I ran a bright, shiny new half marathon PR of 1:20:50 under circumstances that were not nearly as ideal as those I had for my previous PR of 1:21:26. I walked away from this race feeling like I'd nailed one of my best workouts ever, but not exactly like I'd raced or PRed (you'll have to read The Long for an explanation of why). However, the more I analyze this race the happier I become with it. I placed 5th overall, netted some cash, and best of all enjoyed an amazing weekend trip to Indianapolis with my parents.
Official results can be found here.
|Sunny clock shot courtesy of my mama|
I looked at a lot of fall halves trying to find the "perfect" goal race before deciding that none were. The major things I was looking for were: A) fitting into my schedule (marathon training and non-running), B) likelihood of good weather, C) straight course/minimal turns, D) flat course, E) competitive field, and F) within driving distance. The Indianapolis Women's Half fit the bill on 5 of the 6, only missing requirement C), but the more courses I looked at the more I realized how hard it is to find one as nice as the White River half (which, alas, does not meet requirement A) this year since it is only 2 weeks before my goal marathon).
So I landed on Indy, and was accepted as an elite entrant and honored as one of the "5 Women to Watch" in the race. The race organizers were amazing and I was fortunate to be a part of this event. The race was on a Saturday, so I made the trip to Indy on Friday with my parents. Since I won't pull Albani out of school for a race, she and Jon weren't able to come. I treasure my time with my parents so greatly, which also meant that even if I bombed the race, it would be worth going to! I never got nervous for this race, and I think that was big part of why.
|From the event program|
|More expo fun|
|Feeling like a new woman in the hotel room pre-race|
|I'm looking weird on the starting line as per usual|
|When 6:05 pace was briefly happening|
In regards to the course markings, in many places the cones on the road were set up in a way that did not allow you to run the tangents on turns and curves. When a course is certified, it is measured on the tangents of the road, but I noticed early on that many of the tangents were blocked. I knew I was not running the shortest route, but I didn't want to risk disqualification by going outside of the cones (and in some places the tangent was occupied by an aid station in the road, which I clearly could not go through). I was frustrated about this early on because I knew I was picking up extra distance, and there was nothing I could do about it. We all know I dislike anything out of my control!
Between miles 4-5, I picked up a cyclist escort. I believe there were 10 cyclists, for the prize money positions, but I am not sure why they didn't pick up with the runners until that far into the race. I sure needed my guy earlier! Having him was a great help in regards to navigating the course, but I think the cyclists were probably told not to aid the runners (as they should be), so it wasn't helpful pacing-wise. I was extremely thankful to have him to keep me on course though - no more thinking about markings and signs!
Between about 5.5 and 7.5, the course doubled back on itself, so I could see the runners ahead of and behind me. The leading 4 ladies were still pretty closely bunched when I saw them, significantly ahead of me (about 1:30). There had been 5 women ahead of me when I lost sight of them, but one of them was in the 5K (I hadn't been able to see the 5K turn off, but confirmed the 5K winner from the bib number in the photo above). At the time I thought maybe someone dropped out or stopped in a porta-potty, but regardless I knew I was in 5th at that point, with little chance of moving up. As I turned the other direction, I saw that 6th was farther behind me than I was trailing the leaders, so I also had little chance of being caught. I checked my watch at the 6.55 mile mat, and I was at 40:23, which was about what I wanted (the online results have the 6.55 splits wrong for everyone).
I pressed on, feeling solid at the pace I was at and happy with my splits, and also really channeling those long tempos that I'd done solo. I kept thinking, "This is just like that 8 mile tempo, only 5 miles farther" -- which I am really not sure was the most encouraging mantra I could have invented, haha! I've really been working on pacing by feel, and after the first 2 miles when I used my Garmin to ensure I didn't go out too fast, I only looked at it when it beeped mile splits. I believe all of my tempo runs have really helped me pace consistently. My pace felt like exactly what I could maintain for a half marathon, but at the same time it's intimidating to try something you've never done before so I hoped that the wheels didn't fall off before 13.1! I tried to focus on trusting -- trusting my training and trusting God -- but I kept coming back to, "It's just like those 8 mile tempos, just 5 miles longer." Hah.
Around mile 9.5, for the first time since about mile 1 I could see someone ahead of me! I realized that one lady had fallen off the lead group and even though she was still uber-far ahead of me, I was gaining. I told myself to give it my all to finish strong and to pull her in. I looked at my total time when I passed the mile 10 marker, and when I saw 1:01:35 (a huge unofficial 10 mile PR), I knew that it wasn't my day to break 1:20 because I knew I couldn't close with an 18:24 5K, but I also felt confident that I would PR.
I worked on pulling in #4 throughout the final 5K. Mile 11 felt great, and then the final 2 miles were into the wind. I truly believe that I maintained a 6:00-6:05 effort on those 2 miles, but when you're running into a 14 mph wind, that does not translate into 6:00-6:05 splits. Although this was a tough time to encounter the wind, I am thankful that much of the course had fantastic wind block, because the main other time I felt it was at the beginning of the race (which makes sense, since we started and finished in the same area). Also, for what it's worth, Strava gave me a grade adjusted pace of 6:02 for mile 13.
I was happy to see the mile 12 sign, and I knew I could gut out one more mile, but I was sure ready to finish! As we turned onto the final stretch, the finish seemed so reachable yet so far. I gained a lot of ground on #4, but not enough (she went on to finish in 1:20:40), and it was apparent I wasn't going to catch her by the long final stretch. It was a mental battle between easing off since I couldn't pass her, and going with all I had left to get the best PR I could. My kick was a far cry from my best (5:59 pace), but it was what I could do mentally and physically at that point, and that final half mile or so was the most prominent incline of the race (still very minor, but I could feel it!). I crossed in 5th in a new PR of 1:20:50. My dad's video of the finish is here, and the announcer even pronounced my last name correctly!
|One of these distances is not like the others...|
I've also been thinking, we often discuss trusting God when things go wrong, but it's just as important when things go right! Throughout the race, I kept reminding myself to trust Him, and to relax and just remember that whatever He had in store for me that day was far better than anything I could have planned myself. Luckily, things went right in the form of a new PR, but regardless I trust Him and I trust the process.
"God is within her; she will not fail." - Psalms 46:5
|My sweet dad|
|My sweet mom|
|One of these things does not belong (that would be ME!), w/ podcast affiliated runners & the race director|
|I got to post-race brunch with my dear friend Briony who was in Indy from Kansas!|
|The trip home|