For the past few years, I have been running a half marathon on the 4th of July, called the Red White and Boom half marathon. I’m not one to get into themed races, but it usually falls in a perfect spot in my training cycle about a month after the Birdtown half marathon. It’s nice to get another month of training in after the Birdtown and see how my fitness level has improved. I ran my first sub-2 hour half marathon at the Red White and Boom a few years ago!
The race is always a hot one since it’s on the 4th of July, and this year it was supposed to be near 100 on race day. The race starts at 6:30am which is a little early for me, but its the coolest part of the day. Knowing how hot it was going to be, I came to terms that I probably wouldn’t beat my PR of 1:41 that I set at Birdtown this year during perfect weather conditions, but I was okay with that. Once you get into the mindset of training for a full marathon, you’d rather focus on that long term goal anyways!
Two days before race day, we received a shocking email that the half marathon distance was cancelled due to the risk of heat and humidity. I was so angry! I had trained, tapered, and even picked out my outfit! The group that puts on the race has done races in below 0 temps, so I was pretty annoyed they would cancel because it *might* be hot that morning. They were going to let runners opt into the 5k race or run a 6.75 mile course that was 2 loops of the 5k. After talking to other runners, I decided my plan would be to run the course twice and still get my 13.1 miles in.
Race morning was really hot and steamy, as predicted, and I quickly realized how stupid it would be to push myself for a not-real race. My time wouldn’t be fast given the conditions, it wouldn’t count for anything since the course wasn’t official, and I would probably end up sick and sore the rest of the week. I decided to run slower with a friend and enjoy the day instead of pushing myself. Surprisingly, the first few miles were brutal even with running at a pace 2 minutes slower than my normal pace!
As the miles went on, it felt better and I honestly think we would have been fine running the full half marathon distance if everyone had slowed down. But, most runners are so competitive, people still would’ve pushed themselves, which is why it was smart to cancel that distance so no one got hurt.
I ended up really enjoying the run and the event! I didn’t push myself, which allowed me to feel great the rest of the day (instead of spending 4th of July in bed like I normally do!). I feel like a few people didn’t understand why I wouldn’t all out race those 7 miles to prove I could, but I’m so proud that I didn’t feel the need to. It’s not because I “couldn’t” do it or “wimped out”, it shows how far I have come as runner to know when to go all out, and when to take it easy. A few years ago, I thought being a good runner meant max effort every time you’ve ran, but I’ve learned a lot more about smart training since then. My end goal is running the Twin Cities Marathon in a few short months and racing a pointless 7 miles would have done more damage than good at this point. I ended up being able to complete the rest of my training that week, including a solid 10 miles the very next day.
I do feel bad for anyone who was specifically looking forward to the race, but it’s always important to remember that there are bigger goals and plenty more race days ahead.