes were high.

Pre-race, back when hope existed.

Because of all those long runs, and all those high hopes, the report that I must share is all the more disappointing. Friends: it was the worst race of my life. I'm not sure what happened. I know that it was warmer than we anticipated, which the time change did not help. I know that there were more hills than I expected, and that my training severely lacked any hill work. I know that I was frustrated in the first two miles, because I got stuck behind so many slow people, but that later, all those "slow" people passed me and left me in the dust while I struggled (and failed) to hold on to a ten minute pace. I know that I basically gave up at mile five, after a particularly short but brutal hill, and ran/walked the rest of the race while swearing off endurance events for the rest of my life. Not my best moment. 

The course itself wasn't the problem. We ran over three bridges, which was neat. We ran around Greenfield Lake, which I love. We ran through downtown Wilmington, and were cheered by a respectable number of people. The problem was not the race. The problem was me. 

My excuse for a running a poor race, for giving up, for having a bad attitude? I didn't train enough. I did enough long runs, sure, but I wasn't consistent with speed work. I didn't seek out the few hills in Wilmington and practice racing up them. I fell into the trap of doing too many short, easy runs, because it was (in my defense) all I had time for. Which is really what it comes down to - time and expectations. The fact that I thought I could PR during the busiest semester of my life, when I'm a full time grad student, a teaching assistant, working 18 hours a week at a wine store, writing a novel, planning a wedding, and maintaining some semblance of a social life, shows just how delusional I've become.

Lessons learned from the Battleship Half Marathon: finishing a race right now is accomplishment enough. Not every race needs to be a PR. Setting up extravagant goals can ruin an otherwise perfectly pleasant experience. And if I want to be competitive, I need to reassess what I'm capable of at this moment in my life, and shift my expectations accordingly. Easier said than done, but after this race, by dog, I will do it.

On the bright side, the medal is awesome, my unofficial time - 2:17 - is still something to be proud of, and now I have a benchmark to try and beat for next year. Not bad for a Sunday.