Let’s rewind to last week first before touching on the race recap. I had a pre race blog post ready to go, but decided not to post it after I had some mysterious shin and knee pains. I didn’t want to go in with my expectations out in the open to just absolutely bomb them. So I took things easy, stayed off my feet and decided to accept whatever would happen on Sunday.
I still had a goal that I had written out, but instead of sharing it, I kept it to myself, and honestly, I think it was for the best. In my drafted post, I set out my plan…“Going in, I’m not planning on running a PR. I didn’t train for a PR, and the course is a bit tough from what I’ve heard. So my plan is to run the first 8-9 miles at a 9:20 pace, then drop to 9:10-15 for the final 4 to 5 miles. If I can hang on, then I think I’ll be finishing around a 2:02 time. If the hills really beat me up, and there is a strong possibility of this, then I’ll be around 2:06-2:08.”
And now to Sunday. I got up at 4, ate, stretched and tried to prepare myself for the race. I was feeling more doubt than anything, wondering if I was really ready for this. I knew I had a plan, and if for some reason, things didn’t go as planned, I would still try to do what I could to make it through the race.
I drove to Belden Village to wait for the buses. Unfortunately when I go there the lines were out of control, so we waited, and waited, and by the time we got to the start line, it was already after 7am. Luckily the race was delayed due to the large amount of people who were still waiting for buses. But I couldn’t help but feel that I wasn’t ready, and now feeling rushed.
The race started and we had a bit of an incline, but I used it as a reminder to go out slow. I eventually found an open spot and tried to settle into my pace. I hovered right around a 9:20 pace and felt ok so far. No shin pain, no knee pain. So I told myself to lock it down and just get comfortable.
I zoned in on my pace and thought about my race plan. As long as I felt good as this pace, I wasn’t going to change it. We made our way through city streets, and before the second mile I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned to see Christy, we talked for a moment, and then she was off to continue the marathon. I noticed my pace had quickened, so I tried to reel it back in, focusing on not getting ahead of myself.
Mile 1- 9:21
Miles 2-3 took us through downtown Canton. I actually enjoyed running through the city streets with no traffic and very little spectators. It was refreshing and reminded me of early summer runs while the rest of the world is still sleeping.
Mile 2- 9:04
Mile 3- 9:14
I also knew that we were on the longest street of the course. Market took us all the way to about 4.5 miles in. There were a few rollers, but nothing too terrible. I honestly wondered if the “hills” were just slight inclines that had been over exaggerated. I was still feeling pretty good, despite a bit of head wine, and was still averaging a decent pace to be around 2:02.
Mile 4- 9:28
I took my first Sport Bean at mile 5 and really started to zone out. The course was relatively flat still, and I was actually becoming a bit bored. But then I saw Christy again, and was a little concerned as to how I was able to catch up with her. I saw she was limping, and ran up to her to ask if she was ok. We ran together for a few seconds and then I backed down on my pace. I kept Christy in sight and kept chugging along without going too quick.
Mile 5- 9:23
Mile 6- 9:20
Somewhere around mile 6 I lost sight of Christy, so I kept going, hitting the 10k mark at 58:xx. Feeling good, I zoned out again, trying to focus on keeping my current pace until mile 8 or 9. Then all of a sudden Christy was next to me again. Over the next two miles we didn’t speak, we just ran. We got into a nice rhythm, and even though we were pushing the pace a bit, I felt comfortable.
Mile 7- 9:09
Mile 8- 9:17
After we got to mile 8, I decided to hold onto 9:20 pace for another mile. But unfortunately the hills arrived and they had other plans. Sometime up the first hill and the water stop, I lost Christy. I slowed down a bit, hoping we’d meet up again, but I never found her. So I focused on the hills, repeating to myself that hills were friends, not enemies, I had conquered Effie, I could do any hill.
Mile 9- 9:59
I made it through, but my pace suffered. I continued along, still hoping I’d see Christy, and took my second Sport Bean at mile 9.5. Despite how my legs and hips were starting to feel, this was probably one of my favorite parts of the race. We ran through Stadium Park, and it was beautiful. I wanted to stop and take pictures, but knew I’d never get going again.
I started to get a little warm around this point, and a bit fatigued. I started to count down the miles, noticing my pace wasn’t getting any faster.
At the end of mile 10, we came up a short but steep hill and were met with a view of the McKinley Museum. It was a beautiful view, and gave me a bit of motivation to keep going. But the next two miles were brutal. A continuous incline, my hips were in pain and my legs felt like they couldn’t go any faster. I started to walk some of the bigger hills, pushing myself on the smaller ones. I knew that 2:02 was officially out of sight, but maybe a 2:05 was possible.
Mile 10- 9:25
Mile 11- 10:10
Mile 12- 10:52
The last mile was tough, it was windy and hilly, and my legs were finished. I was ready to be done, but the course just never seemed to end. We passed Fawcett Stadium and did a loop around the Hall of Fame. By now, you could see the look of exhaustion on everyone’s face. After so many turns, I could finally see the entrance to the stadium.
Mile 13- 10:14
Once I entered the side, I heard my name over the speakers. I tried to give it everything I had, but my legs had nothing left to give. I crossed the 50 yard line to the finish of my 21st half marathon with a time of 2:07:03.
50 yard finish
I got my medal and my blanket and took a seat on the field. I felt a bit weak, thinking that I didn’t eat enough Sport Beans during my race. I sat around for a while, until I heard Christy’s name called. Heartbroken, I knew she had dropped to the half instead of working towards her marathon, but I was proud that she had played it safe and made the right call. I met her at the finish and was glad to see that she was in good spirits.
After that, I headed home and really reflected on the race. Even though my splits weren’t perfect, I was on a pretty good pace to end up around 2:02 through mile 8. But just as I suspected, the hills got the best of me, and oddly enough I ended up right between my back up time of 2:06-2:08.
After 21 half marathons, I think I finally have them figured out. I tested a 14 week training cycle, and it worked out really well. I knew what pace I could comfortably handle, and where I would land if I had some trouble with hills. I truly wasn’t sure what to expect, mostly because I was nervous about the what ifs. All year I’ve been nervous to race again, nervous to get back out there. I’m still a bit disappointed with my Wineglass race, but after Sunday’s race, I was finally excited to race again, finally feeling like myself. I think I’m ready to push myself again.
All in all, this was a great race. The bus situation was a bit stressful, but in due time, I’m sure those kinks will get worked out. Other than that, everything else was very well run, considering they’re only in their second year. The course, while full of some small rollers, has some tough hills in the second half. I didn’t do enough hill workouts, but if you prepare properly, they should be pretty manageable. And the best part of the race? Not only do you get a tech tee and medal, but you also score a really nice fleece blanket.
So my first big race is done for the year. It was one of my strongest training cycles, and one of my stronger half marathons. I’m excited to see what else this year has for me. On to the next!
Official Time: 2:07:03
AG 25-29: 42/119