Sunday I did my second official half marathon, and it was thrilling!
Friday I picked up my race packet. This race is sponsored by 3M and is considered to be one of the best when it comes to all the free stuff they give you (mostly items made with 3M products.) I love free stuff! It sure makes my $75 race entrance fee feel like more of a bargain!
If you'll recall, I'd spent $5 on a disposable sweatshirt from Goodwill. But the weather ended up being a lot warmer than originally forecast. When I saw that it was humid and in the mid 60s at 5 a.m., I realized I'd be able to leave my sweatshirt at home. I wonder if I'll ever again do a January race populated primarily by runners in shorts and short-sleeved shirts?!
After a brief panic trying to find my race number, I got out the door later than expected, but with just a bit of time to spare. Once I got to the starting line, I only had to wait a few minutes before I started running.
From the beginning, I had good energy, and as I looked at my mile times, I realized I was going faster than I'd anticipated. But I felt good, and it was a mostly-downhill course (a course that results in Personal Records for many runners), so I decided just to keep it up and see what happened. I knew if I ran out of steam, I could slow down at the end.
I have started using a run/walk strategy. I ran the whole way for my first half marathon, but since then most of my training has been done using specific run/walk intervals. For a long run like a half marathon, I run for four minutes and walk for one. It helps my legs stay loose, and I'm actually faster overall! It was exciting on the steeper downhill portions; I was able to lean into it and let gravity take over, flying down. Because I knew I always had a walk break coming up, I didn't feel the need to "pace myself" on those fun hills.
During the first half of the race, I stopped twice to stretch my IT band, but overall my legs really felt fantastic. Even that little bit of IT band tightness worked itself out.
Around 7 1/2 miles into the race, I was still doing well but certainly starting to feel fatigued. I got an extra burst of energy when I saw a high school friend of mine, Bobbi, waiting along the side of the road to cheer me on. I got to give her a high five and give her awesome dog Chauncey a quick head rub before I kept going. Thanks, Bobbi & Chauncey!!
Eleven miles in, I had arrived at the portion of the race where my energy and strength were sapped, and I was having to just depend on determination to keep running between every much-needed walk break. I was keeping my speed up, but running was just not feeling good, and I was ready for the race to end. Then I got to see The Engineer, Chickie, and Zoodle cheering me on. Despite feeling tired, I was thrilled to see them and was able to smile big for the camera!
At 12 miles, I was just so tired. I thought about doing away with walk breaks for the last 1.1 miles of the race, but I honestly felt like I needed them. And I'm kind of glad--that means I'd really pushed myself for the whole race, not leaving myself extra energy. By continuing to take walk breaks of one minute in every five--even in the last half mile of the race--I was able to keep my running speed up, even though it didn't feel good! I did get a small burst of energy at the very end, and again put my hands up and cheered myself at the finish line. That really is such a fun way to end a race--more people should do it!
I was so thrilled with my time...2:19:17. That's 15 minutes, 4 seconds faster than my first half marathon, and a pace of 10:37 per mile! Because it was a one-way race that was mostly downhill (though some killer uphill portions were in there too), I was able to go faster than I could have on a different course. But I also give the walk breaks credit for my running speed. I've been overall faster in my training since I started using walk breaks, and I love being able to push my pace a bit without worrying so much about keeping enough energy to just run for 13.1 miles.
I was totally wiped out later in the day, but today I feel great, and my legs aren't very sore. I love half marathons--the sense of accomplishment is wonderful after all the hours of training!
P.S. For those of you interested in nerdy data, here are my mile split times:
Miles 1 & 2: 22:29 (avg. 11:15)
Mile 3: 10:48
Mile 4: 10:12
Mile 5: 9:40
Mile 6: 10:48
Mile 7: 10:49
Mile 8: 11:13
Miles 9 & 10: 21:10 (avg. 10:35)
Mile 11: 10:48
Mile 12: 9:59
Mile 13: 10:25
And the last 1/10 of a mile took 58 seconds.