Spring Half Marathon Training - Week 12

What a great week! Things have finally normalized, at least for a little while, and I nailed my training plan - 100% as scheduled, 100% of my paces - for the first time in a few weeks. Every week I feel like I'm just kind of chugging along with my training and getting it done without thinking too much about how it will translate to race day. Speaking of, I made the decision to forego the NJ Half Marathon since I just don't think it's realistic with my new location and job. Instead, I am now officially registered for the Ocean City Island to Island Half Marathon that runs from Assateague Island to Ocean City, Maryland. I feel really good about having had a strong week leading up to the race!

Spring Half Marathon Training - Week 11

This was another crazy week of moving stuff, which meant another week of moving my training around. Moving didn't go at all as smoothly as we had hoped, and it took a few days to get through it. That clearly took its toll on my training, but I did the best I could! Luckily things were fairly back to normal by the end of the week, and over the weekend I ran another race (a 10k) and got to ride my bike outside for the second time since Ironman Louisville!

This week I learned that my race plans for New Jersey are probably not going to work out, as I finally got my start date for my new job (i.e. the reason I just moved) and it's the Monday after the NJ half. I had originally planned on Monday being a travel day after Sunday's race, and it's probably a bit too far of a drive the day before starting a new job (plus I was really looking forward to hanging out after the race and don't really want to get in a car for 7 hours immediately after finishing). I'm really bummed that this race weekend I've been planning for the last few months isn't going to happen, and I've been looking for alternatives so that at least all of my training won't go to waste. I think I have found a decent option - the Ocean City Island to Island half in Maryland - but I haven't made a decision for sure yet and probably won't until later this week or early next week.

Spring Half Marathon Training - Week 10

This was a weird week because it was moving week (which is also contributed to why I am a week behind posting it, in addition to the fact that I actually wrote this last week but Blogger ate it - the first time that has ever happened to me!). Despite the moving craziness, I managed to get in all of my miles and pull off a couple of hard workouts, including a new 5K PR (22:47)!

SPRING HALF MARATHON TRAINING - WEEK 9

This week was my last hard week of base-building before the New Jersey Half *praise hands emoji*! It was my biggest week of training, both in terms of mileage and hard workouts, and it was a good one despite its imperfections. I'm feeling stronger than I have in a long time!

I realized after my run on Saturday that my mileage for this month is the highest it's been since December 2013! That month happened to coincide with my peak training for my first marathon, and also happened to have 5 weekends, so I haven't even come within 10 miles of that record (155 miles) since then and have always considered it kind of a fluke. Given the extra long run in that month, a total of 86 of that month's miles were made up of long runs. By contrast, this month I'm not in peak marathon training, or in marathon training at all, and my long runs (of which there were 5 again since this month also had 5 weekends, so a fair comparison) only made up 54 of my 152 miles. I've never been a high-mileage runner and, admittedly, 35 mpw is not exactly high, but in the last 2 months the majority of my runs have been 6-10 miles, which was definitely out of my comfort zone when I first started and took some adjusting to. In the last couple of weeks I have really felt like I've gotten the hang of my new training approach and I'm excited to see where it gets me going forward!

Spring Half Marathon Training - Week 8

This was a harder week than I was expecting! I didn't feel that sore after Shamrock on Sunday, but I did feel tired. All week I struggled to feel like I was getting enough sleep, and I could definitely feel the impact of my race on my couple runs of the week (thankfully they were already scheduled as easy runs). 

I've been trying to write my Shamrock recap and for some reason I just haven't been able to get the words down yet. I love this race so much and this year might have been my best and favorite year yet, so I'm not sure why I'm having a hard time getting my thoughts out. I'm also coming up on two months of working with a coach, and I've mentioned tidbits here and there about that's going, but I think I might try to pull together a post about my thoughts on it two months in.

Spring Half Marathon Training 2018 - Week 7

This week was great for me and hugely confidence-boosting. I really took the mistakes I made and the lessons I learned from Rock n Roll last weekend to heart and was able to correct them quickly enough to nail one of my big races this spring, the Shamrock Half Marathon. Shamrock is such a special race to me and this Sunday - 6 years to the day since my first half marathon - luck was definitely on my side. 

