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Is a PR Possible?

Last October I set out to run the Dalton Half Marathon and had one goal in mind - to break 2 hours. I felt it could happen, I had put in the work and even tapered that week. There was only one hiccup on race day, but it turns out that vomiting in the bushes at mile 6 is a pretty big hiccup. Final gun time: 2:01:22. My chip time disappeared somewhere but it was a small race so I don't imagine it was more than 20 or 30 seconds less, max.

That was the sole picture of me post race. If you look closely, you can even see a little of the vomit that made it onto my white shirt (bad call on that one). I wish I was joking. I was not a happy camper after that race. SO FREAKING CLOSE and yet so freaking far away from breaking 2 hours. A few weeks later I ran my first marathon, got injured and started all over again.

This Saturday I'm giving it another try at the Scenic City Half Marathon in Chattanooga. Part of the reason I ran my long run in Chattanooga on Monday was to run on part of the course - which I didn't do much of, thanks to my impressive navigational abilities. However, I have heard that the course is reasonable for this area of the South (read - only a few hills and bridges) and the elevation chart looks pretty good to me:


To recap - the course is as flat as I'll get around here, the temperature is supposed to be around 40 degrees and sunny, I'm not injured and I plan to taper over the next few days.

Wait! I forgot the number one rule when it comes to blogging about races....create plenty of excuses BEFOREHAND. Kara and Alyssa reminded me to do that a while back, I can't take all the credit. So let me just say that my IT Band is definitely still giving me trouble, I'm still totally used to running on a treadmill, and my version of tapering included an 18 mile run 5 days before the race. Whew! Think I have all the bases covered there.

Bottom line - I want to break 2 hours on Saturday. If I don't, I'll probably be pissed but write a blog post about how it's still so great I finished anyway. Goals:

A Goal: Break 2 Hours. Be awesome. Celebrate with champagne.
B Goal: New PR (Anything below 2:01 I guess?). Be happy and grab some frozen yogurt.
C Goal: Finish the race without vomiting. Have a protein bar and water.
D Goal: Finish the race even with vomiting. Probably won't want that protein bar either. Brush teeth.

Do you create excuses for upcoming races or just focus on the positives?
I definitely justify my race results after the fact - "Oh, I was really tired" or "I didn't expect so many hills!" but I usually plan thinking I'm going to rock every race.

Would you rather run a completely flat course or one with some hills to break it up a little?
Flat. Flat, flat, flat and then slightly downhill. I'm guessing that's a result of running on the treadmill too much. 


  1. Great blog! I love blogs with running AND food. And I agree that it is very important to make excuses ahead of time. And afterwards. And in the middle. I always try to cover all my bases. :)

    Good luck with the PR!

  2. I'm so happy we could teach you the most important part of a pre-race blog entry. You forgot to blame any potential weather. If it's cold, then you had a hard time breathing, if it's hot, then you aren't acclimated to it because duh, it's winter. Excuse preparation is a fine art. This is why I like racing with my dog, it's a ready made excuse and she can never tell anyone the truth.

  3. You've got to have excuses ready to go. Then 1. you have an excuse if you don't meet your goal, but 2. you have all of the things you overcame to get your goal. It's a win win :)

  4. Oh, and I totally think you are capable of a sub 2. Just don't puke or poop your pants.

  5. Oh, I am the queen of all excuses :). Excuses are a must.
    I see a new PR in your future!
    I would definitely pick FLAT- (with some downhill). Races around me are usually gradual downhill with some small rolling hills thrown in. Not too bad, but LOVE flat.

  6. I always go into races these days with both excuses and stupidly high expectations.

    I kind of wanted to break 1:45 on last weekend's half. Which is STUPID. STUPID.

    But, regardless, I tend to finish every race simultaniously stoked and disappointed.

    1. Also: good luck. Regardless of what happens, you're still doing a half, which is awesome. I'm not going to tell you that you'll nail this, because I don't know. But you're going to go out there and do your best.

  7. No excuses!! You can do this!! I do just the opposite - I talk myself out of all the excuses. Be positive and talk yourself up the mountain!! Good Luck!

  8. Fun but don't think you need excuses!

  9. alright love this post. so i think if you go in with the mentality you will PR and have confidence you can do it (not 'it would be nice if...') then you can. Plus putting out your goals for me people to hold you accountable always help :)

  10. HA i loved this. I've got like 6 weeks to my race and i've already been brainstorming my pre-race excuses post in my head hahaha.

    Good luck this weekend, i'm sure you'll rock it one way or another. :)

  11. You are awesome! Haha sandbagging before the event :)

    I don't mind some hills, but I like my races flat.

    Good luck for your race, your training has been great- so enjoy the experience and hopefully the running gods will smile down on you with a fresh shiny PR of Sub 2 :)

  12. Just rock your Vanessawesomeness!

  13. I think you're going to do just fine! I never created excuses except for my one full marathon. I was legit injured though and didn't run for a month leading up to it. As a result, I had no goal but to finish. I find when I go race feeling positive and excited, I tend to perform a lot better!! I would totally prefer flat or downhill as well. I hate hills more than anything!!

    I hope you break 2 hours but if you don't, WHO CARES?! You are going to run so many more races and have a gazillion opportunities!! (but i secretly think you're going to break it)!

  14. It fills me with joy to see you applying what I've helped to teach you. A+ on the excuses. I have no doubt you will get sub 2. I mean, subtract the puking time from the last race, and you already got it. By my husband's method of timing races, you'll just be getting a second sub 2 this weekend.

