RECAP: River Run Half
Sunday, September 8
On Sunday I ran the River Run Half Marathon in Cleveland. Below I describe my goals going into the race, provide my take on how I performed, and share three lessons I learned from this weekend.
Goals for the River Run Half
- Practice relaxation before the start
- Get to the start with the least amount of stress
- Perform a light and relaxed warmup
- Have an alert mind and senses
- Eliminate or block pre-race distractions
- Run in a hard, flow state
- Always moving up throughout the race
- Consistency at the start (find goal pace and stay there)
- Eyes up and breathing natural
- Run at my own pace, don’t let others dictate my race
- Challenge myself early in the season
- Indy Half only 9 weeks away
- 1:14:30 is 5:41 pace
- 10M in 56:30
- 5M in 28:15
- Don’t go out too hard
- Have fun, smile, enjoy the event, and be kind
I decided to open up my fall season with the River Run Half Marathon organized by Hermes Road Racing in Cleveland. Hermes organizes high-quality, low-key races and I thought it would be good to break up my training with a race. The course was point-to-point along the Cleveland Metropark in a net downhill race.
I wanted to have low expectations for my performance but still run hard and compete. It is difficult to balance training effort vs. racing effort when you are in a race lined up against other athletes. I was having a difficult time with my race plan so I spent 15 minutes writing down some quick goals before making the trip up to Cleveland.
When the race started there was a large group that quickly formed at the front. I was nervous about running in a large group because I didn’t want to turn my mind off and run at whatever pace the group ran. I wanted to run my own race and put in a max training effort. On the bus ride to the start I made a decision push on hills if there were any, so about a quarter/half-mile into the race when there was a small hill I began to push the pace and settled into a rhythm of running 5:30’s with Mark Grogan from Bay Village. I knew I was challenging myself with a harder effort than I had planned but I didn’t want to slow down and lose momentum. I practiced taking water at every stop because hydration and fueling during a race is something I wanted to work on.
After ten miles I started to feel my left hamstring tighten up and I slowed down to manage some of the stress. Unfortunately I ended up getting a really bad cramp/strain in my hamstring before mile 11 and I had to stop. I called it a day and walked to the finish since I didn’t want to cause any further damage to my hamstring. In hindsight, I went out more aggressively than I should have, but running at my own pace allowed me to practice focusing on my pace and my effort. Got to give a shout-out to Mark for pushing me through ten miles, and to Austin Olshavsky and Patrick O’Brien for overtaking us at the ten mile mark and pushing home strong to the finish. Definitely excited to see all those guys getting in shape and I think they will all make a big impact this fall.
- I came in with a throw-away race plan and ended up having a throw-away race. I wish I had spent more time thinking through exactly what I wanted to accomplish. Things will happen during a race that force you to make split-second decisions and without spending enough time before the race thinking through your goals and visualizing your race you will likely fall into the trap of responding the way you normally respond – which is not necessary the thing you want to do when you are seeking a break-through performance.
- Don’t underestimate the effort you will put into a race even if you only plan on doing a training effort. The draw of the competition and the race environment will make it much easier to run at a faster pace. It is good to use races in your buildup but you need to be extra cautious in your approach as to not overdo it and experience a setback in your training.
- The best way to grab a cup of water or Gatorade while running at high speed is to do so forcefully. Pick a line 100-200 meters out from the aid station, identify a volunteer that looks calm and has a fully-extended arm, and grab that cup like you mean it. You may knock out some of the liquid on contact but there will still be enough for you to take a quick sip and that’s all you really need. The worst thing to do is go for a cup and then miss it because it throws off your rhythm and concentration. I am still learning how to take water during a race so if you have any tips or advice please share them in the comments section below.
My next race will be the 10K road race that is a part of the Air Force Marathon weekend here in Dayton. The race starts at 6:30am on Saturday, September 21.
Follow me on Instagram @ohloru and put down a question or thought in the comments section below. You can also reach me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear your thoughts or ideas on how we can improve our performance and connect as a community of runners.