It’s amazing how quickly you “lose it” after a half marathon. In May, I banged out my 13.1 miles in PR time. Last week, I ran the Pittsburgh Great Race 10K (6.2 miles), and was over it by mile 4. My, how a trip to Italy made me out of shape. It was totally worth it, though. But slowly but surely, I am getting back into shape. Last summer after I ran my first half marathon, I was so sick of running that I basically stopped running for two months afterward. This summer, I got used to so many miles, so I took a week or two off and then was back at it. I did a lot of yoga, too, but then went to Italy for two weeks and my work schedule really picked up upon my return. So when the Great Race came around, I was not in shape. I didn’t train much, but a few treadmill gym sessions, plus one epic outdoor 5-mile run in the pouring rain, and I was about ready to go. I ran with some coworkers, and we started great (no pun intended). The day ended up being hot and humid, so by mile 4 I felt dehydrated and tired. But, I finished and was glad to be getting up in mileage again.
This past weekend, I participated in the Run Shadyside 5K for the second year in a row. (Read last year’s recap here.) It was chilly this year like last year, but I felt a little better about this run than my run the weekend before. Not to mention, it was half as long, and I got a pumpkin spice latte afterward. My boyfriend Dave came with me, too and it was his first 5K. Unfortunately we lost each other after about a mile. I attribute this to his legs being waaaay longer than mine.
It’s important for runners to keep in mind that every single run is different, and it’s important to be mindful of this, and be safe. I’m on a schedule of being a consistent, “long runner” from January through May, and a more casual, “short runner” the rest of the year. Some tips I’ve learned:
Don’t make rookie mistakes.
At this point, I have a good knowledge of how races work, given I have done 5Ks, 5-milers, 10Ks, and half marathons. Getting back to race mode after my last half, though, I made some rookie mistakes.
- Rookie mistake number 1: Not preparing enough the night before. I didn’t charge anything or lay out any gear, which meant I had to do all that prep in the morning. I even made a playlist the morning of. Not good. Although I made it in plenty of time, the morning should be a relaxed routine to get dressed and fuel.
- Rookie mistake number 2: Not drinking enough water. The morning of the Great Race, I drank more coffee than water. Given the hot temperatures, this made me way dehydrated. I also drank two beers before Run Shadyside. Not too bad considering it was just a 5K and cold, but I should know better. Water is your best friend forever when it comes to race prep and race day.
- Rookie mistake number 3: Not knowing the parking situation. The Great Race had thousands and thousands of people. Plus, the route wasn’t a loop; the finish line was exactly 6.2 miles away from the start line. Race day, roads close. I should have researched ahead of time where to park so we weren’t scrambling, then a set plan of how to get back to the car. Again, it all worked out, but things need to be prepared ahead of time.
Pittsburgh is notorious for fickle, wonky weather. Case in point: At the Great Race (September 25) it was 79 degrees. Six days later at Run Shadyside (October 1), it was 49 degrees. Yikes. I switched from running tights and a short-sleeved t-shirt from race 1, to the same running tights with a long-sleeved technical running shirt (with a hoodie over it until start) for race 2. It was a slight tweak but my attire was just right. Running at different temperatures throughout the year, plus checking the weather forecast, will give you what you need to know for what to wear that’s custom for your body.
Hope for the best, expect the worst.
I run alone a lot. Granted, I usually run in public places in daylight, around other people, but it is still important to be mindful when running alone. I recently bought a Road ID and I think everyone needs one of these. For 20 bucks, I have a bracelet I wear around my wrist with my name, pertinent medical information, and emergency contacts on it. So in case I pass out or fall in a ditch, EMTs can immediately help me because they know all my details. Or if I’m kidnapped, hit by a car, etc. You know, all those worse-case scenarios. They even sent me a coupon code for $1 off, so if you want to get one of your very own, you can use the following: ThanksDeanna8748132. No, thank YOU, Road ID.
Next on the running agenda is the 5-Mile Run for the Wounded Warrior in November (something I did last year as well). Then a little break for the holidays until January 2. Then, I will be marathon training. Yes, folks, I have registered to run the Pittsburgh Marathon on May 6, 2012. 26.2 miles! My first full marathon. Remind me this was a good idea come March. More on my training (and possible regret and crying fits) in the new year.