Saturday, January 24, 2015

Cascade Half Marathon (1/18/15)

The streak is finally broken!!!
My half-marathon PR (personal record) stood for two years at 2:06. I hit the magic number THREE times and was beginning to think I'd never get under it.

Well, last Sunday was my day!

While improving at PT, I gradually upped my long-run mileage, adding just 1 mile each week. Then came a series of pain-free runs and graduation from PT. When Brad decided to sign up for the Jan. 18 Cascade Half Marathon, and I saw that my long-run progression had me running 11 miles that same weekend, I signed up, too - 11, 13, what's the difference? :)

It POURED all day Saturday, but Sunday's forecast for Turner, Ore, looked better with showers and temps near 50. Unfortunately, winds were also expected to be sustained around 15 mph with gusts to 20. Certainly not ideal.

We made the 1-hour drive to Cascade Junior High School nice and early, picked up our bibs in the gym and hopped back in the car to wait for our 9 a.m. start.
The school was open, and I used the real bathrooms twice before it was time to run. Nice!

I truly didn't know what to expect for this one. I did a solid 10 miler and a solid 12 miler in the weeks before, so I figured I might be able to push it. Plus, the route is completely flat - perfect for running fast. But I hadn't been training for a PR.
I started comfortably and tried to just keep a steady pace. The wind was blowing from the south, and when we turned across the farmland, rain was coming hard from the right. I had pulled down my sleeves but then pulled my right sleeve back up. My temp was perfect. (I love running with sleeves because I can pull them up and down depending on conditions)

Because it was all open farmland, the wind really whipped - nothing to slow it down. I've done lots of wet and windy races, and this was for sure near the top of the list as wettest and windiest!

I really felt great the whole time. I was working but not struggling, and my miles clicked by at a fast pace for me.

I decided to wear my water belt so I could sip and eat gels on my own time. The aid stations were definitely adequate, but I skipped them all, opting to fuel on my own. I ate one gel before the race and nursed two during the race.

My PR pace was 9:37. In the last few miles, my average was down near 9:20. I knew I had this - if I could just hold on.

I passed many, many people in the last miles - always a great mental boost. I briefly chatted with one woman, and several people gave me encouragement as I passed. (Everyone at this race was so great!)

With under 1.5 miles to go, I switched views on my Garmin and saw that I was at 1:50. That meant I was definitely going to PR, and I had 11 minutes to get done in 2:00 (anything under 2:01 counts in my mind). GO TIME!!!!

I still had kick left in me, and it was basically just one straight stretch to the finish line. BUT - that last mile was DIRECTLY INTO THE WIND. AHHHH! I tried SO hard to run fast, but I just couldn't do it. It was like running into a wall - I could.not.go.faster. I gave it my absolute all, and finished in 2:02.

Brad was waiting at the finish:
At first I was really disappointed that I couldn't get in under 2:01. But then I realized I had PR'd by 4 minutes!!! That's huge.

Also, this was the first time ever that I'd run 13 miles without walking. Ever. I usually walk through the aid stations. This time, it was all running. That's huge, too!

Brad PR'd but missed his goal by mere seconds. We decided the wind was definitely the deciding factor. He left it all on the course and should be very proud of all his hard work over the past six months of training!

He was pretty chilled by the time I finished. So we went to the high school cafeteria (next door) for our reward soup, bread and cookies:
It was great to be inside, dry and warm. And that salty soup tasted amazing.

New medals for our racks:
My body felt relatively good during the race, but I felt a little pain on my left middle toe. My toes rub together, and I have to be careful that my nails don't cut into the skin next to them. I looked down after my race and saw the telltale sign:
Bloody shoe. And bloody sock:
TMI?? Sorry ;)

It wasn't really as bad as it looks. The rain really spread that blood :)


My Garmin time was 2:02:28 - a 9:16 average. (The course measured 13.21 miles on my watch)

Official results have me at 187th pace overall (out of 349), 15 of 35 in my division (F 35-39) and 73 of 215 in women. Not too shabby.

My splits:
  • Mile 1: 9:21
  • Mile 2: 9:19
  • Mile 3: 9:28
  • Mile 4: 9:21
  • Mile 5: 9:17
  • Mile 6: 9:12
  • Mile 7: 9:12
  • Mile 8: 9:09
  • Mile 9: 9:12
  • Mile 10: 9:15
  • Mile 11: 9:15
  • Mile 12: 9:21
  • Mile 13: 9:26
  • Last .21: 8:13

Splits don't get much more even than that. Brad says I'm a running robot. 

Notice how my pace dropped off in miles 12 and 13? That's that darn wind!

Because of my Achilles injury, I hadn't raced a half marathon in about a year and a half. I have been building up my mileage, but I haven't done speed work or serious training since February 2014. But, I have been doing tons of cross training, specifically intervals and anaerobic threshold training with spin and kickboxing. I'm a true believer now!

I am so proud of this race! It felt amazing to get back out there and run hard. YIPPEE :) :)

PS - My Achilles didn't hurt at all. Oh, yes!

PPS - This was a great race. Good price, good course, good people, good food. I would do it again. And you should, too.

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