Divas Half Marathon Race Recap

What. A. Race.

But, I’ll get to that. This is a tad long, but stick with me.

In my last two weeks of training I was busy at work and then on vacation with my family, so I didn’t get a chance to do weekly recaps, but there wasn’t anything really out of the ordinary. I managed to get in a few short runs on the beach while on vacation along with plenty of rest and relaxation leading up to race day.

On Friday, we stopped by the race expo to pick up my packet. It wasn’t a huge expo, so easy to get in and out.

After that, my parents and I headed to dinner and had a couple of drinks on a patio to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. I was sitting on a bar stool and must have been sitting in an odd position for awhile because I woke up on Saturday morning and noticed it hurt when I twisted my knee in a certain way. I tried stretching my legs and took it easy all day, but was feeling the pain on and off. Needless to say, I was starting to get a bit anxious for my race. I didn’t hurt when I walked, but I hadn’t tested it running. By the time I went to bed it was better, so I crossed my fingers all would be well in the morning.

On Sunday morning I woke up about 5:30 a.m. to start getting ready. Luckily, no pain in the knee! (Phew)

The weather was perfect. It was clear and about 50 degrees. The race also started nice and early – 7:10 a.m. My parents dropped me off near the start line and then made their way to their first spectating spot. I lined up just behind the 9:00 minute mile pacer as I was hoping to do about a 9:15-9:20 pace if I wanted to PR.

Start line

Things got going right on time and we headed down Ocean Blvd. There were over 1,000 runners, but I didn’t have to do a lot of weaving around people and found a comfortable pace that didn’t feel like I was going out too fast.

About mile 2 I saw my parents at their first spot. We had talked about them going to 3 spots along the course, but they ended up going to about 6! Super spectators! They got some good action shots and even had a sign. ❤

  

In the first several miles, I was keeping up a faster pace than expected, but felt good. In mile 5, we turned up a street heading west and I felt my pace slow a little running into the wind and slightly uphill. I felt a slight twinge of pain above my right knee (the one that had been hurting the day before), but nothing bad. Going into mile 6 we started heading east and got the benefit of the slight downhill, so my pace picked up. I also noticed that I wasn’t feeling anything around my knee anymore. (Yay!)

As we approached the halfway point, I looked at my pace and started doing a little math. I was not only on pace to PR, but I realized if I kept up my pace I could actually finish in under 2 hours. That goal hadn’t occurred to me until that moment. I thought doing a sub-2 half marathon was a ways off for me. In my last 12 mile training run, the first 10 miles were great and then my legs basically gave up on me for the last 2, so I was a little worried something similar would happen, but decided to see what I could do.

We made our way through some more neighborhood streets and around mile 11.5 we turned back on to Ocean Blvd. On the home stretch. The sun was rising and there wasn’t shade, but it was at least behind us. I focused on putting one foot in front of the other. At mile 12.5, they hand out tiaras and pink boas to the runners. I grabbed them, but just carried them in my hand so I could concentrate on pushing it through the finish line. I crossed the finish line and stopped my watch. It said something just over 1:57. I knew my actual time would be a bit higher because my watch paused when I had to stop and tie my shoe early in the race, but I was feeling pretty confident that I had done it!

I grabbed my celebratory pink “bubbly” and medal. That medal is a beast! It’s huge and so heavy.

My parents found me and we made our way to the car. I checked the live race results and sure enough, I had finished under 2 hours!! Official time was 1:58:08. I still can’t believe it! The great weather and a flat course helped, but I know I put in a lot of good training for this race. It provides some fuel for bigger and better goals and some confidence as I get ready for marathon training.

Overall, I had a lot of fun at this race. It was a literal explosion of pink (seriously, look at the swag), but it was well organized and you can’t beat running in Myrtle Beach.

Not pictured: the pink race shirt – ha!

Here’s to the next running adventure!

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Garry Bjorklund Half Race Recap

It took me over a week, but I’m finally getting my race recap up! I’ll try not to ramble on, but I apologize ahead of time if this gets long.

Race day started off with a very early wake-up call — 3:15 a.m. That’s the downside of a race that starts at 6:15 a.m. Hyedi, John and I got ourselves ready and headed out the door at 4 a.m. to get to the shuttles. (You can’t drive to the start line.) We were plenty early and got on a shuttle right away.

We got off the shuttle and had some time to hang out at the start. One upside of a race that starts at 6:15 a.m. is we were treated to some nice sunrise views over Lake Superior.

gb_prerace1

gb_prerace2

We made our way into the very crowded corral just after 6 a.m. I found a spot between the 2:00 pacer and the 2:15 pacer. Before I knew it, we were moving and I crossed the start a couple minutes later. I was surprised that I didn’t have to do much weaving in the first mile. The road is pretty wide, which I think helped. I focused on trying to run a steady pace and aimed to not go out too fast. My watch beeped at mile 1 and it said 9:33 — right on pace.

