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.
As most people know, for a while I contemplated running the Dallas full marathon. After a twenty miler, I realized I had no interest in that and signed up for the half. I lived west of San Antonio in 2014 and have driven through Dallas before. My husband and I both like BMWs, and since this is BMWs first race in the US, it seemed like a fun December trip.
As time drew closer, my body began feeling like junk. I was making intervals and workouts but not feeling great doing so. It’s something I still don’t have an answer for. After dropping the ball at the Philly half a few weeks prior, I had no idea how the race at Dallas would go.
Despite running a 1:24 at Runner’s World half in October, if I were faster than the 1:27 from Philly I would be pleased. My father in law was running the full marathon and my husband, and I were running the half. Whatever happened, it was still going to be a great short vacation.
We arrived the Friday before, and I felt sore and tired. When doing a shakeout run the next day, I felt just as bad. The closer it got to the race, the more I was disconnected. Like Philly, I tried to psych myself up by posting too much on the internet. It seemed to work.
We arrived at the starting line on Sunday around 7:15. It was drizzling rain and a little bit windy. Overall, the weather was definitely better than the majority of races I’ve run this year (realistically that isn’t saying too much). The first coral closed at 7:50 and I made my way to the start.
The half, full and relay all went off at the same time, so it was crowded. I started several rows behind. They introduced elites Meb, Ryan Hall and Deena. I am disappointed none were at the finish line when I crossed though! They were passing out medals, and I would be lying if I didn’t say that didn’t motivate to finish…
All of a sudden the race went off at 8:05 and it was crowded. The race started uphill, and I still felt sore out of the gate. I was running elbow to elbow with several people. We made a few sharp turns and a young guy, and myself collided. Neither of us fell, and we started chatting. I crossed the first mile in 6:32 which I was extremely happy and surprised with.
I mentally told myself that I wouldn’t complain about a 1:25. During the second mile, I felt okay. I didn’t feel good or bad. I crossed the second mile in 6:20. In halves, I give myself until the 5k to decide how my body will feel. The third mile went without too much note, and I crossed in 6:21. I hit the 5k in 19:57 which is always pleasing. The 20-minute 5k barrier is a huge mental block for me.
The plan (per Coach Mckirdy) was to run the first half at a moderate pace but not too overdo it. The course itself does have a few hills but the second half is significantly faster. If I could make it past mile 8 and still feel good, I could crank then.
I saw my husband just up ahead at mile 4, and we ran both 4 and 5 together. It wasn’t his day, but we ran a 6:14 and 6:12.
Mile 6 began a few uphills, and I kept telling myself I just needed to make it to the halfway and then past mile 8. I hit the 10k at 39:37 and was proud of my negative split thus far.
I found both miles 7 and 8 to be the most challenging. I noticed two women in front of me, but I had no idea if they were running the half, full or a relay. I focused on passing them. The crowds were huge, and I ended up high-fiving kids and even a professional player from the Mavericks. I fed on the crowds and ran a 6:22 and 6:27. The half and full finally divided and there were a few men who went the full route but no women.
By mile 9 I was running alone. A relay went by me as if I was standing still. I hit the 15k in 59:39. I’ve run several 15ks in Upstate, New York but never had an official time under an hour so that time motivated me too. Each mental time checkpoint went well, and I built confidence each time.
I could see runners about 15 feet in front but had no idea where I was overall place wise. I hadn’t seen a lot of women up ahead, but I knew they were there. I noticed a women dressed up only 20 seconds in front and I made it my goal to try to catch her. I wasn’t feeling good by any means, but I needed something to pull me along to the finish, I ran a 6:19 9th mile and a lonely 6:20 tenth.
Around mile 11, I caught the woman and she asked: “do you know where the relay exchange is?” I said I had no idea but the last one I saw was two miles ago. She panicked and peeled off. I felt extremely bad because she had missed it and that is a lot of extra miles to run.
