After Thursday’s motivation boosting run I decided that I would race today, really race. I planned to hold a comfortably hard pace as long as possible and try to add speed in the final 5k.
Things went according to plan.
Mom and I left the house around 6:45 this morning and arrived 20 minutes before the half marathon start, just enough time to grab our bibs and head back to the car to put them on in relative warmth.
We headed up to the portopotties a few minutes before the start. Since Mom didn’t have enough time to get up to the start line I told her to stand on the side because the half marathoners ran right by.
A minute after I got to the start line, we were off. I couldn’t see Mom as I ran on the left and thought “what if she crossed to the other side? Whoops.”
I had some nerves at the start because I decided not to use music. (Yes, more ultra training) I wore my phone in the arm band, headphones tucked in the armband just in case. I’m pleased to say that I ran the entire race without music. I can’t remember what I thought about through that time. I guess I zoned out. Peculiar. 🙂
I glanced at my Garmin more often than I normal. Each time, especially during the first few miles, I was surprised that my comfortably hard pace hovered between 8:30-9:00. I think Thursday’s run flipped a switch. That piece I’ve been missing while searching to get my speed back? It’s all mental. I have to push myself.
This course included hills but after Asheville these hills didn’t seem hard at all. around mile 7 I ran for a little while next to a lady who also ran Asheville this year. We chatted and laughed about how easy these hills were in comparison.
The course was well designed, except the end. I loved the long straightaway down East Main Street and the portion on the rail trail at the start of the last 5k.
It was just before this, around mile 9 that I had some of my only doubts of the entire race. I wondered whether I really would be able to maintain this pace for the last 4-4.5 miles. I considered walking when I ate my chomps at mile 9 but pushed through. I considered again at mile 11 but talked myself out of it. I was so close to the end.
I didn’t look at the time on my Garmin until mile 10. I didn’t want to obsess about my time. My main goal was to get my first sub-2 since my PR half in Clemson back in April. I knew I was running faster than just that so I set a second-tier goal of going sub 1:56, my GHS half time from March. A PR would have been icing on the cake.
At mile 12 I looked at the time again. 1:44:xx. I added 10 minutes to that and made it my goal to finish the remaining 1.1 miles before my Garmin marked 1:54:xx. I felt strong and extremely motivated. Then the final hills came. I knew I couldn’t sprint but I kept pushing. As I came up the hill before the last turn I hoped, in vain, for a down hill or even flat finish. No, this course had the absolute worst finish. (At least the major hill from Asheville, Walnut Street, as right around mile 12 and I could sprint to the finish.) The finish was a significantly steep uphill. We couldn’t have started back just a little further so we could finish at the bottom of that hill? Oh well.
*edited to better reflect my course review*
If I judged this race on my performance alone, I would give it an A+, obviously. If I had to give the race as a whole a grade? I hate to say it but … C+, slightly above average. I mention the following out of a sense of constructive criticism. The following things should be looked at:
1. Make sure the course is well marked. Although the course was marked a few turns weren’t marked at all and/or had no volunteer to direct the runners.
2. Water stations: space them at regular intervals whenever possible and make sure the volunteers know to hand the water quickly. Also, make sure they are well-staffed or staffed with competent volunteers if numbers are low.
3. Have a volunteer hand out the half marathon medals, not a child sitting on the ground saying: “Medals over here.” I picked my own up off the ground.
4. Place the water in an obvious location, not a truck bed with volunteers calling out “powerade”. I missed this after the race since I couldn’t see into the truck bed to see that there was water as well as powerade.
5. Do not hand out awards in front of the finish line. Slower runners have to weave through spectators and runners who have already finished.
6. Announce times with awards. The third place woman had to go to the timing tent to find out her official time.
Things I appreciated about the race:
1. The course was excellent, a well chosen route.
2. The awards: it was awesome to see my mom, a newbie runner, win her age group and have something cool to show for it.
3. Course spectators: though few in number their enthusiasm was infectious
Would I run this race again? Unfortunately no.
Would I recommend this race? If nothing changes? No. If changes/improvements are made? Definitely!
Am I glad that I ran this race? YES!!!!
Up next? Savannah Rock n Roll Marathon (Eek! The marathon is my next race!)