The recap for the actual race begins the night before. A couple two doors down fought the entire night. From about 11 pm to 5 am, they screamed at each other and slammed doors. I’m not sure if I was more frustrated or impressed by their fighting stamina. I woke up around 4:45 to another fight and couldn’t fall back asleep. I was glad this wasn’t going on during a goal race and just decided to wake up.
After waking up and relaxing, I walked to the race at 7. Runners World changed the bag check this year, and it was over half a mile, away. By the time Ty and I realized this, it was too late for me. I couldn’t drop a bag off, go to the restroom and get to the race on time. I also didn’t care to be delayered that far in advance before the race or run in my racing flats to the start. So I took a risk and stashed my bag in the bushes. It’s not something I advise, but I made it to the start on time. (Yes, I thought about what a poor decision that was for half of the race. My shoes and cell phone are both replaceable, but it would have been a costly replacement).
The race went off right at 8. After the November Project workout as well as 5k the day before, I didn’t have high hopes for an amazing time. Plus, I’m not in the fitness I would like after my ankle injury. Last year I ran a 1:28 and my goal was to run faster than that.
The only thing I remembered about the course from last year was it was hilly for the first 10 miles, and the last three were downhill. It’s a tough and challenging course, but it’s set up pretty well.
The first mile went by fast. I was running in a pack of people, and we hit the first mile in 6:22. I thought it would be one of my fastest miles since it was downhill.
I noticed three women in front of me, and I focused on them. One of the women was the overall winner of the 5k the day before. The second mile went downhill. I passed a few men and hit the second mile in 6:27.
During the third mile, we climbed, and I ran close to another woman. She passed me on the uphill, and I would pass her on the downhill. She had such great form climbing the hills, and I tried to mimic her. It was like she was climbing hundreds of feet effortlessly. I was in awe, and we hit the third mile in 6:33.
The fourth and fifth mile went by without any notice. I was bouncing around and running with a pack. I guessed I was moving places anywhere from 3-5th. There was a pretty large pack of us! I ran mile 4 at 6:31 and mile 5 at 6:30.
I knew mile 6 was going to be a steep climb and it didn’t disappoint. I focused on making it to the halfway point. I ran a 6:49 mile but I wasn’t fading, and the pack did about the same.
Finally, around the halfway point, someone shouted 3,4,5th female. There was a potential podium finisher in our pack (which actually it was another woman who outkicked us all!). It didn’t necessarily motivate me to run any harder, but it was nice to know where we were. I realized at the halfway point; I didn’t feel too bad. I wasn’t fading, and my splits were direct responses to hills. I had a feeling I might finish well.
I hit the halfway point in 42:34. It would equate to a 1:25.08 half. I made the goal of breaking 1:26 which wasn’t based on anything but feeling good.
I knew one of my friends was passing water out around mile 8 so I just focused on that. By this point, I was running in the same pack consisting of myself, two women and a male. It kept me motivated and pushed me to keep moving. After a turn around mile 9, I also noticed there were about four other women 10 seconds behind.
I hit the ten-mile point in about 1:05 and I desperately wanted to break 1:26. This was when I began pushing the pace. I knew the last 5k was a lot of downhill, so I was going to take advantage of it. I rarely have downhill advantage over any racer, but I began pushing and broke away from the females. The male and I progressed together.
Around mile 11, we went over the bridge and a new woman passed me like I was standing still. I knew at that very moment; she had clutched 3rd. I did not have the leg turnover or speed and I knew if it came down to the last .1, she would easily outkick me. I did, however, attempt to keep up and mile 11 was the fastest mile I’ve ever run during a half marathon (5:58). It was also partially downhill.
The final two miles were spent by myself. I just focused on the end. The last mile is the same last mile the 5k uses. I just kept wanting to see the finishers line. Around mile 13, I saw Erica Sara and her son which motivated me.
I crossed the finish line in 1:24.17 and I was both ecstatic and shocked. That is my third fastest half marathon (Behind my PR at Carlsbad and Atlantic City 2014). I still cannot believe I ran that well given the circumstances and I do believe it sets me up for a great rest of the year.
Course Elevation Profile:
I’m extremely proud of this time. It’s my third fastest half in non-ideal circumstances. I’m excited to see where the rest of fall and winter takes me.
Questions for you:
Do you run downhills or uphills better?
When was the last time you surprised yourself?