Today my hard work and training paid off, in a big way. After 12 weeks of following Hal Higdon’s intermediate half marathon training plan, this race was my “A” race this spring. Several races were part of my build-up, including St. Leo’s and the Raleigh Rock ‘n’ Roll half (<–that one was supposed to be a 15K race, but I couldn’t find any of those around!)
The only hiccup to my training was a few days of some kind of stomach bug where I couldn’t eat, prior to Raleigh. Otherwise, I’ve followed the training to a “T” and my body responded by getting stronger and faster. On long run days, I could tell that my soreness subsided much more quickly, and my speedwork felt easier and easier, though I gained speed. Definitely going to continue on with Hal’s programs. More on that later.
So I signed up for the Carolina Brewsfest because it was local, and it sounded fun (free beer!) Like most if not all local races, the route profile showed HILLS and more hills. But I figured it was good enough since I wouldn’t have to drive too far–High Point is about 20 min from here.
My nutrition has been on point, perhaps even too much so–after I was sick a few weeks ago, I didn’t put the lost weight back on. Today I felt somewhat energized, although the last few nights sleep haven’t been very restful. But nothing that would hinder me breaking my 6 year drought on the half marathon PR.
Let me mention that real quick. In May 2010, I had been training steadily for 5 months. We lived in Germany at the time, and my “A” race was the Mannheim Dammer half marathon. I didn’t know at the time, but a tiny bean (later known as Gabe) started growing in my belly a few weeks prior. So I ran my best race (the late afternoon start + flat course surely helped, ja!) in 1:57:08, and felt completely ecstatic (and later felt miserably ill)! And since tomorrow is May 1, it has taken nearly 6 years to break it–but today I finally got a new PR in the half.
Yesterday I picked up my packet at Omega Sports in High Point with my co-worker A, who also ran the half. I ate chicken and rice for dinner, and did my best to “carb up” to get extra energy for the race. I got my flat runner with all the accessories ready–I was ready! My new Oiselle purchases (the Fall tank, below + Bra-Zen bra, not pictured) came with a new tattoo, which Gabe wanted badly. I didn’t give in 😉 I just recently joined the Oiselle Volée–read more about the team here–so I wanted to rep my new team, plus run in remembrance of my cousin Darcie, hence the orange:
Woke up at 5:45 for a quick shower, and ate my banana as I got ready. Of course Gabe woke up around 6, so we came downstairs. I had a PB&J on toast, and some Nuun electrolyte drink. I went to get our babysitter D at 7–we didn’t want to bring the boys to a Beer Fest, lol.
We arrived in High Point with 45 min or more to spare, got great parking a block or so away, and hit up the bathrooms (3 times total, don’t judge me! I get nervous bladder on race day). I took my precautionary Immodium 45 min out, and my GU 15 min out. I felt ready, albeit a little cold and not so energized. I only warmed up for a few minutes, figuring the first miles would be sufficient warm up.
My race plan:
- Mile 1, ease into a conservative pace
- Miles 2-3-4 [first 5K], conserve energy, take 2nd GU split between water stops
- Miles 5-6-7 [second 5K], hold it steady, working on halfway! take 1/2 GU at mile 6
- Miles 8-9-10 [third 5K], start to firm it up. At mile 10 check time (should be less than 1:30 to PR). 1/2 GU’s at mile 8 and 10
- Miles 11-12-13 + 0.1 [final 5K], give it all you got!
The actual race didn’t go quite like this, of course.
The weather was perfect though, cloudy and low 60’s. It misted and drizzled ever so slightly. I started out too fast. I couldn’t get my legs to slow down. My body responded with some cramps in my side and back, but I still couldn’t slow down. My breathing, legs, and energy levels all felt great, so I just… ran with it 😉 The first miles were through a beautiful neighborhood (once we got out of downtown High Point!) and I enjoyed looking at the yards, porches, flowers and manicured lawns.
The first GU’s went down easily and I didn’t have any issues. There were a few street crossings with volunteers where the route seemed a bit confusing, so I was happy for volunteers pointing out the way. I’d hate to get lost! There weren’t so many runners, so I followed the guy in front of me. One part of the course overlapped, so I could see potential confusion (or cheating, whether by accident or on purpose) where people should turn left on their first loop around and right on the second loop around. So besides the first pretty miles, I wasn’t a fan of the course. Lots of street crossings, a few confusing areas, and some long boring stretches by High Point University.
