Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever unexpectedly PR’d a half marathon you were solely running as a training run? Since I’ve never been the type of person who runs a half marathon as a training run (still not sure who I am anymore), this is certainly a first for me. Last week, I ran the Allstate 13.1 NY Half Marathon. Spoiler alert: I PR’d by almost 4 minutes. It was unexpected and completely overwhelmed me with emotion. As if I need a reason to cry at a finish line.
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you stop to look fear in the face.” -Eleanor Roosevelt
I had reservations going into last weekend. Self doubt had been creeping in all week, despite an incredible training cycle thus far. Why do my legs feel like shit this week? Why do I have aches and pains in my feet? Can I still run 13 miles? Can I still run alone? Should I really run the half marathon as a training run? I had 13 miles on my training plan for that day anyway. So I figured why not do my long run with water stations and thousands of friends, right? After all, a bunch of my friends were running too!
I was nervous heading into the 13.1 NY Half Marathon. After all, I hadn’t run a half marathon since October. Could I still run 13 miles? Could I still run alone? I love running alone and have for most of my long runs during training cycles past. Before this training cycle, I often got anxious about running with others. Could I keep up? What if I had to stop? Then I started running with Kim, Allison, Liz and Nicole. Now I wondered, and worried, could I still run alone? At the end of the day I told myself, you ran 12 miles last week; this is just one more mile. And just like that I committed to running the half marathon.
I don’t really feel like a true race recap is warranted because, in the spirit of full disclosure, this was just a training run. I don’t often speak of specific goals on here. I don’t often mention paces during tempo runs or speedwork or long runs. Not intentionally, I just don’t. I’m always proud when I nail a tempo run or surprise myself with a flawless long run. Let’s be honest, they don’t come around that often. But I’ve just never been one to talk shop when it comes to paces. However, I had very specific paces prescribed for this long run and I intended to ignore the fact that it was a race and stick to the planned paces. My plan was 5 easy, 5 at a 10:15 min/mile pace, 2 easy and 1 “go.” I’m not going to lie; that “go” part frightened me after already running 12 miles. But I guess that’s the point of half marathon training, right?
How did it go, you ask?
Mile 1: 10:31
Mile 2: 10:38
Mile 3: 10:36
Mile 4: 10:25
Mile 5: 10:36
Despite the soul crushing wind (I swear there was a head wind for like 8+ miles), I hit my stride very early on in this run. Typically I don’t hit my stride for 3 or 4 miles, but I honestly felt great during the 5 easy miles. I was actually trying to slow myself down. I figured if I kept the easy miles closer to a 10:40-10:45 min/mile pace, it would make holding the 5 miles at a 10:15 min/mile pace much easier to do successfully.
5 at a 10:15 min/mile pace
Mile 6: 10:07
Mile 7: 9:55
Mile 8: 10:06
Mile 9: 9:53
Mile 10: 9:56
These miles felt amazing! I couldn’t believe it; despite that soul crushing wind, I was actually able to run these 5 miles faster than a 10:15 min/mile pace. These were definitely more challenging than the 5 easy miles, but I also felt like I could give more had I been racing. Although, I’m not going to lie, I was ready for the 2 easy miles that were next up on deck. I was looking forward to them for most of the last tempo mile.
Mile 11: 10:36
Mile 12: 10:38
Like the 5 easy miles, I tried to be conservative during these 2 easy miles. I figured that would give me the best shot at nailing the “go” mile and, of course, the last 0.1, which, let’s be honest, training run or not, I was definitely racing the last 0.1 miles. It was a half marathon, after all.
Mile 13: 9:42
Mile 13.1: 9:17
*Last 0.15: 8:58
*One day I’ll learn how to not overrun a half marathon course, last Saturday clearly wasn’t that day!
Official Finish Time: 2:15:55
My goal race, the Long Branch Half Marathon, is now just a little bit less than 5 weeks away. My goal for that race was 2:15. I both shocked and amazed myself at the 13.1 NY Half Marathon when I reached my goal 6 weeks early. Did I sell myself short when choosing 2:15 as my goal? Has my training been going that great? I can’t answer for sure. But, needless to say, I couldn’t be happier and literally still cannot stop smiling.
I get very emotional when I reach a goal. Per usual, I cried at the finish line. In fact, when Kim and Sylvia, also known as the BEST cheerleaders, found me after the finish line, I was sobbing like a baby. When Kim hugged me, it was all over; the waterworks could not be controlled. Is it because I doubt myself? Perhaps. Are they tears of pride? Yeah, let’s go with that instead. I think I get emotional because I feel overwhelmed when I surprise myself with what I’m capable of.
Final Thoughts (also known as cheesy thoughts from a half marathon)
The race course was clearly in La Guardia Airport’s flight pattern, evidenced by the proximity to the airport and the abundance of planes flying over head during the race. My brother had given me a pep talk in the days before the race about why I should run the race as a training run. He told me to believe in myself and that he believed in me. During that same conversation I asked him what he wanted for his birthday, to which he replied, “All I want for my birthday is a picture of you with that medal around your neck.” I mean, how could I say no to that? Each time I saw a plane fly overhead, I heard my brother, the Pilot, cheering me on and I felt like that pushed me along and gave me so much strength and courage during the “race.”
What did I learn from half marathon #3?
1. Headwinds for 8+ miles, even when you’re kicking some long run ass, are soul crushing!
2. Apparently, I crave Mexican food for dinner after running a half marathon (I’ve now eaten Mexican food for dinner after all 3 half marathons).
3. I still believe all races should be celebrated with champagne (tater tots don’t hurt either).
3. Most importantly, I’m stronger and capable of more than I think.
So what’s next now that I reached my goal 6 weeks early? I could relax and just enjoy the Long Branch Half, right? My guess is I’ll re-evaluate my goals, keep working hard and see what else I’m capable of. Stay tuned!
Many thanks to all of my friends and family who continue to encourage, support and believe in me. I couldn’t do it without you. Thanks for quieting the crazy! And a VERY special thanks to Abby, who has continued to believe in me and push me farther than I thought I could go. Without her, this PR could not have been possible.
Have you ever run a half marathon as a training run?
Do you get emotional after crossing the finish line?
Do you ever surprise yourself with what you are capable of?
What are you training for?
How did you know you were ready to run your first marathon?