Sunday, September 28, 2014

Race Recap: Akron Half Marathon

     "You will never run a sub-2 half marathon if you start in Corral C," Elizabeth said, shaking her head.  I followed her and Shelby to Corral B, slipped in, started my music, and tried to get in the zone.  "There are your pacers," Elizabeth continued.  "Keep them in sight at all times.  You are going to have to fight the crowd to stick with them.  This isn't going to be fun; it's going to hurt.  You have to be focused at all times.  Don't think about anything but staying on pace.  I'll stay with you as long as I can, but this is just a training run for me, so I'm not going to go all out for 13.1 miles.  Good luck!"

I waited, deliberately breathing slowly, wondering, "Why the hell did I decide to do this?"

"This" was the Akron Half Marathon.  It was my second time running Akron, and it was my fifth half marathon.  Even though I ran two half marathons in May, I realized that every race, every training program, every bite of food I did or did not put in my mouth for the past nine months had led to this very moment.

In December 2013, Shelby and I decided that we wanted to run a half marathon in less than two hours.

This is EXACTLY how I look when I am trying to forget about a time goal (by drinking lots of wine) at the Turtles' Team Dinner.  Shelby, on the other hand, looks MAH-velous.
You've read my goal posts (See what I did there?), so you know the ugly getting-there details.  This was the moment where it all came together.

The night before, I went to the Expo to pick up my bib, my shirt, and my racing singlet (Team Panera!):

This is EXACTLY how I look when I am panicked about running 13.1  in the early morning.

I laid out my racing gear:

See the VIP badge on the left?  Team Panera, baby!

And I did my best to get some sleep.  The next morning after I ate my pre-race Panera blueberry bagel, Joy and I got lost in my own hometown while I tried to navigate the closed streets to get to my VIP parking spot.  Alas, I gave it up and parked in one of the many available spots in a parking deck near the starting line.  Then came the the hurry-up-and-wait time with my peeps until the start.  I took some pictures in the pitch-dark:
Erin and I are posing under a tree that cast some weird pox-like shadows on our faces.  Remember Erin?  She ran Leg 3 (7.5 miles) on our Turtle Relay Team.

The Ohio Runners Network, Akron Half Marathon 2014

Then, after nervously high stepping in the corral, the race started.  I don't know if I am ready to write about everything I felt. . .It's too soon, and I think I need to digest some more.  This is what I can write about for now:

It was really, really difficult.  I carried my water bottle and never walked through a water stop, and that saved me a lot of time.  I ate two GU's on the run, one at 45 minutes, and the second at 1:30 minutes, and that saved me some time, too.

A consistent piece of advice I got from everyone who coached me was to stop calculating paces in my head. Instead of saying, "Wow, I'm running at a 9 minute mile right now, but I won't be able to sustain that for six miles/ten miles/whatever," I deliberately told myself, "You can run this pace for one mile.  That is all you need to do, just finish this mile."  I did that thirteen times.  Here are my results:

Akron Marathon - HALF MARATHON
Female / 44
Placed 88th in Women 40-44

Finish Time
Finish Net2:00:52
Finish Gun2:03:34

LocationNet TimeClock TimePacePace Between
3.935:3638:189:07 /mi
8:52 /mi
8.71:18:121:20:548:59 /mi
9:43 /mi
12.751:57:352:00:179:13 /mi
9:08 /mi
Finish2:00:522:03:349:13 /mi

I knew by mile 11 that I would be really close to my goal, but at that point I was hurting pretty badly, and I felt like I was doing the best I could.  As you can see, I was very close--53 seconds away from reaching my goal of a sub-2 hour half marathon.

This is a major PR, and I am happy with it, but I am also very disappointed.  Somehow, I think it would have been easier to take if I hadn't been so close.  What was it?  Was it the blanket covering the field on the home stretch that didn't allow me to sprint because I thought I was going to trip?  Was it the hill coming back around mile 12? Was it my weight? I don't know.  I have to do some more thinking.  I'm hoping to break this down further in the post for next week; maybe it won't be so painful then.

I would like to thank the Akron Marathon and Panera for the opportunity to blog for them.  I would love to continue this relationship next year (I adore those bagels!).  I also would like to thank my coach at OneLife Fitness (and the Towpath Turtles), Sheila, for pushing me and giving me sound advice for my training.  I'd like to thank everyone in The Ohio Runners Network for being such a great running club.  Lastly, I'd like to thank Shelby, who has stuck by me this whole time, temper tantrums and all.  Thank you for saying you believe in me, Shelby.  We are still in this together for next year!

Hey, Peeps--what's next on your race agenda?  I'm going to run the Columbus Hot Chocolate 15k/5k  on November 16.  Join me by registering and using my code, TroubleRunHat, to get a free hat with your swag.  It's the sweetest race around!  I'll give you more details after I work out this Akron-thing in my head.

Like what you read?  Follow me on Twitter @itibrout.