I ran my first half marathon in 2:31:56, a pace of 11:35 seconds per mile, about 18 months ago. Not too long after that I decided I wanted to run a half marathon in less than 2 hours. At the time I had been running for 6 months and my speed had picked up tremendously, I had taken 2.5 minutes off my 5K pace in those 6 months so I figured it was just a matter of time and work, but a sub-2:00 half was going to happen sooner rather than later. Afterall, I had just started doing speedwork for the first time, minutes were just waiting to fall off my time. I was naive then.
I realized pretty quickly that it wasn't going to be as easy as I thought. By the end of last year I ran a 2:15, and a 2:09 this past spring. As mid-summer approached I decided to target the Heart Center of the Rockies Half Marathon for my sub-2:00 race. I'll leave out the gory details of my training, but suffice it to say that some runs I had it, some I didn't. I was 75% sure I couldn't maintain the 9:09 pace needed to break 2:00 for 13.109 miles. But that 25% kept me working. Here's my race report.
Heart Center of the Rockies Half Marathon
Saturday 01 Nov 2008
It was a perfect day for a race. The temperature was around 50°F at the start, maybe 60°F by the end, the sun was shining, there was no wind. I was happy with my taper, my legs were feeling quite strong the previous several days, I beefed up on carbs the previous night, and stayed out of the kids Halloween candy (within reason ;-). Oh, and I was well hydrated as evidenced by 3 trips to the bathroom during the night Friday.
I ran with a guy from work and a lady he knows. The guy from work could have gone faster, but we both appreciated his running with us and we both set PRs today. It certainly helped me to have someone to run with the whole way - when solo it seems easier to give yourself permission to slow down a bit when the going gets tough. Today I just ran with the other two, hardly glancing at my pace on my GPS. I've run with Frank, the guy from work a few times these past few weeks and it was these runs that convinced me sub-2:00 was possible. They were some good tempo runs in the 6 mile range, all about the pace we ran today or bit faster. The thing about those runs is that I just got behind Frank and a couple other fast guys at work and held on, not paying attention to pace until we were done, then saying "wow, I didn't know I could run that fast". There really is something to be said about Seaweed's comments on giving yourself permission to run faster. Interestingly, a month ago I accpeted that sub-2:00 wasn't likely and would probably have to wait until April. I think this lack of pressure and the confidence from recent tempo runs allowed me to relax and run a good race.
I didn't run negative splits, so maybe could have run a tiny bit smarter, but I think I did pretty well. Miles 1-8 were all sub-9:00 miles, ranging from 8:40-8:59. Miles 9-13.1 I was slowing a bit, but not a ton. All but one of those were between 9:00 and 9:10. Mile 12 was the toughest at 9:20. My kick at the end was a gradual speed up of maybe 20 seconds a mile for the last 0.5 mile or so, in other words I didn't have a ton left at the end, I left it all on the course. It certainly is fun to be up in the middle of the pack during the race, a relatively new experience for me on races of this distance. I am used to being "lonely" the last 3 or 4 miles but there are a LOT of finishers in a half between 1:50 and 2:10. Finishing 153rd out of 297 finishers I can say I'm a mid-packer now.
This was my sixth half marathon, my finishing time of 1:56:40 is a PR. My previous half PR was 2:09 last April, though on a VERY hilly course and no taper. Think 600 ft of climb in the first 2 miles and a week after a 20 mile run. My first half was 2:31:56 in April '07, 18.5 months ago. That was a watershed day for me as it changed my outlook on myself, my weightloss, and my fitness. But that day I never dreamed that this time was possible. Who knows what the future holds. My buddy Frank was talking about taking up ultrarunning, in my oxygen deprived state at mile 8.5 I thought this was a good idea.
Now playing: Dire Straits - Money for Nothing
The Road to Happiness
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