Sunday marked half marathon #22. I decided fairly last minute to do the race when I realized it was on a Sunday that I wasn't scheduled to work. I thought it might be another solid attempt at sub 2 despite being 2/3 on gravel. I knew I'd gotten faster since my last half, so I wanted to put it to the test before marathon training starts. Saturday night I found an elevation map that someone had posted to map my run (there wasn't one on the site) and I realized that I might have a hilly race in front of me....
Sunday morning, I rolled out of bed at 3:30am and headed to the race at 4:15am with Jenn. We made great time and had time to hit the bathrooms several times, find my parents and do my hip and glute stretches. Before long the race was starting! No one started at the start line, which was weird. So despite being 4-5 rows back I was still six or so seconds off the gun start time. lolz.
I had planned to run the race similar to Brookings, but failed to check what those paces actually were. Whoops. The first four miles felt pretty easy, and the 90% humidity wasn't affecting my breathing (thankfully, I was nervous). I was adding extra distance to my watch from the get go, as I was weaving across the gravel road trying to find the spot with the most packed gravel. I was already over .04 at the mile one marker!
The first four miles were around some fields and Swan Lake and they flew by. The gravel didn't feel like it was slowing me down very much. Visions of sub 2 were a-dancin' in my head!
When we hit the asphalt sections, I tried to pick up the pace, because I knew that I only had 4-5 miles on pavement to pick up the pace. There were some hills around the backside of the lake, and then we ran on the highway and I really gained some momentum. I was able to see people directly in front of me, so it helped me pick up the pace to try to catch them. I was hoping to drop to HM pace for miles 6-8, and then sub 9 for the rest of the race.
Once I hit the town, I really tried to pick up the pace to kick it in for the remainder of the race. I saw the major hill of the race and managed to run up it strong. Then the asphalt ran out. And I realized that "the hill" was just a series of hills. Lasting the rest of the race. It was also at this time that I calculated my finishing time based on a 9 minute mile, and realized it was over 2 hours. Ugh. My watch was still hitting way over the pace markers. I took a little walk break at the water stop during mile 10.
My legs started to really feel the effect of the rolling hills, and I was struggling to build any sort of momentum. The gravel on this stretch was loose, which didn't help. I kept counting down the remaining time, convincing myself I only had 27 of hard running left, and then 18. And then 10. Expecting my brain to finally signal to my legs that it was time to KICK. I knew I could still PR (PGSPR) by the skin of my teeth if I could finish hard. My legs weren't listening to the memo.
13. 9:43 (12 & 13 were the slowest of the day. grrrr...)
At mile 12, my garmin didn't hit 12 until after I hit the sign, so I got really excited that maybe I would finish the course with a regular distance instead of waaaaay over like I'd been marking all race. I started counting down the seconds until I finished around 500. I do this a lot during speed work, or tempo runs, and it usually takes my mind off the pain. I counted down and then realized I was still WAY away from the finish line. Grr. I guess I was going to be crazy over. :(
I kept pushing, and when I saw Jenn cheering for me, I really kicked it in, because I wanted to know how majorly she PR'd! I tried to barrel down the loose gravel down hill unto the grass for the finish. FYI it's hard to run on these uneven surfaces when your legs are shot.
.27 2:14 8:14 pace, 7:30 max pace
I finished the race in 2:04:20.
This race was about 90 seconds slower than my half five weeks ago, and I didn't hit my goal time, but based on the difficulty of the course, I'm still really proud of my time and effort.
One week until marathon training starts. Eep!
Jenn ran a monster PR! And starts training for her first marathon TODAY!
And the tradition for this race is to ring the bell after finishing the race, so you best believe I had to ding-dong it asap.
And me and my mama bear.