This morning was the Pacer’s Running Festival Half Marathon. This was it’s first year as a half (the last two years it was a 10K). This was supposed to be my big race of the spring season, but vacation and randomly deciding to run the 10 miler two weekends ago through my actual training plan out the window. I went into the race knowing I could finish, planning for a sub-2, hoping for a PR, and secretly wishing for a sub 9 minute race. I managed three out of the four.
Chip time: 1:59:11 – a 13 second PR. I finished in the top half overall and for my gender/age group and in the top third for women overall, proving yet again that around here the 30-39 women group is a tough one!
I got up this morning and got ready. We didn’t have any bread in the house, so I had cereal instead of my usual PB&J that I eat before long runs. I headed out of the house at about 7:35 as the race starts 1 mile from my house. I decided not to take my fuel belt, so I walked to the race with one Gu in my pocket, one in my hand and a small water bottle in the other. I got to the race in plenty of time, so decided to hit the potties. The line was long and I would have missed the start, but the start was delayed by a few minutes and I was able to line up about a third of the way back from the front.
The first two miles of the race are a steep downhill. I’ve run down this hill lots of times, so I’ve gotten pretty good at finding the balance between going out too fast and fully using gravity. I felt great when I got to the bottom of the hill with two miles behind me (8:16, 8:05). I settled into an easy pace, with a goal of staying around 9 minute miles. I managed this through the start of mile 8, even with walking water stops and having a Gu at mile 5. Midway through mile 8, we began a long slow climb up to the Air Force Memorial. That mile came in a little over 9:30. I pulled it together for the next mile and then lost some time during mile 10, when I needed another Gu. My time at the 10 mile point was 1:30:10! Only 10 seconds off of a 9 minute pace and I was feeling pretty good. I picked up the pace a bit, planning to keep picking it up over the next three miles.
Then I hit the wind. The course was a series of out and backs, with two of them down a straight highway of rolling hills. After the final turnaround at about 10.5 miles, the last 2.5 miles were on this wide open road. The wind had me struggling to maintain a 9:30 pace. Occasional gusts had me feeling like I was running backwards. I ran through a tunnel, thinking I could pick up the pace because I’d be protected, but found that it just channeled the force of the wind. I could tell I wasn’t the only one affected by it, as I was steadily picking off other runners. In fact, I gave up any real goals at that point and just focused on each runner ahead of me, slowly working to pass each one. All this time, one woman and I were hopscotching each other. As we approached the 13 mile sign, we were matched, stride for stride. I picked it up a bit and pulled ahead, but as we rounded the corner for the last .05, she said “let’s finish this” and took off. I picked up my speed and felt like I was in a full sprint, but I just didn’t have it in me to keep up with her, so she finished a few seconds ahead of me. I have her to thank for the PR though LOL.
It was an awesome race and I’ll definitely run it in the future. It was really well organized and the volunteers were awesome. It ended a couple of miles from home and I left everything I had on the course, so I had Beer Geek come pick me up in front of the apartment we lived in almost 14 years ago.
And now, I’m taking a vacation from training. I’ll still be running, but I’m not planning to do any speed work or runs longer than 6-8 miles for the rest of May. My body just needs a break. The next race I want to PR at isn’t until October, so I can take it easy for a while and I absolutely plan to.
Category: half marathons