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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Hilton Head Marathon: Take Two

The last time I attempted to run the HH Marathon, I had to pull out at the half and earn my first ever DNF.  The mental beating I gave myself after that race was brutal, and I felt like I should be walking around wearing some sort of scarlet letter as punishment.  I vowed that I would have redemption, even if it meant that I would have to walk or crawl the marathon in order to cross that finish line, the following year.  And I quite literally spent the next 365 days training for this race.

And when I say I trained, I mean I trained.  I spent the early spring and summer doing cross training with triathlons, but as soon as July hit, I started marathon training with Lauren for a marathon she was doing in October.  And then as soon as that was over, I started preparing for Hilton Head.  To say I was ready for this marathon to be over with was an understatement.  I couldn't wait for the race to be over so I could go out and do a run for pleasure and not have to do a prescribed workout!

God, I was ready for this race.  I was chomping at the bit to make up for last year's embarrassing DNF, and I was eager to see what I could do.  But sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong.  Sometimes you can go into a race completely prepared but still get the rug yanked out from underneath you.  I could control so many things in my training, but I could not control the weather.  And the weather that weekend was something else.

On the morning of the race, the temperature was 60 degrees.  Sixty degrees!  That is 20 degrees above normal!  I run marathons in the winter because IT IS WINTER.  My body has shown me time and time again that I cannot run long distance if the temperatures are over 50.  And not only was it 60 degrees, but it was also 94% humidity!  There was a layer of fog and a lot of clouds as Lauren and I drove out to the race site.  We both commented that at least the fog and clouds would keep the sun out.  That seemed like the only positive we could find with our current weather situation.  I knew any hope of having a stellar race was out the window, but I thought at least maybe I could salvage some sort of respectable finishing time.  I decided to start out very conservative and then see how I felt at the half.  In my mind, I thought I could possibly run better for the second half if I purposely went slower the first half.

My plan worked perfectly until mile 6.  At this point, the fog lifted, the clouds melted away and a hot sun emerged.  By mile six, I was struggling, but I still had my head above water.  But with each passing mile, it became harder and harder to run.  My clothes were drenched from sweat.  My mouth felt like cotton.  I felt like I was running in the middle of summer.  At mile 13, I opted to start walk/run to try and conserve energy.  By mile 14, I was done.  So done.  I knew I had to finish, but I wasn't sure I could run.  I tried speed walking but even that seemed too taxing.  I kept telling myself to keep moving forward, keep moving, just keep on moving.  Those last 12 miles felt like eternity.  I finally saw Lauren at mile 19.  She was just as miserable as I was, but at least she was running.  She would finish a full hour before me and I felt horrible making her wait on me to finish.  But I had to finish.  As horrible as I felt, the desire to cross the finish line drove me forward.  My legs ached, my toes cramped (a new side effect that has begun popping up), my eyes burned from all the salt and sweat that kept dripping on my face, and my fingers were swollen up like sausages.  I was sunburned (the temps reached low 70s!) and I was miserable, but I finally crossed the finish line in 5:33.  Yes, you read that right, 5:33.

By far this is the worst marathon that I have ever run, and it frustrates me in so many ways that I performed so poorly.  I know I cannot control the weather, but damn it, I was trained and ready for this race!  The "what ifs" have really been eating at me.  I have even been looking at other marathons in the hopes that perhaps I could still cram one in, but with the weather remaining in the 70s for the next few weeks, I feel like my marathon window has closed.  From now on, I have to select marathons that I know will be in cold temps which means looking up north for races instead of at the beach. 

While it would be easy to keep my time quiet, not write a race report or share it on social media, I refuse to do that.   I earned this time, so I am not going to hide and pretend it didn't happen.  This was a BAD race.  There will be more bad races for me in the future, I promise.  But there will also be good ones.  And while the bad races serve as painful lessons, the good ones make those lessons worthwhile.  Here's to the next race; may it be a good one!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Greenville News Run Downtown 5K

Happy 2018!  It seems like forever since I last updated my blog and for good reason; my last race of the season was cancelled due to snow, so I haven't written since November!   As I looked back over all the races I did for 2017, a whopping 16, I saw a lot of room for improvement, but also a couple pats on the back.  I really stepped up my running, but still struggled with any race that was in remotely hot temps.  I enjoyed how I structured my race season though, so I think I will continue emphasizing my running, but maybe still throw in some triathlons for fun.  I really want to focus more on shorter races since I have really been enjoying working on my speed and these short courses will force me out of my comfort zone and into that painful sprint zone.

