Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Freedom Half Marathon Race Report

Before the Race -
I have wanted a sub 1:50 since last spring when my knee gave me issues and my goal slipped out of my hands at the National Half as a hobbled across the finish line in pain. I felt like I missed my chance again this fall when I messed up at the San Jose RnR half. Going into this race I didn't feel like I was prepared or trained to run a sub 1:50 and wasn't expecting much other than a fun run.

When the alarm went off at 5:10 I hurried up and got dressed and we were out the door by 5:30. I went with classic USA colors as this was the Freedom Half to support wounded soldiers. And I am happy to say my sparkle skirt was the perfect for this outfit! GO USA!

red, white, & blue + some water

I ate my bagel as soon as I got in the car to give my belly a full hour and half to let my food digest. I was not going to let my stomach be the reason I failed and suffered through yet another race.

We had given ourselves an hour to get up to Norfolk, but it ended up only taking a half hour with no traffic, better safe than sorry, right? So, we just chilled out in the warm car for a half hour then made our way to the start line at 6:30. I really just had enough time to wait in line for the bathrooms and then make my way to the corrals.

Umm...why didn't I get out the car sooner?

It was pretty start line and right on the water. It was a smaller race of about 1200 runners and we weren't assigned corrals so I just put myself in corral 5.

I went to start up my garmin 405 and it was frozen with 5:42 on it. The exact time I had locked the bezel in the morning. WTF.THIS.IS.NOT.HAPPENING!!! But, yeah it was! Yet another race without a watch!! This stupid 405 is the worst watch in the world!!! The last 5 races it has failed me! I would have been nice to know my splits, etc, etc, etc. I was in panic mode, but really there was nothing I could do about it and the gun had just went off.

all I want for x-mas is a garmin that works!
The Race -
Once we were all running, I remembered that this was just a fun race and that I didn't care about my time anyhow and told myself to just relax. There are worst things in the world than running a race without a watch on. But, within seconds after crossing the timing matt I called BS on myself: "I don't want to run this just to run another 13.1 miles, I want to run this under 1:50."

Mile 1 - 2.5
All mile markers were only spray painted on the road, I actually didn't see any of them the entire race.
I knew I couldn't really pace myself without my watch, so in a split decision as weeding through people (why did I put myself in corral 5?) I was on a mission to find the 1:50 pace group. I was sucking wind hard as I passed the 2:15 group. I continued to run which felt like a 7:00 minute pace and caught up the 2:00 hour pace group. I knew I was running too fast and would burn out soon. Where the heck was the 1:50 group??? Oh yeah there wasn't one. I continued to hall ass until I finally saw the 1:45 pace group! Thank god! Once I met up with them I slowed my pace way down and holding a 8 minute pace felt easy. My heart was much happier with me.

Miles 3 - 7
The pace felt great and even though I was over heating a bit (long pants, why?) I wasn't too bad. I kept thinking in my head that I could run a 1:43 because I started the race before the 1:45 pace group and had caught up to them. I don't know where I came up with 1:43 as my new goal instead of simply wanting to run 1:49, but I loved the idea and started writing my blog post in my head. It was also great to run in the group and chit chat and make new race besties that made the time fly by. It actually didn't feel like I was running a race at all, it felt like I was on a Saturday group run or something. Plus I was feeling really good, no stomach issues and my legs were happy. The guy leading the group - thank you so much - called out our split at the 7 mile mark - 58 minutes I believe. I got excited and knew this was totally doable with only 6 miles left.

Miles 7 - 11
I stuck up a conversation with a guy in the pace group who was wearing a Conte's shirt. We talked about all things triathlons. He had done 3 Ironmans and was giving me all kinds of good advice. Before I knew it, we were at the 10 mile mark! I had missed our pacer yell out the splits at miles 8 and 9 so I was pretty excited to find out another 2 miles had gone by. Now usually the 10 mile mark is were I start to fall apart in a race, but I was still feeling great!!! OMG ..1:43 you are so mine! The group at this point started to break up as some people sprinted ahead. I had thought about trying to negative split, but really wanted to wait until I was two miles out. Then something happened at mile 11... a hill... not even that big of a hill, but never the less I lost the pacer ... and I couldn't catch back up to him. NO!!! This is not happening!!

