Thursday, January 30, 2014

Celebration Half Marathon Recap: A PR!

On Sunday, I ran the inaugural Celebration Half Marathon. I think at one point months ago I contemplated running the full, but then I snapped back to reality and told my marathon brain to shutup. I am so glad I did not run the full. I heard many great things about the race from full marathoners - well organized, lots of support, more spectators than expected, etc. but I could not imagine doing two loops on that course.

Craig and I had a carpool date with Victoria and so in the wee hours of the morning we snuck over to her casa and she chauffeured us on down to Celebration. We were concerned about parking but literally found tons of open spaces about a quarter mile from the start. Score.

I was bragging about the fact that I took two Immodium (one the night before and one the morning of) so that I did NOT have to defile the port a potties. There is something about a race (even a teeny tiny 5k) that makes my stomach go haywire. I tried this method for Disney and it worked like a charm. Well, I guess my stomach is stronger than I think (not sure if this is good or bad) because it said, "Screw you, Immodium," and I ended up cutting about a hundred people in line to abuse that port a potty. I guess I am upgrading to three Immodium. I do not know if I should be proud or ashamed about this.

Even though I used the port a potty a total of THREE times, when we lined up at the race start I had to pee again. I contemplated how many people would notice me squatting in the bushes before the race, and then just told myself that if worst came to worst I could just pee on myself while running and everyone would think it was sweat. Yes, these were real thoughts. Sorry, Victoria for thinking about peeing on myself and then riding home on your leather seats. In all seriousness though, if it meant a PR, I would probably do it. No shame over here.

But, I digress...the race started after a national anthem that was sung by a woman and not the man advertised. Victoria and I started with the 3:40 marathon pacer (8:24/mile pace). Let me tell you, this man was booking it. My first mile was 8:20. He was a good ten seconds ahead of me. I wanted him to be my rabbit and eventually pass him, but he was going way too fast so I decided to play it safe. I honestly was not thinking about PR'ing because I was two weeks out from my last marathon and had not run much, or very hard since. This was a race to see where I was at, speed wise.

Victoria stuck with the pacer and I watched her short self pass me and thought, "Dammit man." I wanted to run faster at that point, but I kept telling myself to run my own race. Run MY pace, not anyone else's.

I settled into a running groove that scared the crap out of me. I was running miles in the 8:00-8:20 range and that is rare for a half mary. My half marathon pace is 8:43 (and that's my PR) - usually I run about an 8:40 pace the first ten miles, then hit the wall and shuffle to the finish around 8:50-9:00/mile paces for the last 5k. Seeing miles clocking in at 8:15 scared me because I felt like I just might fall over and die by mile 10 if I kept that up. Surprisingly, I did not. I had a steady pace for miles 2-10. I felt good. I felt like I was maintaining a comfortably hard pace. I wasn't dying, but it wasn't easy either. I hit the 10k around 51:00 and I was still going strong. My splits miles 1-9 were: 8:20, 8:13, 8:15, 8:18, 8:09, 8:04, 8:07, 8:17, 8:18.

I hit the 15k around 1:17. A new 15k PR. I've never run one under 1:19. This was an 8:16/mile pace. I was thinking at this point that I was the biggest badass in the world, and wtf was going on. So unreal. I felt good  though...until the dreaded mile 11, my archnemesis. This is where I usually slow down, and I did slow down but not by nearly as much as normal. Miles 11,12, and 13 were: 8:34, 8:46, 8:39. The last .22 was a 7:58 pace.

This is good news for my running. I'm starting to hit the wall at the same point, but it is having less impact on my speed. I realized I had a chance of a 1:50 half marathon around mile 11.5 and I picked up the pace a little bit more. I still had something in me. I wasn't letting this race go.

At mile 13, I saw the finish. I will add that mile 13 on my Garmin came earlier than mile 13 on the course, but I expected that. My official Garmin distance was 13.22. Not terrible, but I have run the tangents better for sure. I could have had a sub 1:50 time if I had actually run a 13.1. I was giving it my all at this point (which was a 7:58 all needs to get faster) and I knew this was a big PR. I crossed the finish line and was so freaking proud of myself. Official time: 1:50:28. A 4 minute PR. This really was a Celebration half marathon (hehehe, I had to).

It doesn't happen if you don't take a picture of your Garmin.

I met Katy earlier that morning and she finished right after me with a PR! So awesome. I finally also got to meet Michelle and even got to stalk her baby Evan when her family was at the finish. (He is as cute as his Instagram pics). Michelle PR'd too which is amazing! It was PR city. We snapped a cute pic and got to chat for a bit after the race.

Lovely ladies (photo cred: Victoria)

My runnin' buddy. 

What is even cooler than PR'ing is that I WON MY AGE GROUP! As in, first place. Never happened in a half marathon before. Yay yay yay!


Thoughts on the race:

This course was fast and flat. I loved it. Half the time I wondered where the heck I was at, and where I might be going (lots of neighborhood loops and running through preserve boardwalks) but it still was a good course. I got to see a lot of identical white houses with picket fences that I could never keep clean. The support was EXCELLENT. Water at almost every single mile and they were also handing out Cliff bar gels, which I ended up taking. I would run this again in a heartbeat. Honestly, for a first race I was expecting a lot worse, so I was pleasantly surprised. And for $40 I got a great race, a good tech tee (V neck!) and a nice medal. Definitely a must do if you are in the area. I can't speak for the full, but I did hear good things.


My fueling plan was different for this half than any other, and I think it played a big role in my PR. I ate two pieces of Cinnamon raisin bread before the start and drank a lot of Nuun. I took a salt stick at mile 4, a Powerbar gel at mile 5, another gel at mile 7, a salt stick at mile 10 along with my last gel. I actually wish I had taken another gel around 12, because I think it could have boosted my last two mile splits. Eating this much for a race is something I have never done (I used to do halfs eating NOTHING and only drinking water and Gatorade before the race). I definitely think that fueling more has done wonders for my speed. Last February, I ran my PR half time - and it was a 2:03:47. My PR for this race was 1:50:28. That's 13 minutes in one year. I have worked my butt off to get to this point, but I know I can take even more time off my half.

What does this mean for my running? I am not sure. It kind of scared me to be running the paces I did, but it excited me more. It means that my tempos need to be much faster. My mile repeats should be sub-8. My track intervals need to be faster. Which they will be - I am not going to underestimate myself. I am going to push hard this spring training season and see what I can do. My goal (a lofty one, but still my goal) is a 1:45 half marathon. Will it be hard? Hell yes. That is an 8:00/pace. I have to take 25 seconds off per mile to achieve that goal. Is it doable? Hell yes. I just took 20 seconds off per mile during this half marathon from my previous PR - and I took that much time off in exactly a month.

My goal race is the Swamphouse Half Marathon on March 2. If I make my goal, awesome. If not, I have many more months to work on it in 2014.

And whether I ever PR again or not, I will continue to eat this after every half marathon:

I love you, BurgerFi.

What are your race goals for 2014? 

Have you noticed an improvement in your running because of fueling changes?

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