One of the more memorable races of 2011, for all the wrong reasons, was the 38th annual Hospital Hill Half Marathon in KC. 83 degrees at the start of the 7:30 AM race, with about 140% humidity, was something that you really can't prepare for. I had attached the 12 weeks of training for that race onto the back of training for a half marathon in Abilene, in which I was unable to hit my goal time. It took a while to figure out what I needed to do to hit 1:50:00, and it really started with Hospital Hill. Granted, no matter what I had done I was going to struggle through that oven of a morning, but even had the weather been right, I was not to a point in training where I was going to be able to shave that much time off in order to hit my goals. What I had learned was that it is tough to maintain a consistent goal pace, and that it is easier to pass that pace and then ease back towards the goal pace.
I was able to use that to hit 1:50:00 in Kansas City in October. After that two mile warm-up, it was all systems go, as I was running at a pace nearly 60 seconds/mile faster than what I needed. For a long stretch, I was able to set a pace that was drastically quicker than my goal, and allowed me to not press too much during the final couple of miles. I was just glad I hit the time, otherwise I would have questioned if I had it in me to hit goals.
Hospital Hill will be coming up on June 2nd, and I'm using it as an opportunity for a little revenge on the Hospital Hill course. I know it isn't the race's fault that it was a truly brutal day, but there were a lot of factors at work that made it so difficult. I'm going to be more ready this time around. I finally ditched the Brooks shoes (too narrow in the base, thus all the over-pronation issues), picked up some more comfortable kicks, and already have been able to enjoy the terrific weather we have had throughout the winter. Of course, if it is 80+ degrees again, I'm not sure things will go the way I want. I set some modest goals for times this year, but I didn't spend nearly as much time running after the Disney Marathon as I did last winter, and I certainly have lost my edge, speed wise. If I'm going to have any racing success this year, I'm going to really have to grind, and find a workable schedule. This probably means running when I get off work in the morning every time, as opposed to mixing and matching between evenings and mornings. We'll see how it goes. Until next time...later.