10 lessons learned in a harder-than-usual half marathon

Race days surprise us, no matter how hard we train or how well we plan. Stuff like weather, traffic, and sudden health changes can trip us up. Anyone who has run more than a few races understands that.

On this occasion, for example, several carloads of runners never even made it to the start line. Apparently, a major truck vs. car accident tied up the tollway for hours.

But what about silly mistakes even veteran runners sometimes make?

Color me guilty this week. I had hoped to break a new personal time goal, but I missed it. Like most runners, I have replayed the details of the race in my head umpteen times since the weekend. And I can point to more than a few missteps I made.

It’s confession time.

Here are 10 lessons I learned (or re-learned) in this race, which proved to be much harder than it should have been. Sure, some of these sound like rookie mistakes. But I’ve gotten away with such stuff in earlier races. Just not this time. It was sort of the perfect storm.

  1. Sometimes a sunny and non-windy day isn’t all that advantageous, especially if the temperature is unseasonably hot for the first time in a long while. (This is especially true for anyone with MS, like me.)
  2. If I have tummy troubles the day before a longer race, I’d better hydrate a whole lot more than usual.
  3. A front-clip sports bra is a bad idea on a hot and humid race day. Time to grab another Band-aid for my bleeding sternum and toss that bra in the clothing donation bag.
  4. I definitely should have run more than a few miles with that new hydration pack before strapping it on for a freaking half marathon. And two bottles of water and assorted aid station sips were not enough this time.
  5. Even though I hate Gatorade, I really ought to choke some down in the second half of a half marathon.
  6. Ice cream is never a smart choice on race eve. Let’s just say the contractions started around mile 10.
  7. My marathon music playlist is becoming a little too chill for actual running. It’s time to up the tempo again.
  8. Just because I logged a half marathon PR last time (by 15+ minutes) doesn’t mean the next one will be soon in coming.
  9. It really was a prudent choice not to eat that brat after the race.
  10. Anything can happen on race day.

I’ve had big-city half marathons that went without a hitch and 5K fun runs that blew up in my face. Hey, it happens.

It’s easy to be discouraged by a disappointing race performance. I can look at the division standings and cringe. I can groan over missing my time goal. I can play my own miserable mind games, wondering how I’ll ever finish my first FULL marathon in a few short months.

Marathon Start – public domain photo

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