An Average Half Marathon #15 Race Report

On Saturday, I ran the Go Commando Half Marathon in my hometown of Clarksville, Tennessee.  It was a gorgeous fall day.   I only had to drive about 17 minutes to the start.   I was feeling pretty good--- for a change.  

Since running 13.1 at an average 9:32 pace (I think) at the Music City Half, I'd been having some leg fatigue.  I was incredibly sore for three days.   I ran one mile the next day for active recovery and my hamstrings were screaming!  The next day I ran around 2 miles again for active recovery.  It hurt to use my hamstrings to lift my leg each step.   Finally, that night I spent some quality time with my foam roller and The Stick before bed, and the next morning I felt great.  I ran a speedy five miles at about a 9:50 pace.   (That's speedy for me.)   Then I ran a few speed intervals the following day and an easy 2.5 the one after that.    Then it was time for my Saturday long run of 16 miles. 

I. Had. No. Juice.    Shocking, isn't it?  I didn't take a single day off the week following my half, ran fast again too soon (and two days in a row),  and my legs were DEAD 9 miles into my 16.    So, I took an unscheduled "drop down" week.   I ran four miles, walked two, ran five, and walked two.  That still equals a half marathon!    I listened to my body.   There is a fine line between listening to your body and "wimping out," but I think I made the wise choice.

Go Commando race week arrived.   I knew I couldn't take ANOTHER drop back week with the marathon looming, so I ran a good bit last week.   I ran 8.5 on Monday, I think maybe 3 on Tuesday, and 2 on Thursday.  I did take two rest days, and it was all I could do to NOT run.   We were having our fall peak here in Tennessee, and I just wanted to be outside! 

I had trained 16 athletes for this event through the YMCA.  (I'm a RRCA certified running coach.)   The day was much more about them meeting their goal than about me.   I was soooo excited for them.

My race was pretty uneventful.  I got up and ran a mile on my treadmill at home.  Then I ran another one prior to the race.  I felt good at the start.  I knew I wanted to get in 16-18 miles total.  I knew I wasn't "racing" it.   I wasn't excited about doing 3 or 4 more at the end.   By now, running 13.1 isn't too intimidating any more, but running 16-18 still is! 

It was an extremely hilly course.   I went out at about a 9:45-10 minute pace.  I was running by feel.  If I felt like 10:15 was the right pace, I was going to go out at that, but 9:45-50 felt right.   The first 4 miles were really hilly, but I had no trouble maintaining that pace.  We got a break from the hills from miles 4-6 and then constant up and down hills again until 10.5.   I was happy to be pretty comfortable with just under a 10-minute pace for the first half of the race.   However, around mile 6 (really mile 8 for me), I noticed the miles passing a bit slowly.  

My energy started flagging around mile 8.  Miles 8-10 were extremely tough with steep hills.  I was falling into the 10:15-20 range, which was fine with the hills.  At race mile 8, I felt like my legs were getting heavier and heavier.  I knew the half two weeks ago was catching up to me.   At mile 10 (really 12 for me), I slowed way down.   Again, just like in the last race, mile 10 was my slowest of the day at 11:20.  There was a LARGE uphill in mile 10 and I walked a bit of it.  And when I wasn't walking, I was running very slowly.   I had hit a bit of a wall.   My right ankle was really hurting in mile 10.   Miles 7-10 had been on an unevenly cambered road, putting additional pressure on my bad ankle.

Finally, miles 11 to the end were flat.  I was hoping to get down into the 9:30's, but I couldn't.   I was able to maintain a 10:00 flat pace in those miles and my ankle hurt, but not as much as on the hills.   At that point, my friend Marlene went on ahead.   In the last mile, my friend Amy caught up to me and said, "Let's finish this thing together," but I couldn't keep up.  She dropped into the low 9's or faster and left me behind.   Marlene and Amy both finished about a minute before I did.   I could see them up ahead, but my legs would not get me there!

In the last .05, I did pass a chick pushing a double jogger, so that was good.   And I went across the finish line "Gangnam Style" (google it) like I joked that I would.    2:14:17, about a 10:10 pace.  I may have been a sub-10 average if not for that 11:20 mile in mile 10. 

The finish line food was a LONG walk away, so I bought an orange/pineapple juice from a booth set up by the Humane Society  (yay for emergency money in my fuel belt!), then I headed back out on the course to run in my athletes and any friends I saw out there.  The OJ gave me a nice little surge of energy.

For the next two hours, I ran the same little strip of 1/4 to 1/2 mile over and over and over.   First, I ran the last .25 of the course with my friend Andrea.  Then Kelli from my training group.  Then Dorothy from my running club. Then Yolanda from my group. Then Gena from my group.  Then Katie and Beverly from my group.   Then Valerie from my group (so proud of her---first half marathon at the age of 58!!).   Then Lori from my group.  Then Jennifer from my group.  Then Lanelle and her 16-year old daughter Ashley from my group.  And finally, Luke from my group.  He had been sick with a stomach flu the day before the race.  Proud of him for getting out there at all.   (I hope I didn't forget anyone---it's a bit of a blur....)   After I watched Luke cross the finish, I walked slowly to my car and my Garmin clicked over to 18.01 miles--- or 20.01 for the day.   Whew.   More than I planned, but I got to see all my people finish (except the 3 who beat me!!).

I hopped into the car and rushed to my daughter's soccer game (missed the 1st quarter) and then we went to lunch.   I finally got lunch at 1:00 p.m. and to rest around 3:00 p.m.   It was a very long day.

I was hurting by that evening and the next day, especially my ankle.  I would never run 12 miles at 10:00 minute pace or faster during a 20-miler normally, and I paid the price.   My right ankle and also right foot pain actually woke me up at 5:00 a.m. the next morning and I discovered I could barely walk on it.   THAT freaked me out a bit.    I soaked it in ice water for a long time and be nighttime, it was better.   As I write this on Monday, I think it's going to be ok. 

The reason I titled this an AVERAGE half marathon is because for me, 2:14 - 2:15 is about an average day on a half-marathon course.  I count sub 2:15 as a pretty good day actually.   In my 15 half marathons, I have run 6 of them in that 2:14-15 range.  Here are my times from fastest to slowest:  (I remember each of these races well!)
2:14:17  ** this one
2:19:01  first one!
2:27:58---but it was a TRAIL half marathon---totally different animal

So, yes, it was a pretty AVERAGE half marathon time for me right down to that mile 10 wall I almost always hit!     The best part was seeing ALL MY ATHLETES from my 13 weeks to 13.1 program finish the race.   Mission accomplished!