Last Saturday, I ran my third rendition of the Prairie State Half Marathon.
This race has always been kind to me. (Check out my 2013 and 2014 recaps.) I've had good weather every time; it occurs during a perfect time of year; the course is beautiful and takes place on a joint-friendly crushed limestone path; and the field size is perfect - around 1,000 runners.
The last two years I've run this race with Kim. With her help pacing me, I've achieved strong finishing times both years!
|Throwback Wednesday to the 2013 and 2014 runnings with Kim|
At most target races, my primary focus is to run an even split. For my longtime sub-2:10 goal, this translated to a 9:55 per mile pace or better. (You all are probably tired of hearing me talk about that goal/pace, eh? =D )
While I always want to run a negative split, that is secondary to achieving an even split. On this day my starting pace was about 5-10 seconds slow for the first few miles. Normally, this would have made me nervous. I usually don't have much confidence in making up the time on the back end. But today, I didn't let it bother me.
This strategy hugely paid off. On a first half versus second half basis, I ran an almost perfectly even (slightly negative) split. I certainly had to put forth more effort in the second half to maintain that pace, but it worked. Knowing the course helped a lot, as I was mentally well-prepared for the hills on the course.
Around Mile 5, I saw Erica tearing it up on her way back. Then I saw Bobbi spectating near the turnaround - I was thrilled to see her on both the out and the back. Thank you Bobbi for taking this action shot of me:
I took two GUs - one at Mile 4 and one at Mile 9. Interestingly, I had spiked improvements in pace during both Miles 5 and 10. Psychological and/or physiological GU boost? I had been lagging slightly in the miles leading up to both, so those "spike" miles were perfect in keeping me on overall target pace.
Typically around Mile 11, I get overcome with fatigued despair and am ready to die. On this day, I kept waiting for that feeling to hit - but it never did! Most folks around me were slowing down and it felt surreal to be passing so many people in the final miles. I was looking down at my Garmin and realizing I was pretty much on pace, but was trying to do the math in my head. This is going to be close. Can I do this?
Around Mile 12.5, I saw Erica stationed back on the course with her camera. She yelled, "You have to do your body spasm thing!" so of course I obliged. Thank you Erica for this snapshot:
Less than a quarter-mile later, I saw Adam and my mom. I shouted to Adam that I was going to PR, and he told me, "GO GET IT!" Thanks to him for getting this shot of me making my final push with the finish line in sight:
I finally achieved my sub-2:10 goal. My official finishing time was 2:09:43. Woo hoo!!!
Post-race, I met back up with Erica and Michelle. I found out Michelle won her age group and came in 6th woman overall; and Erica placed 2nd in her age group. Plenty to celebrate all around!
|From L to R: Erica, Michelle, and me|
And so ends another successful running of the Prairie State Half Marathon!
My next race: The PNC YMCA Turkey Trot Double Gobble (a 5K and a 5-Miler) in Pittsburgh on Thanksgiving Day