race recap: rock ‘n’ roll st. louis half marathon

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After having horrible stomach issues (which I just realized I totally forgot to mention in my 5K recap) during the 5K on Saturday, I was super nervous going into Sundays race.  I was luckily pretty well rested, but I knew that I had not been drinking enough during the day, which typically leads to stomach cramps and side stitches.  I took some extra precaution, hoping it wasn’t my hip again, and went ahead and taped my hip, just in case.

I got to bed at a decent time on Saturday night and slept GREAT, which rarely happens before a big race like that.  Usually, I will wake up multiple times throughout the night and dream about completely missing my alarm or my race.  But, my alarm went off at 4:30 and I got up with no problem at all.  I decided to skip taking my medicine like I did before the 5K (I typically run on a completely empty stomach and though maybe my prescriptions also contributed to my stomach cramps) and tried to make the morning as much like any other long run morning as much as possible.

I was in my car by 5AM to drive the 40 minutes it takes to get downtown.  I blasted the second half of Hamilton The Musical, hoping the songs would get stuck in my head before the race since that is my typical long run music.  I also filled a bottle full of water with some Nuun, hoping that by drinking 16 ounces 90 minutes before the race would help to hydrate me without upsetting my stomach.

I found a place to park on the street and made my way to the starting area to drop off my bag.  I ran into Barefoot Elvis on my way in, which was nice to have someone to chat with and pass the time while we waited for the race to start.  I also met up with my friend Denise since I had bought some DVDs from her.  After we met up, I checked EVERYTHING – phone included.  While I normally run with a SPIbelt, I did not want to deal with anything extra on me today.  If it gets out of place just a little, I am messing with it the entire race – and I was not willing to put up with that!

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Once my gear was checked, I headed over to the VIP area, where I met up with Brandi, Heather, and Steffany.  I seriously LOVE my Rock ‘n’ Blog family!  We only see each other at races, but it’s fun to talk about the other RNR events we’ve been to and how races differ from each other.  Plus, none of them are from St. Louis, so I loved hearing about their weekend in the city.  I LOVE my city and I want everyone to love it too!  Thankfully, they all were having a great time!  You can check out their race recaps to hear how their races went too!

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About 7:40, we started heading over to the starting line.  I really wanted to stop by the port-a-potty one last time, but the line was HUGE, so I just hoped that I wouldn’t have to pee halfway through the race.  I switched my starting corral at the expo, and I’m so glad I did.  I was able to start up toward the starting line and found the pacers for a 1:30 half marathon, as well as a 45 minute 10K, which just so happened to be the 2 paces I wanted to be between.

The race started on Market Street and we immediately ran toward Busch Stadium and through Ball Park Village.  The one thing I really loved about this race were the different neighborhoods we were able to run through!  Many of these neighborhoods I had never been to before, while others (Grand Center, Lafayette Square, The Grove) I visit pretty frequently.  It definitely made the course more interesting and their were plenty of turns – I HATE courses where you are running down a stick straight street for miles.

About 1 mile in, I made the realization that my stomach felt AMAZING!  I didn’t have any cramps and the pace I was keeping (7:04 for the first mile) actually felt REALLY comfortable!  While my goal was to run a 7:15/mile pace, my race strategy involved running a comfortable first half and to speed up the second half.  However, after the first few miles (7:04, 6:52, 7:21, 6:52, 7:05, 7:05 for the first 6 miles), I was a little nervous that I was “banking” too much time and I was going to die at the end.

But, I just kept telling myself to run my race.  To run at a pace that felt comfortable.  To stick to my racing strategy.  To know that no matter what happened today, that I ran my BEST race – even if it wasn’t a PR.  But, after hitting decent 5K and 10K splits (22:31 and 44:57, respectively), I knew that I absolutely could PR.  Not only that, but I’m pretty sure I ran one of my fastest 5-miles EVER during the race, coming in right around 36 minutes and some change.  I was feeling good but I was starting to feel the effects of the fast first half of the race.

I was also “stopping” at every other water stop along the way.  One of the biggest things I’ve learned in the past year from running 3 half marathons is that I HAVE to have a fueling strategy during the race.  The other 2 races this year, I’ve totally died at the end, especially when it is hotter outside.  I didn’t have a concrete (ha) plan in place, so I made sure I had one for RNRSTL and practiced it on any run over 60 minutes.  Thankfully, it worked almost flawlessly, except for the last water stop, where I missed the last Gatorade person and had to turn around to go back and get some.

By mile 8, I decided to start giving myself some mini-goals every mile to make sure I was staying focused on the race.  I would pick out one person ahead of me and make it my goal to catch them either by the next mile or the next water stop.  If I passed them before that point, I picked out the next person in front of me to catch up to.  I also started singing Hamilton in my head (specifically, “we trained, and we fought, and we killed…”) to keep my mind occupied on something other than how bad my body was beginning to hurt.

At mile 10, I was right around 1:12.  This was the BEST thing for me to see because I knew that if I wanted to PR, I absolutely, under no circumstances, slow down.  I made it my goal to finish the last 5K in 22 or 23 minutes, which, given my pace, was totally doable.  Plus, I knew I had a few seconds to spare in that time, thanks to starting a little farther back at the starting line.  I also focused on ONE girl in front of me.  I had no idea how many girls were in front of me, but I can tell you, I ran mostly with guys (Batman being one of them) throughout the entire race – and it was LONELY.  I’ve never ran with so few people during a half marathon.  Usually there are at least 10 people around me during a half, but this one, there were maybe 2 to 3 people around me on average.  So, this girl was my goal.  I wanted to pass her and HOLD HER OFF until the finish.

At mile 12, I was right around 1:26 or 1:27.  Again, knowing those times actually helped me exponentially in setting a PR.  That gave me essentially 8-9 minutes to run a mile (although, now that I look back at it, it might have been less than that).  I felt good and knew that there were a few more hills but some good downhills as well.  I had nothing left to lose and just decided to start picking it up as much as I could.

We rounded a corner with a little less than a half mile to go and a nice uphill before you could even see the finish line.  Once I got to the top, I turned it on.  I could see the clock at 1:34.  I knew I would need to have a really strong finish to be UNDER 1:35.  I began kicking it in, heard my name being called, and saw my friend Kelli cheering me on (she was there to cheer on her brother) as I made my way toward the finish.

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With tears in my eyes, I crossed the finish line with the BIGGEST smile on my face.  I DID IT!  I had to work my BUTT off, but I DID IT!  I looked down at my watch…

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1:35 exactly… for 13.30 miles!  But, I could not have been happier!  I EARNED every bit of that 1:35, but it’s exactly what I trained for and I certainly earned that PR!

Official Time – 1:34:58
Average Pace – 7:15/mile

69th Overall
12th Overall Female
3rd in Age Group

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I won’t lie.  I have my sights set on my next goal, but I think I’m going to take some time off from running half marathons.  Three half marathons in a year is 2 too many for me!  I’m ready to start looking at getting even faster at my main distance – the 5K!  Can’t wait to really be racing the 5K for real again – I’m hoping to set another PR at that distance in the next year!

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  • So so proud of you! I’m so happy we could spend time together. Next time, you come to Pittsburgh and visit me!

  • Congratulations!!! Such an amazing accomplishment and PR!!!