This was my 7th week working with a coach and I'm honestly not sure I could have made it to this point in just 7 weeks without her. It is crazy to me to think that just under 2 months ago I hired her after an 8:47-pace 10-miler that felt like death, and in just two months I worked my way back to an 8:22-pace half marathon that felt strong AF. What's even crazier is that I'm still not quite back to where I was a couple of years ago, but I don't even care because I am putting in the work to get there and I'm just so happy with the results so far. 

Rock n Roll DC Half Marathon Recap

I have run this race twice before, but both of those times I ran with and paced someone else, so this was my first time running it on my own effort. I wasn't quite racing it, though, as I signed up for it several months ago solely because there was a sale and it's local - why not use it as a training run with 7000 of my closest friends? I had intended for it to be a long marathon training run - running to and from the race would have given me 18 miles, exactly the number I had planned for this weekend on my NJ Marathon training plan - but since I decided to switch the the NJ half about 6 weeks ago, I wasn't sure if or how this race was going to fit into my new plans. I'm running Shamrock, one of my goal halfs for the spring, next weekend, so running a half marathon the weekend before a goal half seemed...excessive? But my coach Katie had the idea to use RnR DC as one of my workouts for this week, and since she is smarter than me and I trust her, I decided to go ahead and do just that.


Spring Half Marathon Training 2018 - Week 6

I am so happy to finally be over the cold that kept me down all last week! I thankfully never got super sick, but it was enough to completely zap my energy and just make me feel off. It was so good to feel like my normal self again this week!

This week I did all my weekday runs in the morning, and I have no idea why I didn't start that sooner. Over the last few weeks running after work has been bothering me more and more. I hate getting home from work, getting dressed to go right back out, and therefore not really getting home from work until 7:30. I try to go to bed at 9 or 10 so that doesn't leave me a lot of time for dinner, hanging with Ben, chores, etc. and I couldn't handle it anymore so I promised myself I would give it my best shot to run in the mornings and just see what happened. It was so much less of a hassle running in the mornings, and it was really nice having a couple those weeknights completely free! I'm worried about how next week is going to go with the time change since I'm not super comfortable running when it's as dark as it's going to be at 6:00am now, but I hope I can keep doing morning runs.

Central Park Half Marathon Recap

As I've mentioned already, my race plans for the spring have evolved quite substantially from what I thought they would be even a few weeks ago. This race was originally supposed to be a marathon training run/race, and when I decided not to run the marathon anymore it became more of a "physical fitness test" to see where I am in my running ability right now. I've lost some speed to Ironman training over the last couple of years, which has been a hard pill to swallow. I've been expecting it to come back immediately and it's just not, so over the last month or so I've started to take a step back and reevaluate my goals, so my plan was to use this race - the first half marathon I have raced in 2 years! - to find my starting point. I started working with a coach and have been working really hard to get that speed back and get even faster, so this race was the first step in this new journey!

My time goal for this race was pretty broad, by design. I knew it wouldn't be a PR (1:48), but I hoped to finish between 1:50-1:55, which I felt like was a good range. I've only run two sub-1:50s, so I knew that 1:50ish was probably a little ambitious but I was curious to see how close I could get, and 1:55 is the time I've been aiming for in the last two half marathons I've run since IM Louisville. I finished those in 1:57 and 1:56, so I was hopeful that this time I could at least make 1:55 happen.

More than anything, I wanted this to be a good, fun, solid race. The last two halfs I ran didn't go well for a lot of different reasons. They didn't feel good and I didn't really enjoy them, and that's a huge bummer. I run because I do enjoy it (even if I don't enjoy every second), and it always sucks to have races that I don't feel like I get anything positive out of. I was overdue for a half that I felt good about, with a time that I felt like aligned with where I am in my running journey right now.

I talked to my coach Katie on Thursday night before the race and we talked about time and pacing strategy, but we also talked about process/non-time goals. She is really big on process goals and so am I, in theory, but in practice I usually have a hard time coming up with them! She had a few suggestions to get me started, and as we talked I identified a few things I wanted to accomplish during this race:

1. Try not to look at my watch.
Katie gave me the goal of not looking at my watch after the first 2 miles, which was very scary for me. I actually tried this for the first time ever during the Kiawah Half and it did not go well. I made it 9.5 miles without looking, but when I did I was disappointed by my pace and already havng a tough time and the wheels totally came off after that.  The idea behind this being that I have an idea in my head of what certain paces feel like and what's too fast and what's too slow, but I'm working on redefining that because a lot of times my brain is flat out wrong. 

