I raced a half marathon on Saturday, one I told myself I wasn’t going to race.
But I’ll be damned if I didn’t feel amazing for like, the first 10 miles. The weather was right, my stomach was right, and everything just fell into place for once. It wasn’t until the last two miles (after a hill that lasted damn near a mile) that I really fell apart. I finished in 1:59:33, 443rd overall, 29/125 in my division and 139 out of 700 women.
The last mile sucked, it was my slowest by far. BUUUUUT for the most part I got the nice race that I wanted. It wasn’t a PR (close though), but I didn’t think I’d even come close on this course so I’m pretty pleased.
The Indianapolis Half takes place at Fort Benjamin Harrison State Park on the east side of Indy, and it is the perfect time of year for racing through a forest. The leaves are just starting to change and the mornings are crisp, but not uncomfortably cold yet. This race is also nice because the whole thing is paved so you get the speed of a road race with the scenery of a trail race.
This race is known for being hilly, but it’s really not that bad. (The rest of Indianapolis is just that flat.) There are only two tough sections, around miles three and 10.
I was prepared for the hills in that I knew they were going to be there, but I didn’t actually run any hills to prepare for this race. However, I’ve been doing a lot of heavy lifting at the gym and doing that consistently has definitely had a positive impact. (Addendum: however, three days after writing that, I am still sore in a couple of spots and I’m having some heel problems that I’m going to need to look into. So…I’m not the badass I thought I was. Still, strength training. Never a bad thing.)
I left my house for Ft. Ben (about a 40 minute drive) at 6:30 in the morning, heeding the warnings from the race organization than drivers would need to park before the road closures at 7:30 (an hour before the start). It turned out that the closures would not have impacted me, but I was there at 7:15 anyway, sitting in my car drinking coffee and watching the clock. At 7:45 I met up with two friends and we stood in line for the bathrooms together, shivering and wishing we’d brought gloves. We jogged/walked the half mile or so from the parking lot to warm up. (I was planning to do a little bit of a longer warm-up but the bathroom line was too long.)
My friends and I stood together at the start, but they were both planning to run an easier pace that day (one is running marathon next month) so I knew we wouldn’t stay together.(Even though I am totally not racing this lol!)
I ate a honey stinger waffle. I could see the 2:00 pace group one corral ahead and I decided to try to catch up with them.
Miles 1-2 (8:38, 8:45)
The start was a little congested, so I had to do some dodging and weaving. We took a main road straight through the park and then exited and ran around the perimeter. I was remembering how I started out at this pace at my last half marathon and how poorly THAT turned out for me, so I tried to take it easy, but I wanted to catch that 2:00 pace group because arbitrary goals are important to me.
Mile 3-6 (9:07, 8:34, 8:55, 8:42)
The first big climb started around mile 3. I was running with the 2:00 pace group and I wanted to get past them. (Nothing against pacers, but they were talking loudly and yelling things at the group and I found it a bit distracting. I just wanted to enjoy the woods.) After the mile 4 aid station I left them behind.
Mile 7-9 (8:41, 8:58, 8:56)
Mile 7 was flat and fast. We headed up a smaller paved road and then turned around and headed back into the park. We cut back along a section of that main road in the park before veering off into a more remote area where the path became narrower and hillier. It was really pretty and there weren’t a lot of runners around me so I had a chance to enjoy the scenery and the solitude…and to anticipate the last big section of hills I knew was coming.
Miles 10-13 (9:00, 9:16, 9:24, 9:55!!! UGH)
The hill starts around mile 10 and then there’s a brief downhill before going steeply up again all the way to 11. I kept a pretty decent pace on the hills but my legs were trashed after that. I had one gel left and I opened it around mile 11 but I couldn’t finish it. I was starting to feel just a little queasy and I took a couple small nips at the gel before tossing it in the trash at the mile 12 aid station and opting for Gatorade instead.
And then that freaking 2:00 pace group passed me! I could hear them approaching but I couldn’t do anything about it and it made me so mad. In the last mile, they left me in the dust. (But since I started in the corral behind them, I still managed to finish under two hours.)
Last .32: (8:40)
Seeing 13.1 click past on my Garmin when I still had almost a quarter-mile to go was kind of a buzzkill, but finally spotting the finish line gave me one last boost and I hauled ass as much as I could to the end. I had started my Garmin slightly before we crossed the timing mats at the start, so I didn’t know I’d finished sub-2 until I checked the official results later on at home. After that sad last mile, it brightened my day to see a 1:59 by my name.
So I think I did a pretty decent job given the hills. This race gave me confidence that if I stay healthy, I can probably squeak by with a PR in November. I’m taking it easy this week. I have done a few short, slow runs and a lot of extra conditioning and foam-rolling. No hard running whatsoever.
Oh, and I probably need a new pair of shoes. 😦 I love having new shoes, I just hate paying for them.