Half Marathon #23
SC Half Marathon #18
Y2Y Half Marathon #1
You know those races where make all the right decisions, run really well but end up with a time not quite what you had hoped for?
That was today.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled with how I raced today, especially considering that I did not train for the hills.
Getting to the start went smoothly. I loved being able to use real bathrooms and wait inside until the start. (It was just slightly chilly. A good thing for racing…not so much for standing around.)
At 7:30 everyone was still milling around in the parking lot without a clue as to the start line location. It wasn’t until 7:32 that someone got on a bull horn, gave us some instructions and then had us head two tenths of a mile down the road to the start line.
(That’s the only negative thing that I’ll say about the race.)
Less than a minute after we got to the starting line we were off. I almost didn’t get my music started in time!
I positioned myself as close to the front as I could get. I wanted to know how many women were in front of me once we started running.
Talk about a heady feeling. It felt amazing to start in the front and stay there pretty much the whole race. I had to pull myself back though. I must have run sub 7:30 in that first half mile. I kept telling myself to run my own race. Stick to the plan.
Once everyone got settled I was in 5th or 6th place for the women and running great. I felt awesome. Sticking to an 8 minute flat pace felt easy.
For some reason, I had plenty of time to think during those early miles. I don’t think I’ve ever kept up such a rapid chatter inside my head during a race before. Of course, I don’t remember any of it now.
I knew the race was hilly so the first hill around mile 3 didn’t surprise me. I focused on steady state effort rather than trying to hold the same pace.
At this point I started to go back and forth with another runner. He did not want to let me pass even when I just wanted to get on his left side. 🙂 (I’m a bit particular when it comes to running. For some reason, when it’s just two people, I can’t stand to be on the right. We’re all a bit strange, right?)
Over the next couple hills he charged past me on the downhills. I slowly reeled him back in on the next uphill. After the third hill, I dropped him.
The near constant hills were killer. The only good thing was that they always came with a downhill.
I didn’t look at my Garmin on the uphills, only the downhills and flats. If possible I tried to get back to 8 if I could.
I also grabbed water at every water stop except the first. I’ve had hydration problems in the past and it got warm fast today. The only problem I had today was Powerade. Twice I accidentally grabbed Powerade instead of water. I don’t like Powerade. It made me nearly want to barf. I barely got it on my tongue before spitting out the thick and clammy drink and tossing the cup. I also made that mistake at the last water stop, mile 12, because the volunteer didn’t say which beverage it was. (The first time I didn’t listen.) I think I ran faster so I could finish and get something else in my mouth.
After the first couple hills, I knew that this was not a PR race for me. No problem. I focused instead on racing well, sticking to the plan. The biggest key there was pushing the pace towards 7:30 after mile 10 if I still felt great.
Mile 10 came along and I felt fabulous. I saw a girl up ahead. I nicknamed her “ponytail girl” and determined to reel her in.
I felt like I was flying. I kept telling myself that I had less than a 5k to go. (I also started thinking about finding a small 5k because holding 7 minutes flat for a 5k doesn’t seem too hard now.) In the next mile and a half I picked off three people and knew I had the race in the bag.
This is where knowing the course ahead of time would have come in handy.
They saved two of the worst hills for the last mile and a half.
For most of the first hill I battled the urge to walk. I slowed down almost to a walk but kept pushing until I finally had to walk the last few steps. Then came a brief downhill before a monster hill. (See elevation profile above)
That one nearly did me in. I was so close to the end but the hill was so steep! I had to walk a little at the top of this one too.
After I finally summited I knew that I could push the pace for the last half mile. Rounding that last turn and heading for the finish felt so good.
Final time? 1:48:01
I wanted 1:45:xx like last spring. However, I’m more than pleased with that time. I made smart mid-race decisions. I didn’t let up. I finished 1st in my age group and 5th woman overall. (That’s one thing I really like about small races.) The only thing I would have changed in my training? Added more hills.
I’ve got a lot of work to do before San Francisco in three months but I know that I can do it. Even with all those hills my pace was only 6 seconds slower per mile than my PR on a slightly shorter and much flatter course in Hilton Head.
Since this post is already incredibly long, I’ll just mention that the live band (whose name I forgot) was fantastic. I also wish that the award had been more specific. (Generic mug that said award winner. Overall winners got the same ones.)
It’s time to dive into training! Three months until San Francisco…five until Twin Cities! BQ (attempt #1) here I come!