Even though I was running the pace I wanted, I was disappointed that my legs didn’t feel very fresh. Felt like they were heavy and weren’t warming up. This was messing with me mentally early in the race. I spent a lot of the first 4 miles in my head and not as much time as I would’ve liked enjoying the pretty scenery with the lake to our left. It was peaceful and serene in these initial miles since there aren’t many spectators.

The other issue I noticed in the first third of the race was how much I was sweating. It wasn’t very hot yet, but it was HUMID. They had water stops every 2 miles initially and then every mile starting at mile 6, and I took advantage in order to keep replenishing my fluids.

Around miles 4-5, my legs were feeling a bit better, but the temperatures were increasing as the sun rose higher. I was a bit better mentally in the middle of the race, but still not my best.  The increase in crowd support as we got closer to Duluth helped a little.

At the mile 8 water stop, I ate two Chomps and grabbed some water. I also grabbed a sponge. This is an awesome thing Grandma’s Marathon/Garry Bjorklund Half offers. It’s a sponge dipped in cold water. You just grab it and dump that cold water all over yourself. Felt so good!

I knew Lemondrop Hill wasn’t far away (between miles 9-10). When I first saw it in the distance, it looked scary big. As I got closer, I saw that it was just an optical illusion, and it’s not a big, scary hill. I got through it (and one more tiny hill beyond it) and made my way into the last few miles of the race.

At this point, I was hot, tired, and ready to be done. We started into downtown Duluth where there are several turns in the course. I was back to a bad not great mental place where I just kept counting down the miles until I was done.

Around mile 12, when I was really feeling it, I got a boost when I heard friends shout my name and give me a wave and a cheer. (Thanks “runner support!”) I tried to see if I had anything left in the tank to pick up my pace near the end, but I just really didn’t. I focused on keeping my pace around 9:30 just to try and make my goal.

All of the turns near the finish are deceiving when you’re not familiar with the course (and when you’re tired). I had two moments of thinking I was approaching the finish line only to see that I still had more to run. Finally, I saw the actual finish line and gave it everything I had.

I crossed the finish and stopped my watch. When I looked down, I knew I had met my goals!

Goal 1: Finish – check! It was a tough race for me mentally, but I crossed the finish line.
Goal 2: Run a sub 2:10 – check! I finished in 2:05:21. Not only a PR, but I shaved 5 minutes off my previous PR!!
Goal 3: Run a 9:30 pace – check! (Pretty much, my official time said avg pace of 9:35, but I’ll take it!)

gb medal

I made may way through the crowd to grab water, food and get my gear bag. I found Hyedi, John and our personal cheer squad. We sat in the grass for a few minutes to relax and celebrate our races. We also had to figure out how we were going to get back to the house since it turned out my car was blocked in at the hotel we parked at until the marathon was over. We came up with a plan and headed out to relax and enjoy the rest of the day.

post race selfie
All smiles since we both PR’d!

So happy with my time, but not happy with my mental state in this race. I can’t put my finger on why this race was tougher, but I think one of my goals for my fall half will be to work on having a better mental race. And now that I’m so close, I might have to go for a sub 2:05 half. 😉

Ok, that was kinda long — sorry.

Have you ever had a bad race mentally? 

The Year of Half Marathons

2015 was the year of the marathon, but 2016 is shaping up to be the year of the half marathon. I have 3 halfs on my calendar for this year. I checked the first one off in New Orleans with a time of 2:10:22.

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Next up is the Garry Bjorklund Half in June. Training officially starts tomorrow, though the first few weeks actually overlap with the end of training for Goldy’s 10 mile. My goal at this half is to get a sub 2:10 time. I know I’ve got it in me if conditions are decent on race day.

My 3rd half for the year randomly came about. I hadn’t planned for races beyond the first half of the year, so when a friend mentioned she was hoping to do the Vancouver Half Marathon in October and semi-jokingly asked if I wanted to do it with her, I started thinking. The timing will work out nicely because I’ll have more than a month after Garry Bjorklund before I have to start training again. It’s also a really great excuse to take a trip to visit my friend and see a couple of cities that I’ve never been to (I’ll get to see Seattle, too). So I told her I was in! We’re already registered for the race and are looking at the rest of our travel plans.

I’ve got some other shorter races planned as part of my training or ones that I just like to do every year, but 2016 is definitely being driven by the half marathon. The other funny thing about these races is all 3 are destination races, and Vancouver will be my first international race! Nothing better than getting to see a city by running 13.1 miles in it!

What distances are you running this year? Any destination races on your calendar?