Around 11.55, I realized I had charged too early, and I paid the effects during the last mile and a half. Despite the miles being downhill, my stomach began cramping, and I didn’t have anymore leg speed. I was just focusing on the end, and it began a 13 minutes left…12…11..11:59…
The last 600 meters had signs that said 600 meters to go, then 400 then 200. It’s a downhill finish, so at 600 you can see the massive finish line shoot. I took my mind far off of racing. I was thinking about everything but the race pain. I hurt but focused on the expensive BMWs lining the street.
As I approached the finish line, I felt the need to fist pump as I crossed. They announced me as “fist pumping all the way from Jersey.”
Don’t ask why I raised my hand. An hour and a half of racing does strange things. I had done it, I had my run my third fastest half at a race I wasn’t even sure I would be able to run faster than the Philly half.
I crossed in 1:23.44 and as fifth woman overall. I had no idea of my place until I later looked up race results.
I’m extremely happy with the race. I didn’t anticipate to be able to string a race this strong at the end of the year. As I’ve mentioned in several training logs, I’ve made intervals but haven’t great doing so. When I raced my two faster half marathons (Carlsbad 1:22.57) and April Fools 2015 (1:23.23), I felt like I was on top of the world. When I raced the Dallas half, I didn’t feel fantastic or fabulous. I have no complaints. I’ve continued to recover well during the last week and I’m looking forward to hopefully PRing in 2017.
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.
Last year, Rock n Roll Philadelphia was several weeks later due to the Pope coming to town. The weather was brisk and perfect, and I ran a solid 1:25.45. The weather was perfect, so I knew this year wouldn’t be a course PR. Plus coming off an injury and a half marathon two weeks, I didn’t expect to be close to that time. I was okay with that.
I was lucky to get a ride over with my boss. Two days before the race I had no idea how I even would get to the race. He wasn’t racing the half marathon but placed second overall at the 5k the day before. After arriving at the start, I chatted with a few people and hung around.
I didn’t warm up for the race as it was hot enough. During the drive over I realized I had forgotten my watch. There wasn’t much I could do and honestly I had to suck up racing without a watch. I was irritated, but it was either race without a watch or miss the race.
As I lined up in my corral, I was overwhelmed with a bunch of familiar faces like my coworker Colleen and the famous running blogger, Michele.
The race went off and during the first mile, I felt extremely boxed in. I felt like I was running slow because I couldn’t get around people (and people couldn’t get around me). We were packed in like sardines. When I hit the first mile in 6:38, I was shocked. That was much faster than Virginia Beach, plus, I didn’t take into account I had crossed the start line 10 seconds later.
The second mile began to spread out. The second and third mile, take you back towards the starting line. I like this aspect of the race a lot because the spectators are there cheering you on, and it’s a full crowd. It’s hard not to feel motivated!
We rounded the third mile and went down Spring Garden. The section is about a mile out and back with an 180-degree turn. As I ran the fourth mile, I saw the elites going the opposite direction. It’s always humbling to see them glide by effortlessly.
I rounded the 180 turn and didn’t take it well. I’m bad at turns and tend to take them too wide, but I would rather do that than fall. A couple of extra seconds is not worth falling. I headed back the opposite direction. As I was running, I saw several friends and coworkers running the opposite direction. I had no idea the time or pace, but I hit mile 5 in 33:00 exactly (per the course clock). I was surprisingly pleased. I saw one of my good friends Anita and continued to Kelley Drive and around the river.
I’ve run the 8.4-mile loop around the Schuylkill a dozen times. I know the loop well, and it’s a boring, unshaded loop around the Schukyill River. Not that I care but starting that loop when you aren’t even halfway done is mind numbing.
I hit the 10k just under 41 minutes per clock time. I was pleased. The next few miles were just spent staying mentally engaged. I knew if I lost focus, I would unknowingly slow down my pace. It was hot and humid, and I sweat through my entire singlet. I kept hoping the water stops would have Gatorade, but it was minimal. In fact, there wasn’t much in the form of electrolytes for the entire race. It was something I thought about during Virginia Beach as well.
