Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Holiday Half - PR!!!!!! (12/10/17)

Some days, running is a chore. Some days, running is magical. This was a magical day!

I signed up with Eryn to do Portland's Holiday Half, her first half marathon after rehabbing from injury.
I trained diligently for my very hilly half in October, but other than doing weekend long runs, I didn't do additional prep for this race. I take that back. Because fading around mile 10 is a real problem for this half marathoner, I made a conscious effort to finish fast. I worked hard to negative split each of my final miles. Running hero Shalane Flanagan won the NYC Marathon on Nov. 5, and I frequently told myself that if she could do that, I could certainly drop a little pace as I got closer to home.

As race day approached, I tapered my running and did a couple shakeout runs in the days before. But I was also in the middle of a four-week Super Kickboxing challenge, so I was cross training like a fiend.

The forecast for Dec. 10 called for cold temps. I was really unsure of my race-day outfit but decided on capris, short-sleeved shirt, my favorite long-sleeved quarter-zip jacket, gloves, and fleece ear band. I panicked while waiting for the start, wishing I had my legs covered with compression sleeves. BUT... I was dressed perfectly and would have been too hot with them. (I really need to trust my experience!)

While it was perfect for running, it was cold at the start! Mom and Dad were there to cheer:
Eryn was very prepared for the cold start!
Before! Time to do some warmup jogs.
Mom and Dad watched the start from the pedestrian bridge:
Eryn and I started together but then fell into our own paces:
Mom and Dad were waiting near mile 1.5. First came Brad:
I warmed up quickly and was happy to hand off my gloves:
Eryn in neon:
Except for a little loop at the beginning, it's an out-and-back course from Adidas to Pier Park. It's also mostly flat!
As expected, my first mile was very slow. It was wall-to-wall runners, but because this wasn't a goal race, I just went with it, warming up and going with the flow.

After that first loop, we headed east with the winter winds. When the wind's at your back, it's hard to tell how much it's helping. And you don't really know how strong that tailwind is until you turn around and start pushing against it. I decided to enjoy whatever advantage I was getting and worry about the headwinds later. It's also a tiny bit of a downhill trend to the turnaround.

I felt absolutely great! I knew I was running fast, but I wasn't working that hard. I checked my pace infrequently, mostly running by feel.

I looked forward to seeing my parents around mile 7, near Pier Park. But I flew past and didn't spot them. But I did see Brad - he was only about a mile a head of me! 

After the turn around, I finally saw my parents. But they were looking the other way and almost didn't see me - I was running way faster than they anticipated! They shouted some encouragement and sent me on my way :)

Here comes Eryn!
The return headwind wasn't horrible, but it definitely made a difference. Also, that slight uphill trend didn't help as energy was fading in the final miles of the race!

My pace suffered a bit in those miles, and I did take two very short walk breaks. But I kept the self talk positive and convinced myself to keep it up. I wasn't keeping track of my overall time or pace, but I thought I was within striking distance of a PR. (My previous PR was 2:02:28 at the Cascade Half Marathon in January 2015.) I worked hard to keep my mind and body chugging along toward that PR carrot!

I rounded the corner and pointed my feet downhill toward the finish line. That last .1 miles (even though it's downhill) seems to go forever! I had no idea what my time was, but as I approached, I saw that the clock read 2:00. WHAT?!?! I knew I didn't start at the beginning of the pack, so was I UNDER 2:00?????

I stopped my GPS watch after crossing the finish, looked down and saw "1:59:33" - WOOHOO!!!! HOLY CRAP - I DID IT!!!!
Unfortunately, I ran so fast that no one was there to see my triumphant finish. Brad was up the street getting warm clothes from the car, and my parents were still on the course. But I had my own private celebration and soaked in the moment. I was in a bit of shock, not believing I'd actually done it!

I've been chasing that sub-2-hour mark for years, and with my advancing age and many failed attempts, and truly thought I might never get it. I know running sub-2 is nothing to a whole lot of runners, but for me, this was HUGE.

Finally, my family arrived to join in my celebration. And Brad arrived with my warmups before I froze to death :)

If people ever wonder where I get my "all-in" attitude:
Riding the post-race high:
Eryn did awesome for her first race back! Look at that strong finish:

The crew!

Happy runner!
Because it was so cold, we decided to skip the post-race festivities and go for lunch.

Aren't these the cutest?!
Freddi the Yeti:
The details:

My official time was 1:59:30, a 9:05 average. I was 694/1842 overall, 336/1170 for women, and 54/168 in my age/gender group.

My splits:
  • Mile 1: 10:07
  • Mile 2: 8:51
  • Mile 3: 8:45
  • Mile 4: 8:53
  • Mile 5: 8:46
  • Mile 6: 8:39
  • Mile 7: 8:33
  • Mile 8: 9:06
  • Mile 9: 9:04
  • Mile 10: 9:20
  • Mile 11: 9:16
  • Mile 12: 9:21
  • Mile 13: 9:33
  • Mile 13.14: 7:14
I'm pretty proud of these numbers. Those middle miles were fast! And those end miles, considering the wind, slight incline, and fatigue, were OK. 

It amazes me that I do my best when holding things loosely and not over focusing. My body is very capable, but my darn mind gets in the way. I perform so much better when I'm just going with the flow and not pressuring myself. And now I can finally check that sub-2 off my bucket list :)

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