Friday, March 22, 2013

Tobacco Road Half Marathon

Oh hello there!!

It's been so long since I last wrote that I pretty much forgot that I have this little blog.  The truth of the matter is that life has been overwhelming these past few months and some things had to be put aside for a while. Hopefully things are calming down and we can return to normal.

So let's just jump right back in it, shall we?

I ran my 5th half marathon this weekend! Here's the thing though - It took me four whole days to realize that I PR'ed this race. Somehow I got it in my head that I missed a PR by 27 seconds. Where that came from I will never know. Turns out I had a 24 second PR.

I went into this race with the goal of 2:30. When I saw that I missed that goal by 4 minutes that was all I could focus on.  I did an assessment of what went wrong and what I can do for next time and then put it out of my head. Life outside of running has been so crazy this past week that I just now sat down (4 days later) to upload my Garmin. That's where I realized that I suck at math. It's a good thing I am a scientist in my every day life and never have to use math <insert sarcasm font>.  Moving on....


I had to wake up earlier than I ever have before to make it to the race

My running buddy, Bang, had purchased an on site parking pass and it was recommended that we arrive by 5:30am for a 7am start. Ouch. I drove the 40 minutes to meet up with my friends so we could all take one car to the start. It was dark and cold and I was pretty tired. We managed to amuse ourselves for 90 minutes: I visited the porto-potties no less than 3 times, got all of my stuff together and munched on a bagel before making it to the start line.

I planned to stick with the 2:30 pace group. Having never run with a pace group I was a bit nervous. I had no idea what to expect but was excited at the prospect of being able to control my pace. I may have mentioned before that I tend to run balls to the wall or walk, there seems to be very little middle ground some days. I am really trying to learn how to fix that and I thought the pace group would be great.  According to my pace calculator a 2:30 half marathon is approximately 11:25 average pace. The pace leader took off at 11:00/mi.  I was really concerned with my ability to keep that up the whole race.

The first two miles or so of the race is on the road with gentle rolling hills. Afterwards we turn onto the American Tobacco Trail which is packed crushed gravel and pretty flat. Up until the turn around point I was sticking right with the pace group. It felt easy. I was able to zone out and just run. Once we turned around and started heading back the group started inching away from me. I took a quick walk break.

The next two miles I was reeling the group back in. I kept them in my sights but I was getting tired. I was practically by myself and my motivation was waning.  By mile 9 I was done. The group started getting further and further away until I eventually lost them all together. It was pretty disappointing and I felt it hard to motivate myself to finish. For 4 miles my splits were over 12:30. I was able to pick it up again in the last mile because at this point I just wanted to be done. Once we came off of the trail and back on the road it was freezing cold and misting. I knew my pal Melanie was waiting for me at the finish with my coat and a smile so I just focused on that and brought it home.

Post race thoughts:

  • This race was comfortable for me because Bang and I have been doing our long runs on the ATT for a couple of months now. Aside from the couple of miles on the road, I knew *exactly* what to expect.

  • I really wonder what the pace leader's strategy was and I would have loved to have stuck with her to find out. According to my calculations 11:00/mi is a 2:24 time. Whether she slowed down a little in the last miles, I will never know.

  • Looking at my Garmin splits I love the first 8 miles. If I can work on keeping my pace there for the whole 13.1 I will be very happy. I could potentially even exceed my 2:30 goal in Philly this Fall. I think this is a very achievable goal if I keep it up for the next few months.

  • I loved that this race was an out-and-back and we eventually met up with the marathoners. There was plenty to look at while we were out there.

  • Major thanks to Melanie for being the bestest "Race Concierge" ever! Unfortunately she couldn't run with us but she woke up before dawn and hung out with us all morning. She cheered us at the finish line with some awesome signs and brought us our coats. Awesome service, my friend!

Maybe not "fast". Certainly "less slow than before"!

  • From the bottom of my cold little heart I have to thank Bang for getting me out there every weekend for cold-as-F long runs. I'm pretty sure I would have bailed on more than one long run if there was no one waiting to run long and eat with me! Also thanks for the super convenient parking pass!

  • Finally, I may have missed my goal, but the fact of the matter is I have a 24 second PR to show for my efforts. Not only that, but I need to also point out that this race was a a goal of mine last year. However, I never even made it to the registration page because I was really lax in my running last Winter. I was definitely disappointed in myself. The fact that I didn't stop running this year and not only made it to the start line but PR'ed as well - that is pretty damn cool.