Race 13.1 Baltimore (1:30.58)

Race 13.1 Baltimore (1:30.58)

I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts about the Race 13.1 in Baltimore. I made the decision to race only a few days before. It’s not the first time I’ve decided to race a half right before and I figured it would be a good workout.

We drove down the night before and got to Baltimore around 9 pm. I couldn’t fall asleep and since the race started at an early 7 am, the alarm clock at 4:45 wasn’t welcomed. There have only been a few times an alarm clock has jolted me awake, and of course race day was one of them. On race morning, it was one of a few things that went wrong.

I got ready and on our way our for coffee, the hotel door lock mechanism wasn’t working, so we got locked out of our room. I had things I could race with so instead of wasting time with that situation, we just went over.

Then race packet pickup took over 30 minutes.  That wasn’t too big of a deal, because I had no plans to warm up anyway.

Because of the packet pickup, the race was delayed, and I stood at the start freezing. When the race finally started, I was stiff, tired, and running 13.1 miles was the last thing I wanted to do. I reminded myself the race was a workout to get towards fitness. I’m far away from running another 1:22, but every PR starts somewhere.

As we were off, I settled in with a few high school kids. The race went out past a bagel shop, and helicopter pad did a 180 turn around .75 in. I hit the first mile in 6:37 which was relatively shocking.  That is faster than one of my miles last 5k.

As we rounded another turn, we saw the 5k/10k off, and I saw my husband. I started to settle into a groove and hit the second mile in 6:47.  That was better, but I struggled to get into a groove.

We went around the Harbor on a very narrow path. I could have easily fallen into the Harbor, and the number of turns on the waterfront made it impossible to get any momentum.  I surprised myself and consistently ran around 6:40.

Then we merged with the 5k and 10kers who were mostly walking. It was an extremely unpleasant and dangerous situation for everyone. The half marathoners were forced to weave around 5k/10kers who were walking or walking 2+ across. I watched as two people collided (both were fine).

None of the half marathoners were able to get water or Gatorade at the stop, because of crowding. Sure, I could have stopped and waited for water, but I didn’t.

Around the water stop, there was a direction for 10k/13.1 to go one way, and 5k to go another. It seemed like they needed a few more volunteers there because many people went the wrong way. Following the crowd didn’t “cut it” because the crowd was so large.

me running race 13.1 baltimore

After that, the race spread out because it was just the 10k and half.  We ran straight through Baltimore and then around the Harbor.  On the roads, I was maintaining between 6:40-6:45 mile and on the harbor pier, I was maintaining about 6:50. I was pleased because my body didn’t feel that great.

I needed to pass a few 10kers on the Harbor Pier. The path was narrow, and as I tried to pass, I slipped on the slick Harbor Pier. While I was able to catch myself and not fall, I became worried I had strained something (I strained my quad a long time ago, running on a slick surface).  Luckily, it was nothing.

I passed the halfway point in 44:20.  I was surprised but happy. I thought, wow I could break 1:30 again today.  Clearly, that didn’t happen.

The second half of the race got much rougher for me. Mentally, I wasn’t into it.  Mile 7 felt as though it took forever.  I saw the leaders coming back towards me. I saw the first guy and decided to see how far ahead he was. I watched my clock, and he was almost 3 minutes ahead of all racers.

Around mile 8, we did a 180 around the Under Armour Headquarters to head back. I’ve always wanted to see the Under Armour building and it was massive. The next few miles, I just focused on trucking forward.  My miles were slowly creeping into the 6:50s.

Around mile 9, two people who weren’t racing began jogging by. The race volunteer almost missed me to tell me the turn (which I cluelessly would have missed too). I yelled, do we turn here and said: Are you running?

At mile 10, I told myself “just a 5k” to go. I remembered the New York Marathon when I said the same thing.  Mile 10 was lonely, and I ran a 6:55.

The final two miles went along the pier. It was almost as if right at mile 11, my lefts seized up and got heavy. I never felt great during the race, but I went from eh, to not feeling good at all. I ended up talking with a guy for a few seconds which broke up the monotony.

