I ran a half marathon this past week right in here in my sweet little town. Our town is a great place for running and runners and it is hilly as hell. I ran this same race last year as part of a training run for the marathon so we mostly just went easy but we ended up running close to my PR in a half at 1:53 (which I killed last fall in the ultra-flat Indianapolis Monumental half going 1:43!) I had no intentions of doing anything specific with this half this year. I decided that if I felt good, I would give it a go. If I felt eh I would just run the 13.1 and collect a medal all while not having to pack or get up early or stay in a hotel, etc…
I woke up the morning of the race by around 6:20 am after a pretty decent night of sleep which for me is a huge deal since I have some gnarly insomnia. The race was at 8 but I wanted to get there around 7-7:20 am. I ate breakfast, got ready for the race, and reassessed what I needed vs. what I’d laid out the night before. I stretched my foot and leg out. I am having a terrible bout of plantar fasciitis in my left foot and a newly developed shin splint on my right leg. I kissed all my little loves good-bye and I was at the race by about 7:20 am. I warmed up a bit running around the parking lot for maybe a mile of easy running. Then I got into the pack at around 10-12 minutes till the start time. It is definitely a smaller race. I saw somewhere that they had 3,300 participants but this is a combined 5k/half race. I think there was just over 700 who did the half. They set us off right at 8 and I got going. I felt good and so I went with it. I found a girl who I know from running 5ks. She’s fast so I got in right behind and trailed her. I felt good about sticking with her until about miles 3-4. Then she was out of there!
I saw friends cheering for us at various points. The earliest one felt like I was just waking up still so it was good to see them because I was like OH HEY there they are YAY I am happy and not tired yet. I was counting hills to keep myself entertained and I wore my iShuffle but only with one ear bud in so I could hear and see more. This worked out super well. I would definitely do that again. By about the 9th hill, I stopped counting in part because I forgot and partly because it was depressing! HA. Actually I was really in the zone a few times. Just going with my pace, staying in the moment.
I shed my gloves and gave them to the Myers. I was wearing sleeves and I peeled those down though I did end up putting them up and then down again. It was the perfect weather for a run, maybe even a tad warm!?
Being in the zone and cool went well until I decided to get a drink at around mile 6. They had water stations every two miles and I skipped the first two thinking I would try at 6. I slowed down to a pseudo walk and had a couple of sips. Worst mistake. It went it and made me tummy mad as hell. So I spent the next two miles trying to calm my tum tum down. At mile 8 I thought I will try more. The hell my stomach said?! Like it was trying to say stop this lady it flipped and flopped and was wicked mad at me for a good three miles after.
So up till mile 6-7 I was keeping a 7:30-7:45 but I suddenly just lost control, I lost focus and my stomach was raging mad at me so that I started to lose momentum from miles 7 till about 11. I did see the Myer family again and my sweet little peanuts and K and Melissa asked me how I was feeling and I was like EH that was just before mile 10. It was true. I felt shitty. My stomach was pissed so my brain started chattering and I nearly had to stop running to walk. I had two asthma attacks on the course right before I saw them too. One was pretty horrible and the other was smaller. I managed both of them by slowing down and inhaling past the attack. If I had not had that happen in Indy last year with Melissa and Jason running next to me I would have been scared out of my mind after a huge hill on my own in this race. Knowing I could have that happen made a difference.
I did slowly lose speed from miles 11-13.1 (about 14 seconds a mile) but I felt much better. I got my head back in the game, I zoned back out, my belly mostly felt better and I felt I stepped up to the plate more or less at the end. I also saw the sister of my boss after the last time I saw the Myers at around mile 11 and that was a HUGE moral boost. I needed someone like her to be shouting and she ran out and give me a high five even with people passing me left and right that made me smile all the way to the end!
I finished the race at 1:46:35. I had no kick left this year like the previous year. I have been working hard on speed work trying to get my pace down. I did what I wanted to do up till mile 7 which was keep my pace in the 7-8:00 minute range. I ended up with on average running about an 8 minute mile. If I want to run faster times, I definitely need to work on my back half of the race and I need to improve so that my average speed is more like 7:30 minute miles. I should definitely NOT drink water in a half marathon. Lesson learned.
Things I felt went well: having people on the course at points that I knew they were going to be there and even a surprise person helped! I felt the week leading up to the race was a positive one. I ended up running an easy three the night before. I was not sure how that would go. I think I will try it again. It kept me loose and it gave me something to do other than sit around and fret about the race. Being zoned out and in the moment totally helped me go faster and stay steady. I ate a banana and a (kid’s) granola bar the morning before and we had a solid dinner the night before (salad, fruit, and cheese I think I ended up eating). I was not really hungry at all before, during, or after. I did carry some fuel with me (Jelly Belly fuel beans) and I did not use those. I think in the half I am better off just being well hydrated before and skipping the water during if I want to run faster. I might think about water in the Flying Pig but more to rinse the funk out at some point late in the race. One thing I will do differently this time is carry the inhaler I have from being sick a few months back. I think if I can head off any exercise induced attacks in the race it will help me keep up the pace and have a better run.
I have no real goals for Flying Pig. I am running with a girlfriend whom I think will be faster than I am so I will try to keep with her as long as possible. I am working on speed still and a better 2nd half with faster average mile time overall – think negative splitting the race if possible! If I had to press myself for a goal in Cincinnati I would say getting under the 1:40 mark would be fantastic and ideally I would love to blow my PR out of the water at 1:35-1:38. We shall see.