Lessons Learnt

As I recover from ShamrockFest and recoil to start training again for my next race – the ODDyssey Half at home in Fairmount Park – there’s a lot I feel I can take home in terms of lessons learnt. It reminded me that even with my goals, I have a lot to learn as I continue running half marathons – and eventually in October – my first full.

I know my body has limits. I felt I was testing those limits as I pushed on in ShamrockFest. I had to listen to my body, could this work, or was I being foolish?

But it also made me think about being a smarter runner in general, not just the racing part but the conditioning part too.

1 I REALLY need to spend more time in the weight room. Due to travel, I’ve been slacking on this some, and furthermore, I really need to figure out a way to get in 1-2 lifting days in between my intense run without overstressing my muscles.

2 I really need to have a lightweight hydration belt where I can ALSO carry a few personal items. This one is easily fixable – I recently ordered the iFitness hydration belt online, and I don’t see myself regretting it. My training belt is good for training runs, but I cannot hardly carry anything in it. The iFitness belt – not as much water, but with water given on most race courses, this won’t be an issue. Not having a belt is also not the wisest choice for me as I get dehydrated easily and can be an issue in the May-September timeframe.

3 Be smart about your surroundings in a race with more participants, especially if you are in one of the faster corrals! This was a lesson I learnt the hard way on Sunday and you better believe I won’t be making that mistake again. I don’t have to be flapping my arms all the time, but people shouldn’t be catching my view out of the blue. And before you ask – no I do NOT wear headphones or listen to an iPod during an actual race. Training runs yes, but never the actual race.

4 When on the road, pay attention to the incline. I try to run on the flattest part of the road if possible, if a road is on an incline I tend to go to the bottom assuming I’m not off the road in a road race.

5 More participants in a race = allow more time to get to your corral! Another mistake I’d made, whilst I got to my corral in time, I did NOT have the time to stretch right before the gun went off and this might have hurt me with regards to my muscles tensing up. I stretched before leaving the hotel, but did NOT stretch again on the starting area, and in 41F weather, this could have been a problem.

6 I also need to stop slacking off on speedwork. Tempo runs, that I’ve been doing, but I need to find a way to get back to speedwork. I cannot reliably do Wednesday night runs anymore with the Philly Runner UC group because of work, which is a total bummer. I really need to incorporate a little more of this and more lifting in general if I am to complete my first marathon.

7 On the race path, I should try and anticipate what side the water stops are by knowing offhand what miles or landmarks the water is nearby. I made far too many dodges to the left and right sides of the road – I’m used to water/gatorade being on BOTH sides of the road in any type of race I’ve run. In Shamrock Fest, they alternated. The problem here was that I could have actually had a THIRD collision because of this. Some people slowed down for their water, but a good number actually did not.

This was my third half marathon, and whilst the race itself was a scary experience, I am thankful I wasn’t more seriously hurt. I’ve learnt my lessons, and I guess making mistakes, whilst costly, you learn from them (hopefully).

And in my case, in a way, a silver lining, it’s a good thing something like this happened to me in this race, as opposed to say MCM in October. It is what it is.

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