Half marathon number 6 is now in the books – and by far my best one yet, for many reasons!
My morning started super early – about an hour and a half before my alarm was supposed to go off. Unfortunately, MacKenna is going through some sort of 17 or 18 month sleep regression phase. This was the third night in a row that she woke up around 3 AM. The first 2 nights, we brought her in to bed with us, thinking it was just a one time thing. When it happened again last night, we let her cry – 25 minutes of “I want you” crying before she finally cried herself back to sleep.
Unfortunately, Mama was not able to go back to sleep and tossed and turned until my alarm went off at 4:30. Luckily, the night before is usually not the night you have to worry about when it comes to sleep. After a quick costume change (I planned on wearing long sleeves and shorts, but after seeing that it was already 60 degrees at 4:30 AM, I decided on short sleeves instead), I grabbed my breakfast and headed out the door to pick up my brother.
We made it down town around 6 AM, plenty of time to drop our bags off at gear check, make a pit stop in the portapotties (I brought TP with me for the first time ever and actually needed it – my potty was out of it!), and head to our starting corral.
We were in Corral A and I have to admit, I’ve never been that close to the actually starting line ever in a half marathon. I usually start with a pretty conservative pace group, but I knew we both had a “dream time” in mind and started a little further up in the Corral. I actually could see the Elite runners start! Pretty cool!
Three minutes after the Elites started, we were off. We decided to just start comfortable and keep the 1:35 pace group just in front of us. Both of us felt comfortable, and when my RunKeeper app went off for the first mile, I was actually surprised to hear it was 7:11/mile pace. A lot faster than we were anticipating, but we both felt comfortable and just stayed with it.
The first several miles seemed to fly by. You run through the brewery, which has a few hills, but for the most part, the first 5 miles are pretty flat and have a lot of spectators. We were still keeping right around a 7-minute mile pace and felt good.
(Sidenote: the GPS on my phone was apparently off by quite a bit – almost 1/2 a mile – so my split times aren’t exactly correct. Boo.)
And then came Holy Hill, which is a race within itself. I think I talked about how ridiculously awful this part of the race is last year, but this year the race directors decided to actually make this it’s own race within a race! The top finishers in each age group could actually get a medal! Ha!
Holy Hill runs from miles 6 through 8 and involves 2 gradual, long hills. I think each of them run around about a half mile or more each. And at this point in the race, you’ve enjoyed your few flat parts, are starting to feel the pace and miles on your legs, and really don’t want to deal with these dang hills. At this point, Brian and I weren’t talking too much, just to ask if each other was still OK and to curse those dang hills!
It was also at this point where I was starting to lose control of my bladder (sorry, TMI). I didn’t have to go, but I was pushing so hard that if I relaxed on the hills, my whole body would relax, along with my bladder. I really, really had to focus my energy on my muscle control in order to hold it in (which, thankfully, I was able to do the rest of the race).
Once we finished Holy Hill, we got into my personal least favorite part of the race – Forest Park Avenue. Little rolling hills, a long straight away, and you’re just looking for that turn around point. It’s just loooooong and you feel like it’s never going to end. However, we were noticing more and more that there really weren’t a lot of people in front of us after the turn around. We knew we started in the beginning of the pack, but we had no idea that we were that close to the front!
After the turn around, it’s just constant rolling hills with very few spectators and it starts to become a mental AND physical struggle. I really started feeling my hips and hamstrings after mile 10 and knew that it was going to just continue to get worse. I could feel us both slowing up a tad, but neither of us really cared. We had banked so much time in the beginning that we knew if we could keep anything around an 8-minute mile pace to the end, we would still be in good shape.
We finally rounded a corner at mile 12 and could see the finish line. I could feel Brian starting to speed up and warned him to hold back a little while longer. We didn’t want to waste our energy too early. The race ends on a pretty long uphill, so I wanted to wait until we were at least half way up the hill before we started kicking it in.
When we finally got close enough, we both started speeding up. I could see the time… Just under 1:36. That’s all I needed to see. We kicked it in, put our hands up in triumph, and crossed the finish line.
(HH time is Holy Hill time)
I really had no intention of PRing. I never expected to PR. The plan was to run under 1:45. If we ran faster than that, awesome. If not, we’d still be happy. We knew there was a chance we could run under 1:40 since we ran 12 miles in 1:31 last week. But, to beat my PR of 1:37 just wasn’t something I really ever thought I’d do again.
I could not be happier with my time! My “dream time” is to run under a 1:35, but I’ll take the 36 seconds and call it a win! I beat my PR by 2 minutes. We beat our goal time by 10 minutes. I even beat my time from last year by almost 11 minutes! I have worked really hard for that time these last 14 weeks, but in all honesty, I really could not have done it without my brother.
I am so proud of him! For his FIRST half marathon, he totally killed! He made that race worth running and he kept me tough not only during the race, but when training as well. I’m so thankful we were able to finish together! It was the plan all along and it was the cherry on top to finish in the time that we did!
Have you ever had an unexpected PR?