So having said all that.... I have been training for a marathon.  Yes, I know I just wrote that I want to work on short course this season, but I really need to do this marathon for my mental confidence and sanity.   Every weekend since god knows how long it seems, I have been doing long runs to prepare for this race.  But then the Greenville News 5K popped up on my FB feed and I found myself signing up.  I have never done this race before, but it is a big one (usually 1,500 people or more) and I thought it would be a good race to practice working on my speed.  However, the day before the race, I opted to do my sixteen mile long run since I was off work.  In no training plan is it ever a good idea to do a long run and then try and do a sprint race less than 24 hours later, but I thought it might be a good idea to teach myself to push on tired legs.

Here is a quick breakdown of my race stats:
Mile one:  8:34 pace
I wanted to start out slow on purpose since I wasn't sure how my dead legs would respond.  I wanted to keep it around 8:30-8:45, so considering how I usually go out way too hard, I consider  this to be a win.
Mile two:  7:55 pace
I took advantage of the downhill section on this mile and just opened it up.  My legs felt surprisingly good, so I thought I would see if I had any sort of speed left in me.  Turns out I did.  The only question would be whether or not I could hold a pace close to this for mile three....
Mile three:  8:05 pace
I was pretty happy that I was in the low eight range for mile three because there was a hill.  I was definitely starting to feel that 16 mile run the day before by this point though, so not sure how long I could have held this pace.
Final .14 mile:  7:22 pace
Since I was able to see the finish line, I let it all hang out.  No way could I have held this pace longer than .14!

Final time:  25:35 (8 out of 129 in age group/8:15 pace)
I was fairly pleased that after a long sixteen mile run that I could have something resembling speed (for me) in this race.  I was honestly thinking that my average would be closer to the nine minute range.  I was super happy that my legs cooperated and that after purposely starting out slow that I had some kick left.  My great fear in a race is that if I start out slow then I will never be able to speed up, but this race showed me that it is indeed possible (we will see if it works for a marathon).  I am grateful that my speed workouts came in handy for this race and that I am starting to consistently see my pace remain in the low eight minute range.  I can tell I am getting stronger because running a low eight minute mile consistently doesn't make me feel like puking anymore!

I am still in the final preparation stages of my marathon, but then hope to tackle a few more 5Ks to really test my fitness.  I am still chasing that elusive 22 mins that I hit back in 2011, but I have no delusions that I will ever catch it.  But, hey, a girl can still dream can't she?/

Until next time,
don't forget to be awesome!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Tryon Half Marathon Race Recap

"As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool repeats his folly"~ Proverbs

Let's just say that the above quotation pretty much summarizes my entire running career.  You would think by now, that I, a veteran runner of almost 14 years, would know what I should and should not do during a race.  You would think that I have already learned lessons the hard way about what not to do in a race.  And yet, here I am, a fool repeating her folly....again.

After the Spinx half, I had to take an entire week off to heel up a tendonitis injury that I got from the race.  The following week I ran some easy miles and did a long run of eight miles.  When I didn't feel any pain after my long run, I decided I was fully healed up and ready to run a half marathon the following week.  I told myself that I would run it conservatively just in case my injury wasn't fully healed.  