2. Be nice to myself. 
I talked abot this in my Kiawah recap, but I didn't start that race in the best mindset, and I got into a weirdly dark place during that race. I'm not sure why I went into it so negatively, other than the fact that it was supposed to be a fun race weekend and it didn't end up at all like I was expecting (weather was crappy, I was sick, etc.), so from the start I think I felt kind of like what is even the point of this? Nothing was that wrong and nothing bad happened during the race, so it was sort of weird that there was no obvious catalyst for it, but by the end of that race I hated running. I hated every single step and I just wanted to stop more than I have ever wanted to stop running in my life. Looking back I think I was dealing with some burnout, that possibly - or even probably - I didn't give myself enough time off after Louisville. Whatever the reason, it was a very bad race for me mentally, and given that that was the last half marathon I ran before Central Park, one thing I really wanted to do this time was to be more positive. I got really negative and really down on myself during Kiawah that I wasn't able to run like I thought I should be able to and it just wasn't a good experience.

I'm really hard on myself in general, which I know sounds sad, but I honestly don't have a lot of positive self-talk. That's just not where my brain naturally goes so I have to try really hard to look at the bright side and tell myself nice things. And when I'm running and it's not going as well as I would like, it's really difficult for me not to default to a lot of negative self-talk. So one of my goals this time was to be nice to myself, and since it doesn't come naturally me to usually, I tried using a technique that actually has been coming to me fairly easily recently: I've been thinking a lot lately about races when I felt really happy or strong or really enjoyed so I've been trying to channel those. I know I'm never going to be able to replicate any past experience 100% - every race is different, of course - but I wanted to be able to cycle through in my mind a few different races that for whatever reason made me feel good and feel good about myself. I thought that reminding myself that not all or even most of my races have been like Kiawah, and that I have run a lot of races I enjoyed or felt sucessful during, would help me regain some confidence.

3. Run the mile I'm in. 
That's something else Katie brought up, but it's a mantra I've had for a while that I try to use when I'm really struggling to try to focus on taking one mile at a time. I've always thought about it as focusing on the mile I'm in, but recently I realized it can also mean not focusing on the mile I'm not in. That might be really obvious to everyone but me but I had never looked at it that way before. In the last couple of halfs I've run I've definitely gotten overwhelmed in the beginning thinking that if the race feels hard in those miles, the next X miles are going to feel so much worse. While I think there is definitely some room for that - pacing is important so thinking about the later miles is kind of necessary for that - I think I let those thoughts spiral too much and be too quick to draw the conclusion that if mile 2 is hard then mile 10 is definitely going to be hard and I should just stop trying or caring. So that was something that I wanted to avoid this time and not think about the later miles. I had always thought of this as more of a mental strategy than a practical one, but it hit me for the first time that if I'm running mile 2, I can't think about mile 3 or mile 6 or mile 8 because not only am I not running those in the present moment, I physically can't run those miles until I get to them and nothing I do in my current mile is going to change that fact.

Race Day
This race didn't start until 9:00am which was much appreciated! I don't mind earlier start times and actually sometimes appreciate them, but I started coming down with a cold on Friday and, despite all  my efforts to abate it, when I woke up on Saturday to drive to New York I felt awfult. I had a headache and my back hurt and my stomach hurt, I think from taking so much cold medicine, and I just didn't feel right at all. I was seriously concerned that I wouldn't feel better for the race (but also thankful the race wasn't on Saturday because that would have been a total distaster). I ended up sleeping in a little more than I had planned to to rest up as much as I could, and the later start time meant that I could get a good night's sleep on race eve without going to bed at an unreasonably early hour.

Alyssa and I left her apartment about 30 blocks north of the race start at 8:30am, walked to the subway in light rain (which would continue for the duration of the race), and made it to the start with just enough time to spare to hit the porta-potty. I had read before the race that there wouldn't be any waves so I wasn't too worried about the possibility of starting a little late. This race didn't actually utilize any type of corral system - I had assumed that there would be signs with paces to self-seed, but it wasn't even that. People just lined up in the start line as they showed up, so since we got there later we were definitely toward the back of the line. 

We were only in line for a couple of minutes when the horn blew and we were off! We could see people ahead starting to run and we made our way to the start line and took off. There were just over 1000 runners so it definitely wasn't small, but it wasn't big by any means. There was some congestion the first couple of miles, which was a little worrisome since the course was almost 3 loops through the park, so I thought there might not be enough room to spread out, but it really didn't end up being an issue. 

