I ran the Rock N Roll New Orleans half marathon a month ago, on 1/25/15. I was 3rd female, (15th overall) and ran a PR of 1:15:59. I am overjoyed with this race because I took a chance, had confidence in myself and executed the race plan.
As far as a race recap goes, this could get really boring. I ran a pretty evenly split race, every mile between 5:40-5:50. I was in 3rd place (females) most of the race (mile 5 on), I ran most of the race alone, and nothing spectacular happened as far as racing was concerned or what anyone could see. But something very exciting was happening inside me. I was on a mission to run down my old PR of 1:18:05. I had a fire burning inside. I had a lot to prove to myself, and this was my big chance. All the races I’ve finished feeling like I had something left in the tank, all the races where my stomach (uh, intestines?) revolted, all the doubts I’ve faced from others and even myself… all of those things needed to be left behind to become the runner I know I am.
I had the common A,B,&C goals. My C goal was just to get a PR. I ran 5:57 pace at the EQT Pittsburgh 10 miler in November and finished with way too much in the tank, feeling awesome, yet horrible for feeling so awesome. 2 months later looking at RnR NOLA I knew that even on a bad day I could run that pace for 13.1 and could kick it in for a PR. My B goal was sub 1:17. I had a good base, my workouts were going pretty well other than the 3 weeks in December when I was down mileage and workouts with the flu, but on a good day, there was no reason I couldn’t run 1:16:xx. My A goal was to run sub 1:16. I wasn’t going to taper for this race since it’s in the middle of marathon training, and this goal honestly scared me a bit. Run 5:48/mile pace for an hour and fifteen minutes?! WHAT? Then, “wait, why not?”
So, I went to New Orleans with my husband (Jeff) who was also racing the half. We left the kids with the grandparents and I looked forward to a weekend of sleep (and fast running)! Well, I slept more than usual, but I also enjoyed the alone time with Jeff. I also had to drag my breast pump to NOLA as my little guy (who was 15 months old at the time) is still breastfeeding.
Jeff was a good sport, letting me play out race thoughts, scenarios, dreams over and over. Every time I said something about sub 1:16 being crazy, he simply said something like, “why is that crazy?” and then backed it up with some facts about how hard I’ve been working.
I settled on my race plan after a few discussions I had with Jeff. One was the night before the race when he said something to the effect of “I’d be much more impressed with you going out hard, dying, and having a really slow time, than running another 1:18 that you’re not proud of.” Touché.
So my plan was to go out hard, at my A goal pace and run a pretty evenly split race, with my fastest mile being mile 10, just to kick it back into gear for the end of the race. Would you believe I went out hard and ran a pretty evenly split race, and my fastest mile was indeed mile 10? (I rarely look at my watch during the race but like to wear a GPS watch to check splits afterward and see where things went right or wrong!)
I didn’t check my watch at all until mile 11. At that point, I did the math (and I’m one of those people who gets MUCH WORSE at math when I’m running fast) but I could think clearly enough to know I was going to have a big PR. I was going to run 1:15:xx! And then I started to seriously consider, oh my goodness, the Olympic Trials Standard is 1:15:00! Can I do it? Oh wait, I think I have to close with like 2 x 5:20 something mile pace, probably not going to happen today. I fixed my eyes on the woman ahead of me and thought maybe I could catch her. I noticed I was gaining a bit. Then at mile 12 I looked at my watch again. I had a moment of weakness. I knew I wasn’t going to catch anyone. I knew I was already going to have a big PR. I didn’t need to keep going so hard. I relaxed a bit. That relaxing almost cost me my A goal! Thankfully, I pulled myself out of it, picked the pace back up. Within minutes, I saw the finishing clock 1:15:40, 41, 42… I had made it this far, I was going to get that A goal! I starting sprinting my little heart out and I squeaked to the finish in 1:15:59!
The top 3 ladies were escorted to the stage for awards immediately (very cool!) and then brought to the VIP area. My feet started cramping on the walk and I had to smile, knowing I haven’t finished a race feeling this worn out in awhile. I couldn’t stop thinking about the race, my PR… it felt 100% believable and also 100% unbelievable. Did *I* really just do that?
I guess I want to end this post by saying, don’t be afraid to take chances! You could come up short and fall on your face. But you could also soar! It is very exciting when you succeed. But it’s incredibly FULFILLING knowing you were willing to risk a complete failure of a race to make that success happen.
I have a big spring coming up with lots of races that I’m pumped to be running! My goal marathon is the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach on 3/22. Then I’ll be doing Glass City Half Marathon and Pittsburgh Half Marathon later in the spring. More to come on those events!
Thanks for reading and following along!