Saturday I ran my 5th half marathon, got a PR and had a pretty decent race! My official time was 2:09:49, which averages out to a 9:55 pace. I'm very happy to have averaged under 10s. While I'm super happy with my end time and met some of my goals, I also have some disappointments, namely that I couldn't keep the pace up the entire 13.1 miles. But in the end, I have learned quite a few things from the race.
I had three goals I was keeping in mind for the race. This wasn't going to just be a "go out and run and see what happens" kind of race. Training with Casey, I have gotten a little faster. I wasn't so lazy on my training runs as I have been in the past, by myself. It's very easy for me to settle into a comfy jog. But during most runs we did, I was pushing a little bit. And during the long runs we did, I was running at paces I had never ran before at those distances. So I had plans for this event. I actually "raced" it, for me anyway. My C goal was sub 2:15:48 which would be a PR. B goal was to run a 10:00 per mile pace (2:11:06). And the A goal was a 9:50 pace, which would be a finish time of 2:08:54.
The race weather was perfect. It was cool, calm, morning around 45º probably. Parking was kind of rough–we tried two garages before finally ending up along the water on the boat ramp. It was free, so that worked out. I got to the start line not too much before it was time to find a place in the crowd. Casey and I said our "see ya laters" to Jannelle and Greg, and tucked into the middle of the pack.
The horn went off and we moved along smoothly. I felt good and calm. Casey realized he had given his gels to Jannelle–doh! But she knew, and when he saw her at the corner down the street a bit, he was able to grab them quickly. That might have been around a half mile? We passed the 1 mile marker in 8:50-something. I immediately thought that was too fast for me. Soon after that, Casey pulled away and I lost sight of him pretty quickly. I settled into my pace, clicking along around 9:15s it seemed from what I heard people with GPSs saying around me. I felt great, but wondered about later.
The course didn't have many hills. There was a hill coming up into downtown, and a couple of long slight inclines here and there. My breathing told me before anything else if we were going up or down. At mile 7 I took a gel. I was happy to have that over with and felt I could concentrate better on just running. I had another to take, but wasn't sure when I'd take it and wasn't worried about it. At mile 8, my watch said 1:16:00 flat. That was a 9:30 pace! I was very happy. With 5.1 miles and about an hour of time left, I knew that unless something horrible happened, I would at least met my C goal of anything sub 2:15:48.
After about mile 9, I began to struggle. People were passing me left and right and I didn't feel like I was maintaining a decent pace anymore. I tried to just stay with 10s and be content with that. I think between mile 8 and 9 was a 9:50 pace. Then between mile 9 and 10 there was a hill coming out of the park that wiped me out. Around mile 10, my knee started hurting from my pesky IT band. What was this? It hadn't hurt during training! I was mad. With 3 miles to go, I didn't know what would happen and all of my progress towards the finish line felt extremely slow and iffy. On top of that, my stomach was cramping and I got a sharp side stitch. At one point, I tried to do some math and figure out what my pace would have to be to get in my A goal of 2:08:54. I thought it seemed possible, then realized I wasn't maintaining a fast enough pace. I gave up on that in favor of just being able to run the entire time. Stupid IT band.
At mile 12 there was an S turn down and over railroad tracks and then into a park. The path was winding concrete sidewalks with sudden ups and downs. Not ideal. I thought about the cobblestone finish of the State to State Half (my first half) and how I had the same thoughts then...this is mean, Mr. Race Director. I hobbled along, people passing me left and right. Just keep moving forward smoothly, I told myself. I could see the big yellow bridge in the distance and knew the finish was somewhere close to that. My knee hurt really bad. I tried speeding up to see if that would help, but it hurt worse, so I kept it steady.
I saw the finish line and upped the pace to what felt like a respectable hobble. I was cutting it close, but managed to finish just under 2:10! I made C and B goals!!! I was so close to my A goal... it's pretty rough knowing that. But there is something to strive for in my next race.
Me and my high arms...
So, in summary, I am very, very happy that I PR'd and ran well in the beginning! My disappointments lie in the fact that my IT band hurt to a debilitating level and I don't know why it did, and that I couldn't stay strong in the end miles of the race. I wanted to run even-ish splits, not go out quickly just to run out of oomph with 3-4 miles to go and then have the quick miles make up for the slow ones. I suppose if my knee hadn't hurt I might have suffered through it differently. I don't know...
Casey had a super race and finished 1:57:18!!! His first time racing this distance, and he beat his 5K race pace! His running progress has been inspiring and enjoyable to watch.
This was an excellent race. It was the first year for it and was well done. Most importantly, Greg, Jannelle, Roman and Christen were fantastic spectators that I thought of often while out on the 8 mile stretch far away from them! I couldn't wait to see them again. Hopefully this entire report doesn't sound too whiny or down. I'm still in the analyzation phase I guess. Perhaps the fact that I am thinking about it so much is a good sign for what's to come. I have a lot of hope for having more fun at races in the future!