As you probably already know, I ran the America’s Finest City Half Marathon this past weekend. It was kind of a last minute decision to sign up for this race but I heard good things about it from my boss and was eager to get a seed time under my belt for CIM (ß seed times “expire” after 2 years and I hadn’t truly raced a half marathon in 2 years + 3 months). As per usual I had three “tiered” goals going into this race:
GOAL C: Run sub-1:22 and qualify to run in the sub-elite field at CIM
GOAL B: Run a PR (sub-1:21:21)
GOAL A: Break the 1:20 barrier
I’m very happy to have come away from the race having hit my C & B goals. And even though I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t get my A goal I know that with some more training under my belt it’s within reach!
So let’s back up to race morning and run through the race real quick. I was up at 4am and surprisingly was wide awake – probably because Henri and I had gone to bed at 8:30 the night before. Early bedtimes are necessary when staying in the same hotel room as your baby. I got up, got dressed and snuck off without waking up Henri and Lavinia. (The plan was for them to meet me at the finish line, I drove and parked and Henri ran with Liv in the stroller because it was only 1.5 miles from our hotel)
As I was in line boarding the shuttle bus to the starting line I realized that I had forgotten my watch at the hotel. It had fallen out of my backpack that I was taking to the starting line. I tried to look at it as a positive and embraced the opportunity to truly race by feel and see what I was capable of. After a 30 minute bus ride to the start line I unloaded and headed over to the elite staging area where there was plenty of space to warm-up and lots of restrooms just for the 30 or so runners in the elite field. I did my usual 10 minute warm-up (the longer the race the shorter my warm-up run), drills and stretches before dropping off my bag and heading to the starting line for strides.
When the gun went off the top 4 ladies separated themselves pretty quickly and I ended up in no-man’s land in 5th place. Around mile 2 a pair of guys caught up to me and I found myself running on their shoulders for a while. They asked me what time I was trying to run and when I told them 1:20 and that I forgot my watch they took it upon themselves to pace me for awhile. The told me that we were ticking off 5:50s pretty consistently but when we hit the 5 mile mark they said told me that we were at 28:25 which is 5:41 pace (keep in mind that to hit my A goal all I needed to average was 6:05!
Since the course didn’t have clocks at each mile marker the only other split I got was at 10K – 36:05. That was only 1 second off of the 10K PR that I ran last month so I thought to myself that I was either about to run the race of my life or the last few miles were going to be torture! I didn’t want to go down the negative thought path so I reminded myself to keep running by effort and since I was still feeling okay I didn’t slow down and kept up the consistent pace we were running, just staying on the shoulders of the two guys ahead of me. We went on like this for a few miles but when we hit mile 9 one of the guys took off on us (I found out after the finish that in those last 4 miles he picked up 3 minutes on us)!
I held on to the second guy until we started going up the hills at mile 11 but I just couldn’t keep up after that point. The gal behind me also passed me going up these hills. I think I did a relatively good job on not giving up mentally and was giving it my all even though I was slowing down, I’m secretly happy that I don’t have splits for these miles due to forgetting my watch because I’m sure that I was going so slow compared to my first 11 miles.
The course leveled out a bit for the last .5 mile and I tried to pick it up but didn’t start to “kick it in” until I saw the 13 mile mark and knew I had a little less than 200m to go. The announcer was calling out the name of the girl in front of me and said that she had broken 1:20. I didn’t hear the exact time so I started sprinting as fast as I could to get as close to 1:20 as possible if not break it.
I crossed the line in 1:20:22 and in 6th place.
To be honest, I’m a little unsure how I feel about my performance. Overall, I’m thrilled with my time and the conditions under which I ran it. I’m only 3 weeks into marathon training and before those 3 weeks I took a full week of recovery/aka no running. So on very little training I bested my previous time by 59 seconds. However, I am just not very happy with how the race actually went down. I went out way too fast and paid for it later. The deceiving thing was that the fast pace felt great until late into the race and there were a few miles there when I seriously thought that sub-1:18 was possible. I don’t know what I was thinking because I knew that the giant hill was looming ahead but right up until the moment I started running up that hill I thought I might be able to sustain that pace which made 1:20 seem disappointing even when it was a PR. It’s never fun to finish a race at a crawl – you want to finish feeling strong and powerful and fast! BUT I know that the last hill would have been rough regardless of how fast I ran the first 10-11 miles so if I had started out more conservatively I may not have reached any of my goals. So all in all, I’m pleased with the outcome of this race.
The best part about this race was having my 2 biggest cheerleaders at the finish line waiting for me!
I’m looking forward to getting in some serious training over the next two months before my next attempt at the half on 10/29 at Rock N Roll Los Angeles.
Also make sure to check out my latest post for ProForm here. It’s all about tips for beginning runners – and there’s even a 4 week walk-run training plan for newbies! 🙂