The Tryon Half Marathon is run on 75% gravel roads and is advertised as almost entirely flat.  While the former is true, the latter is not.  There were some hills, and there were some false flats, and I am convinced that the second half of the course (it was an out and back) was more difficult than the first due to the subtle inclines.  When the race started, runners began on the road and entered the gravel section around mile 1.5.  Since it was the beginning of the race, the temps were on the cold side, and it was on asphalt, I immediately went out way too hard.  I knew I was going out too hard, and yet I found myself trying to justify it.  I reasoned that I would slow down on the gravel, so picking up extra time on the road would average out; I felt good and strong, so why slow down?  Lauren was running with me, so I don't want to slow her down.  I came up with lots of reasons to justify my stupidity.  But that is all it was....stupidity.  When I hit the gravel, Lauren took off looking like Shalane Flanagan and I tried to find a pace that I could hold.  I was still running way too far out of my comfort zone, but once again, I kept thinking that I might be able to hold that pace for the next eleven miles.  When I got close to the turn around I noticed that my body was starting to slow down.  And by slow down, I mean REALLY slow down.  Like a minute or more slower.  And I could not do anything about it.  My legs were really trashed and my feet were not happy at all about the gravel.  While the road was very nicely scraped of most gravel, there were still little rocks that you couldn't avoid and these were starting to take their toll on my feet and legs.  My legs felt like they had been running up a mountain.  My quads screamed.  My feet were cramping.  My calves were tight.  I thought I would never get off that gravel road, but finally the pavement began.  The finish line forced runners to run one more off road section and this section was literally "off road".  Grass clumps and rocks and a tiny narrow path to run on made me almost stop and walk.  But I was so close to the finish line that I couldn't stop now.  My goal of sub 1:55 was long gone, but I thought I might be able to make my time of sub 2 hours if I ran hard enough.  I felt like I was running in quicksand.  Women were passing me the last quarter mile like I was walking.  I wanted to cry.  I crossed the line in 2:00:02.  I.was.pissed!  How could I not make it under two hours????  Why did I go out so hard?  Why did I think this race was a good idea?  Why am I struggling to run halves all of a sudden?  Why did I think I could run on gravel for ten miles?  Why, why, why????

Because I am foolish, that's why.  I will never become a better runner if I don't become a smarter runner.  I thought I had the hang of this during the summer, but I guess I have fallen back to my old habits.  This race is the perfect example of karma.  I know what I should do; I don't do it, and so I get bit in the butt by karma.  I have no one to blame but myself, and believe me, I have been blaming myself A LOT.   If I don't get my act together, there is no way I will be successful in my upcoming marathon and this situation will just keep happening over and over again. When I looked at the final results, I did see that my time was 1:59, so I did break 2 hours by the race clock, but I got no satisfaction from this.  I placed 11th our of 30 women and probably was passed by at least four or five women in my age group in the second half of the race.  While a two hour half is by no means shabby, the way I felt and the struggle I went through to hit that time made me feel like I had run twice as long.  I want to finish a half feeling strong and running strong, not dragging myself across the line half dead.  I have a lot of reflecting to do and some serious adjustments to make before I begin marathon training.  Fingers crossed I can get my shit together and quit "going back to my own vomit" time and time. 

Until next time, 
happy training!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Hills for Breakfast: Spinx Half Marathon Race Report

I knew I would regret not running more hills during training.

I knew it.

And yet here I am with my foot resting on an ice pack and propped up on the ottoman.  I will never learn.

The Spinx half marathon is probably one of the hardest halfs I have done aside from Altamont (which at least is advertised  as running up a mountain).  I knew it would be hilly when signed up; I knew it would be hilly when I ran part of the course with Lauren, Amanda, and Joanna, and yet time got away from me around the beginning of October and I never really got to prepare for those hills like I wanted to.  At least the weather cooperated for me!  For once instead of the 100% rain forecasted, the rain held off with the exception of an occasional sprinkle and left me with overcast skies and temps in the low 50s.  I had given myself a conservative time of 2 hours for this half because of the hills, but I really wanted to get in under 1:55.  I knew I could do this if I was smart, but when it comes to racing, my smarts fly right out the window.  Allow me to explain.
Elevation chart from the race