The final two miles felt like the final miles of a marathon.  We met back up with more 10kes, and I weaved around people on the narrow pier.

Finally, we rounded the last turn, and I could see the finish. I just wanted to be there.  I ran the last two miles in 7:22 and crossed the finish line in 1:30.58.  The 10k/13.1 finished together and I only wish I had noticed what was happening around me at the time.  I make a finishing cameo around 1:02.32

I am pleased with my effort. From the number of runners on the narrow course to the amount of turns, I didn’t find it to be an easy course. I know I didn’t run the tangents well, and I believe my GPS said 13.3.  I don’t put much stock in GPS data, but I didn’t take the shortest possible route.

The weather, however, was beautiful. I am glad I chose to run the race, untapered and to see where I was at. I don’t regret running and I had a fun time in Baltimore.  I am glad all of the small issues came up during one race: lack of sleep, hotel issues, and race course woes.

I’ll continue racing as much as the weather cooperates in hopes to build back fitness.

Questions for you:

What is the most dangerous race you’ve run?

Are you good at running tangents? 

Air Force Half Marathon (1:31.12)

The Air Force Half Marathon this year was hot, very hot.  So hot, they drew a black flag and canceled the race around 11-11:30.  I’ve never partaken in a race that has happened, but with so many half marathons, I guess there is a first for everything.

First and foremost, the aid during the race was immaculate, and you couldn’t ask for better support. There were personnel almost every ¼ mile and aid stations every 1.5.  That was never the issue.  The issue was at race start it was already well above 70 and very humid. When I finished the race around 10 is, it was a feels like temp of 88. Last year, I ran a 1:27.28 in better weather but wasn’t in as good of shape.

I know I’m in better fitness than a 1:31, but you have to race for the day which includes how your body feels, the weather, and the course (Two weeks ago, I ran the Boothbay half in 1:29.50 on a much harder course).  To be honest, I never felt great, and the race turned into a longer workout/run.  That’s okay, and I am proud of this finish like any other race I’ve done.

My husband and I drove from NJ to central PA on Thursday (My in-laws live there).  We picked up my father in law and drove the last 6 hours to Dayton, Ohio. Driving that far the day before a race is not my favorite thing to do but with work schedules that’s how the cookie crumbles.  We got to the expo late, didn’t get to stay long, and booked it just before 6, so we wouldn’t get stuck on closed roads due to the 5k.  Everything about the night and morning felt rushed.

The following morning was just as chaotic, and there was an accident in front of the base. The roads were closed, and we made it with just under an hour to spare. Walking the 1.5 miles to the start was enough of a warmup, and I could already feel how hot it was.

The Race:

At the start, I chatted with a few various people.  The race went off at 8:30 and I just ran my own race.  The Air Force half is interesting because it consists of a lot of people who have never run a half marathon but have some sort of military/Air Force connection. I am always happy for them, but it also doesn’t have a corral system, so the first mile is often jam-packed with people who have taken the race out too fast.  Then they quickly realize they have another 12 miles to go.

I hit the mile in 6:59 and I knew immediately it would not be the race I wanted. I wasn’t upset and just ran for the day.

The next two miles went by without any real interest.  I chatted with a few people including a pilot from Illinois, a college ROTC kid running his first half, and retired military officer. It made time go by faster and by the time I knew it, I was at mile 3.

Between mile 3-4, I saw a few C-17s taking off at an adjacent runway. They were planes that had been moved due to the Hurricane Florance.  Not a planned race thing, but a lot were taking off throughout the race.  It made for fun, and interesting scenery. I passed one female in that time. I had no idea where I was in placing, and it didn’t really matter to me either.

Around mile 5, the race started to get hot. I take Gatorade, every time it’s offered in 10+ mile races. At the race, I took at least 2 gatorade cups and water at each stop. It definitely kept me hydrated.

Air force marathon dayton ohio

From 5-6, I just wanted to make it halfway. Around this point, the flags went from yellow to red which was indicated at an aid station. I knew it was getting worse and I was already completely sweating through my clothing.

