Tobacco Road Half Marathon Race Recap

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! :)


  1. 1

    Oh my God…..
    I’m sooooo proud of you!
    You totally ROCK!


  2. 2

    That’s awesome!!! I was just smiling the whole way through your race recap… Mind over matter is an incredible thing. Congrats!!!

  3. 4

    Congratulations! Sounds fund.

  4. 5

    Congratulations! That is so awesome that you stayed positive, kept with it, and didn’t quit. This goes to show that nothing is over until it’s over! :-)

  5. 6

    Great job, great time! Congrats! WoW! :)

  6. 7

    What an amazing finish!!! Congrats!! You more than earned it!

  7. 8

    You definitely earned that PR. Impressive work overcoming that mental block in the middle.

  8. 9

    Congratulations!! So glad all the hard work paid off. And that series of pictures of your changing facial expression= hilarious.

  9. 10

    Awesome job, Anne!

  10. 11

    Congrats on your PR! Do you think you will try a full marathon?

    • 12

      No, I don’t think so – I prefer shorter distances & speed vs. longer training. We’ll see though – maybe I’ll change my mind at some point!

  11. 13

    Great job Anne! Way to rally and come back in the end, that’s so awesome!

  12. 14
    Jen Robinson says

    Awesome job- so proud of you! It truly is amazing what a change in mindset can do- 2+ miles at sub 8 min? amazing :) Also- you aren’t even sweaty or red in the post-finish photo… wtf? :P

  13. 16

    Wow, what an awesome run! Congratulations on a PR–mind over matter!

  14. 17

    Congrats Anne! I knew you could do it!

    Matt rocks too.

  15. 19

    Congrats! That’s a freakin awesome time!

  16. 20

    Congrats!! “amazing what adrenaline and a change of mindset can do” – took the words right out of my mouth ;) – that’s all you need to know, from here on out. Every race will challenge you somehow, but adrenaline (+ a little goal) seems to take the cake on pushing through.

    What is with all these races and their uphill finishes!? We need to design our own race course, these peeps are crazy.

  17. 22

    Wow! What a great recap; I’m sweatin’ just reading it!
    You did an awesome job – congrats!
    I run my first 1/2 on the 31st and I’m nervous as heck! No real goals, just to finish – send your good running vibes my way :)

  18. 24

    YAY!!! Congrats on the sub 1:50!! Such a great feeling I bet. :)

  19. 25

    Such a great story!!! Congrats!!!! :)

  20. 26

    Congratulations, Anne! It sounds like it was quite a race, I am SO impressed by your splits on those last couple of miles. GET IT!! You definitely earned your PR, celebrate!!

  21. 27

    Congrats Anne!!! Your time is so impressive! Clearly all the hard work payed off!!!

  22. 28

    Awesome race Anne!

  23. 29

    Congratulations Anne!!! You did a great job! I’m itching to do another half and PR’ing too! :-)

  24. 30

    Congratulations! What an awesome PR story. I ran the full and am so glad you mentioned that gradual uphill. I know the course was supposed to be flat, but I swore there were a couple gradual uphills that were huge mental challenges for me.

    I wrote a recap of my race here ( As a Carolina student, did it bother you to wear Duke’s name on your bib? As an alum, I couldn’t handle it!

  25. 33

    WOOHOO!!! WAY TO ROCK IT!!!! :)

  26. 34

    You Rock!!! Nice work Anne :)

  27. 35

    Congrats!!!! I’m hoping to break 1:50:59 (to qualify for a corral in Chicago) for my first half in 2 weeks, but I’m pretty nervous! I hope the adrenaline kicks in for me too and my knee doesn’t hurt! Glad you did so well!

  28. 37

    Great job!! Here is a link for coasters made from your race bibs. I have been saving this and your remark about the medals being the size of coasters reminded me.

  29. 39

    That is so great! What an accomplishment! My first and only 1/2 marathon was 2:30:13. I am slow but my mission was to run without stopping. I didn’t walk!