Around mile 7 I started to feel like I had to pee, and I was slightly nauseous. I tried opening my Immodium tablet packet and couldn’t get it open, so I said “forget about it, you’re fine, V.” There was a water stop at mile 5.5, where I should have had some GU but didn’t, so I had GU without water at mile 7.5-ish, which might have made me feel queasy, not sure. Racing is so many little choices like this. Fuel now, or wait? Drink the water, or dump it down your back to cool off? Stop at these port o’ Johns, or hope the feeling passes? So I scouted out a place to pull over and pee, but it took a mile. We were in the “projects”, for lack of a better word, by this time. I finally found an empty lot full of bushes and trees, and dashed into it to relieve myself. I felt slightly better afterwards, so I knew it was the right choice. I stopped my watch so I’d know my true time… since I’m a RunNerd like that.
I could tell that I’d lost momentum in miles 8 and 9, so I tried to pick it up a little to get to mile 10. I hadn’t looked at my watch at all yet, but I allowed myself to at mile 10. It read 1:25:24 and I was pumped! A new 10 mile PR (I’ve only run a 10 mile race once, the Army 10 Miler in Iraq in 2008, but I plan on running the actual Army 10 miler this year)!! Which probably meant I had new 8 and 9 mile PR’s too 🙂 Gotta celebrate each little victory! So with a 5K to go, I pushed on. The last few miles felt long, and had long boring straight stretches. I picked it up the best I could in the final mile, passed several people, and then got very confused when I saw people running in the opposite direction… WTH?? I just followed the guy in front of me and hoped we were on the right track. As I passed the mile 13 sign, my watch said 12.84, so I knew the course was a tad short–either that or I ran the tangents really well.
Coming around the final corner, I knew I had blasted my PR, I just didn’t know by how much. I had a moment of emotion where I felt “all the feels” and almost wanted to cry, but I held it and sprinted towards J on the other side of the finish. Here I am smiling at him!
He got this video (thank you baby!)
My watch buzzed 13 miles exactly at the finish, so I did a few down and back shuffles to get it to 13.1 to have an official half marathon time recorded in my watch. Yes, I know I’m a nerd 🙂
Reflecting back on the race, I probably could have pushed harder, but I didn’t want to be completely spent at the end. I had a great finishing kick, but that usually means there’s a lot left in the tank. Oh well… I had secretly hoped to be under 1:50, but came in at 1:51:26. Next time! I’d love to be top 3 in my age group too, but this was a pretty competitive race. Almost top 10% for women, so I’ll take that 🙂
Here’s the course map and some stats:
And my splits. Yep, definitely started too fast. And those hills! Whew, mile 9 was rough.
Took me 6 years to reach this goal… feels so good to accomplish it. After last year’s failed attempts in Raleigh and Virginia Beach, everything lined up darn near perfectly today. I’m really thankful for my body for being physically capable of sustaining an 8:30 pace for 13 miles! Also glad that I was able to keep up the positive self talk, as this morning the doubts crept in. And I’m so thankful to my husband for being so supportive of my running journey. I am so grateful, and so blessed. Thanks for coming on the journey with me!
Also starting this little tidbit at the end of race reports:
Will I do this race again?
Probably not. While I was able to PR, the hills were tough, the route (save for the first few miles) not so great–lots of turns and a few scary street crossings!, the course was short, and the finish line area was a bit… un-exciting (except for the beer!) J said as a spectator, he was unimpressed. I’ll probably stick with Raleigh Rock ‘n’ Roll as my spring half marathon next year. Or check out Myrtle Beach. Or both 🙂
We did enjoy a brew-ski though! The “whirligig” weisse beer from Gibb’s Hundred Brewery. I had a bit of an upset tummy, so I didn’t drink much of it, then we went to Chipotle for lunch, then home for a big nap!
Gabe of course loved the medal:
And that’s a wrap! I’ve eaten everything in sight today… and there’s some Ben & Jerry’s Fudge Brownie in the freezer, calling my name!