Runners World Half Marathon (1:28.13)

My main race goal for the Runners World Festival weekend was to do well in the 5k.  After setting a two year PR the day before, anything in the half marathon was a bonus.  I didn’t know what to expect for the half because the only one I’ve raced in the last year was Rock N Roll Va Beach.

Here are some differences between the two races: 

  • RnR was pancake flat, but the heat and humidity were high.
  • The Runners World Festival course was challenging, but the temperature was better than RnR
  • I was tapered for RnR and not tapered for RW.
  • Finally the amount of progress I’ve made in the last month with training led me to believe even being untapered and on a moderate course, I should still be faster than 1:31.48 at RnR.

The Race:

I woke up for the race at 5:30.  I was tired but ate breakfast and left the hotel around 7 with the other bloggers.  We complained about the arctic weather and by the time we knew it we were at the start.  I quickly used the restroom, met up with Allison and headed to the starting line.

The race went off exactly at 8 am.  It was a cold day. My hands were freezing.  My body temperature was not warmed up when I started the race. The first mile I stuck with several runners including the Runners World Gear editor and Allison.  The first mile was also downhill, and I ran a 6:44. I honestly wasn’t sure how I felt about the pace.  I didn’t have a goal pace and I was running strictly on feel.  I felt good, but I wasn’t sure if I took it out too fast. Since I didn’t know how my fitness was, running a 6:44 downhill seemed quick.

Allison and I hashtag #jazzhands
Allison and I hashtag #jazzhands

During the second mile, I ran with Allison and her friend.  Their goal was to finish the half in 1:30.  We were ahead of the 1:30 pacer which was a good sign.  At that point, I decided I would be ecstatic with a faster time than RnR. We hit the second mile in 6:46.  Negativity began to creep in that I would continue to positive split.

The third mile brought a significant hill.  I could finally feel my body starting to warm up, and I ran a 6:50 mile.  The effort was there, but the hills added time.

The fourth mile brought the downhill from the mile 3 uphill. During the fourth mile, I was able to build both momentum and confidence.  Slowly I began to separate myself and charged the downhill.  I was excited when my Garmin beeped a 6:27.  I thought to myself “bonus cushion time”.  

The fifth mile was a mixture of both downhill and uphill; it was boring with nothing of note.  It was just another mid-mile to get through (6:46).

From the course preview, I knew the 6th mile brought one of the most challenging hills.  Bart warned runners this was one of two miles you would not like. During the hill, I reminded myself that Deena Kastor talked the previous day about keeping positive while racing and not letting negativity sink in.  The 6th mile marked the halfway point, and I ran it in 7:01. Runners World Half

I was feeling positive after hitting the halfway point below my new goal pace of 1:30.  The high of being on pace as well as a net downhill mile propelled me to my fastest mile of the race.  I felt strong and confident (6:21).

As Allison mentioned the previous day, what goes down must go back up…mile 7 was one of the easier miles and mile 8 was the toughest mile of the race.  The majority of the mile was uphill.  We climbed for about half a mile, and I ran mile 8 in 7:14.  A woman passed me up the uphill and never looked back.  A spectator told us we were 6th and 7th women overall.

runners world half marathon

Both mile 9 and 10 were a blur for me.  To be honest once I reach mile 10, I blink, and it feels like the race is over.  When I hit the tenth mile in 1:08, I began to think breaking 1:30 was a real possibility and even 1:29 might be a doable goal for me.  I felt good and wasn’t having any major issues, so I began to give the race everything I had.

During a half marathon, mile 11 is usually the roughest mile.  During this half marathon, the eleventh mile was easier elevation wise.  This meant the 11th mile wasn’t the usual struggle fest!  It started with a gradual uphill then went down downhill again.  I was able to fly through with a 6:38 and feel confident.  There have been very few half marathons I can say I’ve crushed mile 11 and this was one of them! Runners World Half

Both mile 12 and 13 were similar with little elevation change.  We went uphill near the Sands casino but quickly went downhill.  Mile 13 was the same mile as the 5k the day before (IE: the mile that I thought would never end in the 5k).  I ran mile 13 just 12 seconds slower than mile 3 of the 5k before.  I was a woman on a mission.

I crossed the finish line in 1:28.13 which is the fastest half for me since the April Fools half marathon in 2014.  I was 7th women overall.  I found my friends and fellow bloggers and we hung out for a bit.


I’m pleasantly surprised because I was 2.5 minutes faster than a month ago. I went to the race hoping to be around my RnR time but my training is beginning to pay off.  I am progressing well, and I’m excited to see what I can do on a flat course!

Questions for you:

How do you determine a race goal?

What is the perfect temperature for you?


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  1. Just WOW Hollie. What an amazing time for that hilly course!! I love it when you can surprise yourself like this and know that months (or years) of hard work are paying off. Congratulations!!!

  2. I love watching your times go down as your training continues to go so well! It’s fun to read your race reports and it is great that you race so often, because it makes it easy to track your progress. Great job!!

  3. To determine a race goal I usually try to be honest with myself and ask where my training is at, what my previous race times were and go from there. Sometimes I just run based on feel too. I did a marathon last weekend that I wasn’t as prepared for as past marathons and just had the goal to try to feel good and keep a positive attitude.

    I thought the perfect temp for me was around 48-49 at the start and 50s at the finish. After last weekend (cold temps) I have changed my mind and decided that just over freezing, around 35-40 is perfect. Of course that can always change depend on how windy it is which can play a huge factor.

    Congrats on a great race! The photos they took are some of the best race photos I’ve seen!

  4. dang that is an awesome time! i set goal times for myself but sometimes adjust those goals based on the weather and hills. for me 40-50 is great temps. i run better cold though, i get super hot quickly so the colder start the better.

  5. Such an awesome time! Your pictures always come out so good too. That’s a tough course so I’m really impressed, especially the fact that your last miles were so speedy!

  6. So happy that you had a great race, and especially on a tougher course. no doubt you will be even faster in near future! Also cool that you knew where some hills were on the course and what to expect from Bart saying so- nice not to have big surprises!

  7. awesome race photos! love it lol! Great race too!! Speedy sister! I usually set a goal, train my butt off, but then see how my body feels day of the race. I will set three goals A,B,C and attempt the one my body is up for that day. My perfect temp is 43*. Not specific or anything. 😉 have a beautiful weekend girl!

  8. Jeez. I say it every day but DAMN you’re impressive. Wow! You are a bad. ass. Well done!!

  9. Whoa! This: “I ran mile 13 just 12 seconds slower than mile 3 of the 5k before.” What?! That’s incredible. You are incredible. And put in an incredible performance. AND you got some rad race shots. Well done all around!

  10. Loved getting to run this with you (well, until I couldn’t keep up anymore, ha)! Such a fun weekend. Can’t wait for more races and the festival next year!!! You rock!

  11. I can tell by these photos it was cold haha! My face gets BURNT red when it’s cold outside from the chill. I have no idea how I can look around at other people and their faces aren’t the color of a tomato. Le sigh. You did SO well! I am really glad you’re getting back to your groove. It seems your really getting to know your sweet spot as far as training and mileage!

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