We trucked along, and by the time I knew it, we were at mile 7.  I was talking to a guy going to UVA just bantering about random stuff.  If there is one thing I do, is talk. I always warn people and if someone doesn’t want to talk, I won’t keep doing it.

At the Air Force Half, mile 8, begins the harder portions of the course.  For the most part, the first 7 miles are relatively flat, with a few turns, and hills but nothing crazy.  Then mile 8 and beyond are rolling hills and running up overpasses.

Air force half marathon dayton ohio

I knew I was pushing myself, but I wasn’t pushing myself to the limit of when I PRed in February. I had plenty left in my tank for hills and for finishing strong, and I was going too.  Up the hills, down the hills, I went the same pace and still averaged about 7:00 minutes.

I passed another female who had passed me earlier, on the overpass at mile 8. The next two miles were spent trucking along alone, and focusing on mile 10. Mile 10 was when I planned to just go.

At mile 10, a hand crank passed me.  I caught a few people walking up the hills between 10-11.  I wasn’t as fatigued as if it was a hard race and I was just trucking along and running faster than the first miles. I ran mile 10 in 6:50 and even with the hills, I was pleased.  I guess the gatorades hit me late.

Air force half marathon dayton ohio

The next mile, I ran alone and just focused on people in front. I wanted to catch every person I could see because it gave me something to think about.  That was my goal to keep my brain engaged with the race. It hot and I needed something. I grabbed water and just trucked along. I high fived a little kid.  I was surprised that I ran the next mile in 6:42.

You enter the base of Wright Patterson at mile 12.  You can see the finish line in the distance and know you still have an entire mile to go. For some reason, I thought “so many women were on my tail”, and I sprinted like I had one race for the rest of my life.  (Probably because in 2017, I was outkicked in races 5-6 times…many for wins).  I passed no less than 5 men in the final mile, and they were probably like…WTF.

Air force half marathon dayton ohio

I ran the last mile in 6:36 and finished in 1:31.12. I was pleased with my time for the day. While yes, I know I’m in better shape than a 1:31 and I would have loved the opportunity to race that, it wasn’t the day and the day will come.

Air force half marathon dayton ohio

I like the Air Force half, not just because my husband is in the Air Force, but I do think it’s a good course and has a good support.  Now that the new refueler, the KC-46 (which replaces my husband’s plane, the KC-10…one day), is going to be the plane of next year…I feel like we have to go back to 2019. 😉

Questions for you:

What is the hottest race you’ve done?

What is one race you enjoy doing?

Boothbay Harborfest Half Marathon (1:29.50)

Boothbay Harborfest Half Marathon (1:29.50)

The Boothbay Harborfest Half Marathon was the toughest half marathon I’ve run for a lot of reasons.  There was no major event that made it tough but a lot of small things.  Before I dive into a recap this is what made the race tough for me personally:

  • The Elevation profile. Yes, I’ve climbed mountains, but there was not a section of the race that was flat.  It was either steep or downhill. Boothbay harborfest half marathon
  • There were sections of trails that I wasn’t expecting. With a minute to go, the race director announced: “Not sure if this is the map, but there is some trail to the course.  Watch out for loose rock”.  I can handle trail, but I wasn’t expecting it, and it was probably some sort of cross country course we ran on.
  • There was no Gatorade and minimal water stops (some not even manned). I don’t take gels during a half, but I do take Gatorade at every stop. In the heat, I needed Gatorade.
  • The roads were not closed (in either direction), and around mile 7 I was clipped by a car. I didn’t get hurt, or even fall, but it knocked the wind out of my sails. We also had to go around vehicles.  The roads are 35-50 mph roads and should be closed. Sure it makes the race more expensive, but it was dangerous.  I will pay more, knowing that I’m safer.

That being said it sounds negative and I’m not.  It’s just factors that affected me.  I would probably do the race again if I were in the area. I’m both happy and proud of my time. 

 So where to start?  If you follow me on Instagram, then you know I pretty much live videoed most of it.  From finding the start to after the finish.

The race started at 8 am.  We walked from the school to the start which was maybe about a quarter of a mile.  It wasn’t chipped timed, and the race director made sure to let us know! I lined up and noticed several people who seemed like they would be fast.  They were.