I feel a lot like Steve Prefontaine when I race.  No, not in the speed or talent of Pre, but in the mindset.  I  have a poster of Pre running that is hanging up in my classroom that says "To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift."  I think about that quotation whenever I race.  I think about having paid money to race, having sacrificed early mornings to train, and having my name on the results page.  I feel I owe it to myself (and my checkbook) to go out there and bust my ass.  Sometimes I wish I didn't feel this way, and I envy people who can turn this switch on and off, but when I am in any sort of competition my competitive nature simply kicks in and I can't help myself.  So when the gun went off at Spinx, I took off like a shot.  In fact, Lauren actually started out behind me!  Finally she pulled ahead of me at the half mile mark and shortly thereafter disappeared from sight entirely.  I knew I needed to run conservatively because of the hills that were coming, but I felt pretty good at first, so I kept on hammering at what I thought was an easy pace.  It wasn't.  An eight minute mile at mile two is no where near an easy pace for me, and in hindsight I have no idea why I thought that was a good idea.  By mile five I was absolutely sick of hills, but my pace was staying steady around 8:25-8:30 average so I thought I might as well hold that pace.  For the record, I don't hold that pace in a flat half marathon, so I am not sure why I thought I could hold it in a hilly one.  At mile five I got a wonderful surprise when Regina, Forrest, Trey and Amanda were  outside Trey and Amanda's house cheering on the runners.  I was even more surprised when I saw Lauren standing there waiting on me!  She had been waiting about five minutes for me to arrive, and I was so caught off guard that I told her she needed to go on and race her race and not wait on me.  I must have hurt her feelings because she took off flying and still finished the race almost ten minutes ahead of me!!!  Let me tell you, this girl is such a gifted runner, and my envy of her running ability is through the roof!  I continued to hammer the miles, even at one point hitting an 8:17 mile, but all good things (or stupid ideas) must come to an end and mile 10 was mine.  Not only did the wheels come off, but the hood, the bumpers, and the roof came off.  I blew up in epic Susan fashion.  It didn't help that some of the ugliest hills were the last three miles, but had I paced myself accordingly I would not have struggled in the way I did.  My pace for miles 11-13 was 9:36, 10:13, and 10:01 respectively.  To make matters worse my sub 1:55 slipped right through my fingers and I couldn't do a thing about it.  My toes were literally cramping the last mile and I really thought I would have to walk, but I crossed the finish line in 1:55:33.  I had no one to blame for those 33 seconds except for me.
Thug Trey cheering me on

I ended up averaging 8:49 which is a pace I would normally be proud of, but I was pretty agitated about it for this race simply because my pace before mile 10 was so much faster.  Had I held an 8:49 up to mile 10, I probably could have negative split the final three miles and ended up with a faster average, but stubborn me just doesn't know how to pace herself in a race.  To make matters worse, I woke up Sunday morning unable to walk!!!!  I could not put any weight or pressure on my left heel without stabbing pain going through my foot.  The outside of my left heel and arch hurt as well and when I was no better by Monday, I seriously thought I might have a stress fracture or PF.  I ended up going to Steadman Hawkins for an x-ray, and they identified it as peroneal tendonitis and told me to rest until I could walk again.  I have been pretty lucky that with the exception of an IT band issue I got when I first started running and a weird knee issue I had four years ago, I have not had any debilitating running injuries.  This tendonitis has left me hobbled and unable to walk on my left foot unless I walk on my tippy toes.  Needless to say, this has taught me a valuable lesson about pacing in more ways than one.

Those 33 seconds will forever haunt me in my dreams
I placed fifth in my age group out of 51.  I had originally hoped I might be in the top ten, so fifth is much better than that thought.  Since I am on the injured list, I have been trying to get caught up with grad school work and television this week, but my poor dog is over not being able to go for his morning runs.  Hopefully I can start back doing some easy running Monday and will be back to my usual routine by next weekend.  Not sure what race I will tackle next since I don't know when I will be able to race, but I am hoping for another race before the month is out so I can keep my monthly racing streak alive.

Until next time,
Happy training!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Run for Thought 5K Race Report

What a crazy three weeks it has been!  I raced a 25K three weeks ago in which I thought I might drop dead from heat exhaustion because of the crazy "Hotober" heat, but then I jetted off to Hawaii the following weekend where I discovered what hot really feels like!  Holy cow, that place was an inferno!  But before I could even really enjoy Hawaii all that much I had to turn right around and fly back home on Monday (I was there for about 2.5 days).  No sooner did I get over my jet lag I came down with a nasty headcold which made me feel like I was jet lagged all over again!  Needless to say running has taken a back burner the past two weeks, but I knew I had to get back into the flow of things because I have a pretty tough half coming up.  I managed to drag myself out of bed twice last week to run and then realized that I had signed up for a 5K for the weekend.  Uggh. 
Thanks to Amanda for the pic!

