It’s been a little while since I’ve raced a half marathon – June actually with an overcast coolish summer day. After that race, I got a registration discount to sign up for the inaugural Blue Red Run. The timing (4 weeks) before the Dallas Marathon seemed to be a good fit to test my goals.
Like most of the country, North Texas was hit with a nice early cold snap. I kept my early morning runs outdoors except for the day when the wind chill felt like 15 degrees. I know my immune system is being tested with the higher mileage right now, and I didn’t want to push my limits any more than necessary. So I did my easy run on the treadmill that day and finished dripping in sweat.
Race day was cold and damp. There was a light drizzle that continued for the entire race. I was prepared with my new Target C9 hat.
It may not be the cutest, but I’m cheap, it was on sale, and it kept my head dry. If it had been colder or heavier wind, I would have gone with a fleece headband. My head doesn’t usually get too cold, but I like to keep cold wind out of my ears. Kudos to the guy around mile 4 who said to me “It’s beautiful out here.” At first I thought he said “flat hair” so you can see where my mind was. Ha! Seriously though, it was a great course, mostly paved and through a park. Nice for being in the middle of a city.
My goal was to break 1:50:00 which would give me a nice new PR and big boost of confidence. My pace needed to be 8:23. I planned to negative split and follow my usual plan of running 5 miles at one pace, dropping down for the next five, and knocking out the last 5k at a faster pace. This plan worked, with one minor exception. I forgot to account for GPS difference. Miles 1-5 averaged 8:28, 6-10 were at 8:20, mile 11 in 8:22, 12 in 8:35, and the last one was 8:19 for an overall pace of 8:24 for 13.19 miles on the Garmin. My official chip time was 1:50:47 (8:27 pace). I started to feel strong around mile four, but by 9 I was starting to hurt some. It became harder to hold my pace. I took a GU at miles 4, 8, and 11. Mile 12 was my problem though. We went up a hill and straight into the wind. Unfortunately I run like I drive – away from the pack – so there was no drafting. I turned my face downward since the rain had picked up a little, and pushed through. Then a turn and a small downhill took me to the finish.
Parking was close and I was wet and cold, so I headed straight to the car after I finished to get my jacket and chocolate milk. I had a guy stop me and say, “Hey, you were fast. I was trying to catch you!” I said thank you through my half-frozen lips. At this point, I still thought I had set a PR.
I started my recovery with chocolate milk (I love that carb to protein ratio) and headed back to the finish area. It wasn’t until I checked my time at the result tent that I realized I had missed my PR by five seconds. I’m not going to lie. I was upset with myself. Darn that mile 12 where I lost 10 seconds. My friend found me after she finished. She went to check her results while I was waiting for pancakes. When she came back, she told me she set a PR by one second after being sick all week. Awesome! Oh, and I was third in my age group. What?!?
This was my first age group place in a half marathon, and I still can’t believe it. Instead of enjoying that little victory for what it was, I spent the afternoon second guessing myself and my goals. I feel like I’ve plateaued and am not getting faster at the shorter distances. It wasn’t until I looked at the official results on Monday that my perspective straightened out.
For a high school girl who was lapped in the 3200 meters on the track, I’d say I’ve made some progress. Of course it’s not always about my time or age group place, but for me to know that I pushed myself to do the best I could at that moment. I can look back at this race with no regrets. Maybe a drier day would’ve been different…but it’s time to move on. I’ve got a marathon in less than four weeks. My goal may still seem way out there, but I’m not going to change anything with my training. I’m just going to keep on moving.