Race morning came and we got up, ate, and got out the door by 7:50 for a 9:15 race start, The race was close to my house so this should have been plenty, but due to some issues with crazy runners arguing with cops we ended up cutting it close. The race started on time but we didn't end up crossing the start line til 9:22 - but we made it! Like last time, we planned to run our own races and then I'd run to meet her on course.
Going into it I knew I was not in PR shape - my PR is 2:11 and I have had some really slow long runs lately, with my best pace for a long run being 10:55. When I ran that half last year my best pace for long runs was in the 10:30s. I wanted to believe I was slower this year because it was hotter and more humid, but the truth is I never lost the 15lbs I gained when I hurt my knee. Losing weight was easy the first time I tried, but having a menstrual cycle has really complicated weight loss for me and I haven't been able to lose it. With it being said there are 2 seconds per mile per pound difference...yeah. About a 30 second difference for mile and that's pretty much exactly what I've seen in races and training runs.
My first few miles, which are usually my fastest on race day, were in the low 10:30s when there wasn't a water stop and 11ish when there was. (Even when I skipped the water stop, they were so clogged with cups that I slowed way down to avoid slipping, and mostly succeeded...except when I didn't, haha.) Even with the semi steepish bridgey thingamajig we ran in mile 2 I guess I'd just been hoping to do better here.
Mile 1: 10:30
Mile 2: 10:45
(water stop I avoided)
Mile 3: 10:35
Mile 4: 11:10
(stopped for water, slipped on a cup!)
My A-goal was a 2:15 which I thought would be doable, but my legs were just not cooperating. I felt like I couldn't get a deep breath either, so I knew I needed to adjust. This was just not going to be a fast race. My C-goal was to be faster than my spring half and my B-goal was to be in the 2:17-2:18 range. To be honest once I got going I thought I wasn't even going to make my C goal; I was trying to run a smart race but I usually die around mile 11-12 and my back half is usually much slower than my front half. With my first 4 miles not having a single mile in the A goal range, and how crowded the course was and how much weaving I had to do to get around people from starting in the back, I legitimately entertained that this might barely be any faster than my first post-baby half last spring, which was 2:24:57.
But right around mile 5 we ran past a little elk preserve with signs that said "do not feed the elk
Right after the elk we hit a big bridge that was super annoying, especially because I knew we'd have to cross it again. But I guess the hillwork I've been adding to the treadmill is worth something (haha) because I ran up the whole thing, where I watched a lot of people stop to walk.
And then shortly after that, we hit the 10k point and then the turnaround (which was right around the halfway point too.) This course is usually a point to point but due to some construction they had to modify it a bit. I hit the 10k point in 1:06:06, about 30 seconds slower than my spring half, and the halfway point at 1:10:10...which put me on pace for a 2:20:30ish finish if I held pace, which would be a hair better than my spring half, or if I slowed down like I usually did, an even slower finish. Once we turned around we were running into the wind. That sucked. And we had to cross that bridge again in the 8th mile! It was crazy because I was cold, felt like I was crawling, AND I was sweating like crazy. There were times I wished I'd worn a t-shirt. Crazy! And taking a gel slows me down. I do believe after a lot of trial and error that they work better for me than chews and beans but I am so slow getting them into my mouth, geesh!
Mile 5: 10:26
Mile 6: 10:52
(skipped water stop but bridge)
Mile 7: 10:30
Mile 8: 11:05
(water stop AND bridge)
But you know what? I have completed some really hard runs this year. I have run two marathons, finished them while undertrained for one and hurting and emotional in the other, I have completed a 20 that sucked and almost didn't happen and dealt with the ego blow of being a bit fluffier so slower and I did 12 flipping miles on the treadmill and I have a well of mental toughness I don't always remember I can tap during races. I ran the last 5 miles. I picked up the pace slightly. I never stopped, I always pushed. I ran my fastest water stop of the race at mile 10 and my fastest mile of the race at mile 12. I ran even when my goofy watch said I was at 10.38 miles for over 3 minutes. (That was annoying!)
Mile 9: 10:31
Mile 10: 10:47
(skipped water stop)
Mile 11: 10:28
Mile 12: 10:19
And then I was on the last mile and my run numb brain told me I should come in the early 2:19s and that if I walked at all I was going to blow something I'd spent the last 4 miles fighting for. So I didn't stop. Not when my legs got mad or my lungs hated the wind or when that hill half a mile before the finish line had everyone else around me walking. My final time was 2:18:47 - which is over 7 1/2 minutes off my PR, but I feel like in a lot of ways this was a stronger and faster half than I've ever run before. Pace aside, I had a good solid negative split; I only walked a few of the water stops (though as an aside, I was surprised how hard of a time I had getting through them - between the thick clog of cups on the ground each time and people stopping hard and fast in front of me, it took a lot of extra effort to safely navigate them!). I ran up all of the inclines which I usually don't. There were never walk breaks. And I never math'ed myself out of running as hard as I could, which I have done a lot in the past. I may be slower, but I think I'm a better, stronger, smarter runner than I used to be, too.
And my best friend finished - I got to her at mile 12, because I couldn't get my legs into a run so I ended up walking to meet her which meant an extra mile on her own. I felt bad because when I caught up to her I realized she was having a bad asthma attack - and hadn't even realized! She walked the last mile in after I made her use her inhaler and still managed to finish in 2:57, way faster than she had expected. I am super proud of her! (Unfortunately with the asthma attack we didn't get a picture together, but I'm still very happy for her!)
Next up for me is the Hawaii marathon in 2 weeks, which we will be taking very slow. It'll be hot so I am looking at it as more a long scenic run walk with my husband. While I had toyed with the idea of a spring marathon, I think I am going to take some time to curb my mileage and focus on figuring out how to adapt to weight loss with my new hormonal situation - I think if I went back down to my normal weight running at the paces I want wouldn't be so hard. I think shorter runs with some higher intensity cross training might be a better way to kick things up a bit, and hopefully come spring I can take another crack at some speedy goals!