Last weekend I ran my third runDisney Tinkerbell Half Marathon but this year I ran it like I had never run a half before, I ran it naked. Let me explain!! I have been running races for just about four years and about three years I switched to the Jeff Galloway run/walk method. I do intervals; I run for 3 minutes and follow it with a 1.5 minute walk. I have been using my Garmin not only to track my distance and pace but it times my intervals for me too, it’s an important tool for me to have when I run. Along with my Garmin I also use Nike+ on my phone, it may be a bit redundant as it tracks my mileage and pace but I also have my playlist set up to it and I have to have my music on my runs. I always run with both, I need both, or so I thought.
The night before a race I like to lay out my outfit and gear so I have everything in one place and don’t forget anything. While laying out my race gear I noticed I needed to charge my Garmin when I went to charge it I realized I brought the wrong charger. I wasn’t sure just how much juice it had left, I just hoped it had enough to get me 13.1 miles; I figured worse case I could use my music to time myself and the Nike+ would give me my pace every mile so I could try to adjust with that. I had decided to do the first 6 miles without music, the majority of the first 6 miles takes place in Disneyland and California Adventure; I wanted to see if I could take more in without having earbuds in.
On race morning I waited until we were ready to start to turn my Garmin on, I turned it on with a lot of hope that it would last me the whole run. As I crossed the start line I started both my Garmin and Nike+, my Garmin made it all of 42 feet before the battery died. Literally at the beginning of 13.1 miles I had just lost my major running tool, I kinda freaked out…not gonna lie. Right away I saw the Clif pacer, she was pacing runners to a 2:45 finishing time, I have a half marathon PR of 2:41 and finished Tinkerbell last year with a 2:56 so I thought it’s definitely doable so I decided to run with her group of seven. The pacer explained to the group that we would run for 5 minutes, walk for 1, when we came up on a mile marker we would take a 1 minute walk and when we went through a water stop we would walk through it. It sounded pretty reasonable to me and I thought it might be a little difficult for me but I should be able to keep up.
Initially it was extremely hard not having my watch and being able to see just how much time was left on the 5 minute portion of the run, after about 2 miles I was feeling good and just watching for the pacers cues on when to walk and when to start running. I was able to keep up until right around mile 5, the 1 minute walk just wasn’t enough rest for me; I dropped back from the pace group in front of Small World. I took a short walk and started running again, I was able to catch back up to the pace group and we exited the park and started running on the streets of Anaheim. I decided it was time to start listening to my music and I would utilize my Nike+ since I had started it at the beginning of the race. When I went to put my earbuds in I saw that somehow it had paused at 2.15 miles. This is where I really lost it, yes it would have been simple enough to restart it and let it track my pace from there but I didn’t want any of the race recorded if I wasn’t going to get the whole half on it. Here is my text to my boyfriend Tony; he knew I was freaking out. Not so long ago something as small as my watch dying or my Nike+ pausing or even the wrong playlist playing would be enough to wreck a run. I am very much a creature of habit and I like things a certain way, if something is off, I’m off. I decided this was not going to happen today, I had too much race left to let it fall apart. I was going to listen to my body and run this race.
I fell into a comfortable pace and basically what I did was I would pick out a spot in the distance (they were mostly street signs) and tell myself “I’ll start running when I pass x point” and as I started running I would pick out another spot and tell myself “you can walk when you reach x spot”. As I passed each mile marker I was able to do the math and realized I was keeping up a pace in the high 12 minute range. When I got to mile 10 I figured out if I could keep up my pace it was entirely possible to finish under 2:50, which is something I really wanted to do. Those last three miles I pushed myself a little harder and for encouragement (and so he would know when to expect me at the finish) I would text Tony during my walking portion at each mile marker. As I crossed the finish line my runner tracking alert from runDisney went off showing my finish time as 2:49:39, I actually cried a bit as I realized I had run without all of my electronics guiding me and I did better than I could have imagined.
I learned a lot about myself through this experience, and it helped me see just how far I have come as a runner in the last few years. I plan on running more races without relying on electronics, letting my body dictate how I run and most of all taking in the whole experience when I unplug.