How do you run a PR at a Half Marathon you aren't "racing"? I don't know, but I did it!
I signed up for the Seattle Rock & Roll Marathon last November. I had the first 6 months of 2011 all planned out and the R&R Marathon was going to be the icing on the cake for a spectacular 1st half of the year. Everything was going as planned until I tweaked my calf at the beginning of June. After talking it over with my coach, Jason, I decided to drop to the half marathon and run it for fun. I'd just taken time off, missed key long runs, and I wanted to make sure my calf didn't have any more issues so no running hard. And honestly, after taking 10 days off, when I started running again, I thought I'd lost my speed and I felt sluggish.
Anyway, I went into this weekend really relaxed. I didn't taper. I didn't rest the day before. I didn't worry about carbo loading. This was basically going to be a medium long run on my way back to building up for the Santa Rosa Marathon in August.
The Day Before
I flew up to Seattle on Friday morning. My flight arrived a little after 1 and I went to my hotel first to check in and drop off my bag and then headed to the expo. I wandered around the expo for a couple of hours to check things out. I shopped and picked up some samples, met Scott Jurek (He signed my bib! Woo!), and then headed back to the hotel. Then I walked down to the corner deli and got a turkey sandwich and ate it while I laid out my clothes, bib, chip, etc. I went to bed about 9 and set my alarm for 4.
I woke up before my alarm and ate my breakfast: orange juice, a banana and 2 mini bagels. I watched a little TV, got ready and headed down to the lobby to catch the shuttle to the start. I was on the first shuttle that left at 5 and the shuttle took us as close to the start as he could get. Turns out that was a little more than a mile from the Start so we had a little walk to get there.
Once there, I waited around for a while then dropped off my gear bag and started my warm-up. The plan from Jason called for a 14 mile run so I did a standard warm up and then ran for a mile. When I finished, everyone was heading into the corrals and I headed for the 2hr half corral which happened to be corral 15. The corrals went off 1 at a time with about 45 seconds between them so by the time we actually started I was starting to cool down. But the excitement was building. There was a lot of energy around me and a lot of it was nervous energy. But not for me. Since I had no expectations, I wasn't nervous at all. Just raring to go so I could experience my first Rock & Roll!
The Half Marathon
Finally, our corral was ready to go and they counted us down and then we were off. And there was just a mass of people everywhere. I'm not sure how anyone can go out too fast with so many people around.
I'd decided to stay with the 2 hr pacer for this race. I'd run a 1:59:23 half in April on a really hilly course so I thought I could do a 9:10 pace for this run. But if I wasn't feeling it, I could slow if I wanted to. I was going to go by feel and listen to my breath. No heavy breathing!
The first 8 miles went by in a blur. There were some great bands and some very enthusiastic cheerleaders and spectators. But mostly I just worked on holding myself back and staying behind that pink 2:00 sign. I had noticed the pacer wasn't running even paces and when she dropped behind me after mile 8, I gave up on her and just kept going at the pace/effort I was at. I never saw her again. I think it was kind of frustrating running with the pacer because of the group around her. It felt crowded and I kept having to dodge people in the aid stations as they dodged left and right to get water or cytomax. I was carrying my own Gu Brew so I never used the aid stations. Once I dropped the pace group, it was much more relaxing and easier. I don't think I will do that again! Well, maybe in a smaller race. But I think I would have been more evenly paced on my own.
Back to the race...There was some hill in mile 9 and my calf did twinge a little on the steep part but nothing to worry about. I still felt really good so I decided to treat this like a fast finish long run. I picked it up a little but still not so I was running as hard as 10K pace or my tempo pace. I was still trying to run relatively easyish. Miles 10-12 were at a good effort. The biggest thing that happened was that they tried to send me on the marathon course because of my bib color so I lost a few seconds figuring out which way to go. Finally, for the last mile I thought "oh hell, I'm going for it" and picked it up to tempo effort. And then once we hit the .1, I picked it up a little more til I saw the finish line. Then it was all out, baby. I gotta say, I love that feeling.
I crossed the line and remembered to stop my Garmin and looked at my time - 1:57:32! A PR! Woo!
I got my medal, went thru the photo line, then got some grub and a cape. Went over to the UPS trucks and picked up my gear bag to get my jacket, then I sat down to eat and just watch everything. The Seahawks/Sounders band gave a great performance on the steps of Qwest Field so I watched them for a while. But then I started to get really cold and hungry so I decided to head to the train and back to the hotel. When I got to the Tukwila station, I headed over to the Pancake Chef and had some eggs, bacon, and pancakes. So very yummy! And they had Boysenberry, Strawberry, and Maple syrup. Score! So of course I had to have a pancake w/each. The perfect breakfast after a half marathon. :) Then I went back to the hotel to put my feet up and warm up.
Racing was done for the weekend. Bring on the sightseeing!
Here are the official results. My official time was 1:57:26 so a 1 min 57 sec PR.
Both my coach and I are really curious to see what I could do if I really raced a 1/2 marathon. I know I have a faster one in me. But that wasn't the goal for this one. I didn't want to run hard and then have to take time off to recover since I'd already missed almost 2 weeks of running this month. I am happy with the way I ran it. I am ecstatic that I still got a PR! And I'm really excited to see what I can do at the Santa Rosa Marathon! Big things are coming. Jason's Year of the PR is happening for me. I hope it's happening for you too.