Sorry, but this will be fairly long as it is my first half marathon race report since I started my blog!
On April 17th, I ran my first half marathon of the year and it was a perfect day! The race was held in Lawrence, KS. I got there early, got parked and got to the port-a-potty line. It wasn’t too bad of a wait, then I headed to the start to stretch and wait for the gun to go off. This is only my 3rd half marathon. I did a walking one quite a few years back and then did my first running one in San Francisco in Oct of 2008. I have done a full marathon since then (Oct 2009), but this was my first half since Oct '08.
We were really lucky on the weather that day. There wasn’t much wind at the start, no rain, and it was the perfect temp (around 45 – I can’t remember exactly). The sun was out and I was ready! I wasn’t doing this with any friends, it was just me, myself and I. I didn’t necessarily have any specific time goal, I just knew I wanted to PR. And that shouldn’t be hard considering my last half I completed in just under 3 hours, and I took advantage in that race of the photo ops (Golden Gate bridge, the ocean, San Francisco, etc). I stopped a lot to take pictures and I walked a lot with the knee issues I was having, so it wasn’t a fast race by any means!
I haven’t run with a pace group in any of my other races. This is mainly because I had no confidence in myself. I didn’t think I could keep up with them, and I didn’t want to feel bad when I thought I needed to rest, stretch, or walk a little bit. I am very competitive and I felt like running with a pace group would be setting myself up to fail (in my mind anyway). But, I was standing close to the 2:40 pace group while waiting for the race to start. At that moment, I made the decision to start out with that group and keep up with them as long as I could and to not beat myself up if I couldn’t do it. 2:40 would be a PR for me by about 20 minutes, so I knew I had some wiggle room in case I couldn’t keep up with them. I would have 20 minutes to work with to still get my PR. Well, in the commotion of the start and getting through the crowd and settling into a comfortable pace, I looked up and realized I was next to the 2:20 pace group. Okay, that’s fine, I will hang out with them and when I fall back off their pace, that’s fine. Well, it turns out that their pace felt very comfortable to me, so I went with it. The 2 pacers were guys and were very entertaining and encouraging, and the group was chatting (aside from me). I’m not a great chatter while I’m running, so I listened to their conversations and settled into the race.
Just about 1.5 miles in, I needed to pee. I kept telling myself it was just nerves and the feeling would go away. After all, I went right before the race. Well, around mile 5, I was still needing to and I saw a port-a-potty up ahead (never thought one of those gross things could look so welcoming)! So, I sped up a little to get ahead of the group and stopped at the port-a-potty. I had to wait on one person to finish up, I rushed in there and rushed out in pretty good time. I was so sad to have to leave the pace group because I was enjoying running with them, but I couldn’t ignore Mother Nature any more. I decided to see if I could catch up with them at some point (without killing myself of course). I could see them up in the distance (the course at that point was pretty straight and flat), and at about mile 8, I was back with the group! Wow, did that give me a boost of confidence or what? I didn’t know if I had made a mistake catching up with them: would I run out of steam a few miles after that? I had no idea, but knew I’d find out soon enough.
The course was fairly flat, with a few small hills. Hills are challenging no matter what, but they weren’t the hills we would have had if the course had went on the University of Kansas campus like it was originally scheduled to. The race started out at Haskell University and stayed on the eastern part of Lawrence. We ran down Mass Street, but that was as far west as we got. As the miles passed, the group got smaller. There were probably 10 of us who started out running with the 2:20 pace group. After some people slowed down, and others had to take late bathroom breaks, it was just me, another girl and the 2 pace guys. 1 of the pacers dropped back to see if he could help some others catch up, so then there were 3. Then about mile 9.5, the other girl dropped back. It was just me and 1 of the pacers.
After mile 10, I thought I hit the wall. My legs started feeling hollow and heavy, my knees started aching some and as much as I didn’t want to, I took a few short walk breaks the last 3 miles or so. It might not have been a wall that I hit, but just a barbed wire fence, because my times didn’t reflect me slowing down as much as I thought I had. But I was hurting, but I pressed on. I fell back from the pacer, so I was alone for the first time. I also turned my music on for the first time and there were some good songs that gave me some momentum. I kept pushing, I hydrated at the water station, and I kept running. I saw the last turn that led to the finish and even though I was so close, I felt like I was so far away. The other pacer who had dropped back had caught back up, passed me and the 2 pacers were together again. I could see them and I saw them walk a while (probably because their pace had been a little fast in the last couple miles). The last stretch was on the Haskell University track – you had to run probably 220 meters on the track to the finish line. That was the LONGEST 220 in my life, but I was inspired by the people cheering, the big finish line, and I was really close to the 2 pacers. I kicked in as much as I could (it wasn’t much) and the clock above me said 2:19:39 when I crossed the finish! WHAT? I made it under 2:20? The 2 pace guys were there congratulating me since I had told them earlier what a huge PR it would be for me if I finished in 2:20. It was the best feeling! That I was done and had gotten a time that I never thought I could. It’s not fast for most people by any means, but for me, it was, and I felt amazing that I had done it!
I got me some food and drinks and then headed home to tell my husband about it. Some of you might be wondering why he wasn’t there cheering me on? Well, he had committed to going turkey hunting with his friend and his friend's 9 year old son. It was the boy’s first time turkey hunting and my husband was taping his hunt for him. We both have our individual activities and we support each other in those, it just so happened we both had stuff going on that morning. But he will be there cheering me on in Seattle in June!
I learned a lot from this race and hopefully can continue to learn more and improve in the future. Don’t think it didn’t cross my mind to sand bag this race a little so that I can continue to get PR’s! But I gave it my all and I will just have to train harder to get some PR’s in the future. The main thing I took away from this race and the training that went along with it was how important it is to train outside! This was the first training season where the majority of runs I did were outside. I never minded the treadmill before and did most training runs at the gym. This season was different in that I ran outside when the weather allowed it. During the winter when there was ice and snow on the ground, I ran on the treadmill, but the majority was outside and it makes a HUGE difference. On a treadmill, your pace is controlled, there are no hills, no pace changes, nothing. Totally different from an actual race. It’s not rocket science to figure out if you train in the same conditions as race day (you just can’t control the weather), you will be more prepared. But, I guess I just never thought about that before. After running outside so much, I kind of despise the treadmill. But, it is needed when you just can’t get outside to run.
Here are the official race results:
Overall place: 510 (not sure how many people total ran in the half)
Division Place: 46/62 (Female 30-34)
Female Place: 228/350
Garmin: 13.35 miles at 2:19:40
Mile 1: 11:00
Mile 2: 10:36
Mile 3: 10:42
Mile 4: 10:22
Mile 5: 11:45 (potty break)
Mile 6: 9:35 (playing catch up)
Mile 7: 10:06 (playing catch up)
Mile 8: 10:28
Mile 9: 10:09
Mile 10: 9:50
Mile 11: 9:59 (I thought I hit the wall, but this doesn't show it)
Mile 12: 11:06 (I slowed here and walked some)
Mile 13: 10:21 (Starting to push to the finish)
Last .35 miles: 03:35
I still haven’t seen any official race pictures, so the ones my husband took of me when I got home will have to do. The first one is me and Bode with the medal around our necks. He was excited for me even if he doesn't look like he was!
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