Miles 11 - 13.1
Yep. It was happening. This race was no longer rainbows and kitty cats ... I was no longer feeling strong and the group was gone. WTF, I had stayed with them the entire race and now I couldn't hold an 8 minute pace for 2 crappy miles. I started to get mad at myself, I started wishing I had my watch for the first time that I started so I could push myself when I looked down and saw a slow pace. I think I pretty much had a pity party for myself all of mile 11 and every time I tried to pick the pace back up my stomach started to turn and twist. Actually I had no clue when mile 11 ended and mile 12 started, but I stopped feeling sorry for myself and kept pushing myself as I could see the 1:45 pacer in the distance. Then, I rounded a corner and could see the finish line!!!!

Thank goodness, I was almost there. I saw Jason and Jill cheering for me and found my last bit of energy to sprint to the finish line and smile like I was having the best time in the world. I looked up and saw 1:45:53 as I crossed under the arch.

I was happy because I knew I didn't start at the same time as the clock and knew my time would be faster than that. A PR and under 1:50 !!!! finally after almost a year and 5 half marathons later!! I guess the new saying should be the fifth one is the charm, not the third one.

After the race -
I wanted to jump up and down because I was so excited, but the only thing I could do was look for a trash can... great... I couldn't find one and just leaned over the gate and puked! I guess PRing by 6 minutes makes you puke? One of the volunteers asked if I was ok and I said I just needed some water than I made my way over to my cheering section and cheered on some of the other runners as they made their way to the finish line.


This is also the nicest looking medal I have ever gotten at a race :)

 Official time: 1:44:55 which got me this: overall 142/1204, division: 5/80

Thoughts -
Since I thought this race was going to be a joke, I didn't stress for weeks over what the time on the clock might read. I loved this course and the weather! I think the two combined together is really the reason I did so well. Plus, lets not forget about the pacer. I had never ran with the pace group at races before but it was the best experience ever! It was nice to run with a group and it really helped to pace and motivate me. I think I will always find the pace group now to run with during races. It was so much fun. It also helps that I had a great support group! It really means a lot to me to have my friends out there and my M cheering for me!

I am so excited that I PRed, but at the same time I feel like I could have pushed myself harder those last two miles and had an even better time. Which leads me with one question: "Are we every happy with ourselves or do we always want more?" My goal was to run a 1:49 and I ran that with minutes to spare. Why in the world am I also disappointed? I shouldn't be and I'm not really, but I still just am not satisfied with myself. Never the less I am excited to end my half marathon season with a great race!


  1. Holy mother of PR's!!!! Awesome job!

  2. Congrats on your HUGE PR! You should be celebrating a fantastic race.

    I think the no stress, no watch, letting a pacer do the pacing thing really worked for you. Maybe do that next time, too?

  3. CONGRATS! So exciting. I always seem to do best at races with no pressure or build-up. Also, the minute I took my bike computer off my bike and stopped using a Garmin for every run...my paces began to drop drastically!

  4. It sounds like you might need to update your Garmin software. There are directions on the website. A lot cheaper than a new one! But congratulations on the race! I know exactly how you feel about still wanting more--I guess that's why we keep racing.

  5. Congratulations on smashing your goal! And I actually think part of the problem with being a runner is that we are never satisfied. On the positive side, it keeps us motivated to push and run every year. On the negative, it leads to disappointment with great race times like this one.

  6. Congrats on your PR! I had really good luck in Baltimore when I didn't look at my watch. I guess sometimes it's better not to have all of that information
    PS. Jealous of the medal! Looks awesome :)

  7. Congrats on the huge PR! I think it's funny how we often do well in races we don't focus on. I guess the key is to figure out how to avoid stressing out over A races. Let me know if you figure it out. :)

  8. Woohoo!!!! I agree with Allison-- we need to figure out how to avoid stressing over the A races. We all run so much better when we are relaxed! HUGE CONGRATS to you and your massive PR. It just goes to show that you were probably in shape for 1:50 long ago, but things just never lined up for you. Maybe you just needed to let go and not think about it too much! You KILLED that race!

  9. After I read your comment I went back and read this post to hear about your sub 1;50! Crazy that it took you 4 tries yet you completely crushed it on a day you didn't even think you would. Maybe there is hope for me! :) I gotta find a pace group!