I had committed to doing this race because the money supports brain injury research and recovery, and my parents were going to be there as well, so thanks to Lauren's suggestion I decided to kill two birds with one stone and do my long run as part of the 5K.  The plan was to meet Lauren and Amanda (who was also jet lagged from getting home from Hawaii the day before) and run an easy 2 as my warm up.  Then Lauren and Amanda would run 3 miles while I raced the 5K.  Then Lauren and I would meet back up to run the remaining 5 miles.  The first two miles felt awful!  Even though we were running easy, it felt pretty hard to me.  I was dreading how the 5K would feel especially when I tried to push hard. 

The 5K was a flat one and a half mile, followed by a crazy half mile plus of uphill, and then a flat  mile back to the finish.   The weather was actually behaving like it was October and not Hotober, so I felt comfortable in my tank and shorts, but it was cool enough to warrant my compression socks.  I was pretty excited about this since compression socks really help with my neuropathy.  It has been so hot that I haven't been able to wear them, so I was hopeful that these socks might be my secret weapon.  When the gun sounded three women immediately surged to the front of the pack.  The third woman was close enough to me starting out that I felt like I could pull her in, but she never seemed to slow her pace and I couldn't increase mine so I was left to just try and keep her in my sights.  Mile one was an 8:05 min mile so I was pretty pleased that I was running that well since my attempts at running during the week were pathetic, but I attributed my pace to having done a warm up first.  (I really think that doing a warm up of one to two miles before any race I do makes a big difference in my race performance.  The older I get the slower it takes for my engine to warm up and doing a warm up helps cut that down significantly).  Mile two started and I knew that the uphill section was coming, so I just tried to keep the woman ahead of me at the same distance she was when we were running flat.  The hills hurt!  My pace slowed of course, down to an 8:38 pace, but I knew that the rest of the race was flat, so I didn't want to completely gas myself on the uphill.  Finally I saw the turn to start the short downhill section that would take me back to the SRT.  I tried to speed up, but my heartrate wouldn't let me at first.  Finally once I got back to the SRT section of the course which was flat, I really tried to pour it on.  I am happy to say that I negative split the last mile of the course with a sub 8 mile, but man, was I hurting.  I crossed the finish line in 25 minutes and some change (8:08 pace) which made me mad since I was really hoping to break 25 minutes (that blasted hill!).  Lauren and I headed out for an easy five miles and we returned just in time for the award ceremony.  I won my age group and was fourth female overall, but this was a small race, so I don't think it is anything to write home about.  I was just happy that I was able to race a solid race despite how cruddy I felt and how little running I had been able to do the past two weeks.  I don't have a lot of time to recover though as I have another race this weekend which promises to be super tough due to the crazy amount of hills.  I am trying to run easy this week to keep my legs awake, but I have a feeling this upcoming half is going to HURT! 

Until next time,
happy training and don't forget to be awesome!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Swamp Rabbit Trail Urban Ultra 25K Race Report

Since I've had a couple big training blocks over the past two months that forced me out of my comfort zone, I thought perhaps I should stay out of my comfort zone and race a local 25K.  Now this wasn't your typical 25K; it was an urban trail race that combined paved surfaces and trails over a rolling course at Lake Conestee.  Instead of writing a traditional race report, I thought I would just give some observations about my race.

This was the temp when I finished!
1.  I don't run well in heat or humidity.  The temp was 65 degrees at the race start and 75 by the time I finished!  If that was not bad enough, the humidity was around 90% when I started running.  By the time I was finished with the race, I could wring my clothes out.  All the dirt from the trails had turned to mud on my legs from the amount of sweat pouring off me.  By the time I got home, the towel that I was sitting on in my car was soaked through, and my seat was soaking wet as well!

