After the 5k on Saturday, I spent the afternoon with my mom and took Gracie to a fundraiser doggy wash. I also had errands like grocery shopping and laundry that had to get done. Since this was a local race, I didn’t feel like I could kick up my feet and rest for the half marathon on Sunday. I have started employing a strategy where I don’t allow myself to nap after the early Saturday wake up and 5k. This means I’m ready for bed much earlier than usual, and I get more sleep the night before the half marathon. I was wiped out and in bed by 9 pm.
I went into this race being concerned that I had not been consistently putting in long runs like I should have. I didn’t feel prepared for the half marathon. I planned on alternating walking and running as needed to get through the miles. Yes – “get through”. I decided to ignore my time and instead focus on my form, specifically on tackling hills and the position of my arms. I have a bad habit of doing a sideways boob sway with my arms, and I’ve been working on swinging my arms straight at waist level and with a 90 degree bend to propel myself along.
My lungs felt fine during the first few miles. With my asthma, I’ve taught myself to use as little energy as possible to get oxygen into my lungs. My allergist has told me my lungs are operating at about 70% on a good day, so I breathe very low and steady in order to maintain any period of extended exercise. Slow and steady breathing over the first hill. Before I knew it, I was 3 miles in. Then 5 miles in. Then over 7 miles in. Halfway done.
Lungs working? Check. Knee still attached? Check. Arms straight and at 90 degree bend? Check. Hey, I actually haven’t need a walk break! This is fantastic! The course started in downtown and wound through Deep Ellum, over the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, through Oak Lawn and back down Cedar Springs. There were 3 sizeable “hills” – the incline over the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, up Oaklawn by Scottish Rite Hospital, and up Cedar Springs around mile 12. I had been hill practicing this season, so I was proud that I was able to tackle them.
I continued to monitor my pace. Around mile 9, I started doing some calculations and realized that if I continued at my current pace I was on target to break the 2:30 barrier. This motivation continued to push me up the final hill in front of Scottish Rite Hospital and down Cedar Springs. At mile 12, I knew I had to kick it. When my watch read 13.1 miles, I was exactly at 2:30! Almost to the second! I actually screamed “YES!” while I kept flying!
But I still had a few yards to go to finish the course. Why? Didn’t you just say you ran the 13.1 miles? Because each runner actually runs a varied distance on the same course. See explanation from Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon Series below.
“A road race course is defined by the shortest possible route a runner could take without being disqualified. For most races, a certified measurer rides the course on a bike, staying near the curb and taking every available tangent. This ensures that all runners will run at least the declared race distance. After the race, if your GPS device shows that you ran a little farther, this just accounts for extra steps you took to run around others participants, hit a water stop or stay to the middle or outside lane.”
I turned the last corner towards the finish line and the course started to get crowded. I ended up close to another runner, but I was so focused on continuing to sprint it in to the finish line I shouted “excuse me, I’m going to PR!” I didn’t have time to check if this fellow runner was wearing ear buds and if he could hear me, but he did veer slightly away from me which gave me the space to sprint it into the finish line. And sprint I did. My lungs were burning, but I could not stop. I crossed the finish line at 2:31. It was a course PR!
I told my mom this story after the race, and she said “maybe he thought you said “excuse me, I’m going to pee!” and that’s why he moved away from you.” Well played, mom. Either way, the other runner was nice enough to give me space, so thank you kind sir.
Goal: Alternate walk and run to get through the race.
Date: March 22, 2015
Location: Dallas, TX
Distance: Half marathon; 13.1 miles
Conditions: 52 °F, 8 mph wind and 93% humidity at race start. Overcast and cloudy.
Total time: 2:31:57
Pace: 11:25 min/mile
Overall: 5698 out of 8502
Division: 569 out of 892
Gender: 3046 out of 5170
Outcome: PR!!! YAH, BABY!
This was another HOLY CRAP I JUST GOT A PR moment!
So some very strange things have been happening lately with my races. I recently PRed my 5k time, and now I just PRed my half marathon time. Both without focusing on increasing my times. I’m not sure if this is dumb luck or a byproduct of the triathlon cross training across sports. Admittedly, I haven’t been putting as much into training lately as I would like to. But if I’m already seeing increases in my times, I’m so excited (and feeling internally pressured) to see how my times better once I’m able to commit more time to training.