Back in January when I was taking my three week break from running post-Goofy, I decided to leave marathon training for the fall and focus on taking a big chunk of time off of my half PR this spring. I settled on Frederick because it late enough to give me a solid 12 week training cycle, but not so late that I had no hope for decent temperatures. I would run the Cherry Blossom 10 miler to give myself a sense of my fitness and then spend April working hard and fine tuning things. My plan was to train for a 1:45, perhaps a bit of a reach, but a time that I thought I could run if I put in the work.
Unfortunately, my return to running in February was derailed by piriformis pain and the discovery of my lazy glutes. So I postponed my return to the track and started PT. I made a lot of progress and, after a few weeks, initial forays into speed caused no pain so I figured I was back on track. I started back up with CAR workouts eight weeks before the race and figured I had plenty of time to get myself ready.
I ran Cherry Blossom on April 1 and felt good, but not great. It was a new PR, so I can't complain, but something felt a little off. I just didn't have that next level to go to in the second half, which at the time I attributed to still working my way back into shape. I looked forward to increasing my miles in April and getting in some good speed and tempo workouts. My workouts weren't awful, but they weren't all that great either. I had a hard time keeping pace with the group I ran with in the fall, though it made sense because they had been training hard since January and I hadn't. I was off my times from the fall as well, but those were from peak marathon training. But by the middle of April my times were actually heading in the wrong direction. I was getting slower and slower in workouts and feeling tired from the first lap. After wondering what was going on for a while, I had tests done earlier this week and confirmed that I am anemic, as I mentioned yesterday. Sadly, a few days of iron before the race aren't going to do much to change the way I feel.
So, where does that leave me for Sunday? While I've struggled at the track, I've felt better on long runs and had some pretty decent ones. I still have third gear, it's just fourth and fifth that are eluding me right now. Obviously, a 1:45 is out. While I'm hoping I can get pretty close to 8:00 minute miles at the end, there's just really no way that it will be my average pace. My current PR, from the 2011 National Half, is a 1:59:03. I feel confident that I can run faster than that. How much faster, I'm not totally sure. I think that if I have a really good day and everything goes my way I could get close to 1:50. However, I recognize that it's also quite possible that I could come nowhere near my PR.
I haven't decided if I'll run "watchless" or so I can see my pace, but my focus is going to be on running a smart race and staying within myself. I need to stay relaxed at the beginning and run with whatever I have left at the end. Things you should do in every race, but are especially important for me right now. It's not going to be the race I wanted to have back when I started this in January, but it doesn't mean that it can't be a race I take pride in.