It is Thursday and I am still riding that post-half marathon PR high, can it please last forever?! Gosh, it feels so good to have 10 weeks of training pay off with a PR and to know that I closed out my 2016 racing with a PR in the half marathon.
But let me back up to share the whole story before getting to the PR and the end…
Clarkston Back Roads Half Marathon
Location: Independence Oaks County Park in Clarkston, Michigan
Date: November 13, 2016
Race Start Time: 9:15am
Can we all just take a moment to appreciate a 9:15 start time for a race please? I know that sort of race time is awful in the summer, but on a fall morning in Michigan, it is PERFECT.
I trained for 10 weeks using Kara Goucher’s half marathon training plan. I went into training knowing that I wanted to PR, as I trained more and more, I settled in at my goal pace for the race to be an 8:30 average pace. My PR from last year was a 1:53.23, which is an 8:40 average pace.
My goals going into the race
Remember when I talked about setting goals more now, even if I know that I will not reach that A goal? I did the same thing going into this race:
A) Break 1:50
B) Get a PR (anything below 1:53.23)
C) Finish the race
Nothing too in depth or crazy, but that was where my mindset was going into the race. I knew that I was ready for a PR so that was really where I wanted to put myself. Overall, my next big goal is to break 1:50 in the half marathon, I did not think it was going to happen this race, but it was still my A goal, because that is what I am going to work on over the next few races that I do until I reach that goal.
Race day morning
I woke up at 6:15am on race day, after having a relaxing evening the night before. I made a cup of coffee and had a bowl of oatmeal around 7:00am. I got ready at 7:30 and was out the door by 8:00. Luckily, the race was only a 10ish minute drive from my house so it was a smooth morning.
I did not mention this before, but my dad raced in the 10k. He goes to the trails that the race was on a few times a week to walk and decided to join in on the race with me. We picked up our packets with our bibs on Saturday morning, so we were all set to go on Sunday. We showed up to the start line and had some time, so we went inside a building that had a few fires going which felt amazing. 15 minutes before the start they started lining the half marathoners up. I got out of the warm sweats I had on and headed over to the start line. I put myself between the 1:50 pacer and the 2:00 pacer, but stayed closer to the 1:50 pacer
Before I knew it, the race had started and we were off! I felt really good (like realllly good) for the first mile and found myself staying steady with the 1:50 pacer so I decided to go with it. I figured I would stick with him as long as I could, as long as I was not killing myself in the process.
I continued running just behind the 1:50 pacer for the first few miles, which had a few hills throughout them. Nothing too crazy, but it definitely got my legs moving. I remembered parts of the course here and there so I knew what parts I was looking forward to and which I were dreading (those hills!!). I started to fall behind the 1:50 pacer a bit, but seemed to be consistent around the people that were running around me. It seemed like I would pass someone, then a few minutes later they would pass me. It was a lot of back and forth, but overall I felt pretty consistent.
I don’t remember much of the first half of the race, other than I felt really good and spent the first half below my goal pace, but never felt like I was over exerting myself so I decided to go with it.
As I got to mile 7ish, I knew that I was starting on a path that is an out and back, which I liked because I got to see the half marathoners that were in the lead ahead of me as I was making my way out. I grabbed an energy gel as I was starting out on the path and took it over a quarter mile.
Once I got back from the out and back, I was just over 10 miles and knew that the dreaded hills were coming. I kept myself back throughout the race knowing that these hills were coming. Even though I ran hills a lot during training, I knew I was not ready. I feel like no matter how much you prepare for those hills, they will still be a struggle. As I got to them, I decided to just go after them. I wanted to keep my body running since I knew if I stopped to walk up them (which I really wanted to do), it was going to be so hard to start running again. As I was making my way up one of the hills, the song – The Hills – came on through my headphones and I laughed remembering that the same song came on at the same time last year. It is like Spotify knew I would need that song at that point of the race.
Mile 11 was all hills and my pace certainly suffered. I knew that it was going to happen and did not stress since I still knew I would PR if I kept it up. It was tough to keep moving when I was done with the hills by mile 12 and I could feel myself struggling. I had a hard time breathing as I was running the hills which I think had to do with breathing in the cold air while running the hills.
I knew by mile 12 that I was SO close to the end, but my mind was telling me I was done. I had to fight that mental battle to keep my legs moving since every step was getting me closer to the finish line. The last half mile was extremely tough. I wanted to give up, I wanted to throw in the towel, but I reminded myself that I did not put in 10 weeks of training to just give up at mile 12.5. I would not let that voice in my head tell me to stop. As I got closer, I could hear the marching band at the finish playing and people cheering and as soon as I saw the signs for the finish I really started to speed up. I gave it my all and did not want to leave anything behind. I sprinted towards the finish (which requires one more uphill right before getting to the finish line…) and saw my family cheering and crossed through the finish line.
I looked down at my watch and saw that I had PRed. And it felt GOOD. SO GOOD. I put in a lot of miles over the training cycle, I gave up a lot to train for this race, and I did it – I got the PR I was chasing after. No I did not get sub 1:50, but guess what? I am a lot closer now and have a lot of hope that I can do it sooner rather than later.
I felt sick as I crossed through the finish and just wanted water. I had taken in water throughout the race, but my body was begging for more. I got my medal and walked over to my family and guzzled down the water bottle. I had a headache from how hard it was to breathe during the race and I was still thirsty, but I was so dang happy to have made it through the finish line.
I walked over to the food tent with my dad to get my post-race treat – Union mac-n-cheese and a hard cider. It was amazing. I sat with my family and savored every bite of the mac-n-cheese and every sip of the hard cider. Once my dad and I finished up, we headed inside to check our results. I wanted to see my official time, which was 1:51.57 – 8:33 average pace. I finished 4th in my age group (20-29), 21st female, and 69th overall.
Overall I am so flipping happy with how this race turned out. Yes it was tough and heck yes I wanted to give up at a few points, but I didn’t. I pushed through and made it to the finish line having put in so much work to this race. I wanted to thank all of you who have been so supportive of me during the training for this race – it truly means the world to me <3.
- Are you working towards any running goals right now?