Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Litchfield Route 66 Half Marathon Race Report

Well, I am honestly not sure where to start. I added this race to the schedule (without coach knowing it) a few weeks ago. I figured there is nothing wrong with a half…even if it is 6 days after the 10k. Ideal? Probably not…but since when do we do things the easy way?

I drove down to Litchfield on Friday night and stayed with the parents of a Greenville teammate. It was a quick, easy, and uneventful drive. I stopped in Bloomington for dinner—all pre-race meals should include something (Pad Thai w/chicken breast ) from Noodles, and a sugar cookie from Potbelly’s. (It’s a Greenville track thing.)
I woke up at 5:30 on race morning. I always like to be up at 3 hours before a race to give my body time to go through the normal morning routine. Coffee, oatmeal, shower, and head to the race. I was lucky and stayed about a mile from the start line, so this morning was very easy. I realized around 7:45 that I had never run a half before, and I wasn’t quite sure how to warm up for it. Do you warm up for a half? How? I figured a progression mile should do the trick—start easy, end a little quicker than race pace & then some strides. I felt good and was ready to go!

The air temperature was low 40, but it was very windy. On this two loop course, first 3 miles would be into the wind, followed by a bit over 3 miles back with the find. Repeat. The course is on a section of the old Route 66, and is pancake flat. It is definitely a fast/PR course, but the wind could definitely make it a tough day.

Somehow I got a low # again! No pressure!
The gun went off and I took off running. I wasn’t sure who was in the race, but I wanted to find out if anybody was going to try and work with me. In the first 400m I found myself out front. At this point I had to make the decision of keep going, or fall back and try to find a group to work with. I decided that if they wanted to catch up to me, we’d work together, but I had no plans of slowing down. The first stretch is out into the wind, so my goal was just to keep it under control for the first 3ish mile section, before making it to the first turnaround.

The first 3 miles flew by and I was feeling good. It was at this point that I would not be able to see the rest of the runners and decided if I needed to push it a little harder, or if I could back off. Coach and I had decided to aim for high 5:40s for my first loop, low 5:40s for the out section on loop 2, then whatever was left for the return trip. I came through the first 3 miles in 17:03, so I was already ahead of pace, but feeling great. I knew the wind was at my back for a little over 3 miles now, so I felt like I could left off the effort a little but still run a quick pace. I used this section to go through my checklist: knees up, hips high, head steady. All systems a go!

On my way back, I felt like I was flying and had to tell myself to dial it back a little bit. Part of my problem in the 70.3 run is I can get overly excited during the early miles and start to fade the last 5k. I wanted to make sure I ran strong the whole time today! I came back through my first 6 miles in 33:42 and thought, “this could get interesting.” At the second turnaround I noticed the wind had picked up.  At this point I knew the next 3 miles would make or break the run. Could I hold on? Could I take on the wind alone? The good news is those thoughts left my brain as quickly as they came. All I could control was my form and breathing, so I figured focus on that and the rest will happen—I can’t control the wind.
Racing down memory lane--Old Route 66!
The next few miles seemed to take forever. The course had plenty of spectators and people to cheer you on, but that wind was brutal. I didn’t look down at my watch too much, because I figured it was better to just run strong and see what happens…turns out I was dropping high 5:30s to low 5:40s into the wind! I finally made it to the turnaround and was a bit over 3 miles from finishing AND the last few miles were with the wind. Sweet! It was at this point that I really did want to open it up and see how I was feeling, but, to be honest… I wasn’t feeling “great.” I Felt good, but not as good as before. I managed to run low 5:30s the rest of the way and crossed the line in 1:13:05! I was shocked. My debut open half marathon, ran 1:13:05, and won by 8 minutes...I couldn’t have been happier.
Finished :)
I would like to say a huge thank you to all of the volunteers out on the course. I have done some big WTC/Rev3/USAT races, and I would say the volunteers here were just as good as any of those races! The energy from the crowd/volunteers?RD was electric! The other racers were also VERY supportive and encouraging as I was running by. I may have been out front, but I never felt like I was alone. There were also businesses along the way that had music playing, which was another huge plus! So, for course layout, support, and atmosphere, I would definitely give this race an A+! Racemaker Productions always puts on a great race, and this did not disappoint! I would definitely recommend putting this race on your schedule for next year. You also get an awesome hoodie.
The Greenville crew...these twins are FAST!!
I am still kind of shocked to have run 1:13 and honestly was not expecting that. I think the past 2 weekends have taught me quite a bit in terms of racing. First, to run the 32:44 10k last weekend essentially solo after the first mile, I had to focus on running my race and the things I could control. Coming off a great race, I decided to apply that to the half marathon. Run within myself and focus on a few key things; the rest would take care of itself. I was also able to quiet the voices in my head the past 2 races—and for me that is huge! I am not a patient person. I like to try and blow the doors off the race from the start. The past couple weekends I was able to quiet that side of myself and just run. I believe there is a time for both styles of racing, and the past couple races definitely worked out well.
Elvis was even at the race!
Thanks for reading!

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