2012 Charity Chase Half-Marathon
|June 3, 2012||Posted by Katy under Race Photographs, Race recap, Travels|
Half-marathon number six is done, ending my long distance racing for the season!
I wish I had written this recap last night because I had the day to reflect on my race and analyze my splits. Now I am no longer on my runner’s high and I am a little more critical about my performance. I am still happy with it, but I am no longer seeing it behind the rose colored glasses I was yesterday.
Moving back to yesterday; my morning started as all race mornings do- early wakeup call followed by sending out my customary “Good morning runners! It’s 4:45am and it’s race day!” tweet and eating my pre-race breakfast.
After getting up and moving, I got ready and headed to Downtown Hickory, arriving at around 6am for the 6:30 start. I set out to meet Eric from the Hickory Daily Record. It was nice to meet him and thank him for sponsoring the contest which allowed me to run this race. After a quick picture for the paper, I got in the line for the porta potties before the start.
The lines took a little longer than expected and I ended up having to sprint over to the start line. I made it to the start just as the gun went off and was still fiddling around, trying to shove my iPhone into my Spibelt. Eventually I got situated and was on my way!
I knew going into this race that I was not going for a PR. This warrants a separate post (later this week), but this year has definitely been a rebuilding year for me. I have actually gotten slower in the past year due to my lack of speed work as I work through this leg pain I’ve been having for months. It has been frustrating, but I am realizing that I need to do the best that I can right now at this moment and not focus on what I used to do (when I was 10 pounds lighter, not dealing with leg pain, and doing actual speed work).
Instead, I had a different game plan for this race. Having ran this race last year, I knew what to expect on the course. I knew when to expect the hills and had a strategy of when to push myself and when to hold back a little and conserve my energy. I was also running on very tired legs because I did not do the best job of tapering for this race, so my strategy definitely helped me keep me going.
For the first loop (a small loop of about 5 miles), I knew that I needed to hold back a little. The first loop is easier than the second, so I wanted to make sure that I maintained a steady, but conservative pace to allow me to hang on for the second loop.
The first mile was a little faster than I intended and literally went by quickly. Most of the first mile is downhill so I allowed myself to lean into the hills and just run, without worrying about my pace.
- Mile 1- 8:46
One note I have to make is that the course was already off by the first mile. This year they pushed back the start line a little and kept the rest of the course the same. I am unsure if they factored in that pushing the start line back would add distance but when I hit the first mile marker, I was already a 1/10th of a mile off and I was not weaving at all. It was not a huge deal, but it is something that they may need to adjust for next year! I am not the only runner who reported this.
After the first mile, the rolling hills began to start. This year, unlike last, I was prepared for the hills, physically and mentally. This year I knew that I could tackle the hills and not worry about burning out. The next few miles weaved through the streets of Hickory, past Lenoir Rhyme University, and lots of enthusiastic spectators. It was a beautiful morning and we really lucked out with the weather. It was 58 degrees at the start with little wind and stayed relatively cool throughout the race. It was a welcomed change from the hot and humid weather I am used to running in here in Florida!
- Mile 2- 9:21
- Mile 3- 9:19
- Mile 4- 9:27
- Mile 5- 9:13
During mile 5 the course went through the Downtown area again and we actually ran through the finish line. It was a bit cruel being so close to the finish, but not even halfway done.
The second loop of the course was when I was going to start pushing the pace a little. The second loop is longer, with an extended section through a BEAUTIFUL neighborhood and the nature Greenway. However, I started having some stomach upset when I took my first ShotBloc at mile 4 which required me to re-think my plan. Instead of pushing the pace, I decided to take it one mile at a time and take a self-check as I went along.
I honestly do not remember very much of miles 6 and 7. I sort of zoned out and put one foot in front of the other. I was still having fun and my legs were finally loosening up, but I definitely was not completely aware of myself (if that makes sense). At this point in the race, the field of runners had spread out a bit. There was a small group of runners about twelve strides in front of me and another group equal distance behind me. I was on my own and I felt like I was just doing a normal long run. The only thing I do remember is seeing a little boy in a banana costume.
- Mile 6- 9:34
- Mile 7- 9:31
The entire course is beautiful but mile 8 is my favorite. With views like this, you can not help but have a goofy smile on your face, even if this is the part of the course where one of the toughest hills is located.
