Last Call Half Marathon Pre-Race Thoughts – and more!


I’m running a half marathon this weekend, and you know me, I just cannot run a race without a pre-race thoughts post, so here goes!

For the most part I’ve just been wanting to get this race over with already. If you couldn’t already tell, I’m a success-oriented person, so I don’t really like running races when I don’t feel I’m in tip-top shape for them. But I’m reminding myself that those races are the actually the ones that teach us the most about ourselves as runners, so with that in mind, I’m trying to embrace this as a learning experience going into marathon training instead of fretting over what an “acceptable” finish time will be.

No time goals or expectations for this race. I’m just not even going to go there. Every time I say something like “I don’t have a goal time but I’m hoping on a great day I could run somewhere around X:XX, but no pressure though!“, I end up expecting that of myself anyway because once I say it it’s in my head. And then I end up disappointed if I come short of it, even if I ran a great race. This is what happened last month at the MRF Half Marathon: I didn’t have an official goal but I had it in my head that I wanted to run a 1:50 or maybe even break it, so when I came in at 1:51- my second fastest half marathon time of the 8 half marathons I’ve run – I couldn’t help feeling a little deflated, even though that was an awesome time for me given my lack of training and the challenging course.

So I’m just not going to say anything, about any sort of time, at all. We’ll just have to see what happens.

Oh, and one more thing – I’m racing without my Garmin! I’ve been going back and forth about doing this and I notice that I keep trying to talk myself out of it. But, I’m putting my foot down, and I’m just going to do it. What finally pushed me over the edge was writing my last post and remembering my rule #4 about embracing the unknown. “Do something that scares you,” as the saying goes. I’ve raced Garmin-less before but only in 10Ks, never a race this long, so it’s kind of scary. But there’s going to be a lot of “scary” coming up in my Pittsburgh Marathon training, so I need to start getting more comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Since this is my first time racing a half marathon Garmin-free, it adds a feeling of “new-ness” to this race that I think will help take my mind off finish times. It’s a new challenge and it forces me to look at this race a different way, and I think that will be a good thing for me.

Speaking of races, I signed up for a 5K in a couple weeks!

I bit the bullet and signed up for the annual Run Into the New Year 5K on New Year’s Eve. I have done this race every year that I’ve been a runner (so two years, lol). Last year I did the 10K and set a huge PR. This PR, however, still has an asterisk next to it, as the course was a tiny bit short. My Garmin only registered 6.13 miles, and since I didn’t run perfect tangents there’s no way it wasn’t at least .1 short. My official race time was 48:43, and since it’s only .07 off you might be thinking, oh just get over it and own that time already! But I don’t feel comfortable claiming that time when I know in my heart I didn’t run 10K. I came close in September at the (Garmin-free!) Brewers 10K, with a 49:20, so I basically just consider that my PR.

ANYWAY. I’m off topic. So, yeah, I’m Running Into The New Year again. I was originally not going to do this race – I don’t want to interfere with marathon training, I don’t have that much interest in racing shorter distances, I don’t want to start overdoing it on the races again, etc. But, it’s become a fun running tradition for me, and I do like the idea of a NYE race. And, I have the day off work, so hey what the hell? It sounds a lot more fun than dragging my butt to the gym on a day off to do easy hill work on the treadmill. With a proper warm up and cool down (okay, let’s be honest, it will probably only be a warm up. Who actually runs a cool down mile right after a race??), it will total about 5 miles, which is about the total mileage I’d do for my speed workout anyway.

I said earlier that I have no idea what to expect for my upcoming half marathon but when it comes to this 5K I really have no idea what to expect. I haven’t raced a 5K in over a year! It is my least favorite distance, because I am just not a fast-twitch muscle kinda gal. Unlike some of my friends who are naturally speedy, endurance is much more my thing, which is probably why I enjoy marathons the most. current 5K PR also kinda has an asterisk next to it. I ran it in a fun run that wasn’t chip-timed and used my GPS (which was, at the time, the Nike+ phone app). According to that data I ran a PR of 23:21 that day, but even though it was on a 5K course and the GPS says 3.1 miles, and I did run really hard and was feeling great that night, I’m still kind of suspicious of that time. This was 18 months ago, when I hadn’t even been running for a full year, and it just doesn’t make sense that I could run that fast at that time. 23:21 is about a 7:30 average pace, which is a stretch for me even when I was in better shape. My fastest chip-timed 5K is 24:23, which I ran just over a year ago now. I may be suspicious of that 23:21, but I think I can do a lot better than a 24:23, so I’ve really been wanting a 5K PR even though I really don’t want to run a 5K.

