I did it!!! I officially have a new half marathon PR (personal record): 1:49:37!
And I couldn’t be more proud. I worked SO hard for that sub-1:50 time!
As I mentioned, 3 of my grad school friends were also running the race — two of us doing the half and two the full. Both races started at 7 a.m., so we arrived bright and early courtesy of our chauffer Matt, who deserves major props for getting up so early to drop us off so we didn’t have to deal with the 4 a.m. shuttle. Thank you, Matt.
It was still dark out (but very humid/warm — blech) and we were all excited but nervous. Luckily we arrived with enough time to hit the bathrooms and check our bags. Before we knew it, it was time to line up at the start!
Elle and I were the ones running the half; we decided to start together and then just see how the race went.
As I mentioned last night, I decided to start with the 1:50 pace group and try to stick with them the whole time, since sub-1:50 was my goal. We easily found the person holding the 1:50 sign and balloons and lined up next to him.
And then we were off!
- Mile 1: 8:17
- Mile 2: 8:06
- Mile 3: 8:08
- Mile 4: 8:05
For the first 4 miles, Elle and I stuck together near the 1:50 pace group. We started with the group, but ended up running a little ahead because it was a kind of crowded right by the pacer. Around mile 4, at a water stop (I didn’t stop for any since I was wearing my CamelBak), Elle stayed behind; she was aiming to beat her previous 1:56 PR, so I was on my own.
- Mile 5: 8:07
- Mile 6: 8:24
- Mile 7: 8:16
- Mile 8: 8:16
For mile 5, I continued to stay ahead of the pacer on my own and was feeling good for the most part, but when mile 6 came around, my legs started feeling heavy and I was getting pretty tired. We also hit a gradual uphill at mile 6 which didn’t help. I ended up falling a little bit behind the 1:50 pace group, but they were just ahead of me. I ate half of my espresso HammerGel at mile 6 (the rest was eaten at mile 9), hoping it would help.
- Mile 9: 8:40
- Mile 10: 9:11
- Mile 11: 8:37
Miles 9 to 11 were the worst stretch of the race for me by far. My legs were tired, and even worse was the mental game that was starting to get to me. At mile 9, the 1:50 pace group started to slip away. At mile 10, I started to resign myself to the fact that I wasn’t going to break 1:50. “You started out too fast,” I thought to myself. “Rookie mistake.” I wasn’t sure how far ahead the 1:50 pace group was, but I couldn’t even see them anymore. I started feeling pretty bummed out, but I did my best to maintain a good pace. I’m actually surprised seeing these splits — I felt like I was going a lot slower (I remember 9:11 popping up on my watch, but don’t remember seeing the other splits). At the time, I wasn’t even sure I could still beat my old PR of 1:51:47 (doing math while running doesn’t generally work so well…), but I wanted to keep pushing myself to try, and was able to pick up the pace a little bit for Mile 11.
By around 11.5 ish miles, I had resigned myself to completely losing the 1:50 pace group. We came out of the trail we’d been running on back onto the road. We had a nice wide slightly downhill stretch, so I was able to see what was ahead of me.
And then, what do you know? There in the distance, a mere 0.25-ish miles away… were the dancing balloons of the 1:50 pace group! At that instant, I knew I could still do this. I literally said to myself, “Oh HELL no!” — I was not getting this close to my sub-1:50 goal only to wimp out at the end! I’d had no idea how close I still was to the pace group! I got a huge rush of adrenaline, a big smile on my face, and told myself that I WOULD catch the pace group. I could do this.
- Mile 12: 7:56 (!)
- Mile 13: 7:54 (!)
- 0.24 nubbin pace (my watch said the course was long): 7:06 (!!)
Before I knew it, I had caught up to the 1:50 pace group, and then… I flew by them! What the hell, I thought. Let’s freaking DO THIS! The last mile flew by and before I knew it, I was approaching the finish.
As soon as we hit Mile 13, I kicked it into overdrive. I can’t even believe my last bit was run at a 7:06 pace! It’s amazing what adrenaline and a change of mindset can do, isn’t it?!
As I was nearing the finish line, I heard someone yell my name — there was Matt! I was so excited he found me. He said he tried to get a good shot but I was literally going at the speed of light, lol. I had seen the time on the screen at the front and I knew just how close I would be to beating 1:50!
Below I am like: “Seriously?! The race ends with 0.1 miles of uphill?! Also, who the heck is yelling at me?”
And then: “YAY! Hi Matt!!!”
I came blazing through the finish just as the clock rolled over to 1:50:05 (I knew I had started 30 seconds-ish after the official time started, since I wasn’t right at the front of the race — so I had a good feeling I had JUST beat out 1:50!). Success was mine!
I was so proud of myself. And tired! Did that seriously just happen?!
The medals are awesome and HUGE — seriously like coasters!
Matt and I headed back over the finish line to try to catch Elle finishing, but unfortunately we missed her in the crowd. She also set a new PR with an awesome time of 1:54:34! Go Elle!!
Elle and I changed into dry clothes, stretched, grabbed some food and lots of water, and then the two of us and Matt headed back over to the finish line to see our two friends doing the full marathon finish!
Our friend Lauren K. finished strong at 3:38:17 — not a new PR for her, but still an AMAZING time! It’s so incredible that she maintained the exact pace I did (average of 8:20 min/miles)… but for double the distance. Go girl!
And then some more food and liquids later… our friend Lauren E. finished strong in 4:36:00! This was her very first full marathon — SO proud of her!
It was such a great morning for all of us.
Thanks for the great race, Tobacco Road! I’m proud to have a new PR. I earned it!