This was not my best race, nor was it a great day for racing. It rained like hell, yet wasn't cool in the slightest. My feet were completely soaked by Mile 3. Though, even without my best performance, I was just four seconds slower than my Cleveland Half Marathon time with 1:56:32 (unofficial time). I was shooting for 1:50. Even if it wasn't my best race, it was still good preparation for the marathon. Here's some lessons learned so I can fail better next time.
- Eat two hours before the race. This is something I already knew as I have a fairly sensitive stomach in the morning. In fact, I don't care to eat before running, period. However, for anything over 10 miles and especially a race, I need to have something to fuel me through. But instead of following my best instincts, I snoozed the alarm and caught another half hour of sleep, which put breakfast at about an hour or hour and a half away from race time. I felt heavy and my stomach was cramping by the end of the race, forcing me to twice walk for a minute. And after my finishing kick, I puked.
- Tape the nips. Chaffing doesn't bother me normally. I've run 20 miles without any sort of protection, but come marathon day my nipples will be taped and my thighs will be lubed. I blame the rain for Sunday's nipple massacre. The good news is the blood stains came right out of my tech shirt.
- Double knot your shoes, dummy. I was at a great clip through Mile 5 or so. I had found a good pace partner and we were hitting 8:20 miles. But at the second water stop, my whole race came untied, starting with my shoe. That was the first sign of trouble, and I never recovered my rhythm.
- Remember, you're not fast. Line up with the pace group you think you'll finish with. No matter where your racing pals line up, stick with your pace. I thought I could do 1:50, but Martini decided he wanted to line up with the 1:35s. I told him there's no way he was running that fast. And I knew there was no way I was running that fast. Yet, I lined up behind him and kicked out a 7:40 first mile. Way too fast. I might be able to hold that for a 5K, but nothing more. Had I lined up with the 1:50s, I might have actually finished with them as the pace setter for that group passed me at about Mile 9, during a brutal uphill, and I wasn't able to catch up.
Martini and I followed our post-race carb reload regimen (though only briefly) with a Great Lakes Nosferatu. That's 8 percent ABV, my friends, of hoppity goodness. Sadly, only a few lonely beers followed during the rest of the day.