    Not sure about the hills....while I hate them, I am STILL sore from Myrtle Beach and I am wondering if it's because it was flat and I'm not used to that. Hills do help break up the race mentally.

    You got this!

  15. I bet you totally get sub-2!

    I hate hill, but I guess that's what I get from living in CO. I feel like I am always running up or down something and I swear, they never get easier! :)

  16. Can you explain to me why I just scrutinized your picture for the vomit you said I could find if I looked closely?? WHY did I do that???? I must have just wanted to prove I could find it. Kind of like Where's Waldo but grosser. (No offense. I don't like anyone's vomit!)

  17. FLAT!!!!

    I think I only sign up for flat races haha.

  18. Hey, I think you'll PR!
    Which reminds me. Come March, do you know anyone running Publix who needs a pacer??? I am not planning to run full-throttle because Boston is just a few weeks away. I was thinking I might pace someone instead.

  19. REDEMPTION RACE. i love it.

    here's my advice: fuck anything but your A goal. only have an A goal. don't even give yourself the option of anything other than success. don't mentally prepare yourself for anything other than to hit your goal.

    vanessa's new goals:
    A goal - sub 2.
    B goal - sub 2.
    C goal - sub 2.
    D goal - sub 2.

    now, go get your sub 2.

  20. Good luck Vanessa! You can do it! I will be sending happy thoughts your way while I am running my 10 mile race!

  21. I ran my best half marathon race during marathon training with no taper. I wanted a sub 2 and ended up getting a 1:53. I think after weeks of running 15+ miles, running 13.1 at a faster pace seemed just a little easier.
    You will rock this race!

  22. I think you'll break 2 hours as well! Go for it. But, it's handy to have the excuses in line. Definitely add some hills for me! Completely flat feels so much harder to me.

  23. Aww I'm so excited for you. I know u can break two hours!! I try not to make excuses before bc then I just worry too much during the race. I love flat, but hills w a PR make me feel tough

  24. you can totally do it!!! But if not, then the wisdom from Kara and Alyssa holds true.

  25. i'm sure you will rock sub-2! i am totally kickin' myself for not signing up for this race now, so i could cheer you on to PR!

  26. I usually pretend (read: lie) to myself and say there are no excuses because I'm scared I will jinx myself.

    That really is a great job, especially considering the barf. In fact I'd hold my head high and say "I ran 2:01 AND barfed! So take that suckers!"

    I still think you've got sub-2 coming your way. Good luck!

  27. I like hills, but I'm a masochist.

    I don't make excuses. I do, however, mentally freak myself out. Not really much of a difference there :).

    I believe in you! And I believe in doing everything you possibly can to NOT vomit. Maybe you should just be proactive and refuel with saltine crackers.

  28. YES a PR is possible, but u've gotta be positive. there's a line between being realistic (if the course was up mt. everest, no a PR would be outta the and over-thinking the possible excuses.

    have faith in ur training and ur ability. u were super smart and set multi-goals and from there: 1) go out on pace for breaking not go out too fast! 2) stay relaxed and by half-way if u're feeling awesome start picking it up a bit. 3) yea, negative splits are queen 4) be positive...cuz ya, u rock. :)

  29. ok Hills for me I guess...after last Sunday...I dont get it
    In my head I prefer flat...but my body does better in hills..makes zero sense to me

    yes you can do this! I believe it.

    excuses...yeah I dont see reasons why things dont go great as is more like explanations...excuses would be I had a headache and I stayed home. But if you show up and you finsh a-b-c- or d...the word excuse does not fit in the story.

    vomitting in a race is badass obviously...did you see the very classy race pic I posted today....

    wishing you happy faster than 2 hours 13.1 miles and that the champagne will be tasty

  30. You got it girl! Have fun! I see a sub 2, a PR, and a protein bar in your future!

  31. I love flat races! Hills = not a fan! Good luck this weekend!

  32. FLAT all the way - the hills I'm training for (or avoiding training for) really kicked my trash on Sunday. and these incline treadmill runs aren't fun at all. I love pointless easy miles.

    I am about 100% positive this is YOUR race :) I can already see the smiling face recap and the weird posed picture of you and tim celebrating :D

  33. I don't mind some hills, but my first half marathon had WAY too many!

    You've got this! You are going to PR!

  34. I don't mind the hills at all but that's just me. I can't wait to hear how you do this weekend. I had thought about doing this race but there were some other spring races I wanted to do more. It's on my calendar for 2013 though. Good luck and I'm confident you are going to set a new PR and break 2 hours!

  35. You're going to rock it! And, I'm okay with hills - far prefer them over running in the rain, which is a common experience here.

    Good luck!!

  36. Good luck with the race! You can totally break 2 hours - just don't start too fast and run your race!

  37. A PR is totally within your reach, but I come from the opposite direction with this. I feel like you have to go in 100% positive and feel like you've put in more then enough preparation to crush your goal. Thinking of all the reasons why you are ready is important too, and you are ready! Don't doubt, believe!

  38. Good luck on your half! I always give excuses or justify why I was feeling good or bad... and I definitely like to avoid hills when I can!! Trying to work on that one, though. :) You've got this!

  39. Ha, ha, ha. Love it. I guess I'm on the 'team excuses'. :) Oh and definitely flat/ takes effort to find hills around these parts, so I'm never ready for many. Good luck tomorrow and please come enter the giveaway. Clearly you're not plus size, but you could spend it on jewelry or accessories. :)


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