Wow. That should be the only word needed to describe the RunTheBluegrass Half-Marathon today. The reason I use the word “wow” is because it can be used in combination of many phrases, all of which fully describe the day. For example, “wow, what an amazing event”, or “wow, what a gorgeous course”, or perhaps “wow, there were a TON of people there.” All of these are true, along with “wow, that was challenging” and “wow, that is the hilliest place in town.”. But the bigger wow is “Wow, I just set a Personal Record on a gorgeous, hilly, challenging course and tons of people were there to witness it.” Now granted, they weren’t there to see ME (well, 3 of them were), but it still is an awesome feeling to finish with so many people there.
This event had a different feel to me than my first half, the Iron Horse Half-Marathon (see recap here). I believe it has to do with the fact this time around, my goal isn’t today’s half-marathon, but the full marathon I’m doing in 36 days. This time I wasn’t out to prove to myself that I could do 13.1 miles, because I already had. This time I was out for fun (and a PR if possible), and it made it special in its own way.
Heading out I was still torn on my approach. My logical side told me not to risk injury or fatigue by pushing myself too hard; after all I do have a full marathon in 5 weeks. My competitive side told me “You ran a 2:11:28 your last half…beat that on a harder course and you are marathon ready.” Once I set out I decided to see what I could do. If I beat it, I beat it… if I didn’t, I didn’t. Would I have been disappointed to have had a worse time? Of course. But I also understood this course is much harder, much hillier than the other, so if it didn’t happen then it wouldn’t be for lack of trying.
In order to beat my previous time (which was at a pace of 10:02/mi) I decide to aim for a 10/mi pace. To put that in perspective I ran my first 5k just over a year ago and didn’t even come close to a 10/mi pace. It was at the 5K at this very event where I finally broke a 10/mi pace. Today, I felt the same feeling as last year… pain, fatigue and the uncertainty if I had enough to make it to the end. But, just like last year I broke that. This time I put down a 9:58 pace over 13.1 miles. I guess I can say I’ve came a long way since last year.
Overall I was pretty consistent. I ran no better than a 9:31, no worse than a 10:26, and overall a 9:58. You can see the list to the right of mile-by-mile, along with the elevation shift. Amazing to me that the area where I went up the most I still nailed a 10:10 mile. And as any good advice will say, always end string… a 9:40 mile 13 was my second best of the day. By that point I was gassed… my legs were hurting, I just didn’t have any more giddy up. A lot of times I’ll get in a sequence where I go, just falling into a pace but when needed I can pick it up a bit. I didn’t feel that at the end. Obviously I had a better closing mile, but I really didn’t feel it. (For the record mile ’14′ on there would be the 0.16 after I completed 13.)
Below is a snapshot of my data from RunKeeper. Keep in mind RunKeeper runs on my phone and isn’t entirely accurate (thus the 13.16 miles instead of 13.1), and that I had to stop it (which I didn’t stop with precision), therefore the distance time and pace are slightly off. The map, climb, etc. is still right.
I ran into many people I saw, which is always good. Always a good feeling to encourage people you know as you run, congratulate them afterwords, socialize with them, etc. Always good when you have a running community that reciprocates that as well. I’m lucky to have a great of running buddies that are encouraging and fun.
But mostly, I’m very blessed to have a wonderful family to support me through this. I couldn’t do this without my wonderful wife, and I wouldn’t have any motivation without my bratty kids. I especially have to appreciate my wife for the stress she has of dealing with 2 youngin’s in a crowd of thousands. Thank you Jessica, I love you lots!