During the first mile, I ran with a few people including another female.  There was one female out ahead, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to catch her.  Even though it was only the “first mile” she was booking.  Around .5, we turned and went towards East Boothbay.  I had gotten dinner in East Boothbay the night before and had actually mentioned, wow it’s hilly here.  We climbed, and it was a very steep climb.  My legs were not happy.  I ran a 6:58 and thought I would be ecstatic if that was my overall pace.

The next mile was me running alone on the trails.  It was nice because they were narrow and I had no interest in running fast surrounded by others, through trails with lots of loose rocks.

Despite being on the trail, I ran a 6:35 and 6:46 mile.  I think it was because those were probably the flattest miles we had during the entire race. There were by no means flat, but they were flatter.

Around mile 4, I realized how much fluid I was losing through sweat.  I rely on Gatorade or on course drinks during races.  If I had known there was zero fuel with electrolytes and minimal stops, I think I would have brought a gel.

We turned a corner and headed the way we came and over the pedestrian walkway bridge.  The same bridge I had taken a photo with my race bib the day before. They didn’t close the bridge, and we were caught weaving in and out of people just enjoying the harbor.  The second water stop came, but there were no trashcans. The woman just said to hold onto the cup until I found a trashcan.

Luckily there was a trashcan shortly up the road. After the bridge came a steep incline onto the streets of Boothbay.  The roads were not closed and not flat either.  I ran the next couple of miles in 6:44 and 6:46. I was pleasantly surprised because they weren’t easy miles and I was already overheating.

Mile 6-7 is where everything happened.  There was a massive climb that I started very heavy breathing. I knew my body was beginning to overheat and at that point, I nearly mentally gave up. I know people say that, but if we close to start, I would have just called it a day.  Luckily at the top, we had about a tenth of a mile of flat.  I caught my breath, and it was all I needed.  I ran mile 6 in 7:20 and one of my slowest half marathon miles in a while.

Then between mile 7-8, a car mirror clipped my arm.  The roads weren’t closed, but I also wasn’t running in the middle of the road.  The road itself was going somewhere between 30-40 mph. Between the two miles, it was enough to knock the wind out of my sails. I didn’t fall or even stop, but mentally I was like: WTF am I even doing here.

Once I reached mile 8, I knew the race was over halfway done. That always mentally makes me feel better. I focused on making it to mile 10. The next two miles went by without anything significant.  There were rolling hills, weaving in out and cars, and hoping I was going the right way.  For being a small race and running about 7 miles alone, it was well marked, and I never found myself wondering: am I going the right way?

I reached mile 10 around 1:08 and told myself, okay Hollie, you might be able to break 1:30 if you work it.  I didn’t really know what kind of hills the next 5k would bring.

I grabbed water from an unmanned tabled and just trucked along. I ran mile 10 in 6:55 and began counting down the miles.  My body was tired.  I could feel the effects of the heat and lack of anything with substance.  I told myself I had 20 minutes left in me.

Mile 11 seemed to go by without any incident either and all of a sudden I found myself at mile 12.  I thought about racing the RnR VA Beach where you turn the corner at mile 12 and can see the finish line for nearly a mile. You are running in the humidity staring at the finish line. I pictured myself doing that.  I was a little dazed because when I actually paid attention to the race I was in, I realized we were climbing the longest hill of the entire race. Who designed that!?

After that, we turned onto a gravel trail and headed towards the finish line. By 12.75, I was just focused on me and finishing. I knew the finish line was on the wide open field and I began mentally preparing myself to watch my footing.  I would jog it in if it meant not hurting myself.

My husband was on the field cheering, and I finished up.  I probably had more left to “sprint it in” but it wasn’t worth it to me, and I focused on my footing in the field.

I saw the clock ticking away and my official time was 1:29.50.  I didn’t stop my watch until a few seconds later.

Thoughts:

In all, I’m happy with my race and my effort.  It was a tough day on a tough course, and I couldn’t be more pleased.  As I mentioned, I have typically run RnR Va Beach at the end of the summer anywhere between 1:28-1:31 and I strongly believe my effort on this course was a little quicker than that range.

tim and i

Questions for you:

What is your favorite half marathon?

