For the second time in as many years, I ran the Showdown Half in Fairview. Last year, I was a pacer and this year was a totally different experience.
Gone were the jitters of being able to lead others to their goals, and instead were the nerves of seeing what my body was capable of over 13.1 miles. My half marathons so far this year have been few in number, painful (plantar fasciitis), inconsistently paced, hilly, or just had poor weather. So far, my fastest half in 2015 was the Dallas Rock ‘n Roll with a 1:53:27. I still don’t know how I managed that with my foot pain.
After my Thursday workout last week, which consisted of repeats based on minutes and effort, I decided I liked the way the miles ticked off without me watching my pace. I can’t explain it, but it just felt better. So I decided I’d try running by effort on Saturday instead of pushing a pace. I didn’t foresee a PR, and since I’m in the middle of marathon training, I didn’t know what to expect.
Saturday morning I was ready to race. I have found that by cutting back my races this summer/fall, I look forward to them more.
I had two loose goals in my head. 1) Break 2 hours. 2) Stay under 1:55:00.
I lined up with my friend right in front of the 2:00 pace group. Once we started I let the pace come naturally. By mile three, I had pulled ahead of the 1:55 pace group, and that’s where I stayed. I didn’t check my pace. I gauged my effort on my breathing. The temps were in the mid 50s, so it was wonderful running weather. The only area I had trouble was with the sun. I felt like a vampire, since I do most of my training in the dark. The sun was blinding me, and we were running right into it for most of the first half.
The downfall of my running by effort plan was forgetting about the hills. The second half of the race was extremely hilly. I guess I didn’t notice them so much last year because I wasn’t pushing as hard. By mile 10, I thought I might cry if I saw another uphill. Then there it was. I kept pushing, breathing like I was in the last mile of a 5k. It was rough. I reminded myself of my fast finish long runs, and running up a hill to get home. This is what I’ve been training for – races like this. I kept going, periodically checking my overall time with the mile markers in the last two miles. Up until mile 10, it seemed I was on track to run under 1:53, but the hills were zapping my energy. I finally took a few walk breaks in the last mile until the nausea subsided. I was out of Nuun, and my last gel (from mile 9) didn’t seem to make its way down smoothly. I was so happy to see the flat area that led to the finish line.
I grabbed my food and found a curb to sit on. I was wiped out, but so glad for the chocolate milk!
The medal was pretty great too!
Then I hung out with others from our local group. One runner ran her first half marathon, exceeding her goal. I love seeing the joy from doing more than you thought possible.
My official time was 1:54:28 so I met my two goals. I think if the course was flat I could’ve run under 1:53. But I’m happy with my progress, and so excited to finish a half marathon pain free. My foot is doing excellent this time around. It really was freeing to run without checking my pace constantly. Although I did have an idea of what my time was, it was good to tune in to body and effort level. I still need to work on my mental game though. I had a few arguments with myself over the last three miles.
I’m trying to decide if I want to add one more tune up race in my training in early November. There are a few good ones to choose from. It also seems that I’m in a good position to keep my 4 hour marathon goal for Dallas.