Last night, Bo and I prepared for the half like we do any long run or race: lots of time on the couch, plenty of carbs, water instead of wine, and an early (for us) bed time.
We kept things very simple last night due to the fact that we were both working and/or on work conference calls most of the day. Boxed pasta, all-natural chicken sausage, jarred marinara sauce, and lots of parmesan makes for a pretty good dinner when you’re in a pinch.
Before going to bed last night, I spent some time reviewing an email Gia sent me with my race plan. Originally, when we started putting together the training plan for this half our goal for me was a 2:10 half as I haven’t run a half faster than 2:13:09 (SunTrust National Half Marathon 2011) since 2007. Back in 2007 I ran the Thunder Road Half down in Charlotte in 2:12 and before that my half PR was 2:07 (Jefferson Hospital Philadelphia Distance Run 2007). Therefore, a 2:10 would still be an age group PR for me and the fastest half I’ve run while in a healthy place. (I weighed 125 when I ran the Thunder Road and Jefferson half marathons – more details here.)
But, as we started training, she felt I had more in me and pushed me a bit harder towards the end of the training plan. Even though this round of training really only lasted 6 weeks due to lots of travel in January and early February, I’ve focused on quality workouts and have spent a lot of hours pushing myself at Barry’s Bootcamp and during my runs.
Her words were simple:
You so have this, draw upon what you have gained in Barry’s … go to the place that you go to when the treadmill is on a 10%incline and you are sprinting.
Our game plan was for me to start out slower than I wanted and once I finished the hills in the park I could cover my Garmin with fun star covered masking tape and let my body do the work. This would keep me from going out too fast since I had explicit directions to check my watch each mile in the park. I’ve killed myself too many times by going out too fast to do that again this time around. I also told myself that I’d practice the tips I preached to Liz which helped her succeed and enjoy her first half yesterday.
Since Theodora attributed her PR yesterday to sparkles, in addition to her hard work, I made a last minute decision to sport the same sparkly skirt that led to a was a PR accessory in Philadelphia this November. (Thanks Shannon for the skirt – it’s clean and ready to be returned now!)
The temperature this morning was colder than I imagined and I have never been more thankful to have a husband who runs. I convinced him to come to my corral versus his speedier group so we could keep each other warm with body warmth since New York Road Runners required us to be in corrals by 7am, though they never collapsed them as promised.
It felt like 23 according to Weather Channel iPhone ap when we lined up but I swear it cooled down as we started running. I was definitely thankful for my good ol’ Sugoi lined tights and making a last minute decision to toss this Champion quarter zip over my Lululemon long sleeve shirt.
At 7:45 the two of us crossed the start line together and gave each other one last positive cheer. We both had goals in our mind: sub 2 for Bo and sub 2:07 for me.
As predicted, the start was pretty crowded and my body was pretty numb. I feared that I’d not feel pain due to the cold and therefore I checked my watch almost ever half mile to make sure I wasn’t going too fast. I also decided that I wanted some pump up jams for this race. With headphones in and cold wind blowing at my face I put my head down, did my best to relax my shoulders, chanted some positive mantras to myself, and decided to break this race into 2 10Ks.
10K #1: Focus on my music, breathing, maintaining a steady pace, skip water stations, keep pace over Cat Hill and Harlem Hills, and stay relaxed.
10K #2: Focus on finding my friends along the route ( Laura and Beth ), start taking water at every stop and walk through quickly if needed, remember to take a GU, cover my watch, and zone out but remember that at this point it should start to hurt.
Never ever has a plan worked so well!
Splits for reference:
Mile 1: 9:33 Mile 2: 9:35 Mile 3: 9:14 Mile 4: 9:22 Mile 5: 9:35 – Covered Garmin at this point Mile 6: 9:04
I took a Vanilla Gu at mile 6.1, took a piece of starred masking tape from my band and covered the Garmin face, found my favorite pump up jam (Everday Birthday) and moved to the right side of the road in hopes of seeing Laura and Beth.
Clearly covering the watch worked as I let my pace drop into the low 9 and high 8 minute range. Running through Times Square was even better than I remembered and seeing both Laura and Beth was a great treat. I threw Beth my gloves as I ran past her and gave a huge wave hello. As I hit mile 10 my quads really started to scream. I feared that I was dropping too fast and after some quick math based on the time clock at mile 10 I realized that even if I used mile 10 as a rest mile to gather my breath and take a slower water walk through the station, I could still break 2:10. I did this and then as I crossed the marker to 11 started dropping the pace back to an uncomfortable yet sustainable pace. While I hoped to drop down the last mile a bit more than I did per the above, I gave these 13.4 miles every single thing I had. I fear there will be horrific pictures of me from the last quarter mile, exiting the tunnel, as I know I was making some horrible faces. I was breathing hard and pushing through just ready to be done at this point. It was so great to see some friendly faces (Jen and Liz) during the last push but after running faster than ever before I was ready to be done.
I peeled the tape off after crossing the line and when I saw the 2:05 time I think I almost started crying.
Damn half marathon PR you’ve alluded me for 5 years and now that I have you I’m more hungry than ever before. Who knows whether I have a sub 2 in me, especially during late Spring and Summer months, but we’ll see!
Within minutes I reunited with Bo and our friends Geoff and Elizabeth. We all had great runs to celebrate including a sub 1:57 run for Bo and a great comeback race for Liz who has been sick for the past week!
In addition, congratulations around to everyone who threw down amazing races this weekend – there are way too many to name but it was such a great weekend for everyone whether it was a PR or a return from injury!