Half-Marathon #6 Race Report

I finished my 6th half-marathon yesterday in 2:14:12. It was my 3rd fastest half-marathon. I met my goal of a 10:15 pace exactly and worked hard to do it!

The race was tough. I had run 22 miles during the week prior to the race, so I didn't exactly have fresh legs. We ran against a headwind of 10-15 mph for at least 6 or 7 of the 13 miles. And the hills, oh the hills!

I intended to take it easy and run at a comfortably hard pace. I had no intention of trying to PR after my 2:09 three weeks ago. As it turned out, running against that wind turned the comfortably hard pace into very hard pace! I really had to fight to meet my goal of under 2:15.

But it's good to set a goal (albeit a LOW one) and meet it!

The race itself was a bit of a struggle mentally. It turned out to be unseasonably warm--it was about 65 degrees at the start. I was fine and excited at the start, but at the first water stop at 1.7 miles, they had no water. I hadn't worn my fuel belt due to the promise of water stops every two miles. At only 1.7 miles, it was a bit of an annoyance, but I figured I'd live. Then at the 2nd water stop at 3.7 miles, they were also out of water! Now I was getting mad! At this point it was probably above 70 degrees and I was thirsty and needed to take a gel. (Note: I was in the MIDDLE of the field of 850 runners, not in the back. There was no reason for them to be out of water.) Finally, at mile 6, I actually got water at a water stop.

About the 6-mile mark, we turned into this vicious headwind. At 6.55 miles, the half-way point, I was at 1:05 and change, which would have put me at about a 2:10 finish or better if I ran negative splits. However, the 2nd half of this course is very hilly and the wind never let up, so my negative splits went out the window. My knees began to ache and I was feeling nauseous from taking that gel without any fluids earlier. It was kind of miserable.

I chatted with a couple of fellow runners for 5 or 10 minutes here and there, but mostly I was on my own for the whole 2nd half of the race and not having fun. I don't think I smiled the entire time! Nevertheless, I never questioned "Why do I do this to myself??" or wanted to quit running like I did in this same race last year. I just dug in and ran into the wind as best I could.

In the last 2 miles, I realized that I could not walk any and I had to run at a pretty good pace to meet my goal. In 5 of my 6 half-marathons, I've walked a little in those last couple of miles because I was just spent. (NOT in my PR race a few weeks ago though! Got to love a flat course!) It was good to be able to push at the end and I rallied with a 10:05 pace in mile 12 (perhaps a bit too soon) and mile 13 was 10:26. Oh, and the last water stop at mile 11 was also OUT OF WATER. They gave me 1/2 inch, barely a swallow, of Gatorade and a cup of ice. All the ice was stuck together in one big block. I was thinking, "What exactly am I supposed to do with this???"

I was relieved to finish the race and quickly downed a bottle of water. I was a bit dehydrated from the heat and 3 of the 6 water stops not having fluids. It was in the mid to upper 70's when we finished. In November in Tennessee! Crazy!

I waited at the finish line for several of my training group to finish and loudly cheered them in. Then Christie, one of the runners in my group, and I headed back out on the course to run in the last few folks from our group. We saw several runners who were in distress out there. It was near the three-hour mark by this time. Muscle cramps were taking down many runners who had gotten little if any fluids on the course and no electrolytes (that one swallow of Gatorade was the only sports drink available at any of the stops) on an unseasonably hot day. We were carrying water from the finish line and several people at mile 12 asked us for a drink! We gave away all our fluids and a gel I had left over. We ran in the 2nd to last runner from our running group who was suffering severe cramps in her feet, and right behind her we cheered in the last runner from our group at about 3:02. Christie had just run 13.1 for the first time, and by running in the last runners with me, ran a total of 15 miles! That was pretty amazing.

All of the runners I had trained for the half-marathon who started the race, finished the race. (One was with her sick mother and missed the race.) As a coach, it was a great day! My fastest runner ran an amazing 1:53---and he's in the 50-55 age group. In fact, four of my runners were in that age group and all had outstanding races. I applaud their courage---deciding at age 50 to run a half marathon for the first time. I hope I have the courage to seek out new challenges when I'm there in about 11 years! I had three who almost placed for age group awards---they were each in 4th place in their divisions--- 15-19 women's division, 50-55 women's division, and 50-55 men's division--representing the two ends of the spectrum of ages in the group.

My Couch to 5Kers also ran a strong race. I missed it because it was run during the half-marathon. I've got a few who clearly have caught the racing bug. They can't wait to run the next one. And several want to train with me for a half marathon in the spring! (Assuming the Y continues this program!)

So, I'm officially UNEMPLOYED for the time being. I'll start up the new training groups in late January if all goes as planned. It has seriously been the BEST. JOB. EVER.

Here is the Pitt Crew (my last name is Pittman) in our matching shirts pre-race. There were 21 from the group who ran, but several got caught in port-o-potty line during the photo op. I'm on the far left. The back of our shirt says "Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." Hebrews 12:1.

And we did.


Kerrie T. said…
Look at that awesome group of runners! Great job!
Jay said…
Great job Donna and the Pitt Crew. It was great to run with you and thanks for your encouragement over the last 3 months. Even though I am from Elizabethtown now, I kept up with your training blog. In fact, reading your blog got me inspired to run my first half-marathon ever! So congrats Pitt Crew on a great run and God Bless you! JP
Anonymous said…
Great race report! And how awesome to finally see your 'trainees' cross the finish line that YOU helped get them too! Well done!
Awesome job, Donna ... both as a runner and a coach.

And no water?! I am angry on your behalf. Sounds dangerous.
Amy said…
Wow! That's great! Congrats on meeting your goal and helping so many others meet their goals!
Mama said…
Great job running and coaching!

That water thing sounds ridiculous! I've been in races with huge crowds on hot days that run out near the back, but it sounds like they didn't plan well at all.

MCM Mama
Meg Runs said…
Sounds like a fun job that you had and I hope you can do it again, how rewarding!
Sounds like you had kind of a challenging run without water! That happened to me once, no fun!
Great job on your race
Lisa said…
congratulations, coach! I know the feeling of being more proud of your runners than you are of yourself. Great job!

When will race directors learn?? I hate to hear about races running out of water. Unacceptable.

I think I'll continue to wear my hydration belt even in winter half marathons....
Sounds like a rough race! Glad everybody finished! I hope the Y continues such a successful program.
Teamarcia said…
Congrats on a great performance in tough conditions! Cute pic too!
Meg Runs said…
Thanks for such uplifting words and encouragement to make my dreams happen, I needed that today!
Anonymous said…
Great report. I'm so proud of all of us. The Pitt Crew was amazing to be a part of. I hope we have a reunion tour for the 2nd Clarksville Half Marathon. :) Thanks for the shout out. I still can't believe that it was a total of 15 miles that day. I would've never guessed I'd be one to go back for others, but one that someone might come back for. Thanks for all your encouragement, help, training, and friendship. :)