- Mile 8- 9:26
Through mile 8, I was still feeling pretty good. My stomach was still doing flip-flops, but my mental stamina was the best it has been in awhile. In fact, never once during this race did I feel like giving up and throwing in the towel!
Miles 9 and 10 were heading towards the Greenway. By this point, I had made the decision to stop to use the restroom. I had past some porta potties along the course but they were always occupied and I did not want to stop. When I got to the Greenway, I found a porta potty only to find it was locked shut! Admittedly I was a bit upset, but it actually turned out to be blessing in disguise. If I had stopped, I would not have gotten the finish time that I did.
Up until this point, I only walked through water stops for about 10 seconds to drink. However, during mile 10, I ended up walking for 45 seconds to settle my stomach, which ended up working like a charm and I was fine for the remainder of the race.
When I ran this race last year, mile 10 is where I mentally and physically fell apart. I took numerous walk breaks and swore off running. However, it was the complete opposite case this year. Other than the 45 seconds I spent walking, I ran all through the Greenway, passing numerous runners who had stopped to walk. This part of the course is difficult because it is a slight, but long, incline for almost a mile. I knew that if I got through this part of the course, that I would be rewarded with the cold towels at the end of the Greenway!
- Mile 9- 9:36
- Mile 10- 10:35 (walk break)
I honestly was surprised that I was feeling as good as I was going into mile 11. I felt tired, but knew that I had conserved enough energy to make it to the finish line in one piece and with a good mental attitude.
This part of the course is my favorite in terms of spectators. Like last year, the people out were incredibly supportive and enthusiastic, which was appreciated going into the final 5K of the race.
During the final few miles, I kept repeating to myself “lay down the hammer; it is time to lay down the hammer” and “this is the part of the course you have been training for.” I was determined not to walk during the last 5K, excluding water stops. There are a lot of hills the final part of the course but I knew that I had enough in the tank to conquer them. Looking back on my splits, I am a little surprised that they were not faster. I suppose I was a little more tired than I thought.
- Mile 11- 9:49
- Mile 12- 9:46
The last mile was tough. By this point, I was starting to feel tired and the final hill is the most difficult of them all. You turn around the corner and are immediately hit with an extremely long and steep hill.
This is where I lost it last year, and as much as I wanted to walk up it this year, I did not. While I did not go up the hill very fast (I felt like I was shuffling up it and probably could have walked faster) I conquered it and passed a guy on the way!
Once I was up the hill, I was home free. I could see the finish line, but was so spent that I could not sprint at the end. There was an incredible guy cheering on the sidelines yelling out “Look at that beautiful strong woman! You go girl!” It was just the boost I needed to slowly make my way across the finish line. With that I completed my sixth half-marathon!
- Mile 13- 10:17
- .25 end- 2:22 (9:19 pace)
- Garmin time- 2:07:07
- Official time- 2:07:05
I realized a few things during this race. Despite being forced to cut my mileage down and only running three days a week these past few months, my endurance was strong. I barely walked the entire time! Yes I am slower than I was last year but I feel like I was better prepared for this course this time around. I am thankful that the two and a half months of hill training paid off. I honestly feel that if I were also able to do speed work throughout this training that I could have pulled out a PR, even with the difficulty of the course. Something to strive for next year I suppose!
Looking at the splits on paper, it may look like this race was not a success. It was not my fastest, but not my slowest. It was a full minute slower than I ran back in March and 11 minutes slower than my all time PR. I did not run negative splits like I should have. However, I went in with a plan and executed it to the best of my abilities. I did the best I could given the circumstances and never once wanted to give up. Also, I know that I ran a good race because I had no leftover energy at the end.
I hope to return next year to run this race again because the atmosphere is friendly, supportive, and fun. It is an incredible event with the proceeds going to great causes.
Half-marathon season may be over for a few months, but the fun is just beginning! Sprint triathlon number two…T-minus 14 days and counting!
Disclosure: I received a free race entry into the 2012 Charity Chase Half-Marathon as a contest winner sponsored by the Hickory Daily Record. I was under no obligation to write a positive race review/ recap in return for the entry.