Monday, April 2, 2012

Half Marathon Training: Week #12 and 1/2 Marathon Race Recap

And it's race week! Or, well, was.

Sunday: Rest

Monday: 4 mile run
Kicked the week off right with a nice easy run. I didn't really push myself, just went with how I felt and ended up dropping about 30 seconds on my overall pace, which has slowly been creeping up as of late. Definitely refreshing to see heading into my race week.

Tuesday: 30 minute tempo run
Maybe it was purely psychological, knowing I was doing a shorter tempo run, but the run felt actually pretty easy and just flew by even though I held my "peak" pace for longer than I have been in previous runs.

Wednesday: 3.4 mile run
Surprisingly, a third good run in a row. Same principle as Monday -- just go with the flow -- and again, my pace dropped. Woot!

Thursday: Indoor Soccer Game

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 1/2 Marathon RACE RECAP
Of course, the previous couple weeks and days leading up to the race were unseasonably warm but the actual day of the race rolled around showing up with mid- to low-40s temps. I was actually happy that the temps were a little on the lower side, as it made my decision regarding my hydration belt much easier.

My previous two long runs with my belt had proved to been annoying and distracting, not something I particularly wanted during my race. BUT I am horrible at drinking out of cups while running... so it's a bit of a toss up for me. Since the weather was cooler, I was willing to take the risk of running without the belt and drink from a cup instead. (It also may have helped that was what I did for my 10 mile race a few weeks earlier.)

That decided, 6:00 rolled around nice and early Saturday morning. After some oatmeal and a few minutes to wake up, we were out the door by 6:40, picked up my running buddy (who was running the 30k version of the race) by 7:05, and were at the race around 7:30 or so. We made a straight beeline for the porta potties to help prevent any mid-race stops. (And a good thing we did -- the line got crazy long!)

10 minutes to race time we said our good-byes and wished each other luck (the 30k had a separate start and start time than the 1/2, 8.1mi, and 5k). I wandered down to my start to scope out where I should hop in. And then I remembered they actually had pace groups for this race.

Quick recap: I set three goals for myself for this race. One I knew for sure I could hit and still be okay with the time, a second one that would be more of a challenge and would really push me, and a third that is more like a pipe dream which would be awesome to hit, but mostly likely won't happen.

Goal #1:  2:00:00 (9:09 min/mi)
Goal #2:  1:55:00 (8:46 min/mi)
Goal #3:  1:50:00 (8:23 min/mi)

McMillian "Goal": 1:51:38 (8:32 min/mi)

Seeing as I came through my 10 mile race at a 8:24 min/mi pace, I figured these sounded like pretty decent goals. (To be clear - I've never raced a 1/2 before, but I have had "official splits" taken in longer races, with my best 1/2 time coming in at 2:05:32.)

Anyhoo, about those pace groups. I had completely forgotten this race had them. However, they only had them in 10:00 increments, so it was either go with the 1:50 group, the 2:00 group, or head out on my own as usual. I opted to switch up my tactics at the last minute and shuffle in next to the 1:50 group. Not that I had any hopes up keeping up with them the entire time, but at least I would start out at a decent pace and not too crazy fast.

A few minutes later, we were off. The first mile of any race is pretty crazy. Lots of bobbing and weaving. But for once, I actually lined up in the right spot and didn't have to dip and dodge any walkers or shufflers. Well, at least until the nice little 1/4 mile 7% grade hill about a 1/2 mile or so in. But I kept an eye on that 1:50 sign darting in and out of view and tried to keep up. Back down the other side and around a few more twists and turns and we crossed the mats after the first 5k in 25:28. The remaining 10 miles were the exact same as my 10 mile race (only in reverse) which involved two 5 mile loops.

I was feeling really great through mile 4, and actually started pulling away from the pace group sometime during mile 5. It then became my goal to stay ahead of the group for the remainder of the race (or at the very least keep up with it if they caught back up to me). I grabbed some water around mile 6, and as expected, ended up with half of it all over my face, but I did manage a few sips before tossing it aside.

8.1 miles came and went in 1:07:22, and I was starting to second guess my pace a bit. I slowed down to take a few sips of water right after crossing the mats, and I somehow managed to mess my pacing up. I ended up right behind two runners who seemed to be going at a decent clip, until I hit mile 9 in 9:29 and realized why it felt so nice.

Awkward side wave to the hubby going through the 8.1 mile mark

That pace refocused me and I just knew the pace group had to be right behind me at that point. Halfway through mile 10 I could hear them, motivating me to cut a minute off my pace. By the time I hit mile 10 I was really starting to feel my legs and starting to regret just going with how I felt in the first half of the race. But I knew I only had a 5k left, and surely I could hold the pace for 3 more miles.

So I pushed, and pushed, but by the time I hit the last turn into the final 1/2 mile, the pacer from the 1:50 group had caught me (though I'm not sure where the rest of the group went -- and looking at my splits, he had to have sped up as well). He wished me luck as I decided to give one last push, telling myself I had to get the last mile in under 8:00.

By the time I came around the final curve to the finish, I was running on empty. There wasn't going to be any crazy little sprint to the finish that I love to do. I'm not even sure I sped up at all. But I gave it everything I had left -- I saw that clock: 1:48:something. Seriously? Seriously? I was going to do it. I was going to break 1:50. I was going to beat Goal #3.

After crossing the line, taking down lots of water, and cheering on my running buddy as he finished out his race, they posted the official results. Chip time:


It's official. I beat Goal #3. The "impossible" goal. With a pace of 8:18 min/mi. I think it's pretty safe to say I was ecstatic.

Here's the breakdown according to my watch:
Mile 1 -  8:51
Mile 2 -  7:53
Mile 3 -  7:51
Mile 4 -  9:07
Mile 5 -  8:27
Mile 6 -  7:26
Mile 7 -  8:29
Mile 8 -  8:22
Mile 9 -  9:29
Mile 10 -  8:31
Mile 11 -  7:25
Mile 12 -  8:12
Mile 13 -  7:55
Mile 13.1 -  0:47

Um, yeah. Kind of all over the place, even with the pacer. But, I'm still pretty stoked that all but 2 miles were under my McMillan race pace of 8:32.

*Note: I'll update with more pics if/when they become available.

Up next? A 10k in 2 weeks. Rounding out my "race distances I haven't completed" goal for 2012.


  1. Congratulations! I love it when races work out like this.

  2. congrats! Just finishing is an accomplishment, but even better when you beat your goal.

    What was the post race celebration?

  3. Well done Danielle - you rock! What a buzz to beat your 3rd 'impossible' goal. Talk about digging deep and challenging yourself. Congrats.

  4. Super job!!!!
    Guess you need a new goal now :)



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