You know you ran a good race when you’re still sore two days later. I can’t remember ever being this sore after a half marathon. In fact, the last time I felt this way was after running 26.2 miles.
In the last week, after I decided to attempt 1:45 at the Brooklyn Half Marathon, I thought a lot about how I would feel if I didn’t make my goal. My coach talked to me about setting an A goal, B goal, and C goal, so I could decide what I wanted to try for on the day, depending on how I felt, the weather, all the things I couldn’t predict. But come on, you know all I wanted was the A goal. I thought I was coming down with a cold a few days before the race, then the day before I went out for a 20 minute shakeout run. I ran it at goal pace and felt fantastic. It really put me in the right frame of mind to race.
I was super nervous heading to the start line. It was early, but I’m lucky to live so close to the starting line. I ate my usual pre-race PB&J toast en route and sipped at water – it was supposed to be a warm day and I wasn’t sure how quickly it would heat up.
In the crowd of just over 25,000 people, I actually saw my friend Erich – the same friend I randomly spotted around mile 6 while we were running the NYC Marathon last year! We talked about how oddly nervous we both felt for the race – because, as he pointed out, we were both putting pressure on ourselves with big goals. (FYI, Erich ROCKED the race with an awesome time of 1:36:40!)
A GOAL: 1:45 or under
B GOAL: 1:48 or under
C GOAL: 1:52 or under
So, a PR or bust, since my PR going into the race was 1:53:24. I’d also come up with a pacing plan, based on the course route and taking advantage of the downhills and flats. Brooklyn is a fast course – there’s only one significant hill and the second half of the course is a downhill to start, then all flat and straight all the way down Ocean Parkway to Coney Island.
I wanted to run the first 5 miles just under 8:15, then mile 6 and 7 at around 7:40 – 7:45, then 8-12 at around 7:55 and see what I had left for the last 1.1.
And here’s how it broke down:
Splits miles 1 – 5: 8:24, 8:02, 7:50, 8:05, 8:16. The start was crowded, more so than last year, I thought. The first mile was slow, but I tried not to go overboard trying to make up time – that’s the nice thing about a half marathon, you have a little more leeway with pacing at the start. One stop for water.
Splits miles 6 – 7: 8:07, 7:43. I didn’t realize part of the hill was included in mile 6, so I was way off my goal of 7:40 to 7:45 for that split. It worried me a little, but I still felt like I had enough time to make that up.
Fuel at 50 minutes: Clif Shot Bloks, half a packet.
Splits miles 8 – 12: 7:55, 8:01, 8:02, 8:03, 8:12. And here’s where (I thought) it all went horribly wrong. Mile 8 was perfect, mile 9 was fine because I stopped for water, but then I just couldn’t get myself sub 8 for the next couple of miles. Partially I think it’s the mental block for me of Ocean Parkway being a long, wide, boring stretch. There weren’t a lot of spectators, the crowd of runners thinned out a lot and so there wasn’t a lot to distract from the fact that I was beginning to hurt.
On top of that, I spotted the 1:45 finish pace group just ahead of me. I was pretty sure they had started a couple of corrals ahead of mine, so I knew I was probably about 3 minutes behind them. I did manage to catch up to them, but mentally it was tough to push through, especially thinking I was probably at about 1:48 pace. By mile 12 I was physically hurting. I not only stopped for water, I walked through the water station.
Splits mile 13 (and change): 8:13, then the last quarter mile at 8:08 pace. (I ended up running 13.24 miles). This was as fast as I could push, and I was pushing, especially that last quarter mile.
Final time: 1:46:41
So, how do I feel, not having made my A goal (and coming THISCLOSE)?
I couldn’t be happier. I took nearly 7 minutes off my PR. I gave it everything. There’s nothing I would change about my pacing strategy. I really think the only thing that held me back was the mental challenges of the last few miles.
My two main men, Fran and Roman, were at the end cheering with my friends Mandy and Gabe (Mandy made a kick-ass sign for me. It had Care Bears on it). I was offered beer and hot dogs from all of them until I explained I felt pretty nauseous so please stop mentioning hot dogs and beer.
I texted my coach, Scott Fishman, after the race to thank him for coaching me to such an awesome PR. This week is all about recovery – I used the elliptical yesterday and I’ve been foam rolling like it’s my job. I’m also definitely coming down with a cold, which sucks, because the training effects of the race will kick in right as I attempt the Covered Bridges Half Marathon, where I’ll have another chance to try for the 1:45. It’s not looking good, but I am revelling in this 1:46. It’s a nice, even number. 😉
Thank you to everyone who texted, commented, tweeted, facebooked and emailed me for support! You guys ROCK – I am lucky to have such a fantastic, supportive online community. 🙂
Stay tuned for my next 13.1 adventure…