How did you celebrate Labor Day Weekend? 

Phoenix Half Marathon (1:22.03)

Phoenix Half Marathon (1:22.03)

What to say about the Phoenix Half Marathon?

It’s a 54 second PR.  I had a good day.  Realistically, that is the general information about it.  I guess there is more though.

Anyway,  since running the full marathon a few years ago, I’ve wanted to come back and rerun the race but didn’t have a year I wanted too.  In fact, I wasn’t confident I would be able to make it to the race this year either.  I signed up and booked airfare last minute too.  I had been watching flight prices, and it wasn’t that much more to wait.

The week before the race, I felt “too good’.  Nothing had gone wrong, I didn’t have phantom pains, and I came off of back to back good races.  To be honest, I hadn’t had many issues in training.  In conversation with a good friend I said, the weather was looking good, my training was going well, and the course was fast…there was no real excuse to not run hard.

With that, my husband and I got to Phoenix, waited 90 minutes for a rental car (Yay, spring training for baseball) and got to our hotel.  The day before was relaxing, I got a longer shakeout run because my legs were stiff from flying.  We relaxed, went to the zoo, ate dinner at 4 pm and fell asleep at 8 pm.  My brother arrived at 11 pm, to visit.

The morning was uneventful, and my husband and I made it to the bus by 4:45 am.  The bus was a little louder than I would like but nothing terrible.  The start was wide open and allowed you to have your own space.  We started in the dark at a sharp and dark 6 am.

Phoenix Half marathon feb me running

One thing I don’t like is running in the dark.  I hadn’t thought about that component of the race, but most of the race was in the moonlight.  There were street lights but nothing like running in the daylight.  The first mile felt like it took forever.  I wondered how I would make it through a half.  I was running with a crowded pack, and we hit the mile in 6:22.  I thought either I can hold this pace or I can’t but I wouldn’t run even 6:22s the entire race.  6:22 was my exact previous PR pace.  The pace didn’t feel difficult, but you can’t judge any race by the first mile or even the first 12 miles.

The next few miles were uneventful.  It was dark, and not many people were out.  The crowd dwindled, and I was running with a pack of 6 women.  I noticed what other people were racing in, and it varied.  It was 39 degrees at the start and a lot of females wearing crop tops and shorts, many in runderwear, a few in capris and a few in sports bras.  It was pretty much everything. I ran between 6:15-6:18 miles for all of them.  It was boring, uneventful, and dark.  Each mile ticked off with nothing of note.

I hit the halfway in 38:56.  Around the halfway mark, our park started to divide once more.  2 women went ahead, followed by me, followed by everyone else.  For the next few miles, I always felt like I was chasing someone, but never running with anyone.  Miles 7-9 were the hardest of the race.  You’re halfway, but you realize you have a very long way to go.  I began to question everything.

Here I was, running in the dark, in Phoenix by myself.  I had been dropped by the two women which didn’t help.  I had taken the race out faster than I have ever taken a half marathon race out.  Sure, I was below my PR pace but I was starting to feel fatigued, and I lost a PR at the Dallas half marathon in the final few miles due to cramps.

Phoenix Half marathon feb me running

Even though they were gaining space, the two females pulled me along for the miles 9 and 10, and we ran 6:08.  I hit the 10-mile mark in 1:02.30.  At that moment, I knew I should have run my own race because my legs began to feel fatigued.

I told myself: 5k left.  You need to run a 5k in 20:27 and you will PR.

Another woman passed me around mile 10 who I did a double take and thought it was Shalane Flanagan. She passed me as if I was standing still. I attempted to stay with her while also weaving in and out of 10kers.  The 10k merge was one of the only components I didn’t care for during the race.  Many were blocking the entire course or running 3-4 across, and I had to zig-zag around.  It was not the energy I had, nor wanted to use.

