Today I ran my 14th half marathon, I ran the Just a Short Run Half Marathon. Sometimes it's hard for me to wrap my head around 14, but yep it was number 14 and it felt great to get another half under my belt. I really do love the half distance.
All week the weather was calling for it to be cold and raining for the race today and I was dreading it! As the week went on, it seemed it would be cold, but the rain would probably hold off or at least be at the tail end of the course. So I planned for a 30 degree run and prayed for no rain.
As it turned out, the weather was MUCH warmer this morning (closer to 40) and I was severely overdressed (and regretted it for most of the race). I should have looked at the weather BEFORE I walked out the door. I should know that things change minute to minute and not to trust the forecast before I went to bed. I had on cold gear tights and a cold gear shirt as well as another layer on top. I wore my ear warmer, but opted to leave my gloves in the car (thank God).
This race was held in North Park where I do most of my training runs. There is a 5k, 8.1 miler, half marathon and 30k. The half marathoners do 2 loops of the lake plus the 3.1 (5k) course, which includes a cruel and unusual hill right at the half mile mark or so. I was prepared for the hill (as in I knew it was coming) and I planned to walk it. It's NOT a small hill. I mean it is major and it is long!
As it turned out, I just did a slow and steady chug up the hill and I never had to walk. I'm actually glad the huge hill comes at mile .5 and not mile 12.5. Once I knew it was out of the way I was happy.
For the first time ever going into a race, I didn't have a real plan and I wasn't at all nervous. I'm so shocked that I felt so nonchalant about the whole thing. Right around the 3 mile mark, however, I decided to set a goal for myself. I decided I wanted to beat my time in Austin last month (2:13:57). I did some quick math and decided to shoot for a 10:05 to 10:10 pace.
After 3 miles, I was pretty much on track despite that slow first mile due to the hill.
Mile 1: 10:26 ----> dumb hill
Mile 2: 10:05 ----> wee a downhill
Mile 3: 10:02
After the 5k mark, I had my two loops to go. The loops I run EVERY week, the loops I know like the back of my hand. I was slowing down and I didn't really know why. I kept asking myself if I really wanted to push myself of not. I just wasn't into it. I was bored and I was only a little bit into the race.
Mile 4: 10:17 ----> Gu
Mile 5: 10:18
Then right at the end of the 5th mile I saw someone coming from behind out of the corner of my eye. It was the 10:00 minute pacer. I was so confused. I knew I was running more than a 10 minute mile. Then it occurred to me, he was pacing the 30K. I decided to hook on to him and see what I could do. God knows I needed someone to push me because I wasn't pushing myself.
The pacer was really nice and we chatted for most of the time. I felt so odd running with him because I was pretty much the only one with him. There were two guys behind us keeping a 10:00 pace but they had their own conversation going on.
Despite the pacer telling me he was perfect on his pacing, my miles kept coming up below 10:00 minutes. I wasn't pleased. Ha! I was working pretty hard.
Mile 6: 9:51
Mile 7: 9:45
Mile 8: 9:50
We completed our first loop of the lake and hit the timing mat at mile 8.1. At that point the pacer knew he was supposed to be at 1:26:34 (clock time) and we crossed at 1:27:21. He had some time so shave and I swear he was on a mission to do it. I was so afraid I would lose him and I wanted to hold on as long as I possibly could so I just kept running despite being out of breath and getting a bit of a side stitch.
Mile 9: 9:31 ----> Gu
Mile 10: 9:44
After the 10th mile the pacer (by the way I never got his name) started doing some math in his head (he was talking out loud about it) and realized he was behind again. I honestly don't see how that was possible. Are you seeing my split times? Anyway he sped up through the hilliest side of the loop and I dropped off right around the 11.5 mile mark.
I tried my best to keep up with him, but my breathing was so labored through the hills. I wasn't looking at my pace, but I knew I was working hard. Once he pulled away I looked at my watch and just told myself to keep under a 10:00 minute mile through the hills and wait for the downhill that was coming.
Right around the 12 mile mark is where things flatten out and I was never so happy. I figured I'd cross the finish line in just under 2:10. As it turned out when my watch hit 2:10 I was still .2 miles out. I guess I hadn't run a good race because I was over on my mileage (but Tracey was too).
I rounded the last corner through the finishers chute and I saw Tracey standing on the sidelines. She said something like, "OMG you're here already. I almost missed you." I started giggling to myself. I'd snuck in on her, finishing better than she or I anticipated.
Mile 11: 9:21
Mile 12: 9:57
Mile 13: 9:26
Official Time: 2:11:53 Official Average: 10:05
Garmin Time: 2:11:52 Garmin Average: 9:53 Garmin Distance: 13.34
I know I'm not the fastest runner, but after a LOT of crappy and slow (for me) long runs, it felt good to run under 10:00 miles for so long. I have to thank that pacer because I know I would NOT have come anywhere close to finishing in 2:11 without him there. I guess that's what they're there for-- I've just never actually used a pacer before.
Congrats to Tracey and Charlene for kicking butt today too. Tracey come in 5th in her age group. She's my hero. I might forever be chasing her, but to be honest, I'm honored to do it.