I hit mile 10 in 1:05.30 and made it my goal to finish under 1:28. I knew the last three miles would be tough. There was no wind; it was heating up, and my clothing was soaken through. I kept reminding myself:
I set my 5k PR on this exact course, and I can race it well.
A man asked my goal, and I said 1:28 sounded reasonable. He said that was his goal and asked if we could run together. After a few exchanges, we realized we were at mile 11.
I saw a pack of 5 women in front as well as a man with a cast. Honestly, I wanted to catch them all, and they kept me focused. The last two miles is always tough because you can see Center City but it never seems to get any closer.
I hit mile 12, at just over 1:20 and I knew if I could maintain my pace I could break 1:28. I saw the pack of 5 women, and I ran right by them. If you know me, you know this hardly ever happens, and it’s a huge accomplishment. In fact, it might be the only time I’ve outkicked anyone.
Typically I get passed in the final mile…like in Shamrock when I went from 7th place to 14th in the last half mile.
At the final stretch, another woman outkicked and passed me. She kept me engaged up a minor uphill. I crossed the finish line with a chip time of 1:27.37 and as 30th woman overall. I was 10th in my age group.
I even got to cool down with Sarah D, who set a half marathon PR of 1:25 in the heat!
I’m both pleased and surprised with my result. To be honest, I was hoping to run between 1:28-1:32. After not getting the best nights sleep as well as the weather. I’m extremely happy with my time considering it was 2 minutes faster than two weeks ago, plus I was injury free.
September in Philadelphia is unpredictable. I thought it was extremely humid, but I’ve raced RnR Virginia Beach as well as the Remember the Alamo 13.2 which were both hotter and more humid. It stinks because this course has potential to be extremely fast in the fall (like last year when 40+ athletes qualified for the Olympic Trials).
Questions for you: What is the hottest you’ve run in? Have you ever forgotten your watch or something important to a race?
I’ve run Rock N Roll VA Beach twice before (2013 and 2015 ). Despite being injured for most of the summer, I had high hopes I would be able to run in 2016 too.
Even if it meant forgoing my pride and running faster than a PR, I set earlier in the year.
Even if it meant my only goal was “to finish.”
As luck would have it, I hadn’t had any pain in my foot for several weeks. I decided to use RnR to test my fitness and foot at the half marathon distance. I was confident with my training that my foot would be fine, but I had no idea what kind of time I would run. That being said, if it hurt anyway, I would have stopped too.
So with that, I toed the line on Sunday. My PR allowed me to have an F bib, and I was F5. Never in my wildest dreams would I think I would end up as fifth female, and my only goal was to finish. Since I grew up in VA Beach and half of my friends still live there, I felt like the race was a reunion. I saw a lot of my close friends including well-known blogger Kris L (who ended up as second overall). As I told my dad, I never seemed to stop talking during the race. I high-fived little kids; I shouted to my friends spectating and talked to fellow racers.
The hurricane and high winds caused the race to have a few modifications such as fewer course structures like the mile markers, as well as the start and finish line overhead. They could have blown out to sea…but at least the race was on. The mile on the sand the day before was cancelled due to the hurricane and travel advisory.
I reminded myself everyone was dealing with the weather. Luck hasn’t been on my side for racing weather this year, so I’ve let that one go…It wasn’t as windy as the April Fools half and it wasn’t as rainy as the Shamrock or Broad Street so I called it a “good” weather day.
The race went off, and I decided to run on my own. I didn’t want to feel pressured by a pace group. (There was both a 1:25 and 1:32). My legs were stiff, but I felt pretty good. My friend, Greg, ran close by and said he was going to try and run below 1:30. As much as I wanted to stay with him, I wasn’t sure if that was in my realm of possibilities. We chatted for about two miles. We ran each at 6:42 and 6:48.
I had mixed feelings during the first mile. I’ve run three 5ks now, all around the 6:30 pace. 12 seconds per mile slower but four times the distance didn’t seem like my brightest idea…but I was running on how I felt for the day.
During the third mile, I began to realize this was much longer than the few 5ks I recently ran. As we ran through the third mile, the 5kers turned off. I hit the 5k in 21:27.
