Friday, December 28, 2012

Kiawah Island half: 2012 training pays off

Finally, my last big race of the year is complete! After training for a marathon in the spring, then dropping down to the 5k for the summer and early fall, it was time to meet in the middle and run a half marathon.  

I felt nervous about my goal pace and had doubts that I could actually maintain it for 13.1 miles. The night before the race, I sat in the hotel room and fiddled with a pace calculator, slightly altering the pace or time to see if I could land on a pace-time combo that I felt comfortable with. "Oh well, I’ll just stick with my original goal and see what happens." 1:28 was my target. 

Despite my nervousness about pacing, I was excited to run the course.  Driving on Kiawah is kind of magical. They have a lovely combination of huge, old live oak trees draped with hanging Spanish moss and palm trees. It’s like haunted swamp meets beach paradise. It’s weird and amazing at the same time. 
Are there ROUSs here?
Race day:
Perfect day for a race on Kiawah Island. It must have been 50 degrees and overcast at the start. I began the race conservatively, and was a few seconds slower than my goal pace as I warmed up and got into the groove. 

Mile 1: 6:52
Mile 2: 6:41
Mile 3: 6:44
Mile 4: 6:42
Mile 5: 6:40

Signs you're not racing hard enough: SMILING MID-RACE.
Then I sat on my goal pace for a few miles until I saw my beau, who had already turned around on the small out and back portion of the course.  He looked like he was racing, and I felt like I was…running a tempo run? "What am I doing right now?!" I was WAY too comfortable considering I was halfway into a RACE. "Time to let the hammer drop!" Commence progression. 

Mile 6: 6:37
Mile 7: 6:39
Mile 8: 6:37 *
Mile 9: 6:38
Mile 10: 6:28

*I have to send out a huge thanks to a lady that helped me push the pace. I had had her in my sights for a while and was finally catching up to her. She was resisting my passing attempts, but finally I caught up to her and asked, "Do you think we can catch those ladies up there?"  As a road-killing team, we ended up running several miles together and she really helped me push through 8-10. 

Once I hit mile 10, I figured I'd just race the last few miles with whatever else I could muster. 

Mile 11. 6:25
Mile 12. 6:22
Mile 13. 6:20

Crossed the finish line in 1:26:35. Blink. What was that time on the clock?! Comfortably a minute and a half faster than my goal…"How the heck did that happen?"  I guess that’s what a year’s worth of continuous training will do for you! Mustering up a 6 minute PR for my last race of 2012 = great feeling.
Pelican trophies! Mine is the small one...
 After the race I got to meet a twitter buddy, Elizabeth, in real life (her race recap here)! Also met her friend Corey who raced as well (her race recap here)! Always great meet other running ladies.

 Also kudos to the race staff: despite crazy traffic pre-race, they had a very efficient shuttle system complete with port-a-johns in the field where people were parking their cars. Everyone made it to the start in a timely fashion. Well done! 

After the race we got to enjoy the sights of Charleston. Amazing city folks! They have preserved all their historic buildings and it is absolutely adorable. They also have tons of delicious restaurants within a 10 block radius. Highly recommended for the history buff, the foodie, and the architect. 

Pineapple Fountain

horse and carriage + awesome old house + my finger. Oops

Cute streets of Charleston

Monday, December 3, 2012

Pre-race ponderings

13.1 in T-minus 5 days. Here are some musings.

- I don’t feel ready.  I have yet to complete a full training cycle for a half marathon, but have done a couple abbreviated, half-baked ones. This is no exception! I have only done 2-3 half marathon specific workouts this fall, while the rest were geared towards shorter distances.
-Racing keeps getting scarier. I mean, not really. There's nothing on the line or anything, but as I set my goal pace faster and faster, it feels scarier and I feel more vulnerable. Finally I have more empathy for something I once criticized Kara Goucher for.  She did an article with Runner’s World about her self-doubts and lack of confidence issues that she battles if she lets her mind take the reins. When I first read it, I was downright appalled. An American record holder doubts her talent??? What is wrong with that lady?!?! I love Kara Goucher now and think she’s incredibly inspiring…but it’s taken me awhile to appreciate her struggles. Although I am NO WHERE NEAR her in terms of talent (duh), I can still relate to her description of the start line. It’s far too easy to look around and think, “whoa, all these other people look super fit and fast. I bet they are so much faster than me. Maybe I don't belong here. Blah blah blah.” The mind can be a huge detriment if you let it run hog-wild through negative-thinking land.  I think my own fears are really tied up with disbelief.  "THAT'S my goal pace? Can I run that fast?" This is actually a blessing in disguise; it means I have come a long way in my running and my brain doesn’t quite believe it yet!

-So ready for down time. Boy, so happy to be tapering.  A couple of days this week my feelings towards running were...lackluster, while usually I'm motivated and thrilled by the thought of running. The effects of training solidly this fall are catching up to me, apparently. I’m very ready for R&R and to get reacquainted with cross training. Spinning, lifting weights, yoga, boot camp, you name it!

-Excited for a destination race.  Time to see what Charleston, SC is all about!