    That’s awesome you did it in such a good time. I hope I can do that someday!

    -Brittney (

    • 40

      Goals are different for everyone – never racing anyone but yourself, after all! Good for you for achieving your goal to run without stopping! That’s awesome. :)

  30. 41

    The power of suggestion is potent. Congratulations.

    P.S. That banana showed up on your page again today. You click on it and a video comes up “5 things not to eat”.

  31. 42

    congratulations on your PR anne!!

  32. 43
    Adventurer says

    One word: Awesome!

    Congratulations. Great work! Really impressed with the final 2.1 miles, in particular. All that training paid off handsomely. Super!

  33. 44

    Wow great job! Congratulations :)

  34. 45

    Congrats again. Your race report sounds similar to my race on Sunday Atlanta. No PR for me but still achieved my goal. Our mile splits were very close. I lost the 1:50 pace group at mile 10 and my hope was gone but somehow managed to pull it together and still do a 1:50. It was a warm one for us too. I noticed you and one of your friends had on compression socks? I wear Zensah’s calf sleeves but am looking for a full compression sock to wear for my next marathon in June. Which ones did you ladies wear? Do you recommend them? Just found out about your blog recently. Have enjoyed reading.

    • 46

      Congrats on your 1:50 as well! :) I was wearing compression sleeves, not socks, but I love the ones I have – they are the brand CEP. I think they make socks as well? They have seriously fixed my calf tightness issues!

  35. 47

    Congrats! I was in suspense while reading this, and I was happy to see some impressive mile splits at the very end. Very cool to get a PR!

  36. 48
    kristen @ livinlifeinlouie says

    CONGRATS!!! what an awesome job and way to kick it into high gear- I defiantly need some of your mental will powe :)

  37. 49

    Congrats!! That is such an awesome accomplishment and very motivational!! Great job!!

  38. 50

    That is awesome!!!!! I have been wanting to beat my pr 0f 1:53 myself! so I know how you feel! great job! I am currently pregnant and coming back from a running injury hiatus. But reading your whole race recap brought me back to what all that feels like and there is not a better high then what you just did. Congrats girl!!!!!!

  39. 52

    Great job!! Isn’t amazing how pace groups can motivate you and help, well, pace you :). I love being surprised my faster than expected miles. How do you like running with the camelback? Do you train with it?

    • 53

      I love the CamelBak – it’s so nice just having water whenever I want it and not dealing with stopping at water stops. I wear it on longer runs when I’m training, or if it’s super hot outside for shorter runs. Big fan! I’ve worn it for most of my long races.

  40. 54

    Congrats on such a successful race!! That is the best feeling, to push through and pr after working so hard for it. I love the adrenaline of races too, although it only works at the finish line if you’ve paced yourself well and saved a little something for that final push. Well done!!

  41. 56

    No words!! you did it! Congrats Anne, really well done. The most important in this race is participate and give the best, and you always do ok with your big smile, good actitude, and being positive always! good for you Anne.

  42. 57

    Ahh what an inspiring post! This makes me want to go out and race. It really is crazy how big of a part your mental state can play in a race…scary sometimes! It’s such a great accomplishment to be able to go sun 1:50 & you for sure earned it! CONGRATS!!!

  43. 58

    Yay! Congrats. What a race. I was thinking about you over the weekend…sending FAST thoughts. We ended up leaving the hill this morning, but enjoy your glory! Great Job.

  44. 60

    congrats on the new PR and way to finish completely spent, giving it your all at the finish. love that!

  45. 61

    So proud of you!!! Congrats on the new PR!

  46. 62

    Congratulations on your new PR! So inspiring!

  47. 63

    Found your race recap through Wannabe Athlete..and I am so excited! I also ran the Tobacco Road Half (as my first half) and thought it was a blast too!

    Great job on you PR! I’m glad I’ve found a local blog to follow!!!

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