Sunday, November 20, 2016

Star City Half Marathon 2016

By far the best race I've had in a long time!  Crossed the finish line in 1:30:28, feeling strong, successful, and happy!

My biggest challenge/concern for the race was to not start out too fast.  I knew if I started too fast, I would die later in the race and not have a strong finish.  However, I was also worried about starting too slow and never getting up to pace, or not being able to get fast enough to balance out the slow miles for an average pace I could be happy with.  I thought about scrolling through the options on my watch to have my pace on the screen and try to keep it somewhere between 7 and 7:30 for the first mile, but the pace feature isn't that accurate while running, and I don't think staring at my watch is the way to go.  My best races were run without a watch, but I refuse to run watchless now that I have Strava because I would hate to pass up the opportunity to look at my race stats afterward.  I knew my best chance for a successful race was first of all to not get carried away with the front of the pack, and to run entirely by feel and not look at the watch.  "Conveniently" it was chilly and I was wearing a pullover with thumb holes for the race.  I put the watch underneath the sleeve, and once I made sure it was running, I put my thumbs in the thumb holes and never looked at my watch (til the last mile).

I started out the race at a nice easy pace.  I was worried that I was going too slow and that I wouldn't be able to get up to speed, but I made myself keep the pace til after I passed the first mile marker.  Then I let myself open up just a bit.  I passed a few other women in the next 2 miles.  As I passed each mile marker and still felt good, I pushed the pace a little bit more.  I was slowly picking off people one at a time.  I concentrated on my breathing periodically to make sure I was breathing deeply, as I have a tendency to breathe really shallowly and that doesn't help the asthma issues. I spent a few miles in the middle debating whether I needed an extra hit off the inhaler or not.  I didn't want to use it if I didn't need it, but I didn't want to wait too long and let my legs go into oxygen debt with miles to go either.  Around mile 9 I caved and let myself take half a dose.  I was still pushing a little harder with each passing mile, and I could feel that I was going to struggle for oxygen.

I had no idea what kind of pace I was running, but I was feeling strong and hoped it was a good one.  With about 3/4 of a mile to go, a kid passed me, and as he ran by he said "we're under 1:30, come on and push to the finish."  It almost didn't register in my mind, because I didn't believe I could actually be running that well, but after a slight delay I kicked into the reserves I didn't know I had and put in the energy to keep up with him.  I was getting warm and had wanted to pull my sleeves up but hadn't because I didn't want to see my watch.  At that point, I pulled up the sleeves.  We were at 12.4 miles and 1:26 on the clock.  I gave the rest of that race everything I had.  As I came within sight of the finish I could see the clock just past 1:30.  I pushed and got across the line before the seconds got to 30.  My watch hadn't quite reached 13.1 yet, I think it was just over 13, so I kept going after the line, but I couldn't go very fast because of the finish line crowd.  My watch hit the 13.1 at 1:30:47.  I am extremely grateful to that 15 year old who was kind enough to tell the girl he passed that we were under 1:30 and encourage her to push harder!  I would have had a good time regardless, but I would not have broken 1:31, and it's possible that if I hadn't sped up I actually would have slowed down, as I was tiring and losing steam.  Finding out how close I was to my former half marathon times gave me the extra boost of adrenaline that I needed.

I was 2nd female and 18th overall.  I knew I was in second place for most of the race because several volunteers told me as I passed them, but I never laid eyes on first place.  She ended up finishing in 1:27.  I hope to get there in the not too distant future, but I know I'm not there yet!

Finisher medal, Triple Crown medal (for running all three Roanoke 1/2s this year), 2nd place plaque, and my winnings : winter running mittens and a hat

All-in-all, a pretty consistent race!  The slowest mile was the only one with a significant hill, so it makes sense that it was slower. And it was a tough hill!  (I loved it of course)

My calves were getting a bit cramped after the race, since I wore my race shoes even though the course was pretty flat.  They aren't great for flat terrain heel striking over long distances.  They are a better shoe for shorter/faster races, but I can also get away with them in longer races if there are enough hills.  Anyway, I decided to try out the post race massage tent for the first time ever.  I let someone roll out my calves with a torture stick, and it was definitely worth it!  She rolled the tight muscles til they loosened up, and probably saved me from several days of calf pain. 

And it wouldn't be a race weekend without finding some delicious food!
Friday dinner : Pesto Chicken Montabello at Ragazzi's

Post-race Lunch : Lad Na at Taste of Asia
I also had a salmon-avocado sushi roll, but ate it too fast to take a photo.

Post-race Dinner : Bacon Cheeseburger at Wasena City Tap Room

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