Sunday, April 19, 2015

1:58:39

A good race involves four components, some of which are easier to control than others:
1. Good training
2. Good health
3. Good weather (sunny and cool)
4. Good course (flat)

Going in to the Martian, my training and health were both excellent. The course is decent - not great, but predictable and I know the hill locations. The morning was spot-on perfect weather, upper 60s and full sun. For a race that didn't start until 8:45, however, it was hot! I stepped outside very comfortably in shorts and a t-shirt and probably should have swapped out the knee socks for ankle length ones.

I got to the race with plenty of time to spare, downed a Red Bull and met up with the 2:00 pace group. It's kind of sad - after the thousands of miles and dozens of races I've done, I trusted the pacer more than myself. I've gotten really close to breaking 2 hours, but any extra help is good, and while I'm not normally one for staying with a pace group, it was worth a try.

We started out fast!!!! To break 2 hours, one needs an average pace of 9:09. The first mile was an 8:58 and he blew through the first water table. I finally said "Pacer guy, what's your name?" Then I asked "Ron" about his strategy, if he would be walking through water, starting fast, going consistent throughout, etc. He said "I never stop! haha We'll do this the whole way." Ok.

At the start he had 30-40 people running with him. By mile 7, it was half that. "Hey Ron," I said, "You're going way too fast. We haven't run a single 9:09 yet." He said he liked to have a little time cushion for the last few miles, and I've talked with pacers in the past, who have all been instructed to finish 1 minute faster than goal. Even though every mile was in the 8:50s, I stayed with him, occasionally falling back a few steps for water, but always catching up.

It was hot and had reached the 70s after an hour. I was pouring sweat. I ran most of it slightly light-headed, but Ron was always within 5 seconds of me. Around mile 9 I said "Tomorrow is my birthday. Everyone keeps asking me what I want, what I want to do. All I want is to break 2 hours." "We'll get you there," he promised.

Mile 11.5 I walked a few paces for water and he pulled ahead a little. It would have been sooooooo easy to watch him go and numbly give up. "Do it girl!" I said out loud, "Less than 20 minutes. Do it!" I caught up again, only to lose him at mile 12.1. He looked back a few times and I was always there. "Who put this huge hill here?" I asked, catching up to him again at 12.5.

Mile 12.8 was another uphill, and Ron and his two remaining runners pulled ahead again. I hit the top of the hill, saw them, saw the finish and I was off! "Go girl!" he yelled as I blew past him and surged across the finish line. Victory!

Official time: 1:58:39 baby! I was 14th out of 122 in my age group. I PRed by +/- 3:30 over the Rock CF half. More remarkable is that in one year, I improved 10:10, from a 2:08:49 to a 1:58:39. Crazy! :D I had long considered running Toledo's half next Sunday, but I'm going to skip it and save my money this year. What else do I possibly need to prove (in the half)???

2015 PR count: 3 half marathon, 3 PRs - 6 total races, 5 PRs

Evidently I had 5 water breaks, looking at the time chart :)

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