Friday, January 20, 2012

2012 Houston Half Marathon

2 weeks ago, my coach emailed me a goal time for the Houston Half Marathon. The goal was 1:40:24. I admit, I freaked out a bit seeing this. My previous half marathon PR was 1:48:3x. But my training had gone well ... still 13.1 miles with average minute per mile under 8 min? I wasn't so sure. But I knew I wanted to give it my all. So going in, my A goal was 1:40:24 or faster, my A- goal was sub 1:43, my B goal sub 1:45 and my C goal was a new PR.

We got to Houston on Friday after leaving Boston at 6:30am. I went with Dave & my mom. Our first stop was the expo, which was big and well organized. I did a pull up hang for 60+ seconds at the Marine's station to get a coffee mug. That killed my arms. After the expo we headed to my uncle's house, where we were staying. We hit up Whole Foods for lunch and it was delish! After lunch, Dave & I went for an easy 4 mile run, it was warm out! My legs felt great during this run and I was feeling good. We had a delicious dinner that night and went to bed before 8.

Saturday morning we were up at 6:30am and heading into Houston at 7am. Thank God for Starbucks! Needed my coffee. We watched the Olympic Marathon Trials that morning and it was so inspiring. I was so happy for the top 3, and devastated for the 4th place finishers. It was amazing to be there watching these athletes accomplishing the goals they had been working so hard for. We saw the runners at mile 2, 10, 18 and 26. I loved watching Meb finish especially, he was so thrilled!

We spent the rest of Saturday relaxing and fueling. I watched the first half of the Patriots game on Saturday night, I was very thankful they had a sizable lead so I could go to bed early. Dave, of course, stayed up to watch.

I slept surprisingly well that night until waking up for good at 4am. I took my time eating and getting ready before we left at 5am. There was a bit of traffic getting there but not too bad. We porta potty hopped until finishing some with basically no lines, after taking care of business, it was off to the corrals. Since I was in Corral A, I had to be in by 6:40am. Then I just stood around for 20 minutes, boring ... took a gel and retied my right shoe at least 3 times. I think the retying thing comes from my figure skating days.

At 7am, we were off. It was a bit crowded for the first mile. And there was an bit of an uphill but I was fine, settling in well.

(Garmin splits, 1.01 time (pace))
Mile 1: 8:02 (7:57)
Mile 2: 7:38 (7:33), definitely spread out here ... didn't realize I ran the 2nd mile this fast, probably a bit of a mistake.
Mile 3: 7:42 (7:37), don't remember anything other than joining the marathoners here
Mile 4: 7:41 (7:36) ... find the 3:20 marathon pace group and try to run just behind them ... they're going a bit faster than I expected though
Mile 5: 7:33 (7:29) ... ooops
Mile 6: 7:34 (7:29) ... consistent at least ... ideally I should have been in the high 730s here I'm thinking. Took a gel with caffeine here ...
Mile 7: 7:39 (7:34) ... feeling good
Mile 8: 7:37 (7:32), I remember thinking just hold it in the 730s for 2 more miles, I can drop down to the 720s the last 5K and maybe run sub 140 ...
Mile 9: 7:40 (7:35), separate from the marathoners here
Mile 10: 7:43 (7:38) ... take another gel and try to drop the pace but can't ... just hang on to the 730s ...
Mile 11: 7:49 (7:44) and we're heading in the wrong direction ... keep repeating 1 line mantras to myself ... cannot stop, cannot walk, just go ... you can do anything for 20 minutes
Mile 12: 7:51 (7:46), just hanging on
Mile 13: 7:44 (7:39), ok maybe sub 141? Into the wind here, it sucked
Last .11: 7:12 pace
Total: 1:41:00 and I'm thrilled. Not sub 1:40, not 1:40:24 but a 7+ min PR and a great race for me!

Lessons learned:
- Still need to hold back for the first few miles
- I can run a whole half marathon without walking
- I am mentally strong
- Setting hard too reach goals is a good thing
- I need to believe in myself more, my coach knew I could do it, I was doubtful.
- Don't do a pull up hang the day before - my arms and shoulders were killing after the race
- Concrete sucks to run on

I'm still feeling great about this race, yeah I didn't reach my goal but I was close and I will get under 1:40 next time! I usually have major stomach issues during and after races and I didn't deal with this at all ... so awesome.

A quote that really describes how I've been feeling:

"The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark."
~ Michelangelo

Up next: Cooper River Bridge Run (10K) ... not sure if I'm racing it or running it yet.

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