Thursday, September 1, 2011

One Of These Days Is Not Like The Others

The moment I have been anxiously waiting for over the past few months has arrived: the hourly forecast for the Virginia Beach half marathon has been published to

  • Temperature of 72
  • Dewpoint of 69
  • "Real Feel" of 75
  • Mostly Sunny
  • Winds at 9-10 MPH
I find it highly ironic that Sunday, Sept. 4 is the WORST possible racing weather out of any of the surrounding days. Although, I guess it falls in line with my "luck" because whatever race I decide to do usually gets abnormally hot weather. And on years when I don't do my favorite races, that's when the weather is nice. 

Why does Sunday have to be the hottest!?

I ran this race in 2005, 2006 and 2008-- all with very hot and humid weather. Ironically, 2007, 2009 and 2010 had below average temperatures. Now that I am racing again in 2011, the weather is forecast to be almost as hot and humid as it was in 2008, only sunnier. 

I had promised myself that I would never again do this race because I've always suffered from heat exhaustion and ended up bonking. But my coach said that racing a half marathon 4 weeks out from the goal full marathon is really a good idea. I knew when I registered for this race that I wasn't going to try and PR. But I've been running pretty well in the heat lately so I thought maybe I'd be able to do okay. And now it's looking like I'll have to target about 5-10 minutes slower than my PR, and I actually think I'm in better shape than when I was when I set this PR. 

So the next natural question is. . . is this race even worth it? Driving all the way down and back, spending the money on the hotel. Having to deal with all the race day logistics. Just so I can run a so-so race. Or worse, over-exert myself and not be able to resume training for awhile. 

At this point, I am seriously debating running the race. I'm feeling the beginnings of a sore throat, the forecast is scaring me, and I know that I'm not even going to come close to my PR. The reasons TO run the race are that I am really excited about it, it's a fun race, I get to see my friends who live there, and I have the racing bug. The original purpose, however, was to see where I was fitness-wise and hopefully get a good confidence boost leading up to the race. Those things will obviously not happen. 

If Sunday passes and there is no blog post, you'll know that I opted to stay home and swap in a 17-miler instead. If I do end up running the race, I'll start out very conservatively, and my goal will be a sub 8:20 pace (in other words, marathon pace for a half marathon). On Tuesday, my coach advised that I go out at a pace of 7:45, but that's definitely not sustainable in this kind of heat/humidity. 


  1. Oooh, I was there in 2008. Miserable. I took 5 minutes off my time at the Philly half just a few weeks later. But keep in mind that you'd be getting the whole race-day practice as well. Nutrition, mindset, effort--even if it doesn't result in the time you want. You can't duplicate those things in training. At least I can't. Whatever you decide--good luck :) (This is me race enabling, btw.)

  2. I say do it anyway. You don't know what race day will give you so you might as well practice. Yes, you might have to start slower and adjust your expectations, but you might actually surprise yourself and be able to push it on the back half. Either way, take it for what it is and don't let it ruin your excitement for the marathon and how well your training has gone.

  3. I agree with the enablers. race day practice is key!

  4. I think a trip to the beach is always worth it! And it can't hurt to get some race day practice either. :)

  5. I'm going to agree too. Even if the time is not as fast on a good day, if you practice the right strategy and finish fast, it will give you the same elation as a PR.

    Also, since the weather is not set to be so spectacular, this may be a really good time to set your watch to another mode once you've set a pace, so you practice "feels like". You'll be amazed what your mind will do for you if you let it, instead of a watch!

    Good luck!

  6. Okay, okay. You all have me convinced. I will run the race as a practice for race day nutrition, strategy, etc. I am just SO SCARED of bonking at this race like I usually do. I'm not going to care about my time, but rather that I finish strong and really push.

  7. I also have the worst luck with race weather, so I know your conundrum! But I think it's a good idea to do the half marathon anyway. What if it's the same weather at Lake Front? You might be mad at yourself if it is, ya know!?

  8. Rock and Roll! Rip it up!