Blue and Gray half marathon: Or how not to execute a race plan

I’ll just start with the results.  I went 1:34:08 was 7th female and 1st in my age group.

Okay, now that’s out of the way, I’ll go ahead and say that I’m not happy with this race.  Kind of like the 5k I ran in October that I knew I didn’t race to my potential, I feel like my time doesn’t accurately reflect my current fitness level.  I have some excuses why yesterday went the way it did, it was cold and windy and it’s a challenging course with 2 uphill miles at the end.  Even so, 2 years ago I ran it 3 minutes faster (slightly different course, but I don’t think it should’ve mattered much time-wise).  I can’t blame 3 minutes on the wind.  I think the reality is that I went out too fast because I’m not in as good shape as I thought I was.  I thought a good goal was to average 6:55, which would’ve resulted in a half PR.  Maybe I should’ve aimed for 7-7:05.   Honestly, I’m not sure that would’ve made a difference.  I slowed at mile 8 and didn’t run a sub 7 mile after that.  So maybe I just didn’t do enough longer tempo runs.  On the plus side, 2 years ago, I would’ve gotten up this morning and punished myself with a long fast run to try to “run off” a bad race.  This morning I’m not mad at myself.  I’m thankful my legs were healthy enough yesterday to get me 13.1 miles and that, although a little sore, I’m not injured or feeling on the brink of injury.  I’m more interested in figuring out why it went the way it did and what I can learn from it for the next half.

My splits for the first 6 miles:

6:53, 6:40, 6:56, 6:55, 6:58, 6:55

Aside from that 6:40 mile which is deceptively fast because it was down a huge hill, I thought I was right on pace.  Although I was a little worried that I felt like I was working harder than I should by mile 5.  I guess that was my first clue that I went out too fast.  But I felt like that during the Erie marathon as well.  At that point in the race, I wasn’t sure if I actually started too quickly or if I was just doubting myself.

Miles 7 and 8 were 6:59 and 7:26.

I stopped at the water stop during mile 8 to take a gel and get down 2 cups of water.  I made the last minute decision not to carry water.  Because of the way the wind was whipping around, I was afraid my hand would freeze even in my gloves.  In hindsight, I would’ve been fine to carry it and I think it was a mistake not to.  Even in the freezing cold windy conditions yesterday, I was drenched in sweat at the end.  I know this about myself.  I sweat a lot and I sweat very salty.  I prefer to be able to take in water on the run without stopping.  I should’ve carried the bottle.  In pretty much anything over 10k, I should have my handheld.  I knew that and chose to leave it anyway.  Rookie mistake.

I tried to get back on pace during miles 9-11 but just couldn’t: 7:04, 7:18, and 7:15

I was running in a group of about 5 at this point, there were 3 men and 1 other woman.  She passed me during mile 9 and I repassed her at 10.  Right after we hit mile 11 and started up hospital hill, she passed me again and I didn’t have it in me to care.  I remember the hill being rough from 2 years ago, but I must’ve been in much better shape because it really defeated me yesterday.  I felt like I was walking.  My hamstrings were screaming.  I wanted to lie down on the sidewalk and give up.  And that was at about a quarter of the way up the hill.  I was just trying to get through it with my head down and at one point, a spectator yelled, “Eyes up! You’re almost to the top, doing great!”  And I kind of chuckled, looked up and was like, no thanks, I’ll keep my eyes down, the top still looks so far away, if I look up, I might give up.

Mile 12 was 7:50.

At the top of the hill, you get a little reprieve before heading up another hill.  While not as long as the first, it comes at a very unfortunate point late in the race after a tough climb.  There was a group of spectators on this part of the course that were great.  Their cheering might be the only thing that got me up without walking.  It was on this hill 2 years ago that Lawrence stopped the car on the side of the road and blasted music for me.  I was sad he couldn’t make it this year because we had to get the kids to their swim meet.

Mile 13 was 7:27.

After you hit the top of that last hill, you get a little downhill before turning into the shopping center  where it’s about .25ish miles to the finish.  It’s a little deceiving because you turn in thinking you’re almost done but the finish line is at the opposite side of the parking lot and as soon as I made the turn I was hit with a headwind.  Lovely.  But I saw the woman who passed me just ahead and decided she wasn’t going to beat me.  So I gave myself a little pep talk and kicked in as fast as I could.  My watch had me a little long because it was a twisty course and I failed to run the tangents well so, I have .24 miles at 6:34 pace.  I’m pretty happy that I was able to find that extra gear and finish strong.  I felt a little nauseous and thought I might throw up at the finish line but luckily I didn’t.

I think what it boils down to is that I was just impatient.  I should’ve aimed for a 1:32-1:33 and gone out with that goal instead of hoping to break 1:30.  I knew it was a stretch anyway, especially on a course like that.  I think I got to the point where I felt like I’d been patient all year and really wanted to see just one PR in 2014.  But it just wasn’t time yet.  I’m close, I’m confident I’ll start seeing them again in 2015.  I shouldn’t have tried to rush it.

All in all, I think I ran well.  A little slower than I hoped but I didn’t give up or get discouraged.  I fought until the end and I’m proud of that.  Plus, I got to spend the morning with a good friend.


Now I’ll have a couple of down weeks before I start Boston training at the end of the month.  I’m excited and nervous about what’s coming.  It’s going to involve a lot of hard work that will hopefully lead to some awesome things.  I’m ready!


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