I ran in the Louisiana Half Marathon over the weekend. And I found part of what I was missing while doing so…
Baton Rouge is a wonderful city. There is a lot to do in and around the town, not to mention it is the state capitol of Louisiana and the home of The Louisiana State University. It is also home to the young, but growing Louisiana Marathon. A while back, my mom decided to come and run the whole marathon and convinced me to drive 3 hours to come spend the weekend with her and run the half marathon. It really didn’t take much convincing, I love traveling and doing races with my mom.
I do have to admit that I did not train for this event. At all. The last time I ran 13.1 miles was in July at the Missoula Marathon and the last time I ran at least 10 miles was at the Army 10 miler in October. So in all reality this was shaping up to be a very bad race.
At some point, I threw in the towel and said ‘what ever comes, may come’ and just decided to run it, in a funk, but that all changed the day before after I ran the 5k. I took it fairly easy in the 5k, running around an 18:30 and finishing 5th overall. But that’s not what changed my mindset. During most of the 5k I was neck and neck with a guy and could never really pull away from him until the end. After we both caught our breath we both started talking and it turned out he was a pacer for the marathon the next day. He was paid to go all around the nation and pace people to a 3:15 finish time and that the pacers would also be pacing the half marathon runners as much of the course is the same. This got an idea going in my head; why not just run a pace you know you can do and enjoy the run? Enjoy what you do, not every race has to be one for a PR.
The next morning, I lined up with the 3:05 pace group, or a 1:32 half marathon. The pacing breaks down to 7:04 per mile. Well within my wheelhouse and comfort zone.
I made the right decision. I ran with the same group of guys for 10 miles and it really just felt like a training run out with friends (after we started talking a bit). The last 3 miles I was able to strike out on my own and finish strong in a little over 1:30. When I crossed the finish line I felt great. I know it wasn’t a PR but I didn’t care, I had a big smile across my face. I was happy to enjoy the run and not feel like I had killed my self for nothing.
Not only is the event really well run, it is also one of the most beautiful I have run and I actually got to enjoy the sights and sounds of the race instead of being so focused on the next mile. The half marathon is an out-and-back course that loops around the LSU campus and University Lake. Not to mention it starts and finishes on the grounds of the state capitol. The course is very impressive given that it is in the middle of town. The best part was that my pace group got to the lake just as the sun was coming up, making for a very nice view.
This race taught me that not every time out has to be a record. I think that mindset comes from college, where everyday you are challenging yourself to get faster and better. Where you compare one weeks workouts to the next. Its were you forget why you enjoy running in the first place. I have come to realize that this is not right. I should enjoy what I do and not have to prove my self each and every time out. As long as I am happy, no one else should care what I ran.
This is a race I will run again. Not to mention they know how to throw a party after the race.