Half marathon #11 is in the bag! This race also happened to be the first of 6 half marathons that I have on my race schedule this year. Xenia, Ohio is roughly an hour and 20 minutes away from Fleet Feet Columbus, where I met up with 5 Run DMC girls to head out.
Steph, Me, Steph, Melissa, Tara and Laurie before the race
We arrived in Xenia about 6:45 AM, just in time for packet pick-up to begin at 7 AM. I have a habit of arriving early every place I go. I would rather sit around and wait as opposed to freaking out that I am late. I was starving as we drove to Xenia, but knew if I ate that early, my whole race plan would be off. As the saying goes, “Nothing new on race day!”
Packet pick-up went smoothly. There wasn’t really a line and being that this was a smaller race, we were able to park in the parking lot right across from the YMCA where the race started and finished. I finally broke into my Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews (the Fruit Smoothie flavor rocks!). The chews are labeled gluten-free and are kind to my belly, so they are my go-to pre-race food.
Run DMC is a local running group formed from members of the online Daily Mile website that live in the Columbus and surrounding areas. I can’t put into words just how awesome this group of runners is. We had 39+ runners run the race on Sunday and many other members who came out to support the team.
Before we knew it, we were off! The temps were warmer than we were acclimated to – approximately 54 when we started as opposed to temps below freezing. We have had an unseasonably cold “spring” and just the day before we were running in winter gear, including gloves! I knew I had to average an 8:22 pace per mile to hit my goal of running a sub-1:50 half marathon. The first few miles were 8:13, 8:16 and 8:19, so I had a few seconds “in the bank”, though I don’t like to depend on that to hit my goal.
Miles 4, 5 and 6 were decent. Had I known what was coming, I probably would have slowed down a touch, as those miles were run at 8:19, 8:15, 8:12. The wind was picking up a little and there were some gradual hills. The race map and elevation profile shows this fairly well, though I am not going to lie, I never really felt like we went downhill in this race. Maybe it was the higher winds towards the end of the race, but the last half of this race was tough.
Miles 7, 8 and 9 seemed like they were never going to end. I was running with Peter along the bike path and I said, “This has got to be the world’s longest hill!” It just never seemed to let up. It didn’t look intimidating, but it sure felt like it. I expected that once we hit the crest we would get a little relief, however as we turned the corner, we turned into a wall of wind that wouldn’t quit. These miles started to get a little slower…8:16, 8:24, 8:23.
Miles 10 and 11 were the toughest of the entire race. I had a cramp in the arch of my right foot – plantar fasciitis rearing its ugly head. I also had a cramp on my left side, kind of where my intestine is. Yeah, that. This forced me to slow momentarily and make some quick decisions. Do I throw in the towel, continue on, but slower and try again in 2 weeks at my next half marathon? Or, do I suck it up and pray the cramps would subside because doing so for 2.1 more miles was better than having to run hard again in 2 weeks for my next half. I opted for #2 and by the grace of God my cramps disappeared and I ran like hell. Miles 10 and 11 were run at 8:22 and 8:29. Here is a picture taken by Don Miller, fellow Run DMC runner and photog. I am pretty miserable at this point and was only laughing at something Don said. Took my mind off of the struggle for the time being, though.
The last 2.1 miles of the race were still tough, but at least my cramps were gone. Somehow my brain was able to do the math and I knew that if I could hold my pace at 8:22ish or below, I would still hit my goal. It wasn’t pretty and I had to keep repeating to myself that in 20 minutes I could puke, poop, walk, cry, etc. Just keep running! As I came down the street to the finish line, I knew I had it! Official time was 1:49:18! I did it!! PR (personal record) by 3 min EXACTLY and I was able to run sub-1:50! Phew! I came in 6th of 56 in my age group! I am looking forward to not "racing" a race again until fall and running my next 2 half marathons for fun!
There were many others in our group who ran great races with either distance PRs (first half or full marathons) and some who had bad races. We all have good days and we all have bad days. Each race is a learning experience and the end of a journey. Take what information you have from each one and apply it to your future training. What worked and what didn’t work.
Monday morning my body was (and still is) pretty sore. My calves seem to be worse than the rest. After speaking with my sports doctor when I went in for my ART appointment, it is most likely due to my focusing more on mid-foot striking as opposed to heel striking. Lots of stretching, ice and foam rolling for me!