In August, my mojo went on vacation. I just couldn't seem to push through longer runs or harder efforts. I tried to work through it, but in the first part of September I realized that pushing myself for so long had led to some burnout. I consulted a few friends who had dealt with this same problem and received lots of good advice. (you all know who you are - thanks
) I cut back my mileage for the rest of September and focused on getting more sleep. I ran a few local races to try to coax my mojo out of its hiding place, and was rewarded with some decent times.
The Governor's Cup is our local half marathon and is one of the largest races in our area each year. They offer both an 8K and a half marathon and up until a week before the race I was debating dropping to the 8K to make sure that I didn't over do it. I only had 3 runs over 12 miles in the month prior to the race, so I was worried about my endurance. In the end, the need to assess my current situation won out and I signed up for the half. We run this course (or many parts of it) often in our training runs, so we know it quite well. It is quite hilly, and not a PR course.
I saw BobS and many of my friends at the bank where we park on Saturday mornings for our training runs. It was in the mid to upper 40's which is almost perfect weather in my book. We all had to go over and pick up our chips and then had some time for a little warm up and multiple trips to the porta-johns. We lined up in front of the State House and I pointed out a few people to my training partner Dean who was hoping to run under a 7 minute pace. The Lieutenant Governor was the master of ceremonies and he got us going without a whole lot of fanfare.
The first mile is mostly downhill, so you just try not to work too hard. One of our friends dresses up as Superman every year for this race and he was sticking with me along in here. Mile 2 has a slight hill as it goes through one of the seedier parts of town, but Superman was enjoying the cheers from the drunks we passed through here. One of Superman's other friends came along through here, and they pulled away in search of a 90 minute time. I settled in with a group from the running store that had trained specifically for this race. They were holding a good pace and it was good to have some company.
After mile 4, the course starts moving downhill, so I worked on staying relaxed and letting the hill do most of the work. This is one section that we run almost every week so we know it quite well. We came up to mile 6, and they had a clock set up to show the time, and we were well under 42 minutes. I think that surprised both me and the group I was with, and they fell back almost immediately after that. The course is still downhill to flat from here to mile 8, so I kept working on relaxing and saving some for the uphill that was coming.
At mile 8, we start climbing back up the hills we have been coming down. It is almost 2 miles to the top from here so it's time to go to work. We run this hill many times, but for the race they have painted stripes across the road on the steepest parts of the hill. It really helped to focus on the short sections of lines and not the total length of the hill. Two of the younger guys in the training group flew by my on the hill, but I kept plugging along. Near the top, I caught up to another runner I had seen earlier. I passed him right after the mile 10 marker.
I made a mental mistake in here when I saw that my time through mile 10 was very close to a 7 minute pace. I started thinking about my finishing time when there was still a lot of race left. We made a turn onto the large street that pointed us towards the finish. A runner passed me like I was standing still in through here, and I tried to use him to pull me along but he was gone too fast. There was one last nice downhill as we came up to mile 12, and then the race directors have one final treat for the runners. There is a very steep hill in the last half mile of the course. I caught a younger runner right at the base and wanted to make sure that he didn't pass me with a kick at the end. I was starting to leak oil at the top, but managed to hold it together past the bus stop that marks the top of the hill. I rounded the last corner & could see the finish line ahead.
There was a large cheer from the crowd, but it wasn't for me. The second place woman was right on my tail, and I had to kick it in to hold off her charge. I hit the finish in 1:33:27. This was about 15 seconds faster than last year, so I was overall pleased with the result. I saw Dean & Superman and found that Dean squeaked in under 90 minutes while Superman was just a few seconds over.
I still have some work ahead of me to make sure that I am physically & mentally back to where I want to be, but this race was a huge boost.