Let me dismiss the possible reasons quickly.
1. Burnout. Bah! No. I should be able to run 13+ miles on a weekend (at a moderate effort) without LOSING fitness. Isn't practice supposed to make you faster?
2. Race conditions. No. Today was the mildest of all three weekends thus far. No rain. The course did have some hills in the second half, but I was already slower than befor in the first half, which was mostly flat.
3. My preparation. Well. Maybe. I'll come back to this.
Other than my extreme slowness, the Nookachamps half marathon progressed very similarly to last year, except about a minute per mile more slowly.
The first few miles--an uphill or two and some downhill, went pretty well. Last year sub-8:45, this year around 9:30. Then we got into flat farmland. Though this should be easy, the long straight lines seemed to make it hard to hold a pace. Last year I'm sure I was bobbing over 9:00 (I was hoping to stay sub-9). This year my 9:30s dipped closer and closer to 10.
Around 5 miles we went through the town of Clear Lake. This was a nice change! We also went up a short, steep hill. Perhaps because I was travelling with a slower crowd, I noticed more walk breaks around me. I have nothing against that. Frequently those who take breaks then speed up and pass me!
I was not staying under 10:00 in these middle miles. This was rather frustrating, but I didn't seem capable of pushing up the pace. I began to wonder if perhaps I hadn't done a great job of pre-race fueling this time around. I've been trying hard to lose a few pounds, and although I'm not having a lot of success there, I have been pretty strict with my eating. (Except for 200-300 calories of unauthorized treats most days. But I do include that in my totals.) Yesterday I didn't bother with any carb-loading for dinner, and went with a veggie scramble (I have lots of eggs in the fridge) and a double fiber English muffin with light butter and strawberry jam. Low cal and low carb.
With that in mind, at the next aid station I actually passed by then came back to get some (weak) Gatorade. (Lost some time there.) Around mile 7 I ate my Gu, hoping for a boost.
From mile 7.75 to about 9.5 there was an interminable out and back...talk about slogging! One difference from last year, though, is I'm sure I was getting a second wind then, while today I was just struggling.
Once back on the main road, we headed uphill to the 10 mile mark. There would be a couple more hills, I knew, but the last mile should be downhill! (By this time we were retracing the starting miles.) I really did try to push myself from mailbox to mailbox, telephone pole to pole! (Last year I did that at close to 8:30 pace...nuff said.)
I crossed the finish line just over 2:11. Another :( My Garmin gave me an exact 10-minute mile pace. The total distance was 13.15, hence the extra seconds.
One other comment about the race NOT about my running...there was a little too much traffic on the quiet country roads and I am sure the cars were not thrilled with runners on the road. At one point in the early miles, a car drove by blaring his horn the whole way with the driver shouting out the window that we needed to go single file. Not in a nice way. I was never sure if this was an irate local or somebody from the race organization trying to get us in line! It was quite disturbing. It's hard to run completely single file and run your own pace.
That was my only complaint, though (except for my own performance). I ran 1.7 mile warm-up beforehand, and I should have run a little more after to bump my total to 15, but my legs DID NOT want to run any more after I finished. So I didn't. 14.85 miles total.
I should mention that I scrapped my run+speedwork on Wednesday due to SNOW. Several inches on the ground overnight. It did go away by the end of the day, but I opted to make that day a rest day anyway.
Next up, MAUI! (I really gotta go pack!)
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