The course is made up of almost 3, almost-5 mile loops around Central Park, starting on the West side at 96th Street, heading south to around 70th Street before turning to get to the East side of the park and heading north to the top of the park and snaking through the northern part of the park, up and around Harlem Hill (which I now know is a thing) before turning back south and going not even a full mile to get back to the start line. We did that two full times, and the third loop was probably close to 70% of the full loop (the finish line came just before what would have been the third time hitting Harlem Hill). I have run a 3-loop course once during a 70.3 and suprisingly liked it, but the loops on this course felt a little long to me for some reason and the race felt like it dragged on just slightly.

Spring Half Marathon Training 2018 - Week 5

Well, this week did not go at all as planned! When I started getting sick last week my sole focus was making it through the race healthy(ish), and I was fortunately able to do that, but I was still sick for most of the week following the race. I had to skip one of my workouts completely, significantly shorten another one, and therefore lower my planned mileage substantially. It's definitely frustrating, but considering that my spring goals are things I am aspiring to and not necessarily hellbent on hitting,  I'm not as stressed over this setback as I would normally be. It was a weird week for a lot of reasons, but I'm finally feeling almost back to normal so I'm ready to move on from this crappy week!

Spring Half Marathon Training 2018 - Week 4

This week was a stepback week since it was race week! I definitely enjoyed the decrease in volume, although I didn't feel like I had any more time throughout the week than I usually do (how does that work?). My weekday runs ended up feeling worse than my runs have felt in a while, and I started getting sick on Friday, so any confidence I had managed to build up about the Central Park Half kind of dissipated by the weekend. I pounded cold medicine all weekend and woke up on Sunday feeling faily normal, and I ended up having a pretty great race on a pretty tough day on a pretty hard course. It ended up being exactly the comeback race I had been hoping for.

Spring Half Marathon Training - Week 3

This week was a little bit rough. Not for any major reason, I think I some of the newness and excitement of my new training plan was wearing off and it felt like a little bit more of a grind than the last couple of weeks have. There were also a few times I got a little sad over the fact that I'm not training for a full marathon anymore. There is something magic about that distance and I am excited for whenever I get back to it, but I'm just not ready for it now and that's okay. Those bittersweet feelings don't last too long, though, and I tend to get over them when my long runs on the weekends take less than two hours!

My first half marathon of the year is this weekend and I would be lying if I said I am feeling ready.  I feel like I'm in a good place, but I've run two half marathons since the Ironman craziness ended and both were somewhat disastrous and I'm hoping that this weekend doesn't add another one to that list. I can't even remember the last time I ran a solid, strong half marathon, so I'm feeling a little anxious about taking on that distance again. I know I can get through 13.1 miles, but I'm just not sure I can get through them as gracefully as I would like to. I am so desperate to feel like my old, pre-long distance triathlon self again. I'll find out this weekend if I'm there yet and, if not, I have at least 2 more opportunities this spring, not to mention a lifetime after that. It's fine. Everything is going to be fine.

How + Why I Hired a Running Coach

The though of hiring a coach has come into my mind a handful of times over the last couple of years, although never seriously until right before I actually did it. It's an idea I've toyed around with, off and on, for all kinds of different reasons, but until now I never felt compelled to follow through with it.

Some of you may remember that I did work with a coach while I was training for IMNC, but that was a) because, even with a 70.3 and some 26.2s under my belt, I didn't even know where to start when it came to training for 140.6, b) more of a group thing since everyone else I was training/racing with was using him also, and c) more focused on the practical/logistical aspect of doing something I had never done before and had no idea how the hell to approach, rather than the mental complexities that just come with running for me. Hiring a coach to get me to the finish line of a big race felt and still feels like a totally separate thing than hiring a coach to basically hold my hand and tell me that I'm doing okay which, to be perfectly honest, is 90% of what I need right now.

I think the idea of a running coach was different than a triathlon coach also because training for running races has always been kind of rinse-and-repeat for me. I started running using the Couch 2 5k program and I really believe that having that structure and guidance helped me, as someone who was completely new to running, build a foundation and learn how to train up to further distances. Once I made it through C25k I started on the Bridge to 10k program, and from there I was able to build up slowly and gradually to a half marathon and eventually to a marathon. In that way, training for running has always been a linear process in my mind, so even though I've wondered if coaching might help me in other aspects, like speed, I've just never really felt it was necessary (not to mention the idea of lil 'ol middle-of-the-pack me having a coach seemed ludicrous, which is definitely something I considered when making this decision).