Phoenix Half marathon feb me running

I hit both mile 11 and 12 and in 6:26.  During the final mile, things began to look more familiar from the full marathon, and I remembered the feeling of the last mile of the marathon.  Everything was coming together.  We turned the corner, and I saw the finish line, the clock.  I just powered to the end.  I could see it ticking in the 1:21s and I was trying to make it under 1:22 but my legs didn’t have it.  I crossed in 1:22.03 and a 54 second PR.

Thoughts:

A PR is a PR.  I’m thrilled with it.  I do know the race course was easier than my previous PR in Carlsbad, but I also know I’m in better fitness too.  I realized at the Phoenix half marathon that I don’t like to race in the dark.  Obviously, I can run fast in the dark, but it’s certainly not my favorite.

I think I have a lot more to give in the Spring racing scene and I’m looking forward to it.  For those who asked, my husband decided a few days ago that he was going to take the race easy for him, and finished in a 1:27.

Questions for you:

When was your last race PR?

Do you prefer running in the morning, afternoon, or night?

Workouts Last Week and Fall Half Marathon Debut

Workouts Last Week and Fall Half Marathon Debut

Another week of running in the books.  It’s hard to believe I’ve already spent 7 weeks consistently running.  Time flies when you’re having fun right?

Monday: 60 minutes easy/ART with Dr. Kemenosh
Tuesday: 60 minutes easy
Wednesday: 60 minutes easy
Thursday: off
Friday: 45 minutes easy
Saturday: Air Force Half Marathon (1:27.28)
Sunday: 30 minutes easy

Total: Around 40

Progression:

Week 1: 31-33 miles
Week 2: 33-35 miles
Week 3: 33-35 miles (1 workout)
Week 4: 35-37 miles (1 workout)
Week 5: 29-31 miles
Week 6: 45 miles (1 workout)
Week 7: 40 miles (13.1 miles workout)

Thoughts:

All of my runs, minus the race, were easy.  I can’t say I felt amazing and ready to run, but I also didn’t feel bad or injured.  I booked an appointment with my Chiro/ART doctor on Wednesday just to get everything loosened up before the half.

Air Force Half Marathon:
I didn’t have any expectations for the race.  I wanted to run as my body allowed and go from there.  My primary goal with any race is to finish healthy.  After so much rest and no runs over 10 miles since the Atlantic City half marathon, I thought it would be a good goal.  Most of my “first half marathons” back are between 1:30-1:32 and I thought I would be happy with that.

A lot of additional stress and small factors played into the weekend.  First, my husband was the primary reason for us going to the Air Force Marathon.  He competed for his command (AMC) in the race.  His race didn’t go as he hoped or training indicated, but he was happy to finish healthy.  Due to traffic, we were nearly the last people picking up packets and his uniform.  Packet pickup closed at 8 pm, and we weren’t even sure we would be able to make it. We didn’t check into our hotel and settle down until around 9 pm which is a lot later than usual.

Due to traffic getting into Dayton, we were nearly the last people picking up packets and his uniform.  Packet pickup closed at 8 pm, and we weren’t even sure we would be able to make it. We didn’t check into our hotel and settle down until around 9 pm which is a lot later than usual.  We walked a lot between 7-8:30 pm the night before, which wasn’t ideal.

The course was a lot harder than anticipated too.  At 7 am, the weather was great!  But as it got later, the temperatures and humidity crept up, and there was zero shade on course, plus it was a much hillier than anticipated course.  I thought I was running a flat course, but little did I know (because I didn’t research anything for the half…).

I’ll have a full race recap (probably late in the week), but I am happy with my race.  My splits were consistent between 6:30-6:45 due to hills.  Considering I haven’t done any speed but a few 5ks, I can’t complain at all.

I’m happy with how my fitness is progressing.  My next half marathon will probably be the Runners World Half in late October again.  It gives me 5 more weeks to build fitness and go from there. For now, I’ll continue with 5ks through the rest of September and early October.

Posts from the Week:
Staying Fit During the Off Season
10 Mile Hike through GrayBeard Trail (North Carolina)
Flying Fish 5k (19:17)

Questions for you:

What was your best workout last week?

Do you have any big fall races coming up?

 

 

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