My training plan last week called for a 17 miler as my long run. With the Women’s Half Marathon on Sunday I took it as the perfect race to make up the majority of that mileage. And what a great choice it was! I loved this race. After hitting the expo on Saturday, I was excited for what was to come on Sunday!
After eating pizza to carbo-load on Saturday, I set my alarm for an early 4:00 am wakeup. I’ve learned that the only way to get myself out of the bed for early mornings is to annoy myself. Ah, the power of self-awareness.
I slept just fine because I didn’t have any PR goals for this race. I was mostly concerned about getting my four miles in before the race; I was shooting to be there before 5:30 to give myself ample time for those four, a bathroom break, and time to find some friends.
As soon as I was up and moving about, I loaded up my gear, threw on my race clothes, and ate a couple of Eggo waffles before heading out the door by 4:45. The drive was quick, and I found a perfect parking spot right in the starting line lot for only $5. As far as I’m concerned, for a sizable race, $5 parking within a 2 minute walk of the starting line is as good as you can get.
I put on my headlamp (and looked so cute, lemme tell ya) and was off with a jacket and arm warmers over my tank top and shorts. It was chilly! But within 3 minutes of running I knew I would be just fine in the race and wouldn’t be needing the jacket. The four miles went by quickly, and I got a little preview of where the water stops would be along the route.
After that I met up with Tori, Meghan, and Caitlyn for a blurry picture from a stranger and some starting line company.
We headed to the start line and found that all the corrals were filled to the brim. We stood on the side at an entry point and knew we’d just file in after the start. Because none of us were had any pre-decided time goals, we weren’t overly stressed about being in the corral. The weather was perfect and we were looking to have a good time!
I borrowed this picture from Meghann so you could see how well branded and busy the start was!
The course was beautiful!
A lot of it ran along the water and through some really pretty neighborhoods. I figured I’d do a mini breakdown by mile, because it’s amazing how much my thoughts, feelings, and momentum changed over the course of this race.
Mile 1-3: When the gun went off, we filed into the flow and made it to the start line in less than a minute. The first few miles went really quickly. Tori and I ran together most of those miles, and we really ended up splitting off at random. The 2:00 pace group was massive at this time, and they were all running so crowded together that it was a pain to run in. I picked it up to get in front of them, more because I was tired of all of the weaving than being concerned with where I was according to the pacing group (read my opinions on pacing groups below). Tori and I ended up separating from that, and we had all previously agreed that we’d break off when we were ready.
Mile 4-5: The run in Snell Isle was beautiful. The homes were nice and there were people out cheering in their yards. Somewhere during that stretch I heard someone call out “Go Meghan!” and I teared up (our names were on our bibs). I normally have my music on so loudly that I can’t hear much. I guess I was between songs and heard her. Hearing a stranger call out your name is so motivational, and it makes me want to keep having my names on my bib or shirts.
It was also during this time that my 8:40-8:50 miles were feeling pretty good. I was calculating and started thinking that I could possibly earn a shiny new PR today (my previous PR was a 1:57:44) if I could keep this up. Exciting! What I didn’t calculate was that these were actually miles 8-9, as those four miles before were still in the bank.
Mile 6-8: The miles leading up to the pier were pretty uneventful. I kept trucking along holding my pace, and then I saw Caroline! I didn’t know she was going to be out there, and it was exciting to see her and her boys cheering us on! It was another fun pick me up that helped with my pace. She also snapped a few pictures of me! Thanks Caroline!
You can see from the pictures how pretty so much of the course was right along the water. It made for a great day!
Then came the pier in those miles. My goodness, after the Halloween Halfathon I thought I’d experienced the strongest winds I could. I was wrong! The headwind on that pier was crazy. I was glad that it was facing us as we were headed out, because I knew it’d be very strong at our backs going back off the pier. Oh happy day! I just put that in the back of my mind and chugged along. I did decide somewhere in these miles to start walking through water stops. That helped me have a little break. I’ve never done it before and don’t know that I’ll do it again, but that little bit helped me a lot mentally.
Miles 9-12: This was pretty much the low point of the race for me. There was an incline after we turned at 8.5, and then there was a deceiving turn. Because I hadn’t studied the map well, I thought we headed straight for Tropicana Field (we ran through the trop), so when we turned right and added in a mile around Mirror Lake, I wanted to find the course designer and tell them my feelings personally. The hill and the course shift killed my momentum for a couple of miles, and that’s when my PR dreams of miles 4-5 turned into fingers crossed for sub-2. Between that and walking through water stops, I think that’s why my mile 12 (reads as mile 16 on the chart below) is a 9:30 pace. I’m also not 100% sold that I actually ran that one in 9:30. That included the bit indoors in Tropicana Field, and I feel like maybe my Garmin got a little out of whack. My mile 13 reads as 8:51, so I’m guessing it’s probably more an average of the two in those last two miles. After all, I’ve read so much lately about Garmins not being perfect (the shock and horror).
Mile 13: I was ready to be done! I just pushed it home. I think it was a bit of a downhill, as we ran back what had seemed like an uphill earlier, so that helped a lot. We turned, and finish lines always seem so close but yet so far away. We will still had .4 to go to reach it, but it could be seen in the distance! Rude.
And then I finished! Yay! I hit my personal distance record at 17.26 miles, and I had run a sub-2 for the half. It was a little less than a minute off of a PR, so I can’t be displeased. It was a wonderful race, and I had a ball on a beautiful day!
And then I met up with friends who had finished and others as they were finishing!
And the bling, which is especially cool this year. I love race bling!
It was a great day. I don’t think I can say that in so many different words. There is nothing I can complain about. The course was beautiful, the company was fun, and everyone had great days. Most of the girls scored awesome PRs, and for those of use that didn’t we had other reasons to be excited!
Thanks Women’s Half Marathon for a fantastic day. And thanks weather for helping out. We couldn’t have done it without you! I was going to write a little about my thoughts on pacing groups, but I’m going to save that for another post. I realized as I mentally started that post that I have more than an addendum’s worth of opinion.
Thanks Women’s Half for providing me with an entry into this race! It was a great one, and I’m a repeat runner for sure. I was signed up last year but had to DNS it because of my ITB issues. This one made up for it!
Up next? Turkey Trot 8k on Thanksgiving Day!
Oh, and I updated my “Race Recaps and Upcoming Races” link above. Now it links to recaps all the recaps I’ve done for races I’ve run. It also has my most up to date race calendar.