Monday, April 28, 2014

Anatomy of a Half Marathon PR

I would LOVE to tell you all the details and pre-planning and huge amounts of training and prep work that went into my half marathon PR at the MORE half marathon on April 13th.  The real truth is I had been so focused on my triathlon and not ticking off my hurt foot I hadn't been running much at all.  The triathlon the day before only needed a two mile run so I was running three miles at most and doing a lot of interval training.  The night before I did not do my normal routine, I barely ate because I had a late lunch, I didn't hydrate enough, about the only thing I did right was go to bed SUPER early because I was completely exhausted.

That morning I woke up feeling terribly dehydrated and started sucking down major amounts of water, something I NEVER do the morning of a race after having to pee my second half marathon and wasting 10 minutes in the bathroom line.  Jamie arrived and I was a MESS.  I hadn't picked up what I was going to wear, I was sucking down water and chowing down on cream of wheat.  This is NOT the way I normally do race mornings AT ALL.  I threw on a brand new pair of shorts, I literally ripped off the tag and said yep these are brand new oh well. It is pretty funny how comfortable you get once you have run a certain number of races.

We wandered over to Central Park and it was pretty crowded.  I ate my chews and I had brought a whole bottle of water with me. Jamie and I chatted and we were each going to run our own race.  She was going to try and break 2 hours and I had no expectations just wanted to cross the finish line.  We were in the same corral and then I said bye as she ran off at the start.  I settled into an easy pace but then felt oh no I have to pee.  The line at the first porta potties was LONG so I said ok suck it up.  As I rounded towards Cat Hill I was never so happy to see the boathouse.  No line, I was in and out QUICKLY and I was so happy.  Got back into the groove of things and found myself catching up to the 2:10 pacer.  I looked at my watch saw my pace was 9:15, realized I felt great and then said oh well guess we will see how long this lasts.

That first lap of the park, the whole 6 almost 7 miles felt like a walk in the park.  I was going at an easy pace keeping up with the 2:10 pacer with no issues.  I was stopping at every water stop to drink a little water and then would run and catch back up to the pacer.  That little difference of stopping and drinking my water really settled my stomach.  At mile 6 I opened my chews, now if you follow my blog you know I like to throw up, or well I don't like to throw up but my stomach always feels the need to puke.  So this time I had two chews at mile 6, drank my water and walked a little.  At mile 7 I had two more chews and walked a little drinking my water.  Mile 8 I did the same thing.  Wow I felt amazing, I was keeping with that pacer and feeling great.  THEN came the second trip up Harlem Hill.  Now at this point I was really running at percieved effort.  I have been training with a heart rate monitor in my zones but I wanted to race more free form.   It was working extremely well and about half way up harlem hill where you curve around and then see the hill continues my body said, "Stop and walk so you can finish strong".  As I let that pacer go I was frustrated and kicking myself but I knew it was the right choice, my heart rate had gone too high.  I didn't even know what my rate was but I knew my effort was too much.  At the top of the hill I ran to the next water stop, walked with my water and regrouped.

Those rolling hills of the park post Harlem Hill are decieving because they are no where near as large as Harlem hill but they are still difficult.  I never caught back up to that 2:10 pacer but I just kept telling myself as long as you don't see that 2:30 pacer you are fine.  Coming around towards the finish I walked a little bit but I felt good.  I was walking with a purpose, bring down my heart rate so I could sprint it out at the end.  I know that course pretty well as I spent most of my marathon training in the park so I knew exactly where I could start sprinting.  Oh my did I sprint, my face was so determined some guy yelled "Now THAT is a game face".  2:14:24.  Holy crap.  If someone I knew had been right there I would have jumped on them in a hug.  I got my medal, my heart was racing not from running but sheer excitement.

Finally I found Jamie and all I could do was show her my watch.  She screamed, I screamed, she said she made it under 2 hours, I screamed, she screamed.  We were SO excited! 13 minutes off my old PR, a whole minute for EVERY mile of the race.  My multisport training is paying off.  I honestly think that also my more laid back approach and lowered expectations really helped.  Also I think my new method of walking to really drink that water, let it settle and also get my heart rate to drop was the difference.  My legs were definitely sore the next several days so I need to improve my lactic acid recovery but that will come with more longer runs.

Feeling STRONG!


Did I mention I was EXCITED

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