Krissie also ran the Iron Horse Half Marathon this past weekend, and blew right past her goals. Here’s how she thinks she did it.
I killed the Iron Horse Half. I had three different goals and I blew all three of them out of the water. I ended up beating my personal record by 17 minutes (and my course record by over 30 minutes from a year ago). And that wasn’t even something I had planned to do.
I’ve tried to figure out what I did right this time, so that I could hopefully replicate it and also give you all some advice. Here’s what I’ve come up with.
I made a training plan. And I stuck with it.
I used a lot of different training plans I found on the internet and tweaked it so that it fit my schedule and just made sense. (Specifically, the closest plan I worked from was the Intermediate Half from Cool Running, but I took suggestions from Hal Hidgon and some blog research.) The most important thing for me was to finish the long run for the week no matter what. If I had to miss a run during the week, I could accept that. But I wouldn’t miss a long run. Even if that meant I did it late on Sunday night. I also wanted to have a training run that was longer than my goal distance. Finishing a 15-miler strong 2 weekends before really prevented mind-games I usually start playing around Mile 10.
I had lasagna the night before.
What can I say? Homemade lasagna (when I’m at home the night before) is my only superstition. And I don’t think Nathan minds. This time we had pumpkin lasagna. You know, to be seasonally appropriate.
I didn’t try anything new.
I wore familiar clothes. Familiar socks. I didn’t run with any music, but I do that sometimes. I ate a familiar breakfast. I had my coffee. We parked in a familiar spot. I did everything I could to make it seem as comfortable and familiar as possible.
I started out with a friend. Who pushed me, but not too hard.
I spent the first few miles (what, Kelly, almost 5?) with Kelly. And she runs much faster than me. So the first miles went really fast. And our chatter kept me distracted. I only broke off from her when I felt that keeping up with her was really wearing me out, when I went from keeping up with her to having to try to keep up with her. I knew I had gone out too fast, but I had also given myself a nice cushion when I crossed the halfway point over 10 minutes ahead of my anticipated halfway time.
I had fuel and water.
This was the first race where I have eaten anything. And, friends, it makes a difference. I promise. Over the course of the race, I ate my entire packet of Orange ClifShotBloks. I had tried them out on training runs, so I knew they wouldn’t upset my stomach or anything.
I walked through water stations. I took water when I was thirsty. I chatted with volunteers. I took the time to listen to and meet my physical needs.
I let myself pull energy from the volunteers and cheerers.
I knew several people at water stations. I reminded myself that they had been there longer than me. That they were colder than me. That they wouldn’t take home a medal like I would. I looked for Stacy cheering in her pink jacket. I believed it when random people on the side of the road told me I looked strong. I let myself feel like I was a part of something bigger than my internal race experience.
I walked when necessary, but not any longer than necessary.
I can get stuck in my head sometimes. I can freak myself out and make myself believe that I need to walk more often or longer than I really do. For this race, I just shut that voice off. I only allowed myself to walk uphill. I picked out a point where I would pick up running again before I stopped running. And that point had to be before the crest of the hill. Often, I actually started running again before I got to that point because…
I screwed up my Garmin.
I’m not sure how I did it. I think I pushed “stop” when I meant to push “lap.” The point is that I didn’t know my exact time or distance. I knew I would be close to 2:30 and I didn’t want to miss it by just a little bit. I pushed myself hard because I wasn’t sure of how easy I could run and get away with it. I didn’t want to be this close.
I gave it everything I had.
I didn’t just run. I raced. I left everything – heart and soul – out on that course. That isn’t a familiar feeling for me. In the past, I’ve considered myself a runner, but I’ve just recently started to embrace racer.
Will I race every race I run? Probably not. I missed the social aspect of the course. I missed taking more pictures along the course. I don’t expect every race to be a PR, but I think I’m starting to understand the equation for me to earn a PR.