The next few miles went without much notice. There was the wind but it wasn’t unmanageable. I found myself running in a pack of men. At the time I had no idea what place I was in and honestly I didn’t care.
I was constantly reevaluating my foot. Nothing hurt and that was all right by me. Somewhere between mile 3-4, I waved to someone and bumped my watch into split mode. I had no idea how to fix it, so I ran the rest of the race relatively blind to pace and time. I could do simple math based on timing to figure out approximately where I was at. My mile markers beeped at the .3.
Around mile 5, I started running with a guy named Brett who is training for his second marathon. We chatted for several miles, and they went by quickly. I also noticed two females about a quarter of a mile in front. I wanted to catch them but didn’t know how my endurance would hold up in the final miles…would it be another repeat of bombing Shamrock? That race is a memory I never want to remember.
We hit the halfway point in 44:46. At that point, my lofty goal was to break 1:30. I did know since the winds were coming from the north, it would be a strong headwind for the final two miles. I opted not to think very far ahead.
During mile 7, I faded. I found myself disconnected from the race and in the negative zone. Looking at my Garmin now; I ran about a 7 min mile.
As I saw I was reeling the two women in, I began to feel rejuvenated. I reminded the race was already halfway over, and I could do it. We went on the base, and the course went in a giant U. I could see the racers out ahead, and I could see the top women several minutes ahead.
I caught both women and as I left the base mentally preparing for the final four miles. I hit mile ten around 1:08:30 and thought, “I could still be on track to break 1:30.”
There is a mini out and back on the course, and we saw racers running between 2-3 hour marathons. They were cheering, and it was motivating for us. I tried to cheer for everyone I knew too.
A man came up behind me and said, he had wanted to catch my green CEPs for a while…I didn’t know what to say so I said, “they were like little beacons”. He ran by me, and I was the one chasing him for the remainder of the race.
Mile 11 always seems to be the hardest mile for me in a half. At mile 11, the race is almost over but then again, not really. We went over a small bridge, and it got to be windy. I put on my sunglasses to keep sand out of my eyes (and to hide the pain). The lack of speed work, training and endurance began catching me. My foot, however, felt fine.
We came down the bridge, clicked through mile 12 and by the time I knew it we were running the final mile on the boardwalk. The final mile was extremely windy and lonesome. Sand was whipping around. I had been unsure whether I wanted to wear my sunglasses but they proved to be helpful to keep sand out of my eyes.
I was running the straight away by myself with spectators around. Honestly, I was jealous. I wanted to stand around in a hoodie and with coffee too. Since it was too windy for the typical finishers line, you didn’t know when the finish was coming. You felt like it would never come. The only thing that signalled the race was over was a timing mat. When I finally saw the outline of a finishers mat, I decided to hammer out what I believe was the last quarter of a mile.
I saw the clock ticking into the 1:29s and I had no idea if I would be under 1:30. I don’t know why I was so concerned, but I gave it everything I had and crossed in 1:29.46. I finished triumphal. I was fifth female overall.
After crossing I felt extremely happy. I finished the race injury free, and exeeded any time goals I had for myself. I’m not in the fitness I was earlier in the year but I know with both time and effort, I’ll get back there eventually. I’m proud that I ran a smart race and able to run consistently as well.
It was great to see so many friends as well as family on course.
April 17 will mark five years since my first half marathon. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long! I’ve had the most success with the half marathon distance…and we like what we are most successful at right?
Just kidding, I like half marathons because there is enough time to warm up during the race but they aren’t neverending like a marathon. Thinking out loud, the training for a half doesn’t consume you. If you have a bad half, you can recover quickly and race again relatively soon.
Until I compiled this list, I had no idea how many I had actually run so I hope I didn’t forget any.
