* After a solid 24 weeks of (re)training I ran the half-marathon on Sunday. On Friday night mrp asked me what my goal was. I said something blobby like, "to just get out there and run a good race." "And how are you going to do that?" he asked. "Uh, I don't know," I (shockingly) responded. Basically I had no plan as mrp very exasperatingly pointed out. So, over our pierogie dinner we hatched a plan for me.
As last week's long run demonstrated to me, my body is not the same as it was before I had peanut. It doubles as a milk machine for peanut and I need to respect that. Besides that, I don't have the base I had last time I was galavanting around town racing half marathons and the course for this half was thought to be particularly challenging so as far as a time goal I really didn't have one. (And I'll tell you, running a race without a time goal is pretty nice!) At the same time, I had some idea of what I think I could run on a normal course based on my recent tempo runs and races. So with all that in mind, here was the plan we hatched.
The course was pretty much broken down like this: first 5 relatively flat with some rollers mostly down; the second 5 were more or less all uphill (not kidding); the last 5k was flat or slightly downhill. For the first 5 I was to run tempo effort, which should be about half marathon effort for me right now. The second 5 miles I was to maintain that effort and ignore my splits--just completely not worry about them at all. The last 5k I was to get back to the pace of my first 5 miles and not worry about what my finishing time would be. If I executed this plan I would run my best race and that was my goal!
I met CV for a warm-up about a 1/2 hour before the race. She was running the 5k, but we planned to do the same warm-up more or less. We ran a mile easy and snuck a pee in at a country club (that was fun!) and then ran another mile with 4 longish (30-45 second) and hard strides. We went our separate ways (after we fixed up CV's nose after she stabbed herself with her key and caused it to gush blood--nothing like a little pre-race drama) and then I peed in the parking lot behind the cover of GP (who used up some of her free time just to cheer on her friends! Got to love her!) I lined up next to a former teammate and we were off.
I have to say, I felt much more warmed up than I did last race! I easily ran a 6:36 first mile. I wasn't worried about it being too fast or anything. It felt good. After that mile I had some trouble with mrp's watch that I borrowed so I was only able to take 2 mile splits for the next 4 miles. After the 6:36 it looks like was running right around 6:50 pace: 13:41; 13:39. That was fine with me. It felt good and felt right. I don't remember much downhill. I think it was all pretty gradual. By around mile three I was in the middle of a pack of guys. I was about 6th woman. I could see a hot pink girl and the girl who came in ahead of me at the 10k (who we'll call 10k girl). Former teammate was way the heck up there.
Anyway, around mile 4 , after the unmanned water stop (what was up with that?!) there was a big looking uphill which came as a bit of a shock, but it didn't seem to affect me. I easily broke out of my pack up the hill but then they all caught back up to me on the flats. That was fine. I enjoyed their company. Right at the 5 mile mark there was a short but very steep hill before we turned and right at the very top was a water station. I have to say it's hard to grab a cup after a steep hill and it's even harder to drink! Anyway, on we went. Now the real hills started.
There was a big hill in every mile with no or very little corresponding downhill. I felt ok though. About halfway through this stretch I finally lost site of 10k girl so no more women in site, except CV who found me and trotted along with me. It was the perfect time for a distraction. She told me she won the 5k in 18:51. "Woohoo!" I shouted, which was a little confirmation to myself that I was in really fine shape in the race! I didn't use that as license to chat too much though and for the most part I just used CV's company to relax and stay focused. Around mile 8 we saw GP cheering for us which was so nice! And then we came over a little roller and all of a sudden you could see it: the mega-hill to take all mega-hills. UGH. CV let out an, "Oh my god!" which suprisingly made attacking it a little more appetizing. After her $100 sub-19 effort CV was done and I was on my own. I made it to the top of the first section and then I could see it was even longer and nastier than it originally looked. I had a short break and then the final 1 mile of hill to go before my 5k push. Yes, that's 1 solid mile of nasty hill.
About halfway up it I saw my mom cheering for me! Awww. That was nice. But even better was being able to see hot pink girl! Booyah! (sorry). I chugged up the hill and felt pretty darn good--I mean bad, but good bad. Better than I thought, anyway. I finally got her and made my final chug before this stretch was finally over. Miles 5-10 were:7:04, 7:18, 7:20, 7:12, 7:38.
I turned off that hellacious road and the burn slowly dissipated from my legs. I felt like I was back on pace. Mile 11 proved it: 6:48. And then close to the end of mile 12 I realized I could see my former teammate and even better I saw mrp and peanut cheering for me! Mile 12 was 6:36. I was totally inspired, so I turned on the jets apparently. The last 1.1 was 6:56! That's under 6:20 pace!
I thought I finished just as the clock struck 1:30:50 but the unchip-timed results give me a 1:30:52 in 5th place. This was a great race for me. I don't think I have ever executed a plan and met a goal so well. I think on a normal course I would have easily been under 1:30 which is great for right now. I couldn't be happier! It's a great jumping point for my marathon training, so after a down week (which I am currently thoroughly enjoying) off I go!
*No race photos yet, so please enjoy this photo of the hambone otherwise known as peanut.