Until recently I was training for marathon #7, and I was doing it the same way I have trained for all my other running races: with a spreadsheet filled with a training plan I found on the internet. This approach has worked for me almost 90 races now so, you know, if it ain't broke don't fix it, I guess. Except that this time...something did feel broken. To be fair, it wasn't really the training plan, it was the training itself and the fact that now just might not be the right time for me to run a marathon, but it just wasn't working. Nothing was majorly wrong, but little things kept piling up until I just felt...lost. I'm getting a little ahead of myself here, but one of the first things Katie asked me when we talked was why I wanted to run the marathon I was training for, and I coudn't give her (or myself) an answer. Not right away and not even after over 24 hours of trying to come up with one. I knew why I had signed up for the marathon but I didn't know why I was still forcing myself to go through with it when my training hadn't been going the way I had hoped, other than because I could. I didn't know if the marathon really was my goal for the spring, or if maybe I had other goals that would better suit me right now. I didn't know what was even realistic to expect from myself or what my true current fitness was. As I struggled with that, suddenly the idea of a coach made more and more sense. I didn't need someone to help me figure out how to get from Point A to Point B; I needed someone to help me figure out where Points A and B even were.

So I ultimately made this decision the way I do most things in life: slow at first then all at once.

Spring Half Marathon Training 2018 - Week 2

One of the reasons I got a coach was to push my limits in a safe and informed way, and the past two weeks, and this week in particular, have definitely pushed me. I know I am totally capable of pushing myself on my own, but it was really easy to make excuses - both for the better and for the worse - when I was on my own. It's a really different experience going into a workout knowing that someone who knows my capabilities and my strengths and my weaknesses prescribed me a workout that will challenge me but still be appropriate for my ability level. I still have progress to make - lots and lots of it - but I guess what I'm saying is that I am enjoying the fact that a lot of the guesswork has been taken out. 

The downside of coaching for me - and I knew this would be an issue so I'm trying to work throuh it while making sure my coach knows that it's not her, it's me - is that completely giving up the reins can be scary. I'm now training at fast paces for maybe 20% of my miles, with the rest fairly easy, and none at my actual goal pace. This is the complete opposite of the way I have ever trained (because it was just me on my own and I didn't know what I was doing...), so shifting to trust that this way works is a lot! Plus, the fast paces are very fast for me. Seeing them on my schedule sometimes makes me scared and uncomfortable, and I was really honest to my coach about that and about how I often doubt my abilities. We had a whole discussion about what I think and perceive about certain paces, and what I think I'm "supposed" to be able to run and not run. I told her how I truly believe all my PRs were flukes because I have no idea how I ever ran as fast as I've been able to in the past, to which she replied that I really need to start thinking of myself as fast, because I am. As a former 12+ minute mile runner, that just sounded ludicrous to me (I was like no but seriously does this girl know I barely finished Couch 2 5k?), but in the interest of trying to shift my mindset about my running, I really tried to take her advice. Running confidence is definitely a work-in-progress for me, and I know it's going to take some time to get to where I want to be on that front.




Kiawah Island Half Marathon Recap


Oy.

Where to start? Just come out and say this might have been my least favorite race ever? Because it might have been. No disrepect to Kiawah or the race organizers - it's not you, it's me.

I signed up for this December race last April, which is the farthest in advance I've registered for a race (not counting Ironman since they don't give you a lot of choice) in quite some time. Last March my cousin came up to DC to run Rock n Roll as his first half, and of course immediately afterward we started brainstorming for his next one. I'm originally from Charleston and all of my extended family lives there, including my cousin, so Kiawah jumped out to both of us. I'd heard so many good things about this race and it had been on my radar for a long time. One of the things I really wanted to do post-Ironman was start to finally start doing some of the races I'd put on hold over last couple of years because they would have interfered with my IM plans, so we decided that Kiawah was a go.


