Half marathon #6 is donzo! I went into this race feeling pretty relaxed, and without many expectations. However, if we're being honest, I think most runners go into goal races hoping for a PR, even if we realize that can't happen every time! I thought this may be a good course for me to try to beat my best time, and although I didn't do that, I came pretty close :) Here's how it went down.
I ate all my usual pre-race foods the day before and actually got some good sleep Friday and Saturday night. Where I failed to prepare was hydration. I got a migraine Friday night due to not drinking enough at work during the day (happens often). On Saturday, I tried to make up for not drinking enough throughout the week but I think it was too late. I did however manage to increase my Vegan Treats intake to 2 treats instead of just 1. Necessary carb loading :)
Speculoos (cookie butter) and brownie batter vegan soft serve.
I could die eating that and be happy.
Double chocolate vegan brownie
PERFECT running weather! Low 40's, full sun, and no wind for the 8am start. Couldn't have planned it any better. I wore a fleece and sweatpants over my tank top and shorts, and disrobed right before lining up at the start. Trying to snag a date any way I can.
I ended up getting a ride to the race with a friend of my dad's. She races halfs often and usually runs anywhere from 1:45-1:50 so she's definitely faster than me. We chatted on the way over and she told me her training had been spotty this cycle because she had been sick for awhile and then didn't get in many of her long runs due to the long winter in PA. She asked me what I typically run, and I told her I'm usually right under 2:00 and was hoping to go for 1:55 today. She said she wasn't sure she'd make it under 2:00 due to her lack of training, but thought maybe if we ran together we'd push each other! I've never run a race with someone so I wasn't sure what to expect but decided to give it a go. I figured if either of us wanted to break off at any point we could.
I positive split the crap out of this race, and it did not feel good. I typically am good at negative splitting the half marathon distance when pacing myself, but I couldn't seem to do this when running with someone else. Our Mile 1 split was 8:45 and that's fast for me. We then proceeded to have a few more splits in the 8:45-8:50 range before moving on to 9:00s. (3 in a row at 9:00 exactly). From there they kept creeping up to the 9:10-9:15 range and even a few in the 9:25's). At least I know I pushed it at the end because Mile 13 went back down to 8:57!
I felt really good the entire first half of this course. It was almost exclusively flat and it did not feel like I was running faster than I normally do on my long training runs. This was probably due to the fact I had taken 4 days off from running in the days leading up to the race. I was just raring to go. I also chatted with my running partner (she was a talker!) which seemed to make the miles fly by. In fact I was surprised when we touched the half-way mat and the clock displayed 54:xx. If I actually could've maintained that pace for the second half I would have finished in the 1:48-1:50 range which would be SUPER speedy for me!
Halfway - Lookin' feelin' like a million bucks
But right after we passed the half way point, we entered the Parkway. The Lehigh Parkway is a large park in Allentown with a crushed rock trail. Miles 7 - 11 of the race were through this park. What I did not remember from running this race 3 years ago was that this section was completely littered with rolling hills! Ahhhhhhhhhhhh. I don't know if it was the hills or the dehydration but I got a cramp/side stitch/whathaveyou around mile 7 and as much as I fought it off, it kept coming back throughout the rest of the race. So that sucked balls. Cramps are usually brought on by 1 of 2 things (for me anyway): Dehydration, or irregular breathing. So it definitely could have been a combination of those two things.
Although I train with hills near my house, these were different. These were a series of little steep up and down hills, like the kind on a little kiddie roller coaster! The hills I run on at home are few and far between and they are large, gradual inclines, that end in flat straightaways. The constant up and down of the course really started to shred my legs and they were very heavy and feeling like lead by the end. I also rarely get side stitches during long runs (usually only get them when sprinting or running fast, short distance like 5K's) so I'm thinking the hills had to be a factor.
I knew I had lost a lot of time in the park, but even though I was still fighting off the cramp, I decided to just push as hard as I could once we got out. We caught up to the 2:00 pacer and she told us she was ahead of time and to pass her and run like the wind to the finish! And so we did.
Exiting the parkway - Almost done!
This race finishes inside a high school stadium. So just when you think you're done running 13 miles, you have to run 600 meters around a track to get to the finish line. So rude. I had flashbacks of running high school track and they were not good. Not good at all.
I crossed the finish line in 1:58:57! My PR was set at the Runner's World Half in 2013 where I finished in 1:58:xx but I can't remember the seconds. I tried looking it up online but they already deleted the 2013 results. I'm thinking it was around 20-30 seconds faster than this but I guess I'll never know! I felt pretty crappy the entire second half of this race, so I'm pretty proud that I pushed through and managed to finish that close to my PR.
That face! I can't even take him he's so cute.
I didn't do any speed training so as much as I would have liked to PR, I guess I couldn't expect it. I think I'm pretty much built for distance, and not for speed (#TWSS) and unless I put in the work doing tempos, track work, etc, then I will probably always finish just under the 2:00 hour mark. But for now, I'm happy with that. I am not a professional runner. I don't get paid to run or blog about running. It's something that brings me joy and I don't want to ever ruin that by making it a job.
But, I will say that something else is brewing. I've been thinking about doing a marathon for at least a year or two now, and it's becoming more than a want. The half-marathon distance is becoming routine for me. I recover much faster from double-digit runs than I did before and I want to see what is beyond 13 miles. I read somewhere that less than 1% of the US population has run a marathon, and I'll tell you, I want to be in that 1%. I know these little legs can do it. They've got a lot of heart behind them :)
As for running now, I'm taking a few days off. I have been insanely thirsty since Sunday and am trying to rehydrate myself! I will probably get back to the gym in a couple days. I want to focus on strength training and some HIIT workouts for awhile. Running long distance and training for races sometimes leaves me feeling kind of 'soft' and I want to get some of my muscle back. I also am looking forward to cutting back on carbs. I seem to crave them and eat more of them when I'm running higher mileage, but once I cut back the mileage my appetite naturally decreases. However, I'm sure by this weekend, I'll be back out for a run!
I'm looking to do a Fall half (possibly two, as one of my best friends is thinking about doing her first ever, so I may sign up to help her through it!) and then who knows. Full next year?!
OMG that was so long. If you read through that entire recap, you're a saint. If you just skimmed to the end to see my time, I don't blame you. I've done that too. HAHAHA Have a great Wednesday.
Anyone race this weekend?
Is there a way I can magically get faster without doing any speed work?! Please say Yes.
What made you take the leap from half marathon to full?