Two weeks ago I ran the Philly RnR Half Marathon for the 12th time. This was also my 4th postpartum race and I had some high hopes – not PR hopes but I was sure I would finish sub-1:50. Well, I didn’t. Not even close: 1:56:41. It was unexpectedly humid and yes, that counted for something but it wasn’t solely responsible for my utter demise on the course.
Let’s review the past year, shall we?
LOVE Run: 1:53:08 (11 weeks pp)
Broad Street: 1:23:41 (4 months pp)
ODDyssey HM: 1:57:42 (5 months pp) –> can’t count this one in the mix. There’s a definite reason for my poor performance – sheer exhaustion. Matt came back from a 2-week work trip the day before the race.
RnR Philly: 1:56:41 (8 months pp)
Notice a trend? I’m getting slower. I distinctly remember reading Dr. Clapp’s book Exercising Through Your Pregnancy and being excited about postpartum running and all the potential PRs I envisioned myself running. It made sense. Physiologically, all those adaptions that take place when you run during your pregnancy hang around for 6 months to 1 year postpartum. That’s why some women run their fastest times in that year postpartum. Right?! Right?! Wrong. At least in my case.
What gives? I’m working hard and getting slower? How is this possible? I have a few theories that came to mind while running the RnR.
#1 – Get some blood work done, maybe something is off. I have been feeling off lately – some non-specific symptoms that have been hanging around for a few months now. I’m getting the blood work done this week so hopefully I’ll know soon.
#2 – I need to re-wire my brain to accept discomfort when racing. You know…head to the pain cave, get comfortable with being uncomfortable, blah, blah, blah. Turns out my brain has completely forgotten how to do this.
It seems that all my slow running could be to blame for #2. When I say slow running I’m talking about no speed work and running all runs at a comfortable, conversational pace (think MAF training without the heart rate monitor). This is the same slow running that is responsible for all my Fall 2012 PRs (5K to marathon), an enjoyable 36 weeks of pregnant running, and my injury-free and endurance-building return to running postpartum. What?!
I did some hard thinking after the Philly RnR. While my body craves that slow running, my mind craves finish times that are within 10 minutes of those 2012 PRs. It’s time to bring back some speed work. Gulp. I’m talking 400m, 800m, and mile repeats. Gulp.
Because of my change in training, I’m not running the Monster Mash Marathon on Oct. 18th. I was able to defer until 2015. I want to put 100% of my efforts into training for the Philly Half Marathon in November. And maybe come within 10 minutes of 1:41 (my current PR)!
If you’re keeping track I’ve been changing my mind a lot about my race plans for 2014. From a 50M -> 50K -> marathon…to half marathon? I should have relinquished all decisions about racing this year to Matt. He isn’t under the influence of hormones.
There is some good news. I ran 400s yesterday that aren’t too far off from my times while training for Boston in 2012. And I still get to run easy on most days 🙂
I can’t end a post without unrelated pictures of Fiona!
I think it’s smart to be flexible with race plans and go with what makes the most sense. For you, this sounds like a great approach. And get that bloodwork done just in case. It’s so common for women to have issues (especially thyroid) postpartum!
Fiona is adorable!
Katie Freed says
YES! I want to meet you to do some speed work together (my favorite – I know, I’m crazy!) let’s figure this out! I’ll email you…
I’m only 2 weeks in (Omg two weeks, how did that happen?) but I feel I can safely say having a baby turns your world upside down! It’s hard to predict how things will go, so you are smart to go with the flow. Fiona is gorgeous! I’m also with you – speedwork is terrifying.
Hey girlfriend–One other thing to consider is nutrition. Last time I saw you you were quite thin which on the one hand should be good for getting your times down because you have less weight to carry around but if you’re thinner because you’re not getting the right macronutrients then that could be part of the problem. I know it’s hard to eat right when you have a baby.
Smart decision to move the race to next year. This way you take the pressure off and focus on getting back into happy and fast running. You will get there, no doubt!
Oh gosh I always wanted to know when that fast running was going to kick in too. I think it is good to know your body though and get bloodwork done. I was feeling off for three months and kept saying something was wrong and I had mono (go figure lol). Hang in there! I feel you, it will get better!
Beth @ RUNNING around my kitchen says
I’ve gone through spells where I change my mind about races a lot….I think it feels worse if you have a blog, but you have to forget the appearance of it and listen to your body and do what’s right for you at that time. Training is constantly up and down and you learn from every race and those things are going to influence your decision. Focusing on a good half sounds like a great decision!