A few weeks ago was the annual running of the Sedalia (Missouri) Half Marathon. I was well aware that I would be running in this race for several months. I plunked down my $30 (a most reasonable fee considering what big city races cost.) And I trained intelligently.
Most road running races in the past few years have found me stepping up to the starting line feeling woefully underprepared. Despite my best intentions I trained when I could for these half- and full marathons. It was however never quite enough miles or speed-work. I found myself never quite training as fast or as far as I knew I should be for the distance. Sure, I am now 42 and there are limits to how fast a human can run as s/he ages. I get that. At the same time I know that I am tapped into what it takes to run faster than I have before because I am smarter than I was before. In preparation for the March 23 Sedalia race I put in adequate miles, stayed healthy, ate nutritious food and lifted weights regularly.
Come race day the weather was cool, but comfortable with no precipitation. The pool of other runners was around 150 as I had expected. A major psychological factor for me in this race was that there were so
few runners. After several big city races (~20,000 runners) I now know
that ain't for me. Give me a small race with 150 fellow racers anyday.
From the start I ran my race. I didn't attempt to keep up with anyone or beat anyone else. I set a pace that worked for me (as it turns out it was 7:38 per mile) and stuck to it. In the end I crossed the line in 12th place at 1:40:43 slicing two minutes off my personal best in the half marathon, which I ran at this race two years before. What told me I had run smartly was that I recovered fast. I was well enough to run-commute to work the next day in a snow storm and bike around town the following day.