2.  Trails are meant to be enjoyed, and I can't enjoy them when I am racing.  I love hiking, I really do.  That is because I get to enjoy the scenery while I hike.  When I am racing, all I can think about is going as fast as I can, so during a trail race, I can't do anythinmg except look down at the ground in front of me.  I don't get to see any of the beauty that is around me because I have to constantly watch my feet.  If I was running on a trail for exercise I could go slow enough to be able to check out the sights, but during a race I have to look down.  I am not knocking anyone who loves trail racing; I wish I could enjoy it, but during a race, I simply am not able to.  I also hated that I couldn't establish any sort of solid pace because the trails forced me to keep slowing down, speeding up, going up steps, running over planks and boards, etc.

3.    This race started at 9am.  The 50K started at 7:30.  I absolutely hated waiting until 9 to start.  The temperature kept climbing, and my body kept wanting to go into rest mode.  I am usually done with a race by 9am, so starting at 9 threw my body into complete confusion.  This was the one thing I really disliked about the race that could be controlled.  I wish in the future the race director would consider letting the 25K start by 8am.

4.  Rolling is just a nice way of saying hilly.  This race was advertised as rolling, but it was really just a bunch of short hills.  While there were no significant crazy uphills (other than the finish line), there were enough shorter hills that your legs got trashed pretty quickly.

5.  Loop courses can be good...and bad.  I was happy this race was two and a half loops.  After doing one loop I knew exactly what to expect for each remaining loop, and I knew the course so I didn't have to worry about whether I was going to take a wrong turn.  I was able to break the race down into three mile sections which helped me mentally, and I was able to compare splits to see how much my pace had changed.  The bad news about doing a loop course was knowing exactly what was coming.  There were a couple really tough sections that I dreaded doing and just knowing they were up ahead messed with me.  I also didn't like that some of the loops had runners coming and going in both directions.  This made for a lot of jumping off the trail to let a herd of runners by and it also caused me to wonder if I had missed a turn and was lost (when you are the only one going one direction and everyone else is going the opposite it makes you very nervous).
Finisher swag.  Fourth female overall,
first in age group (I do need to admit
there were only eight females total in the race!)
6.  Lake Conestee is a hidden jewel in Greenville County.  This place is huge and gorgeous.  It has plenty of trails and paved surfaces, and a lot of wildlife.  This was the first race in which I got to stop and help a turtle cross the road.  It is peaceful and serene and other than the racers who were there, there was a minimum amount of people.  The only problem is that it is over 30 minutes away from my house, so that prevents me from going there more often.

7.  Nutrition was NOT an issue!  I carried my fuel for this race and managed to drink every three miles.  I have started drinking Sword and this seems to be cooperating with my now very sensitive gut.  I didn't take any sort of gels or food, but the Sword seemed to be sufficient.  This is still a work on progress, but the fact that I didn't experience any sloshiness or bloatedness I call it a win.

8.  Getting out of my comfort zone is a good thing.  There were a lot of things that pushed me out of my comfort zone:  the heat, the unfamiliar course, the trails, the distance (my first 25K).  But all of these things were good for me to experience and work through.  While this race was definitely not a PR, it was good for me to push myself into a situation that made me uncomfortable.

I finished the 15.5 mile race in 2:39, not a good time for me by any means but considering the heat and the terrain, I was pretty happy.  I was sitting on third overall female for the entire race, but at mile 14.5, I was passed by the fourth place female and I simply had nothing in the tank to chase her with.  I was also happy that I finished because normally in this kind of heat, I would have DNF'd, so crossing that finish line was a mental and physical victory.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Race13.1 Greenville Race Report

It has been a long, long uphill battle to try and get back to where I used to be running.  There were times when I thought I could never run more than just a few miles; there were times when I thought I should just quit running altogether, and there were times when the pain from running would make me want to cry. It was apparent that the way I used to approach running was no longer working, and that I needed to try a different approach.  So I decided that instead of focusing on making myself a better runner (by following the same old routine that I had always followed), I was going to focus on making myself a smarter runner.  I knew there were lots of variables I cannot control, but there were several I could, so I focused on these first because they were easy things that were not difficult to fix.  These included things like getting adequate sleep EVERY night, eating a dinner that I know would not mess with my stomach the night before a long run, running super early to avoid the crazy summer heat and humidity, taking a rest day if I needed to, adding track workouts to my regular training, and tracking my progress by uploading my Garmin to my computer (something I have NEVER done before!).  This may not sound like anything major, and it may even sound like things I should have been doing all along, but these things weren't always a priority.  Since making these things a necessity, I have seen a big difference in my performance.   Having said that, I am still struggling with nutrition and hydration issues during long runs (my stomach and colon since surgery refuses to let me take in a lot of fluid or gels during long run), and I still struggle with neuropathy, but I am seeing small improvements here and there in those areas as well.

