half marathon

Breaking 1:40: a new half marathon PR

Ever since I ran a 1:40:17 half marathon in December (this was also without doing any race-specific training, other than running a couple tempo runs here and there) I made it my goal to break 1:40 for the half marathon in 2016.

The winter was tough training wise (but when is it ever not tough)--my mileage was still on the higher side due to my coaching, but most of those miles weren't "my" miles--so that left little room for any sort of hill repeats, tempo runs, or a couple double-digit "long" runs.  I did manage to do a 10 mile race and place 4th in my age group in February, which definitely was a surprise (especially since it was 2 degrees outside, but it felt like -13...Fahrenheit!).  In mid-March, I decided to sign up for a women's only half, following the same course that I had done in December.  Even though I again hadn't aggressively training for it, I knew that I could still aim to see how close I could get to 1:40 or under.

On race day, it was already raining before the start.  And I had had a couple nights (including the night before) where I hadn't sleep very well...I blame my teething 16 month old.  I started as close to the front as possible as to not lose time weaving in and out.  Then we were off.  We thinned out almost immediately...some ladies were FAST...clocking sub-7 (and sub 6:30) miles.   For this race, I told myself to try to keep my pace around 7:30-7:35 as long as possible and not have anything under 7:25-7:20, or anything above 7:40.  Usually I tend to run with more "range" in my splits, sometimes with the thought that I could get some "money in the bank"...but since I know my body a little better, I knew that if I started to have a couple miles around 7:25 or under, I fade really quickly (as I learned during the marathon!).  My fitness isn't quite there yet.

With each mile that passed, my splits were like clockwork.  But never once did I tell myself that I had it 'in the bag'  to break 1:40.  It was also a little tough because for the first time...there weren't a lot of people around me that could motivate me to keep going and stick with them!  It was an out and back course, so at one point, one person who I had lapped told me I was #10.  While this was certainly a boost,  I'm glad I didn't get too confident...because at mile 11, I got a bad side stitch and my pace hit 7:50.  Fortunately, I pulled it together, and got myself back on track for the final two miles.  I pushed it hard until the end as I wanted to be as under 1:40 as I could summon the energy for.  When I finished, my time was 1:39:25.  And it turned out, that I actually got my first age group award...#3 for the 30-39 age group!  I don't know what I was more happy with...breaking 1:40, or getting an award!  

A couple days after, my fellow coach Tom congratulated me on my race, and asked me if I thought I could still do better.  I took a minute to respond, as while I definitely pushed myself during the race, and when I crossed the finish line I felt like puking and nearly peed in my pants (I did not)...I never was sore in the days following the race.  And, I didn't train hard for it.  I thought strategy-wise, it was my best race, but I definitely think I could still bring my pace down just a bit.  So yes, I definitely think I have the potential to break 1:39, or even 1:38.  Or maybe someday 1:35.  But who knows...I am just really happy with my current result.  And really proud of how far I've come.  When I ran my first race, at age 28, it was  half marathon--I finished at 1:56.  And now, at age 34, it's 1:39.  At one point, I will "peak" (have I already?) and then just get slower.  That's what happens.  But for now, I'm living in the moment, and like where I am.