In May, I decided I wanted to run a half marathon and I had 10 weeks to train for it. I felt like I had a good fitness base since I began working out at 6 weeks postpartum last year. I was lifting and doing cardio 2-3 times a week so I felt fit. Not only did the training go smoothly, I fell in love with running after getting over the beginner’s hump. I PR’d but I feel like I can’t really “count” my 2012 half marathon time because I didn’t train properly for that past race (it took me almost 3 hours to finish).
TAPER WEEK: I ran three times (each run was 3-4 miles) in the days leading up to the half marathon. My biggest mistake that week was doing vinyasa yoga on Friday, the day before race day. I think the taper made me feel awesome and I had some energy so I put it into my yoga practice. BIG MISTAKE. Unfortunately, whether I liked it or not, my body was already fatigued from the 10 week training block so I ended up sore in my upper body on race day, lesson learned!
I followed a timed eating/drinking plan (this kind of reminded me of contest day as a fitness competitor) to ensure that I was fueled and hydrated properly. Luckily, I only had to pee once before the race started and I was fine the rest of the way. I never have that luck during long runs! I logged all my food and drinks in my food journal and plan to repeat this schedule on all long runs/races from here on out.
The half marathon started at 7pm so I began to panic when I saw the temperature was still over 90 degrees before we left the house. We arrived early and we barely found a parking spot due to limited parking and about 600+ participants (and their families and friends). We sat in the car to pass time and to keep the kiddo cool. We got out about 40 minutes prior to start time to check out the venue and figure out where the starting line was.
The pre-race energy was amazing because they had a DJ already set up playing fun music, children were playing in the park, runners were warming up or jamming to the music, and the vendors were set up and ready to go. My hubby was so sweet and gave me a pre-race pump up talk. A lot of self doubt had set in during the week and when I found out the race provided pacers, I was STOKED. I found the 2:15 pacers at the start line and repeated to myself that I would keep up with the group. My goal was 2:20-2:30 because all my long runs were 11-12 min miles, so I figured if I could just stick with them as long as I could, I would make that time.
Miles 1-3: We started at Riverside Park and made our way to a trail. This would be my FIRST TIME running on a trail, thank you. It was different but a welcomed change because of the shade and softer ground. The only down side of running on a trail was the narrow path; all the half marathoners and 5K racers were pushing their way through as best we could. Once we left the trail, I got hit in the head by a flying water cup (my visor saved me).
Miles 3-6: After 3 miles, I found my hubby and baby on the side cheering. I felt like I was finally warmed up and the race got easier. The energy felt calmer after getting out of the trail (the beginning of a race is always chaotic) and the crowding seemed to level off.
Miles 7-8: IT SUCKED! This is the only way to describe the pain of a steep hill that feels like it would never end (but it looped around, therefore we end up running downhill). I tried my best to tackle the hill but I had to take a mini walk break for 45 seconds during the incline because my thighs could not take the beating any longer. The cool part about going uphill was watching all the faster runners going down hill! These people were FAST and finished well under 2 hours. I chatted with another runner during this time, which helped take my mind off the pain. I eventually caught back up with my pace leaders before we reached the top of the hill and it was all downhill (literally) from there. The best part about this hilly section of the race was the ice pop and cheering crowds.
Miles 9-11: By now, the sun had set and we had our required head lamps on. The air felt cool and the energy felt extremely calm. Maybe because the chaos of the hills were behind us and there weren’t any people cheering us on from the sides. The pacers were so encouraging, telling me I was doing a great job.
The final mile: By mile 12, the pacer asked if anyone could pick up the speed. I had a mental block that kept me glued to them but she told me I needed to finish ahead of the sign and encouraged me to take off. I dug deep, put in my second ear bud and flew. Every training run, I try to run the final mile at a faster pace so I kept that in mind so I could finish strong. One runner was so nice and gave me a big cheer as I passed him. The song playing at the time made me feel like I was floating through the final mile as a picked off several runners. When I realized we were back in the park, I ran as fast as I could to the finish!
FINISH TIME: 2:08:46 (pace 9:49 min mile)
Though I was tired, I felt like I could have pushed it for a faster time but I always feel like that at the end of every race. I’m still learning to find my racing edge and I may possibly have a mental block about going as fast as I comfortably can for an entire race. Hopefully the block disappears as I gain experience. In my age group, I placed 14th out of 62 women and 213 overall (out of 648 racers).
Now that it’s over, I can’t wait to run another HALF! My hubby thinks I’ve turned into a crazy runner lady. My next scheduled half marathon isn’t until 2018 but I do have two 10Ks lined up. In fact, the next one is in 2 weeks (what was I thinking) followed by a nice fall 10K in my October! I’m hoping to PR and get a sub 60 minute finish time so I can get into a decent corral at upcoming 2018 races. At the end of December, when all the races are done, I wonder what my favorite race distance will be! So far, I like the half marathon!
What is your favorite race distance?