A couple weeks ago I had my second half-marathon of 2014. In April I set a PR by about 17 minutes, but missed my time goal by 47 seconds. I had trained really well for part of the training for that race then took about 6 weeks off leading up to the race. For no reason other than winter excuses.
This half marathon fell right in the middle of my big triathlon and my marathon. The weeks prior to it I had been getting in long runs at a nice easy pace, as well as some easy paced weekday runs. The week before the race I questioned whether I could go sub 2 hours and decided to push the pace for the last mile of our 12 mile run. That mile was 8:10 pace. A good sign that I could break 2 hours.
Race morning arrived with a chill. I sat in the car til it was time to get out. As I fiddled with my freshly charged Garmin I became frustrated. First it was completely frozen and wouldn’t move. Finally I held the buttons in long enough and it restarted. Then I went to go to training mode and the bezel would not work. This race was going to be done sans watch.
Luckily, this race had a new feature this year- pace groups. I buddied up next to the 9:00 mile pace leader and explained that I’d be by her side the whole race because I was without my watch. After a few miles the pace leader and I, along with a couple other people had begun to chat about the race course, upcoming races, past events and we were moving right along through the course. Every couple miles someone in the group would let us know how we were doing pace wise, we were always a bit under the 9:00 pace and were building a nice cushion.
The course was tough mentally for me. It was an out and back twice. Before you actually get to the finish, you run past the finish 3 times. The last ‘out’ of our out and backs was particularly challenging. Spectators were all near the finish line (and half way point) so when you left that area it was a few lonely miles before the turnaround. In addition we were battling winds that were about 15 mph each time we were on our way out. A big deflate to my attitude came when we passed a sign that said 8 miles when I thought we were already at 9. You get so dependent on a watch to tell you your progress…..Once we got to the turn around to come back the final time I was able to relax a bit and feel like I could hang with the pace group the rest of the way now that the wind was at my back.
In the last mile of the race I began to enjoy what a great race I was having. My first experience with a pace group had been amazing. There were times where I was struggling and not contributing to the conversation but just having people there going through what you are was so helpful. I had no physical aches and pains. Aside from the wind being tough on the way out (and knowing it helped on the way back) the weather was ideal. I love a chilly fall day to run in. My husband was there cheering me on. My kids had finished a 5K and were there cheering me on. Along the course I knew all sorts of people and got to wave and say hi quite a few times as we ran past one another. This was shaping up to be one of those races you compare future ones to.
As we got to the final half mile I gained the confidence to push the pace a bit more and finish strong. The last tenth of a mile was on a gravel road with two turns which is really tough when you’re someone who likes to kick at the end…..Still though, felt like I had a good strong finish!
Shoutout to my pace group, my cheerleaders both off and on the course and my long run buddies who’ve helped me gain some endurance to make this possible!
1:55:19, 4th place in my Age Group (missed 3rd place by 4 seconds……ouch) and a PR by over 5 minutes!
Reflections on the race (AKA where the teacher in me really comes out)
Training- B, I will do more tempo and interval runs before my next half marathon.
Effort- A-, I feel like it was a great race, but I’m sure I had 4 seconds in me to have gotten that 3rd place!
Nutrition- A-, I never bonked but didn’t overdo it to where I was only thinking of porta-pottys the last half either.
Course- A, flat and fast. The wind was a little tough, but I think it helped enough when it was at my back to make up for it.
Pace group- A+, first experience with this really set the bar high! I will definitely give the pace group in Huntsville a try in a couple weeks!