Jason Devaney provides a glimpse into what he was thinking during his first race of 2014.
My 2014 season officially began last Saturday at the Rock ’n’ Roll USA Half Marathon in Washington, D.C. It was my first Rock ’n’ Roll race and I plan to run others in the near future.
Here’s what was running through my head before, during and after the 13.1-mile trip around the nation’s capital.
Before: Am I Ready For This Thing?
A knee injury and a brutal work schedule during the month of February derailed my training. I was able to sneak in four or five short treadmill runs when I was covering the Olympics for NBC but that was it. When the Games were over and I returned home, I spent two weeks putting in some miles — a 5-mile run here, an eight-mile run there. I had the fitness level, I told myself, but my joints and bones were in for a surprise.
Before: OK, I’m Ready
As my fiancee and I stood among the thousands of runners at the start line, I felt … great. There were no nerves or butterflies. My head was in a good place. I had a feeling that the race would go smoothly. When the starting tone for our wave went off, I pressed the start button on my watch and began the journey.
During: There’s No Way I Can Sustain This Pace
In the opening few miles, the pace field on my watch was hovering between 7:45 and 8:15 per mile. Of course I didn’t expect to go out this fast — in fact, I was thinking of taking it slow in the first half and then speeding up, just so I could say I negative split the race. Mile 4 came and went. Then mile 5. I was waiting for my legs and lungs to hit the brakes.
During: This … Hill … Is … Hard
Somewhere around mile 5 or 6, The Hill reared its ugly head. I have no idea how long it was — maybe two miles? No, it was more like a quarter mile, maybe a bit longer. And it gradually got steeper and steeper. I watched my pace drop to the mid 8s, to the 9s and beyond. Now I was starting to feel the sting of not properly training for this race.
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During: What Goes Up …
Must come down. There were some nice downhills following The Hill, and I happily took advantage of them. I knew I had some ground to make up after slogging up that stupid hill. I actually used these tips, even though the race was on pavement, when descending. So with my body aligned with the hill and my arms spread wide, I passed a lot of people and let gravity do the work. I was like an out-of-control truck. Although I didn’t see any of those special lanes some highways have to slow down runaway tractor trailers.
During: Oh No, I’m Sorry!
I uttered these words when I misjudged my throw of a half-empty cup of Gatorade toward a trash can in the middle of an aid station. An unfortunate girl who happened to pull over RIGHT IN FRONT of the garbage can to tie her shoes got a Gatorade shower on the back of her shirt as a result. I felt horrible and told her so … but of course I didn’t stop running. I had a race to finish.
During: I Still Feel Great. This Is Great. I Love Running.
I was striving for a PR as I neared the finish line. My previous best was 1:47:35 and I knew it was going to be close. And when I finished, I didn’t know where I stood because my Garmin only displayed “1:47.” No seconds. I had to wait to see my result during the drive home. And guess what? I finished in 1:47:30.
After: Ow. Ow. Ow.
My left IT Band acted up minutes after the race ended and the pain was … intense. It made the long walk across the finish area to the massage tent a lot longer. I was really hobbling. Four days later, it’s improved quite a bit. We’ll see how it feels after my next run.
When is your first race of 2014? Tweet me @jason_devaney1.