Not quite the race I was hoping for, but overall I am very happy with how my tenth half marathon turned out.
Race: Capital City River Run Half Marathon
Date: September 17, 2017
Goals: A: Sub 1:40 B: new PR (1:42:20)
Base Building: Beginning in May, I focused on building my weekly mileage, finishing this segment of training feeling comfortable with 40-45 miles per week.
Workouts: In July I started adding in workouts while maintaining my weekly mileage. August didn’t go quite as planned since I needed more recovery than anticipated after my 25k trail race. I finished the training segment with the workouts I needed each week, but suffering a slight drop in mileage. I was pretty much over the heat & humidity of summer training.
Saturday was my husband’s birthday. He spent the morning on an epic motorcycle ride with his cousin and planned to meet me later that day at his parent’s house. I drove my self to packet pickup (~1 hour away) thinking I would just grab my bib, swing into Noodles and Co for dinner, then head out to my in law’s. But packet pickup was at a local running store…so instead I grabbed my bib and then spent about an hour trying on shoes. For my husband’s birthday I bought myself new running shoes, oops.
The morning of the race was warm and humid. Starting temperature was already in the 60s with 95% humidity. I knew this might slow me down. I wasn’t super confident about my training. My stomach was feeling off. Basically I was a nervous mess.
As planned, I lined up behind the 8:00 pacers. It was nice to run with the pacers because it allowed me to focus on relaxing. However, it was quite crowded and I hate being jostled around. Plus they started too fast. I stayed with the pacers for the first two miles, 7:48, 7:49.
In the third mile I moved ahead of them and began to focus on running my own race. I wasn’t feeling great but I wasn’t feeling awful either. I tried to keep my focus on staying relaxed. One of the fun things about this race is the signs along the course with science facts on them. I distracted my self by reading and memorizing them. Did you know that porcupines have over 30,000 quills? Or that dogs have only about 10 vocal sounds while cats have over 100? Next three miles: 7:50, 7:39, 7:44.
I originally thought I would pick up the pace after 5 miles, but at the start of mile six I was staring up at big hill climb. This was a new part of the course and an unexpected challenge. I kept my effort even and cruised the downhill, 7:49. Shortly after the hill I saw my husband out cheering which was a nice boost.
I felt confident about my ability to PR but less confident about breaking 1:40. I decided to hold on picking up the pace until mile 8. The next few miles were on a paved path through the woods. I was grateful for the shade. 7:47, 7:47.
Mile 9 was back out in the sun. Fatigue was starting to settle in. But it was now or never. 7:39. The course wound back into the trees. 7:34.
The final 5k was in and out of the shade before finishing in the sun. I could tell it was getting hot. I was dumping water on myself at every aid station. 7:49. I knew I needed to hold it together if I wanted to PR, but I was struggling hard. I wanted to just give up. This part of the course was pretty lonely. I was doing my best to spot runners and reel them in. But then I found myself being passed too. 7:49. I was getting serious side stitches. I focused on breathing. I did not want to completely fall apart this close to the finish. I kept thinking about Tahqua and praising the lack of mud, because that was a much tougher finish.
And then, there it was. Nope, not the finish line…a hill to rival the climb from mile 6. Stomach cramped, determination lost, suddenly finding myself doubled over in pain. Maybe I could just stay here? But I forced myself up the hill, into the baseball stadium, and finally to the finish line. 9:52 for the last 1.25. (Note: the course was not long, I just ran bad tangents).
I didn’t really know what to think. I saw 1:43 on the finish line clock and knew I missed a PR. That was disappointing. Did my moment of hesitation before the final hill cost me a PR? But as soon as I stopped running, I realized just how hot it was. It was brutal. I settled for accepting that I ran a smart race on bad day.
My family quickly found me and some friends who also ran joined us as well. They are both faster than I, but shared my laments about the heat and humidity and that the new course was hillier. I was starting to feel quite a bit better about my performance. It was nice to know I wasn’t the only one slowed down by the day.
I wanted to change but that meant climbing up the stadium seating to get to the restrooms. Ooof. While I was changing my husband looked up my official results. When I walked out of the restroom he told me he had some bad news. I figured I must have just missed an age group award, but the bad news was that awards were back down the stairs on the field and that I had finished in 3rd in my age group! What? Amazing! I’ve never placed in a half marathon before! This really wiped away the sting of missing a PR by 36 measly seconds.
It’s marathon season! I took two weeks off after the half marathon and started my training the first week in October.