I need to break up the Lake Effect Half Marathon into three posts.  That is because I can truly say it was one of the best experiences from the very beginning to crossing the finish line at the very end.  I’ll start with the race recap, then life outside of running recap and then finally the entire race as a whole with Ophelia’s Place.  This race recap in itself will be long!

I never went to this race with the intention of having a fast and close to PRing race (not quite my PR is 1:24.49).  Though the race course was slightly long, it gave me great confidence in a Spring PR.  I went in with the intention of fundraising for Ophelia’s Place and having a lot of fun with some of my best friends in upstate NY.  My “A” goal was to break 1:30 and anything under 1:30 would be golden.  (I am still hoping for a faster half in late Spring).  After last week’s 14k, I thought a sub 90 minute half was attainable.

I’ve had all my best half marathon races with no warm up.   After driving from Rochester to Syracuse to the race (roughly 75 minutes) I thought it might be best to run a mile around the course.  My legs felt like led the previous day so I knew a warm up mile might be in my best interest. So Laura and I warmed up a mile and just chatted away.

After using the bathroom and stashing my stuff as I normally do, I headed to the start line.  After the National Anthem the race went off and I immediately found myself around 4-5th female.  I made it my executive goal to finish under 90 minutes.  I chatted with a couple of people for the first mile and it felt as though the first mile took forever.  In reality it took 6 minutes and 36 seconds.  I figured it would be my fastest mile and I was actually a bit worried that maybe 1:30 was too aggressive.  My first mile is normally my fastest followed by my last mile.  I didn’t feel great during the first mile and I honestly was certain I would probably get slower.

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Then I ran mile 2 in 6:43.  I passed a couple of females even though my second mile was not exactly where I wanted to be (it was my slowest).  I questioned myself after the second mile because a 6:43 second mile would mean I had a more narrow window for a sub 90 minute half.

The first 3 miles headed out of the parkway.  Around mile 2.5, I could see the leaders had already made the turn and were heading back towards us.  I was little bit jealous that the lead male got two cyclists. Obviously I could see the person in front of me so knew the direction of the course but I always get jealous when the top male gets a cyclist and the top female does not (even when I’m not the top female).  I ended up passing the first place female around mile 3 and decided more than anything wanted to win this race.  I was going to give it everything I had.  So that is what I did.

When I made the turn around I began to see the other runners coming in the opposite direction.  I really like out and back courses because I can see (and high five) everyone on course.  It is so motivating to me.  Mile 4 and 5 went by extremely quick because I was focused on high fiving and chatting with people.  Mile was actually my fastest mile (6:18) followed by mile 5 (6:20).

I attempted to grab water from the famous Suzie and ended up getting her soaken wet.  I vowed on lap two  (it was an out and back, out and back course)  that I would be better.  I mentally practiced until around mile 11 when I would see her again.

I realized that going towards the finish line was going with the wind so my miles were about 10 seconds faster (6:20 range).  I hadn’t noticed the slight wind going away from the start until I realized it wasn’t there going towards the start.

We hit the halfway point and I saw the race director it was back into the wind.  Luckily I could see more people along the course which kept me occupied.

lakeeffecthalfmarathon

Mile 7 was uneventful.  At this point I began to dig deeper and just focus on the end…which was still over 6 miles away.  Since we had a slight wind it was slightly harder.  (6:28).

I began less chatting after mile 8 because I was tired and wanted to focus on finishing the race.  It’s really hard for me to not smile and say thank you to everyone who says good job.

During mile 8 something really exciting happened; I got my own lead cyclist!  Unlike the Run for the Dream half marathon, he remained about 50 feet in front of me (not side by side).  Therefore I couldn’t chat with him. (but you aren’t supposed to chat with the cyclists anyways…apparently).  This race though I was pushing my limits so I’m not sure I would be able to chat if I tried.

By mile 9, I had started counting down the miles.  I was tired and was ready to finish the race.  When we did the final 180 back towards the start I dug deep and just focused on the end.  I was really tired and desperately trying to hold on to the lead.

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Just for some good measure of staying cute.

Around mile 11, I passed one male and also saw Suzie.  For the .1 before her I prepared myself to grasp the water without spilling it on her.  It worked and she even snapped this photo of me.  It was the highlight of my race.  HA!  (6:29)

lakeeffectrunningsuzie

The final mile6:29 was just about finishing.  This year I was more prepared for going by the finish line and doing the final loop near a playground.  I was tired and I was staring longingly at the finish line the entire last half mile.  I focused on the end and then all of sudden I was almost there.

Since I was so focused and looking down at my feet, I looked up and saw a ribbon to run through and “break the tape”.  Though I’ve won several races, I’ve only “broken the tape” at two.  Nothing can take away the feeling of running through a ribbon.  It honestly felt like all my hard work from fundraising, from training and from racing was all rewarded.  I quickly threw up my hands for facebook and then nearly burst into tears (of joy).

lakeffectwin

Long story short: I can truly say this is my favorite race as far as the process to get there, the actual race and the joy I had with friends.  My splits ranged from 6:18 (mile 4) to 6:44 (mile 2).  I am pleasantly surprised and I am hoping to pick a PR at the Shamrock half marathon next month in my home town!  Despite it being a little long of a course (from tangents or from just being long) it’s my third fastest half marathon.  It was a shock to open up my distance running at this pace.

The race director and I

The race director and I

Questions for you:

What is your favorite race?

Are you a chatty/talkative racer?