So Saturday, I spent the day with Amanda, Jess, and Elizabeth.
We drove the course in the morning where I managed to get us lost way too many times, but I think we all got a pretty good idea of what to expect for the race. What I took from our course preview was that there was going to be a lot of hills and turns.
I also knew we were in for a beautiful race and I could wait to run it. After seeing the difficulty of the course, I revised my expectations in my head. Instead of a 1:35ish race, I was hoping to go under 1:38. A 1:38 would be a huge PR so I was OK with it, and changing my expectations allowed me to relax a little.
On the morning of the race, Amanda drove us to the race start around 7:15. We had no idea how traffic and parking would be so we got there early and stayed warm in the car. We made our bathroom trips in the casino, no cold porta potties! With less than 20 minutes to go we started walking to the start line and Amanda and I went on an easy 5 minute warm up to get our legs moving.
The starting line was CROWDED. I tried pushing my way up as far as I could and ended up right next to the 1:40 pace group. I wasn't planning on running with a pacer so was hoping I wouldn't be stuck in too much of a crowd. Matt Long blew a horn and we were off.
Mile 1 was down a pretty nice hill. I knew mile 2 was a pretty good uphill so I pretty much let my legs carry me at a fast controlled pace down the hill. Mile 1: 7:01. My goal pace was 7:15, so too fast. Mile 2 was a pretty big hill and went right past Lehigh University's campus. It was beautiful! I was still feeling good, and hit mile 2 in 7:08.
From mile 3 until about 7/8, I felt like all I was doing was climbing hill after hill. It was very draining physically. Mentally, I allowed myself to slow down going up the hills. I didn't freak out when I saw the pace slowing on my Garmin as I knew I had a lot of downhill on the second half of the course to look forward to. Miles 5-6 was through a BEAUTIFUL neighborhood where RunningSkirts had decorated the porta potties pink. There were quite a few hills in this neighborhood, and this is when I really felt like I was racing as I kept jockeying for position with a few people around me. These were all of my hardest miles of the day and these were my splits:
Miles 3-8: 7:17, 7:12, 7:36, 7:27, 7:16, 7:34.
This race, I decided to follow my coach's instructions and take more gels than I am used to. I took the first gel 25 minutes into the race and my second gel at around mile 7. I was really feeling sluggish between miles 7.5-8.5, which felt like a long flat stretch but appears to have been slightly downhill. Luckily the gel kicked in and once I hit mile 9 (7:20), I felt like I was moving at a normal pace again.
Mile 10 was the last big hill of the day. I finally could feel the end in sight so decided to push myself going up the hill. Knowing that Ashley, another blogger, would be at mile 10 also helped me to push hard up the hill. This is also when I finally lost the girls I had been running with the whole time as my pace was no longer slowing.
Miles 10-11: 7:17, 7:19
At mile 11, I took a half a gel. Yes, another one 2 miles from the finish line, but I was TIRED and was hoping that I could kick it up a little bit at the end. After taking the gel, I tried my best to pick up the pace and hold it as close to my goal pace as I could. (At this point, I had no idea what my total time was, my Garmin is set to see only the time of my current mile.)
Mile 12: 7:02
I felt fast at this point but also worried that I couldn't hold on until the end. The Mile 12 mile marker was slightly further than I expected, but I tried not to let that upset me. Mile 12.5 was going back up mile 1's hill. This was not fun at all, but I was not going to slow down at that point.
Mile 13: 7:04
(So tired and focused on the clock and obviously let my form go.)
We rounded a corner to head toward the finish line and I turned off my iPod. I wanted to enjoy those last moments. Unfortunately, there was no enjoying as I saw the clock had a 1:35 on it (I knew I had at least a 10 second cushion.). There was no way I was going to let that click over so I took off staring at that clock. I saw nothing the whole way to the finish line but that clock.
Final time: 1:35:56
Post-race I was walking around with a smile pasted on my face that you couldn't erase. I had ran an almost 6 minute PR on a hilly course, hit my A goal, and negative splitted my race. (48:07 and 47:49--not huge difference between the two halves of the course but this is huge for me)
I can not say enough good things about the entire Runner's World Weekend. I had an amazing time there and am so sad my experience is over. I needed a break from life this past week, and I can't believe I was so fortunate to have had my dream weekend be my break.
Thank you to FitFluential for allowing me to attend this weekend. And thank you to Runner's World for hosting us bloggers and taking such great care of us.
Sad to say goodbye to these ladies.
**I was not compensated for any of my Runner's World Weekend posts. I was provided a race entry into the half marathon, but all other expenses I paid for myself. All opinions are my own.