April 2011 Plattsburgh (1:41) PR
April 2011 Flower City (Rochester) 1:39 PR
May 2011 Run for the Dream (Williamsburg, VA) 1:36.56 PR
March 2012 Shamrock (VA Beach) 1:33.29 PR
April 2012 Plattsburgh (1:27.17) PR and Win
April 2012 Flower City (1:29)
May 2012: Run to the Sun (Watertown, NY) 1:33 Win
May 2012 ZOOMA Annapolis (1:31)
Sep 2012: Turning Stone Utica (1:33.33) 2nd Female
Feb: Lake Effect (1:31)
March: Shamrock (1:25.15) PR
April: Nike Women’s DC (1:24.49) PR
May: Run for the Dream (1:28) Win
Sep: RnR VA Beach (1:28.39)
Sep: Scallywompus (San Antonio) 1:28.30 Win
Feb: Lake Effect (1:25.32) Win
March: Shamrock (1:25.29)
April: April Fools (1:23.23) PR
May: NJ half (1:28)
May: Run for the Dream (1:31)
Nov: Harbor Lights 1:41 **Training Long Run
Mar: Shamrock half (1:33.04) *Injured
Aug: RnR Va Beach (1:31)
Oct: Runners World (1:28)
Oct: RnR Philadelphia (1:25.45)
Nov: Philadelphia half (1:25.00)
I think in general the best race swag comes from the Shamrock races. On top of a t-shirt, medal and four free beers they typically give out an additional item. It’s been anything from a hoodie to towel to blanket.
Best logistics: Any race that I don’t have to take a bus or shuttle. (This probably includes all of the smaller ones). For the amount of racers, most of the RNR have been good. The only race I didn’t care for the logistics were Nike Women’s, but I am not a city person, and DC overwhelmed me.
Best Value: If you register early you receive a lot for the Shamrock races. There is lots of food, beer, heating and everything you could want in a race.
Worst Value: Carlsbad. I found the race to be poorly organized, and there wasn’t a heck of a lot for the price of the race. Since it was 120+, it was expensive. I don’t race for “free things” but the race was unorganized as well.
Smallest: Run from the Sun (Probably around 300-400 racers?)
Best On Course Aid: Shamrock, Nike Women’s, RnR. (The pricier ones)
Worst On Course Aid: Run to the Sun: It was a smaller race, but it was hot, and you end up in the middle of cornfields and don’t know if you are going the correct way. I distinctly remember being thirsty during the race, and that doesn’t happen often.
Coolest Medal: Lake Effect 2014 or RnR Va Beach
**Nike Women’s gave out a Tiffany and Co Necklace, but I haven’t worn it. It’s not for me honestly.
Most Zoned Out: Shamrock 2014 or 2016 Where did this race go? In the blink of an eye, I was done.
April Fools half 2014 because it gave me the confidence that my fitness was still there.
April Fools half 2016 because I redeemed myself from my Shamrock and I didn’t talk myself into a negative race. The weather was awful, but I got over it.
Regretable Races: Shamrock 2015. It’s the only race I ran injured, and it wasn’t a smart decision. It set me back in recovery.
States Raced in: NY, VA, TX, MD, NJ, PA (also DC)
I’ve won 6 (Plattsburgh 2012, Run from the Sun, Run for the Dream 2013, Scallywompus, Lake Effect 2014, April Fools 2016)
I’ve placed second or third in 5
I’ve come in places 3-10 in: 7 (My most notable is 9th in Nike Women’s)
And most half marathons I’ve had no placements at all.
Debut half marathon: The Plattsburgh half marathon in April of 2011. I didn’t know what to expect honestly. With less than a full year of running and never having done more than 10 miles beforehand, I had no idea what to expect! I took it out at a pace that seemed maintainable, and it was.
Most Surprising placement: Nike Half Marathon I was 9th overall. It was not expecting to PR and honestly wasn’t even sure I was going to go all the way to DC alone to race. It was at the peak of my anxiety, and I’m so glad I did.
From September until January, I’ve managed to drop about 9 minutes from my half marathon time. I’ve run five half marathons and progressed in each. Training has had highs and lows, but every training plan and training cycle does.
Before recently my half marathon PR was a 1:23.23 (from April 2014). It was on an easy course on a beautiful day. The April Fools half in 2014 was a race everything clicked. After that race, I never had one that came close. I was injured, focused on a full marathon and by the time I knew it, it was over a year later.
