Friday, December 27, 2013

Holiday Half Marathon Race Recap- A lesson in uneven pacing

1134 elevation loss, and 1134 elevation gain

I ran the Holiday Half Marathon last week. I had a really fun time and I got my tail kicked by the hilly course.  I ended up being the overall women's winner (it was a small race).

The course was along the river mountain trail loop. It's a pretty scenic course that is closed to traffic. There was a regular half marathon and there was also a relay option for runners not wanting to race the half.

I was feeling a little nervous the morning of the race. For my breakfast I had scrambled eggs, a banana, and a slice of buttered toast.  On my way to the race site I ate a caffeinated orange Gu.  I got to the race site 15 minutes before the gun time. I had just enough time for a short warm up jog and quick trip to the bathrooms.

When I signed up for this race I figured that I would be able to run a sub 1:40. I was actually kind of cocky about it.  I told several people that I would run this time or faster.  I like telling people my race goals before hand. I do this for accountability. When I run a race, I try to give it my all.  I don't want to fake the funk and pretend that I just run races for fun.

Right before the start

The gun went off and I felt good. I knew that to run a sub 1:40 half marathon I would need to average 7:38 per mile. I figured that with the climbs and the descents my pace would be all over the place.   I did some rough estimates and I wanted to aim for 8:10 miles for the uphills and 7:10 miles for the downhill stretches. I figured I would be able to adjust my pace if I needed to. 
My original estimates were way off.

Mile 1- 7:52

The course started on an uphill grade.  I may have gone out a little too fast.  The relay runners and half marathoners all started at the same time, and I have a habit of going out with the crowd.

Mile 2- 7:44
 I felt like I was pushing the pace going up this uphill stretch.  My stomach was a little crampy because of the caffeinated Gu.  I just tried to focus on my breathing  and I told myself to relax and wait for the downhill

Mile 3- 7:05
Oh glorious sweet downhill running.  I looked down at my Garmin and I saw 6:50 pace. It was a steep downhill and I slowed it down
I don't take pictures while I race, these photos are courtesy
of the Las Vegas Track Club

Mile 4-7:11
More wonderful downhill running.   The view of the Las Vegas Valley was gorgeous.

Mile 5-7:44
The downhill stretch came to an end and we were treated to a series of rolling downhill climbs. It was kind of scary.  I couldn't really go any faster without risking a face plant into the asphalt. After the three climbs the course went rocketing back down. 

Mile 6-7:33
I knew the turn around point was coming pretty soon since we were heading down to the bottom of the trail head.  When I reached the turn around point I knew for sure that I was the lead female.  I had probably a 400 meter lead on the 2nd place female.  I started to get a little weak in the knees emotionally. I was getting scared of the ride back to the start line.  I was also worried about being picked off by the 2nd place female.  I told the negative voice in my head to STFU and to just keep running.  "Don't think about, it just run".  I started to climb back up the trail head.

Mile 7- 7:31
I went through the same three hilly climbs but, in reverse.  The climbs were much steeper going in the other direction.  I was also playing hop scotch with a couple of male runners. The climbs were brutal.

Mile 8-9:13

A fellow runner who had out kicked me a few weeks ago during the turkey trot 5k went cruising by me.  He started out slower and smarter than I did. I pulled out another Gu to eat. It was a lemon lime Gu without caffeine.  I nursed it over the next couple of miles. I didn't want to eat the whole thing and have my stomach cramp up again.

Mile 9-8:28
The rolling hills were done and now it is just a straight uphill climb for the next three miles.  I did something that I never do during a race.  I looked over my shoulder to see who was behind me.   The reason I never do this, is because it lets the runners behind you know that you are afraid and that you are falling apart. I kept expecting the 2nd place runner to  blow right by me.

Mile 10-8:56
I told myself to just survive and get through the next two miles.  Focus on the runners in front of you.

Mile 11-9:15
This mile sucked!! But, I was in good company. I passed about three runners on this stretch and only one guy caught me.  The camaraderie was really great. We were all suffering together.  I just kept telling myself to keep it together. There is more downhill on the way.

Mile 12-7:29

Once the downhill began I was aware that we only had about two miles left to the finish. I decided to just run as hard as I could without blowing up.

Mile 13 7:19
I'm starting to close in on the guy that passed me a few minutes ago, but I'm running out of real estate.  During the home stretch in my head I am chanting, "everything, everything, everything...."

Mile 13.1-:054- 7:05 pace

Finish Time 1:44:17

I look like a dork with my arms outstretched over my head.
I was really excited to win that day.
After the race I walked around for a few minutes to cool off. I wasn't able to stick around for the awards.  The race director was really nice and he let me take my trophy home early.

This race was a lot of fun. I'm a little disappointed with how I ran.  I should have taken the first two miles easier.  I also shouldn't have underestimated how hard this half marathon would be.  I'm not running high enough mileage to be able to just crank out a sub  140 half marathon on a whim.

I don't plan on racing another half marathon until the spring time.  I hope that I can increase my mileage base before I attempt to race another half.

***Thank you LVTC for hosting a really kick ass half marathon, and thank you for the photos!!***

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