Sunday, December 12, 2010

Race Report - RunGirl Half Marathon

My coach wanted me to do a half marathon before the big move to Denver... had a choice between the Galveston Crab Walk half marathon or RunGirl.  I ended up going with RunGirl because its organized by local RDs and the run was essentially the bike course from TriGirl, which is 100% in a park.  That, and the goodie bags from the RD are usually the best in the area :)

It was pretty chilly out, but I prefer to run a bit chilly.  I decided to wear my Pistols for Pandas tank top and compression shorts, with a last minute addition of gloves and sleeves.  My friend and I hung out in the warmth of my truck until 15 minutes before race start.  What was nice about this race, as opposed to larger half marathons, was that this was a small race with maybe 300 participants.  Parking was right by the run start/exit, bathroom lines were small, and the start was uncrowded.  Since it was cold, I really didn't do a warm-up, except for a few leg swings and some half hearted leg stretching.

My goal was a 11:00/mile pace and a finish time of 2:25.  My coach has been having me do a bunch of pace running that decends to a few miles at the end at sub-30 seconds under race pace.  My plan was to go pretty easy (11:15) for the first half of the run to settle into a rhythm and then push 2 miles at 10:30/mile and see how long I could hold my 5 k pace to the finish.  Its been a while since I ran 13 miles continuously (without stopping at water stations) and I've been having random issues (quad, heel, tight calves), so I was curious to see how today would go.

Since the race was so small, people settled into their paces pretty early on.  I went out a bit too fast - 30 seconds under goal pace for the first mile but quickly settled.  The course was a bit hilly but I managed to hold onto my 11:00/pace.  Around mile 2, my calf decided to lock up, making my left foot go completely numb.  I kept running, hoping that, as it sometiems does, my calf could loosen up naturally.  I ran ~2 miles and nothing, so at the second water station, I walked for a bit.  Crazy enough, a few steps in, just like magic the blood vessels opened up and I had feeling back in my foot.  Hooray, especially since its hard to run with a totally numb foot.  Especially when it starts at mile 3 of a 13 mile race.  My foot went a bit numb over the next mile, but not as bad as before.  I ended up walking the next water stop (around 5.5 miles) since I took in a gel.  Fortunately, after that, my calf relaxed and my foot was good to go.  After the 5.5 mile aid station, I felt warm enough so I ditched the gloves and sleeves (tied them to my fuel belt).  The people around me (wearing tights and long sleeves or jackets) thought I was crazy, but I knew as long as I was in the sun, I'd be fine.  We came back through the start area through this strip that during TriGirl is the last 1/2 mile of the run and is horribly hot.  I laughed as the wind was blowing and it most definitely was not hot today.  Looped thru the race start and went off to complete loop 2.  I wanted to hold ~10:30 pace for 2-3 miles then hold a 5k pace for the last 2-3, depending on how things were going.  Weird part about this race was that I ran most of it by myself - I had no one to pace off of.  I kept watching my watch and somewhere around 1:50 I figured that if I held on, I may finish around 2:20, 5 minutes under my goal for the race.  With 3 miles left, I kicked it into gear, holding a 10:00/mile pace.  I felt muscles in my quads that I've not felt before and my legs/knees were starting to get wobbly.  Running faster than the 10:00 pace wasn't going to happen, but I felt good about maintaining things.  For the last 2 miles I just focused on catching people ahead of me - I NEVER pass people, so this was fun.  My goal was to finish strong, and I was doing that.  I came back through the TriGirl run course and knew that once I turned the corner I had 1/2 mile to go.  At that point, I just kept pushing (although really, it probably wasn't that fast... I was just trying to hold momentum), curious to see if I could come under 2:20.  All said and done, I came in at 2:20:42.1.... 4:18 under my goal time and 10:48 under my last half marathon in January.  Huge PR, all due to me running my ass off all year.

Post Race
put on warmer clothes, ate 3 breakfast tacos, sat in my truck with my friend to get warm.  good times!  I was limping a bit, but nothing near as bad as at the end of other long races.  Only did a bit of stretching, which will probably come back to bite me.

In comparing this race to January's Aramco Houston Half Marathon, they were 2 different races, mainly because I'm a more seasoned racer. 

In January, this was my first half marathon and my longest running race to date.  I was training with a more beginner-oriented group, doing a 5:1 run/walk ratio.  The crowds were much larger, the race was run.  But the race was also much harder to finish.  The last 2-3 miles were just tough, mentally and physically.  Also, the week leading up the the race, I was super nervous/excited.

This race, I entered it really just for fun and to see how I'd do.  I had a goal time, but no pressure.  Now, running 2.5 hours is no big deal, especially considering that I've spent 7+ hours on a race course twice since then.  This race was smaller and lacked the "show" of the Houston Aramco race, but it was prettier and probably more fun, since it was low key and in a really pretty park setting.  Going into this race, I wasn't nervous at all but I had a plan to execute.  I knew I could execute it based on the weeks of speed work leading up to the race.  So today was more a matter of testing myself and seeing how much I could do - and have fun doing it.

And based on my perfomance today, I would say I had a great race :)  Great way to end the season and Houston and to say goodbye to the local community before I move to Colorado.

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