Today I crossed a big thing off my bucket list – a few big things, actually. I ran my first half marathon, without walking (which probably fulfills some goal I hadn’t formally made yet), and in doing so completed one of my new year’s resolutions of running 8 miles without walking. Seven weeks ago I needed motivation to get back into running and found this race. I told my roommate about it and asked if she ran, to which she replied “no, never in my life,” but she wanted to do it with me anyway, so she started training!
My goals were, from hardest to minimum:
A. Finish in less than two hours
B. Finish in 2:10
I loosely followed Hal Higdon’s Intermediate training plan and originally was going to stop my long runs at 10 miles. Then I started thinking more about my goal pace and got excited about possibly finishing in under 2 hours, so I knew I needed to run further to make that happen, so my longest run was 13.2, which I did in 2:09 with stoplights and shoe tying and walking breaks. Despite that success, I wasn’t sure I could meet my 2 hour goal.
I wrote some splits on my arm in sharpie so I could keep track of my goal – I was going to try to run 9:15/mi for the first three miles, 9:09 for the next four, 9:05 for the next three, and at least 9:00 for the last 3.1. The start was rough – hardly anyone started where they should have for their pace, and there were even some walkers out there even though they were supposed to wait. I was trying really hard not to go out too fast, and I don’t have a fancy watch to pace myself with.
My first mile ended up being 9:55 – not a good start for my goal! So, I picked it up and ran an 8:05 for mile 2 which got me caught up (and :30 ahead!), so I told myself to take it back a tiny bit and then just relax and keep going. I didn’t want to slow down at the beginning, but I didn’t want to use ALL my juice, either. I knew I wouldn’t be able to turn it way up at the end so I just wanted to stay where I was comfortable once I found that spot. I was about 2 minutes ahead of schedule the whole time (about 9:00/mi) so I was pretty happy. My buns were burning so I didn’t want to do more than that and feel worse. Splits: first 6.1k – 34:10 (8:59/M) second 5k – 27:18 (8:48/M) third 5k – 27:51 (8:59/M) fourth 5k 27:09 (8:45/M) – Pretty steady! I was proud. And all under my goal pace of 9:09/M. (Deep down I really did want to finish around 1:54-1:56 but I was already worried about even making 2 hours). I wanted to go as hard as I could for the last 3 miles but I really didn’t have it in me, sadly. Even the last mile I couldn’t turn it up until I had the finish in sight. At that point I got really excited again and it was all worth it.
I took a gel and gatorade at 2.6, and ate the gel around 3.5, right before the next station. I think I got gatorade again there. At the third and fourth I got water, and gatorade at the fifth. At mile 10 I missed the gel, but I had an orange slice, gummy bears, and water. The gummy bears were a bit of a mistake and I almost dropped them, but I just held them in my mouth for awhile and they didn’t hurt my stomach. Although, that might be around where I got my second side cramp (first was at 5 miles). I ran through all the aid stations except for mile 11. I’m not sure why I decided to walk, but it was only for about 5 seconds so I could gulp my water – my legs felt like jello and it was sort of a mistake, because it took me awhile to get back up to speed and that’s where my mental issues started. I had felt really excellent and my brain was quiet up till that point.
My final time was 1:56:30 (!!!), I came in 44th in my age group, 311 out of women, and 607 overall out of about 4200 runners. I really couldn’t have asked for better, although I do have some tips for myself next time.
I want to sign up for another soon so I keep up my focus, but I don’t know where I’ll be so I can’t. BUT the main things I think I need to work on are speed work, hills, and strength. I felt like I was going to tear a hamstring if anything weird happened or if I pushed too hard, but otherwise I could have done more. Also, my training runs were all around 9:30/M pace and they say your race pace should be about 2 minutes faster than that, so speed is definitely one of my weaknesses – I don’t like being uncomfortable.