I set a pretty lofty goal for SeaWheeze — one of the first half marathons I decided to race in several years (Austin doesn’t count because #hills). I wanted to run a 1:35 or faster…and it didn’t happen. Neither did a PR (by 6 seconds…come on!). And, I’m totally okay with the outcome! I learned a lot of valuable lessons during the race and am more confident than ever that I’m in better running shape than I’ve been in a long time. I loved the race experience — lululemon puts on a show, for real — and had a blast connecting with old and new friends! Instead of running through the race mile by mile (boooring), I’ll just give you the highlights translated into lessons learned.
Run your own race. I was so caught up with my goal and what other people’s goals were that I didn’t stick to my own race plan (rookie mistake for this not so rookie runner). I wanted to run with the 1:35 pace group so just tried to stick with them the first 3 miles instead of noticing that I was running way faster than I’d planned to. After nearly PRing the first 5K, I knew I had to dial it back, but unfortunately didn’t have enough gas in the tank to finish strong.
Trust your training. Even though I didn’t run my race the way I’d planned (can you tell, I’m still kind of kicking myself for that silly fast start?), I knew I’d trained strong and was in great shape. The training I put in at RacePace really paid off. The last time I went out too fast during a race was the Chicago Marathon three years ago and honestly, I was miserable and gave up after mile 8. Even though I finished, I was so mentally beat down, defeated and crushed that the accomplishment of running a marathon major didn’t even cross my mind. SeaWheeze was a completely different experience — sure I went out too fast, but I knew my training would carry me to the finish line, even if I had to slow down a bit. And it did. I ran strong and got out of my head way more than in Chicago. Plus, if I can run a 21:30-something 5K at the beginning of a half marathon, how fast can I race a 5K without 10 more miles to go?!?
Do your research! I hadn’t done a ton of research about the race experience and lulu tends to do things a little differently (no race bibs or expo!). I was glad to be with a bunch of repeat racers (and pacers) so I wasn’t caught off guard.
Have the proper nutrition. Speaking of doing my research, I did actually know that nuun would be providing the hydration on course and was thrilled. I train with nuun and my goal marathon race (and PR from last year), CIM, uses the hydration supplement so I was good to go! I’ve been pretty lucky that most of the races I’ve done recently use nuun (Gatorade when combined with Gu wrecks my stomach), but now I’ve learned to always check so I can plan my nutrition and hydration accordingly.
Enjoy the experience. There were a few points in the race where I was so caught up in the negativity of knowing that I wasn’t going to crush my goal that I forgot I was running on the incredibly beautiful Vancouver Seawall. Luckily, a few amazing cheer stations snapped me back to reality and back to the fact that I do this for fun! Instead of looking out for mile markers, I started looking out for cheer stations and things got a whole lot better.
Look at the race map. I’m notoriously bad at this. I’m a race repeater so I tend to get used to a course after the first year and just know what’s coming. This was a new city, new country, and totally new race route for me. I had no idea when the biggest hill (aka a bridge) was coming or any other major landmarks for that matter so I wasn’t prepared when I came across them. Of course, sometimes it can be nice to not know exactly what’s up ahead!
Go out and celebrate. Every race deserves a celebration. Win, lose, PR or no PR — every race is an accomplishment! In my case, that meant giant pancakes, craft beer with #TeamNuun, and lots of popcorn at the lululemon Sunset Festival. #winning
Explore! Destination races really are my favorite. This was my first time to Canada so I jumped on every opportunity to see the sights. The day after the race, my travel buddy Heather and I spent the entire day out and about getting sweaty and eating plenty, too!
Use your medal! The race medals from this year’s race double as bottle openers. I love a good, multi-functional medal!
Vancouver really rolled out the red carpet for us SeaWheezers and it made the experience a great one. Despite missing my goal (and a PR by a hair), I feel even more confident in the success of my training and can’t wait to give this distance another shot! Oh, and seawall…I’m coming back to run on you again next year (fingers crossed I get in).
Do you ever have a race that just teaches you a whole lot? Share your experiences with me in the comments below!