Gearing up for My First National Championship Half!

imageThe past few months I’ve been buried under miles and Clif Bars in preparation for my next race, which I am super excited about! On April 30th, I’m racing in my first U.S.A. Half Marathon Championship at the Cap City Half in Columbus!

I began my training cycle for this race in early February, but a couple of weeks into it and it became clear that something was off. I had little aches and pains everywhere, slogged through every training run, and felt like my workouts were way more of a struggle than they should have been. Worst of all, I didn’t feel the joy in training I usually do. After a few weeks of wondering what was wrong with me, I finally realized what was going on.

Time for a flashback. Back in January, I met Salty and Cinnamon at the Jacksonville Bank Half. More precisely, I met Salty on the bus to the pre-race dinner. She sat next to me and I told her I was there to run a 1:15 or faster and qualify for the Olympic Trials Marathon. The next morning, I lined up in the dark rain and gave it my all, but fell short by 35 heart-breaking seconds, finishing in 1:15:35.

Back to the present. The reason I was struggling in training was that my heart was still totally broken over missing out on the Olympic Trials by such a small margin. It takes some time to recover from disappointment like that both mentally and physically. Thankfully, my coach knows me better than I know myself when it comes to running. Knowing what I was going through, he gave me workouts that I could handle and helped me get through the rough patch until my body and mind were finally ready to woman-up and get after it!

So here I am now just a couple of weeks out from my first National Championship race, feeling healthy and ready! Aside from my slow start back to training, everything has been going well. My weekly mileage has been right around 90 and I’ve been working really hard to avoid throwing any junk miles in there (with the exception of my once-a-week easy day when I could easily be dropped by the Salty Snail … or mistaken for it). I’ve completed some solid long-run-tempo workouts and the usual mile and 1000 meter repeat workouts. Next week will be the last big week of training and then I’ll reduce my mileage a tad to freshen up for the 30th! If you’re curious for more details about my training, you can see what I’ve been doing in my training logs here.

A major milestone for me!

As I’ve said, this is my first post-collegiate National Championship race, so I’m keeping it in perspective. Odds are I won’t win, but this race is a stepping stone for this season of my training and racing, as well as in my greater running career. No matter the outcome, it will be a very useful experience. I know I have a lot to learn about road racing and the Cap City Half will be a great race to gain that knowledge.

That being said, in terms of goals for the race, I have a few:

1. COMPETE. There is no pressure to run a certain time, which I am super excited about! I want to do my best and race the other women rather than my watch.

2. Get uncomfortable. I have nothing to lose in this race. Zero. This is not a race where I am planning to go out conservatively and cautiously. Obviously, I want to race smart and relaxed to avoid a blowup, but if the pace of the pack I’m with feels a tad too fast for me, I’m just going to have to dig in and hang on.

3. Enjoy it. It’s easy for me to get so tense and serious about races that it turns into work rather than play! My coach told me after a recent workout that I need to remember to enjoy training and racing. As simple as that sounds, it really hit me: this is what I love to do and I can’t let self-imposed pressure and nerves get in the way of that! I mean, how often do you get the chance to run with a ton of the fastest ladies in our sport?!

What goal races do you have coming up?

I'm an aspiring elite runner from the DC/Northern VA area. I love road racing and am currently training for a half marathon in April. I write about attempting to balance a career with running and enjoying the process of training and improving!

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  1. I love that one of your goals is to get uncomfortable. Stepping out of your comfort zone is the best way to have a breakthrough. Super excited for you, Bethany!

  2. Woohoo! This is so exciting. Can’t wait to hear all about it!

    FWIW, I don’t think Sal would ever drop you on a run. s/he is all about teamwork 😉

  3. It is sometimes hard to bounce back from disappointing race results, and it’s good that you recognized it, and were able to work through it. Good luck in the 1/2- it will be exciting to hear about your race!!

  4. First of all, the picture slays me. Awesome and I know the feeling! Ha! Second, you are such a great runner! So talented and so tenacious. I know it’s like the millionth time I’ve told you this, but as for the Olympic Trials and you? It’s just a matter of time! In the meantime, I suspect you might place pretty high at the Champs! Can’t wait to see you killin’ it!!!!