The Race 13.1 Greenville half marathon is a brand new race, so I knew nothing about the company or the course.  But I needed a September race and I thought a half would be good marathon training as well as a way to test my fitness in a longer distance race.  Since I had only run 5Ks and 10Ks since summer, I was fairly apprehensive as to what type of speed I could hold in a half distance.  I admit that I was a nervous wreck leading up to the race.  I had run a hard 20 miler the Sunday before the race and had done a hard track workout the Tuesday before, so I was worried about my legs feeling heavy or dead. I went to bed extra early the Thursday and Friday before the race and made sure that my pre race dinner was pasta made at home, a tried and true meal that I knew would not upset my

 While  the temps for the start of the race were warmer than I would have preferred (59 degrees), the humidity was at least in the 70% range instead of the usual 90%.  However, by the time I finished my warm up mile I already had a sheen of sweat all over.  When the race began, I knew I would want to go out too hard, so I tried to rein myself in.  However, I hit mile one at 8:22 which was still too fast for what I should be running.  My goal for the race was 1:55, which I thought was reasonable based on my long runs splits in trainin.  This would be an 8:45ish pace and would be a solid half time for me. Since I wanted to try and run consistent splits,  I knew I needed to slow my roll.  When I hit mile 2 at 8:28 pace and felt comfortable, I changed my game plan.  I would try and hit 8:30-8:40 splits as long as I could and then try and hold on to an 8:45.  I figured I would slow down enough to start hitting my 8:45 pace around mile 6 or 7.  As each mile went by, I would glance at my watch and be shocked at my pace.  I was consistently hitting 8:30ish miles and feeling strong!  I kept wondering when the wheels
would fall off and I would start to significantly slow down, but it wasn't happening.  When I reached the turn around at mile 8, I was beginning to hurt, but I tried to simply focus on the runner in front of me and trying to not to let them put any distance between us.  I surprised myself with this tactic because more often than not I would end up overtaking the person in front of me and would have to refocus on a new person.  Around mile 11, I ran into Lauren who was out doing her 18 miler with Amanda.  I didn't realize how bad I was feeling until I saw her and tried to talk to her.  I couldn't speak!  As she ran alongside me to check in on how I was doing, I discovered I couldn't form words!  I would try to say something but it would come out as a groan or slur.  I just kept running and hoped she would understand.  Miles 12 and mile 13 were my slowest miles of the entire race.  Instead of getting that adrenaline surge when you are close to the finish line, I was struggling to put one foot in front of the other.  I was desperately trying to hold my pace under 8:40, but it was too hard. And to make matters worse, the final half mile of the race was uphill!  And not just a little hill, but a really long hill that felt so steep I wondered if I could have walked faster than what I was running.  My average went completely out the window at this point (See splits in picture) and there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it.  When I neared the finish line, a woman passed me who looked to be about my age and I just had to watch her run by.  I wanted to hit 1:55 as my goal, so I was pretty happy to see 1:53 on my watch, but I was very agitated that my splits were all consistent except for mile 13 which was 9:31!

Thanks, Amanda, for capturing exactly how I felt at mile 11!
I felt like I was capable of making top ten in my age group if I ran a 1:55, so my 1:53 got me 6th place out of 39, and 26th  out of 246 females based on final results (this printout was before final results were posted).  The woman who did pass me at the finish line was in my age group and beat me by three seconds, but she deserved it for the way she beasted up the final hill.  I am still a far cry from my 1:48 half best, but I like the fact that I am getting much closer.  I may not get there again, but I am certainly closer than I was a few months ago, and that makes me very, very happy.  My next race coming up in October will be definitely put me out of my comfort zone, but that is how you grow! Happy training!