My first half marathon was on September 19th. My second was exactly two weekends later on October 2nd. And it was completely unplanned
A week after my big race, a friend asked me to run a half on October 2nd. Within ten minutes, I signed up. The timing of this second race was ideal – I was recovered enough, but still benefiting from my summer-long training. I joined the New York Road Runners in their two loops around Central Park as part of the Grete’s Great Gallop – a Norwegian Festival experience. Post race, we were treated to bagels with salmon and cream cheese – a true New York staple and an ideal post-race food.
The entire “Gallop”, my only goal was to beat my previous PR (Personal Record). I tried to run faster, but it was a hilly course compared to the flatness of my first race course. In the end, I tied my time – down to the minute. I finished in 2 hours and 17 minutes, just like my first half. Consistent.
It is true that I was keeping a watchful eye on the clock the entire race, and in the last stretch, forced myself to sprint to the finish line. I just couldn’t bear to come in a minute behind my previous time. To me, this is a new weird competitive drive that I am not used to. In general, I am not competitive. Not even slightly. Usually, I do not care – winning little insignificant battles aren’t victories that truly affect anything in life. But for some reason, during Grete’s Great Gallop, it would have been a disappointment if I couldn’t – at least – match my previous race time. So I did. But I fear this pressure will be there for every race. I understand now why runners are so obsessed with their PRs!
Both races have surprisingly turned on the competitive spirit inside me, and have pushed me to beat myself. But since this second race, I still don’t care about time during my solo runs. Now that my official training program is over, my only goal is to get three runs in a week and to run until I feel like stopping. I can feel how easier it is to run and by running less mileage at a faster rate, I know I am building up a strong base without putting crazy pressure on each run to beat a certain time.
My method is probably not one that serious runners would want to follow. I don’t like to focus on the details or worry about timing and numbers. I just want to get out there and run – to escape for an hour and a half and not think about anything. The minute I start obsessing about my time every run is the minute “training” starts to feel like too much work! That being said, I do keep a log of how far I run and how long it takes to do it.
I know the minute my sneakers hit the streets for my next half, my eyes will be on the clock. Let’s see if consistently logging “fun runs” will help when it comes to the little self-competition monster who will pop up once a chip is attached to my shoelace, or if several months from now, I’m seeking to beat my time every Saturday afternoon.
Some images from Grete’s Great Gallop, Central Park, NYC on October 2nd, 2010