Saturday, September 15, 2012 was my 9th half marathon. My goal for 2012 was to run 5 half marathons this year and that was #4 for 2012. My last (#5 for the year and #10 total) is on October 21, 2012 here in Columbus.
The Air Force Half Marathon was held in Dayton, Ohio. It began and ended on the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The full marathon began a full hour before the half marathon with a B-2 flyover. Talk about cool! We were still hanging out in the van at that point to stay warm, but were fortunately still able to see it. The morning was chilly – 49 degrees! I couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather.
My initial plan had been to run this as a training run, but after speaking with my MIT pace coach and sports doctor, I decided to try for a PR. In order to PR I would have to run 8:43/mile (to get under 1:53:52.) To get under 1:50, another fall goal, I would have to run an 8:23 pace. I like to have multiple goals going into a race – the pipe dream, the PR and finishing. Going into a race with that mindset leaves no room for disappointment.
We were off at 8:30 AM! The first few miles flew by. I kept the1:50 pacer in sight, but didn’t want to force anything. I had to keep in the back of my head that I still have another half to run in 5 weeks. I fell comfortably into a pace that was around 8:35/mile.
By the time we were at mile 6, I noticed that the course was getting a little more crowded. I had headphones on, so I didn’t hear much at this point. All of a sudden the 1:45 pacer was right in front of me. I knew there was no way I had caught up to him based on my current pace. I took my headphones off and discovered that some of the course volunteers/workers had directed many of the runners the wrong way. The confusion continued as we made our way down several other side streets. I was really upset at first because I was on pace to set a PR and running over 13.1 miles was not in the cards. I had no desire to run any farther. At one point I was hearing that we would end up running 15 miles. Ugh.
I made a choice right then and there. I would continue along my current pace and stop my watch at 13.1. I could then slow down to cool down or even walk, if need be. My pace slowed a little over the next couple of miles and I knew at that point that 1:50 was not in the cards. I quickly did the math in my head and knew that I could slow down a bit and still PR. No need to push it when I was already past the point of running sub-1:50.
I held my pace, even sped up a little and settled in for the ride. Some of the best music was on my playlist as I turned back onto the base and ran along the finishing stretch. Pink Floyd’s “Learning to Fly” seemed like the perfect song at that point in time – I picked up my pace and headed for the final stretch. I stopped my watch at 13.1 and 1:52:18 – a PR! I continued to run for roughly another half a mile or so to cross the finish line.
Turns out I was one of the “lucky” ones – some of the half runners ended up running close to 16 miles! Ouch!
I headed over to the massage tent for a calf/foot massage. I think this was key to my plantar fasciitis not acting up, as I had just started to feel it in mile 12-13 of the half.
This past week has been all about recovery. I may have been a little ambitious last Sunday by doing a 3 mile recovery run and then an intense core class. I took Monday off, ran 3 on Tuesday that ended up being a little more painful than I would have liked, took Wednesday off from running and went to yoga instead. Easy is the name of the game. I have 4 weeks until the Columbus half. I would love to run it under 1:50, but again, that is the pipe dream. I have to be thrilled with my accomplishments over the past 12 months with PRs in 3 of the 5 half marathons that I have run. If I am not in “racing shape” on October 21, 2012, I will just enjoy the ride.