When I signed up for this race I was asked to put a goal finish time, and I put 23:00. Again, I have no idea if that’s realistic but I guess we’ll see. This weekend’s half marathon might give me a better idea. It’d be nice to at least finally get a for-real PR, but again, we shall see. I’ll probably run this 5K Garmin-free as well. So yeah, I have no clue how to race 5Ks and I haven’t run one in a year and part of me thinks, what am I thinking? But then there it is again, that pesky rule #4, reminding me to embrace the unknown and get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Here goes nothin’!


13 thoughts on “Last Call Half Marathon Pre-Race Thoughts – and more!

  1. I struggle with runs “for fun”, usually only do those if Mrs Schlub is running with me so it takes the competitive aspect away. No Garmin are you crazy?!?! I could not do that, a 1-2 mile run is one thing but man oh man a half marathon, no way lol. I get crazy strict about my race times also, I want true mileage for my PR times. Good luck at your race!!

  2. My biggest fear about getting a running watch was become too fixated on the stats it gives me. I plan to use it for marathon training, but always go for at least one of my 3-5 runs per week without it!

  3. After building back from being injured for so long and the slowness that comes with adjusting your form for the better, I surprisingly got used to the new norm of not PRing and having “successful” races as far as times. It’s terrifying to think about running sans Garmin, however. Since I’m a data nerd, I think the only way I could do it is if I just made the watch face not display so at least I had the data in the end… good luck on your race!!

  4. YOU ARE BRAVE! A Garmin-less half marathon would set my anxiety levels to crazy heights. I hope you have a great race and it’s everything you want it to be.

    I have no clue how to race 5Ks either and I’ve sort of given up on them for the time being. When you figure it out please post tips 😀

  5. Good luck this weekend! I hope you have an awesome Garmin-free race! I ran my first 5 half marathons without a Garmin, but I did wear a regular watch so kind of not the same at all, lol. I think you did a great job with your 10ks sans Garmin, so hopefully the half is no different!

  6. I have only run the past 3 years with a Garmin…ENJOY! I may end up doing shorter races next year. I would like to see what I could do in a 5k, but I may be too old–It takes longer to get my speed up! I really think it would be easier to relax about races if they were cheaper…

  7. I am just like you – I don’t like running races when I don’t feel like I’m in tip top shape. In fact, I am passing on some holiday races for that reason. Partially because I know I want to run hard and won’t be able to post a time that I will be happy with, but also because I know I will try anyway and probably get hurt doing it. You are way more responsible and mature than me because you are going to run Garmin free and it will force to you run by effort! I personally think that you will do great and have a blast. I also don’t think a 23 min 5k is out of reach by any means. You are speedy, sister!!!

  8. I think we all know you’re fast enough to run a 23 minute 5k…look at your paces for your marathon! Don’t downplay your accomplishments…we know what you’re capable of! 🙂

    I hope you have a really awesome, fun race this weekend!

  9. You go Hanna!! Going Garmin-less is huge 🙂 That said I only peaked a few times at my Garmin my last race and tried to push myself off feel during those middle miles and it worked out wonderfully! I hope you have a wonderful weekend and race and finish smiling and strong 🙂
    I think you will pull off something pretty great no matter what…
    Isn’t that funny how we get suspicious of certain PR’s lol I have a few like that.

  10. I think if you’re truly running with no goal in mind, then running Garmin-less is a great way to go. Otherwise, at least for me, I would constantly be looking down to see my pace or my total time. So, I think that’s great! And I think it’ll be a great baseline for where you are when you just run what feels good.

  11. Good for you for running without your Garmin this weekend! I’m excited to read what you thought of the experience after. Good luck and enjoy!!

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