After beginning to train this previous May, I started to build my base. I was coming off of an injury as well as hadn’t run a lot. It wasn’t smart for me to add speed, mileage and race a half.
From May until July, I added mileage and raced once a week. I saw slow progression in races but not a lot of racing progress, I was running between 20-20:30, 5ks. I raced most weekends and kept my mileage between 55-65. I saw improvements, but it wasn’t as fast as I would have liked.
In July, I began adding one-speed workout weekly. A couple of my favorite workouts include:
4×1 mile repeats with 90 seconds rest
12X400s with 1-minute rest
In September, I raced my first half marathon in over a year. I had run two since but both were done as an enjoyable training run. Running in Virginia around Labor Day, is hot, and this was no exception. Since it was my first half marathon I raced healthy in 18 months; I had no idea what to expect. I ran a 1:31.48 which I was happy with. It was a solid gauge for my fitness.
In October, I ran the Runners World Half Marathon. I was an invited blogger to the race series, and I ran both the 5k and 13.1. While there was a trail race and 10k, I was not comfortable racing all of them because I’m so injury prone, and it was too much for me personally. After running my first sub 19 5k in a while, I ran the half in 1:28.13. It was about a 3-minute improvement, but the course was difficult, and I had raced the day before. I knew I had room to improve.
Three weeks later, I ran RnR Philadelphia. Unfortunately, I was becoming sick with a reaction from an antibiotic. (I’ve never had issues with antibiotics until then). It was a reaction that took it’s toll on me for about two months.
The race course and weather were perfect, and you could not have asked for a better day. I ran a 1:25.45 which was a 3-minute improvement. In fact, the conditions were so optimal over 40 athletes qualified for the Olympic Trials that day! At the time, I had no idea what was going on, but I felt my stomach the entire time. I knew I could run faster when I felt better.
As November continued, I also ran the Philadelphia Half Marathon. Despite the race also being in Philadelphia, it was on a much harder course on a much more difficult day. It was windy, cold and the elevation was challenging. I took the race out too fast and paid the price but still improved by about 45 seconds. I ran 45 seconds faster on a much harder course after taking the race out too fast. My stomach issues were also still lingering.
After Philadelphia, I continued with speed workouts and races. Between October and December, I raced almost every weekend. The races weren’t meant to be PRs, and I knew that they were however, great speed workouts. I had some awful races, some good races and I slowly began inching towards my 5k PR. While I wasn’t Pring, I was getting quality workouts and races. It built my speed and endurance. It took me a long time to lose speed, and it wasn’t going to come overnight.
On January 1st, I surprised myself with a 5k Pr of 18:22. Not only was it a PR but it was 13 seconds faster than my Pr over two years ago. It was also 25 seconds faster than my recent previous 5k. It showed me my fitness was where I was hoping and gave my confidence for the Carlsbad half. I also ran it in a dress.
Finally, I ran the Carlsbad half on January 17th and ran a 1:22.57. The course was much hillier than anticipated. It was no means a perfect day, but I felt good and ran 2 minutes faster than Philadelphia and almost 30 seconds faster than my PR in April 2014. It wasn’t perfect conditions, and I do believe I have a faster half on flat terrain.
So what can I relate my progress in the half from?
Consistently running and consistently racing. When I first started running races every weekend, I never expected to PR or be close to my PR. It was a way to run speed work as well as see my friends and local runners. Consistently racing for six months was consistently having speed work.
Patience: Patience is a virtue I don’t have. Every high had a low, and I knew if I consistently trained, I would indeed PR eventually. It was something I reminded myself often when I had a bad race.
Fewer miles and more speed. There was no need to do 20 mile long runs; I’m not training for a marathon or longer race. I ran a few 15-mile training runs, but I didn’t run more than 12 most of the time.
What is next?
I don’t know! I’m going to wait until February (and the winter) is over to decide what to train for. I do believe I have a faster half marathon right now (but don’t we all?).
Questions for you: When was your last PR? What is your favorite speed work?