This race was 8 weeks after Ironman Louisville, and initially leading up to the race I had half a mind to get in a mini training cycle and try to PR (1:48). That idea quickly came to a halt after I ran a 1:57 half just 3 weeks post-IM that felt like the hardest race I'd ever run in my life, and I realized my legs just weren't ready for that kind of speed yet. My running in between Louisville and Kiawah was consistent, but not fast. After I let go of that short-lived PR dream, I still held onto the hope that I could run a 1:50-1:55ish (i.e. where all of my non-PR attempt and non-casual training run half marathons have landed in the last few years) and begin the process of getting back to my old times.

Spring Half Marathon Training 2018 - Week 1

This week I started over. I rebooted. I refreshed. I stopped one training plan and started another one. I began what will probably be a long process of shifting my mindset. And I admitted I needed helped doing it - so I got a coach (details forthcoming). 

The view you get when you use the Reflecting Pool as your track
Monday 1/29 - Gym / 11 trainer miles

Tuesday 1/30 - 
7.3 mile interval run @ 8:59
  • 4x5 min intervals @ 7:50 goal pace 
  • Actual 7:49, 7:39, 7:40, 7:40
Wednesday 1/31 - 2000yd swim / 6 mile easy run @ 9:35

Thursday 2/1 - 
7.5 mile interval run @ 8:59
  • 4x4:30 intervals @ 7:15 goal pace 
  • Actual 7:02, 7:12, 7:11, 7:03)
I was really intimidated by this workout. The workouts Coach Katie has been giving me have a lot of warmup, recovery, and cool down time, so it helps to be able to tell myself I only have like 20 minutes of actual hard work, but thinking about those 20 minutes is still scary. Katie's instructions said to see if I could hit 7:15 and I actually texted her to be like, “You mean for like...a second, right?!” She told to just do my best and that she didn't expect me to be be able to do it immediately but that she thought I might end up surprising myself - and she was right! I was shocked that I was able to pull off these paces, and so proud of myself when I was done. It was hard but not even closet to as impossible as I thought it was going to be. This was one of the best runs I have had in a long time and so confidence-boosting!

I Felt Free

(Quick catch-up so that this post will make some sense: One month ago I registered for the New Jersey Marathon. I could tell you how and why that came to be but it ultimately doesn't matter because the point of this post is that I am no longer running the full during NJ Marathon weekend and I will now spend approximately 27 paragraphs telling you how and why that came to be).

This past weekend I ran a 15-mile race. Or maybe I should say I registered for and ran part of a 15-mile race. The course is made up of the same 5-mile loop, with race distance options of 10 miles (2 loops) or 15 miles (3 loops). Against my marathon training plan, I signed up for the 15-miler instead of the 10-miler, because that's the one I've always done. I ran it around the same pace I ran it last time, which was too fast then and was definitely too fast now, because that's the pace I had run before. As with the majority of runs I have had in the last few months, my effort level felt way too hard for the pace I was running, and I got to the last mile of my second loop and, while I knew I absolutely could get myself through another one, I also knew the only reason I had to do so was because I had done it before, and I could do it again. And, even though it took me a lot of time to admit, both to myself and to others - namely Alyssa, who agreed to go on this marathon journey with me this spring - I finally had to accept that "could" and "should" are not the same thing and that I truly don't know the difference.


Year of Running: 2017

I have recapped my year or running I think every year since I started blogging, and even though we're almost 1/12 of the way into 2018, I figured it was better late than never to recap 2017. I saw this format on another blog (my new coach's actually - yes I have a coach now and yes that's kind of weird and no I don't want to talk about right now and yes I realize that not talking about it makes it a bigger deal than it needs to be but whatever) and really liked it. Sometimes I like to rehash every little detail of every race and sometimes I don't. These are fairly short and to the point and just kind of a quick summary about what I learned from each one - and I'm really trying to take each lesson to heart this time!

1. Tidewater Striders 15-Miler (January 28) - Don't decide 3 miles into a 15-miler to try to hang on for dear life to PR your half marathon. It won't work.

2. Tidewater Striders 20-Miler (February 18) - Just because you don't hit your target in training doesn't mean you can't hit it on race day. I treated this as a dress rehearsal for the Shamrock Marathon and the fact that I finished about 5 minutes slower than I'd need to cover 20 miles on the real race day to meet my goal really rattled me. From that point on I was convinced my goal was just out of reach and couldn't come up with any scenario or strategy in which I could hit it. It felt good to run my fastest 20-miler ever, but still frustrating feeling like I wasn't quite where I needed to be.