Monday, February 14, 2011

Race Report: Mercedes Half Marathon

The Mercedes 1/2 Marathon was my very first half one year ago and there was no question in my mind that I would be running it again this year. After my marathon, just 2 months ago (!) while enjoying recovery and no pressure runs, I decided to set a goal to go after a 1/2 Marathon PR at this event. I missed a PR by just SECONDS at the Disney Wine and Dine back in October in the midst of marathon training and I KNOW I am a stronger runner than I was at this time last year but with a 7 week training plan, coming off recovery, I wasn't sure what was realistically within my grasp. I nailed my assigned speed sessions, conquered my local hills and even managed to work a weekly yoga back into my schedule but life got in the way towards the end of the cycle and my longest run since the marathon had only been 11 miles (I had planned to get in at least 1 15-miler) so I really had no idea what my day would hold though I knew I would give it my best shot.
Finishing 10x400 at the gym, tough and sweaty post-work speed session

So without further adieu:

"A" Goal (STRETCH goal): sub 2:20
"B" Goal: sub 2:30
"C" Goal: PR (anything sub 2:38:09, for the record)

Pre-Race:
Since the expo was close to my office, I picked up my packet Friday afternoon. Pick up was easy, perused the booths and picked up a couple of freebies. I was actually intending to run this evening since the race was on Sunday but I ended up getting stuck at work until 7:30 so I deferred until Saturday.

Saturday, I got a text from my best friend from grad school, Lee Ann, who I knew was planning on running the race (she lives in Nashville now). She was in town and invited me to to join her and her co-worker, Jenny, and Jenny's husband, Greg (they were also running) to "carb up" at dinner...of course I said yes! My neck was actually really stiff which had me worried but I trekked over to the gym and ran a couple of miles in the morning, hopped on the bike for 15 minutes or so and called it a day. I was feeling really great and spent the better part of the afternoon relaxing...manicure, getting my eyebrows threaded, etc etc. We met up at a local Italian place for dinner at 6:30 and had THE best time. I had not seen Lee Ann in years and Jenny and Greg were hilarious and such great people. Carbed and hydrated, I headed home to add a few new tunes to my playlist and had no problem falling asleep.

THE RACE
The 4 of us decided to meet near the start between 6:15 and 6:30. Jenny and Greg were going to run together and I was going to run with Lee Ann...we were planning to stay together as long as the wheels did not fall off for either of us. This was Lee Ann's 1st half and I was so excited to be part of her experience.

Me, Lee Ann, Greg and Jenny before the start

It was a BEAUTIFUL morning for running, just above freezing with little wind and not a cloud in the sky. The sun can be both a blessing and a curse and I was a little nervous about the sleeveless base layer I had on (would I get too hot?), but it turned out to be OK. Before we knew it, the gun was fired and we were off. They reported that there were around 7,000 runners in the full and half combined this morning and while there were pace "corrals", there was no wave start so it only took a couple of minutes before we crossed the starting mat.

Lee Ann does not run with a Garmin, so I told her I would watch our pace to keep us honest. The first few miles clicked by effortlessly. My former "big boss" tapped me on the shoulder around mile 3 and then he and another of our colleagues were off ahead of us. Lee Ann and I chatted most of the time, pulling and pushing each other along. "Monster hills" I remembered from last year didn't seem nearly as daunting this time around and I could not believe how quickly the morning was going. There were a couple of EXTREMELY interesting sights on the course and we had fun pointing these out and eventually picking off the selected individuals. Having had absolutely HORRID race photos from last year that shall never be shared I made sure to point out the photogs for Lee Ann and we tried to pose for all that we saw. I told her if nothing else, I would save her from bad race photos :)

Jenny and Greg remained a few steps ahead and there were times we would catch up and run with them, and play mini-leapfrog. I usually walk through the water stops to catch my breath and use the time to lower my heart rate, but Lee Ann was running through them and so I was right next to her every step. There were a couple of times (non-water stop) where I felt TIRED and wanted to walk so badly but the wheels were not falling off so I zoned in on the task at hand or even started a conversation to distract myself. We hit the 10 mile mark at just over 1:51:xx and I knew that truly unless something horrible happened, I was going to make my "C" goal at the very least. We were kicking ass and I was having a blast.

Just before the finisher's chute, I hugged Lee Ann...we were going to DO this. We sprinted around the curve, just behind Greg and Jenny. "Hands up" I called out just as we were crossing the mat. Running. Every single step of the way.

Needless to say, I smashed my PR: 2:26:30 (official time) for an 11:11 avg pace. I am THRILLED. My "A" goal was a HUGE stretch so I am not disappointed with the "B" goal at all. Hello? I knocked nearly 12 minutes off my PR. So.very.happy.

I didn't run with my phone and Lee Ann's phone clouded over b/c of sweat, so we'll have to wait for Brightroom to come through with the good stuff. For now:

Home with my Bling :)

Take home: Gender-specific tech shirt, running hat and medal

Close up of the "hood ornament"...LOVE this medal

15 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh! Congrats on such a strong race and a PR! I love that you got to run it with a friend. And that you ran it so strong. And that bling - jealous!

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  2. Thanks! I am so thrilled to have a friend that actually runs at my pace! And I almost never get to run with anyone over such a long distance...it made it SO much better than running alone. We had such a great time...I think I am still basking in the glow from Sunday :)

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  3. The medal is AWESOME!
    Great job on the SMASHING of the PR!!

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  4. That is a huge PR! And a really cute bling! Congratulations!

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  5. Awesome race report!! PR, kick a** medal... that is beyond cool!!

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  6. That's a sweet medal and an even sweeter PR. Congrats!

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  7. Looks like 2:20 was as HUGE of a stretch goal as you thought if you came so close! Congrats on killing this race! Sounds like you finished strong, which makes it all the more sweeter!

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  8. Hi, thanks for visiting my blog! Well done, you ran an excellent race. Congrats on the PR, super! Looks like a really great race with nice bling as well.

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  9. Thanks to all for the kind comments! 2:20 is definitely the next serious goal for me...shaving 30 seconds off of a long run pace is tough but do-able!

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  10. Catching up on my reader, so I'm super late, but congrats! This sounds a lot like when I got my half PR last year! I hoped to break 2:20, knowing it would be a huge stretch, but I still took 13 minutes off my PR which was unheard of. (YAY for marathon training making us endure pain!)

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  11. Congrats!!!
    I'm your newest follower btw. :P

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  12. just found your blog. Are you doing the 2014 half-marathon?

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    Replies
    1. I plan to be there! Are you running it?

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