Monday, May 18, 2015

Believe, part deux

I didn't get a chance last week to write up my race goals for the Steel Rail Half Marathon. It was a really busy week-- I was a surprise guest reader in Chewie's class and the Princess turned 8. The Strong Running Mamas celebrated our 5 years together with a night out not wearing running clothes. So, just trust me when I tell you what my goals were (although I think I may have talked about them once or twice before): 

All I wanted to do for this half was get back down to my original half marathon time of 2:15. That's it. I'll admit that I after my 5K PR, I did plug my times into the McMillian calculator to see what a 27:22 5K would mean for a half marathon (2:07) but I decided to just stick with my original 2:15 goal. I was slightly concerned that I hadn't done as many double digit long runs as I should have because I had those 2 5Ks. So much of my mental focus in my training has been on the 5K and not on this race, but I was fairly confident I would be able to do 2:15 again. I also really wanted to run negative splits which is always a goal of mine. 

My day started at 6 am which is wicked early for me. I wasn't able to eat much because of nerves and the time but I had my normal cup of tea. I also brought a hot cup of Runner's Tea for the car. In addition to the 40 ounces of water I had in my hydration vest, I had an extra bottle of cold Runner's Tea. I was pretty set with the liquids. We carpooled to the race and got there around 8:30. 

There were so many friends running this race. Lots of Strong Running Mamas:
Strong Running Mamas before the race
Lots of local running friends. And our very own Boston-finisher-should-be-elite runner: 
Me and Jim before the race
There were roughly 600 runners but it really didn't look like it. I tried to line up in the middle of the pack so I wouldn't go out too fast. I didn't realize there was a starting line so I started my watch when the "gun" went off which was 16 seconds away from the start. I realized it though so I decided to just use the mile markers on the road as a guide for my walking. At each mile sign I walked for one minute and drank the Runner's Tea and then my water. Anyway, as usual I started out way too fast which isn't the right way to go when you really want to negative split. My goal was a 10:18 pace and my plan was to run 10:20 for the first half and then speed up. My first mile was 8:49. Oops. I tried to rein myself in for the next few miles:

Mile 2 9:30
Mile 3 9:59
Mile 4 10:15

Around Mile 4 I realized that I needed to go to the bathroom. I knew there was a port-o-pottie somewhere around mile 6-7. I willed myself to just make it to the potty and then I would speed up. 

Mile 5: 10:21
Mile 6: 10:22
Mile 7: 10:03

I can't remember exactly where the potty was but it was a beautiful thing to see. I didn't care if I would lose a minute. I knew if I didn't go I would spend the rest of the race slowing down. My watch automatically paused which was both good and bad. I now know I only "lost" 1 minute 7 seconds thanks to the data on garmin connect. But I didn't know how much I had lost while I was running so I figured I should try to run a little faster. 

Once I had that out of the way I focused on running slightly faster and starting to pass some people. I was constantly taking stock-- my legs were good, my breathing was good, I was well hydrated, not too hot, not too cold. 

Mile 8: 10:08
Mile 9: 9:52
Mile 10: 10:14
Mile 11: 10:16

I started to falter just a bit at 10 and 11, but I knew I still had some time to play with because I was still above my 10:18 average pace goal. I walked for the last time when I saw the mile 11 sign. From then on I put it into high gear and tried to run as fast as I could and pass as many people as I could. At mile 12 I found Bridget and ran with her for a short time and then I just let it go. 

Mile 12: 10:01
Mile 13: 8:58
.17: 8:42

The last mile I ran with a huge smile plastered to my face. I knew I was not going to run 2:15. I was going to finish faster. The last 10th of a mile I saw Super Runner Jim (1st in his Age Group, 8th finisher overall) cheering me and it carried me through. 

My official time was 2:11:07 (that includes the potty break. The time on my watch because of the auto-pause was 2:10:16) with a 10:00 avg pace. 4 minutes faster than my half marathon PR, 12 minutes faster than my time in my last half just 7 months ago. I was not at all anticipating a PR. I was aiming for 2:15 and I was going to be happy with 2:15. But when I hit the half mark and did the math I knew I could do it. I just had to keep up the pace or preferably run faster and I chose at that moment to just BELIEVE I could do it. And at each mile I kept believing until I crossed the finish. 

Overall: 324/608
Females: 166/384
Age Group: 51/117

Despite starting out too fast, I think I still managed to run the second half faster (the first 7 miles: 69.19, last 6: 59:29). I know I definitely felt stronger and in control. My legs felt fine (although my toes did hurt a bit again), my breathing was fine, everything was FINE. I think that training in the heat definitely helped me because I was not at all bothered by it like everybody else was. I actually kind of liked it... I think the Runner's Tea helped me. I think adding biking to my plan, even though I haven't done any this month, helped a lot. Walking every mile REALLY helped. All the speedwork I did to PR for the 5K probably helped in this race as well. But more than anything else it was BELIEVING I could do it. I knew I was running smart and I didn't allow ANY doubt. 

So that's 2 PRs in 2 weeks. I can't even tell you how much I love that this is happening this year. In just a couple of weeks it will be 5 years since the very first race I ran and here I am running my strongest year. Just a couple of months before I turn 40 too... which is good because those ladies are FAST. 

I am super stoked and elated and really looking forward to NOT running this week. If I can get all the stuff done I need to do (clean the pool, finish the garden, plan a birthday party or two, scrub some toilets, write a MILLION book reviews), I'll start running again next week. If not, my first run back may be at the Freihofer's! 

Me, Bridget and Elisa after the race

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