Sunday, November 18, 2012

St. Pete Women's Half Marathon

All my planning, preparation, and training paid off.

I know I'll regret not giving a play-by-play of the entire race, and if I don't write it now I'll forget the little details, so despite my exhaustion, here's a rundown of the race I've been training for...I can't believe it's over.

Pre-race. Chilly & ready to get going!
K and I arrived at the race venue about an hour before start-time. We had time to check our gear and use the porta-potties, but no real warmup time. It was chilly and extremely windy, but once we got into our corral (technically K's corral, but I sneaked in with her), all the warm bodies shielded us. I never felt the full-on butterflies that I expected. M and his mom were able to arrive just before starting time and actually found us, so I was able to say hello and they were able to take some pre-race pictures of us gearing up for the start. We picked out the pacers ahead of us that we wanted to try to follow.

We ran the first 10k together, and it was marvelous. I had prayed for cool, overcast weather, and somebody up there listened. The day was in the low 60s, nicely cloudy but rainless, and in most parts of the run the wind was unnoticeable. K and I kept remarking to each other how great we felt, even as we kept a brisk pace. We eventually grew annoyed with the herd of runners following the pacers, and we broke off to keep our own pace. Running the first six miles with K was a great way to keep my mind off the difficulty of the first four miles. We seemed to breeze through it without trouble, feeling strong and confident. I tend to let off some speed in the middle miles of any race, and being with K forced me to stay fast.
Crossing the line, big grin in place!

After we hit the 10k, K took off ahead and I kept my own pace. I still felt strong, and in my chest I could feel the certainty of a strong finish growing. I knew going in that this race would destroy my first Half, but I was concerned that I'd be tempted to walk. Once on the course, though, I just felt totally calm. I knew I would run the entire thing and be true to my own pace and goal.

Around mile 7.5, I crossed paths with SB, who was coming down the opposite side of the road waving maniacally at me. When I finally realized it was her, I waved back and was able to pick up my pace again, feeling great.

I hit the wall at mile 9, where I knew I would. I just kept mentally coaching myself. You will do this. You will not walk. You are running your own race here. Do not let the other runners get into your mind. By mile 10, the wall had passed and I felt ready for the final 5k.

I couldn't have met my goal more perfectly!
Mile 11 brought us to the Trop, which was really fun to run in. The turf took some pressure off my knees, and when I was back on the concrete my feet were ready for more sturdy ground. It was a great break. With only two miles to go, I was really feeling good. I was able to drop my pace back into the low 10s, and the cheering crowds at mile 12 kept me going.

Soldiers gave us our medals. So amazing!
My goal, as stated in my previous post, was a pace of 10:18. I was exactly on target! I was grinning like a lunatic coming down the final chute, and K was there shouting for me. As I crossed the finish line, I bent over to catch my breath and K gave my head a hug. She was exuberant for me, so excited that I had met my goal. My chip time was 2:15:01 with a pace of 10:18. Talk about perfect! K finished in 2:04, destroying her last Half time as well. Both our Nike+s put the course at over 13.1, but I'm not going to argue the timing/distance here.

I think if I could have kept my mind clear after K and I split up, I could have come in under 2:10, and that's definitely my goal for the next Half I run, which should be in January. My knees are killing me tonight and I'm ready for some rest days before my 10k Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving.
Mission Accomplished!

All in all, this was a really successful, awesome, beautiful race. The "cobblestones" and "bridge" we were preparing for ended up being perfectly even brick roads and a small road bridge with a mild incline. Basically, we were really well-prepared for it and were laughing about how easy it all was! We both indulged in massages post-race and relived/discussed the high points numerous times. Basically, K and I are both thrilled!

Apparently at-home spectators could input your bib number and follow you along the course. I received an email/text from my parents congratulating me on my time, and K's husband - at home with the kids - was able to track her splits and send her encouraging texts. What a brilliant addition to usual bib-tags!

I really can't believe that the race I put so much time and effort into training for is over now. Really, it's a perfect culmination of my year. I set out to be a more consistent runner, and it led me to a Half in which I beat my last time by 40 minutes. I can't wrap my head around how far I've come, and still how much further I want to go. 2:10 and below is within reach! I'm aching for a chance to get there.

Now it's time for recovery...until the next one.



  1. Wooooooo hooooooo!!!! Holy cow!!! 2:15 is AWESOME!!! Way to not only keep up a fantastic pace, but what a great feeling to know you did your best. I'm so excited for you!!! Way to rock a race!! THAT'S how it's done!!!!

    1. Thank you!! It's such a weird feeling! I'm so exhilarated, but I'm also kind of bummed because now it's over!

  2. Congratulations! That's awesome!

    And I totally get feeling bummed once it's over (not immediately, but in the days following).

    Take some time off and look forward to next year!

    1. I read an article once that said that runners face a weird depression after big goals/races because of the crash from the adrenaline high. I definitely fall into that category. But still, I'm looking forward to some leisurely runs before training starts again!

  3. Your knees--watch your daily footwear, since you are on your feet all day. Try SAS shoes, or other old lady footwear. I know, EWWWWWW, right? But an ounce of prevention...

    1. My knees hurt from ITBS. I've been rolling/icing/massaging like crazy. I think now that training is over with I'll look into acupuncture or an ART massage to relief some of the tension there are start 2013 with a clean bill of leg-muscle-health!