Tag Archives: Half Marathon

ING Hartford Half Marathon–or as I call it, PR City

“Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.” – Christian D. Larson

Many months back, some of my girlfriends from college and I decided that our nice October weekend get-together should include running a half marathon. My friend Brianna lives in (or around) the West Hartford, CT area so a handful of us traveled from NY, CT and MA to spend the weekend together.

During the lovely Friday evening train from NYC ride with my friend Jessica, I discussed my half marathon fears and goals (A, B and C) over 16oz Bud Lights. Side note: I love train beers ($2.75 for 16oz = cheapest in Manhattan). You catch me at the Penn Station beer stand from now on. Anyway, I disclosed to her that my C goal was around my current PR time of 1:50, B was 1:48ish and A goal was 1:45. I said that and kind of laughed because I did not think it was doable (ahem, that’s what B goals are for). We ended up going out to dinner and I had ANOTHER beer and a giant plate of pasta with marinara sauce. Simple and easy on the belly.

Friday had involved some panicking. I checked the weather for Saturday and saw 56 degrees. I didn’t think about what temp is would be from 6-10 AM.  Hourly forecast: 29 degrees at start of race at 8am, 34 degrees at finish at 10am. Yikes. THANK GOD I packed throwaways, my new Lululemon gloves and a headband.

Saturday morning I woke up, stretched, foam rolled, ate (half bagel with peanut butter), drank coffee and then made everyone late because I relaxed for so long that when it was time to go none of my stuff was together Smile Shocker.

Hartford3Me, Bri (who doesn’t usually stand like that) and Jess

We drove 15 minutes to the start area (which was set up to be a mini-expo/post-race party) and sat in the car for about 30 minutes to stay warm. What goes on in my head before a race like this? Honestly, nothing. I didn’t think about the race at all (or the weather) and I pretended I was just in the car dancing to Britney Spears with my friends.

I drank my usual 5 Hour Energy and we walked to the crowded start (with Bruce Springsteen blasting in my headphones). The announcer did a great job of pumping everyone up and we waited outside the corrals until we could pop in.

Hartford1

Once it was our time to go, I stripped down to my race out (+ a long sleeve tech shirt) and fumbled around with my iphone, headphones and Garmin. Another shocker.

The race started in front of the CT State Capitol. It was extra crowded during the first mile so I tried my best to move swiftly around others (I told myself before the race a 9ish minute first mile is OK). The roads widened for a while and I was able to IMMEDIATELY fall into a groove. Jackpot.

Mile 1: 8:32

From Mile 2-8, (as the website states) the course “tours attractive sections and neighborhoods of Hartford and West Hartford.” I saw my friends screaming their faces off and I screamed, waved and threw them my long sleeve shirt. I was settled in a perfectly comfortable pace and was REALLY enjoying my playlist. In the morning I stuffed a box of raisins in my sports bra for fuel and I took my first bit at mile 5.5. It was an enjoyable snack and I dumped them right in my mouth from the box. I was going to toss them but I figured they weren’t bothering me so back in the bra they went.

I passed through the halfway point around 54 minutes. This was the first time I actually thought about my finish time. My thoughts: “Maintain this pace, finish around 1:47-1:48.”

Mile 2-8: 8:03, 8:01, 8:13, 8:08, 8:03, 7:57, 8:06

Miles 9-10 were in Elizabeth Park. It was a nice change of scenery and the foliage was very pretty! That word drop was for you Laura (and Kara)! Thoughts during Mile 9-10: “Can you maintain this pace? Do you have another kick in you? Yes. OK. Let’s go. This is your race. You ARE strong enough to do this. Do NOT slow down, you are comfortable at this pace. DO NOT SLOW DOWN. BE STRONG, RUN STRONG.” Basically a huge self-pep talk (also channeling Jocelyn’s thought process)!

Miles 9-10: 8:05, 7:55

I hit 10 miles around 1:22. At that moment, I knew I was going to PR. I needed to get through one 5k (without tripping this time) at the same pace. I had some more raisins and tossed the rest. I told myself I could slow down a bit to save some energy and quickly wiped those thoughts out of my head and decided to speed up instead. I also cheated and used the very welcomed downhill to start that momentum.

hartfordelevation

My only thoughts during the last 5k were:

  • I’m so happy I’m wearing all yellow. Yellow is meant for PRs.
  • This fucking playlist is awesome. Thank you Vegas for helping me create it.
  • I wonder why I haven’t raced a half marathon since April 2011. I love this distance.
  • HOLY SHIT, do I want to/can I race the NYCM?
  • I love running in this weather.
  • I fucking love my outfit.

I crossed the finish line and tripped over my headphones (remember the fumbling, I guess I didn’t do so well with their storage during the race). We can only hope Brightroom got a shot of my “holy shit I just ran a monster PR turned holy shit I just almost fell” finish.

Miles 11-13.1: 7:49, 7:35, 7:35, .whatever 7:12

Official Finish Time: 1:45:38

hartfordofficialfinish

Garmin Splits:

hartfordgarminsplits

I was thrilled. I’m still thrilled.

Hartford4

Hartford5Post race UFO White. HEAVEN.

My main (and constant) thought leading up to the race was, “I don’t think I can run 8:00/mi for an entire half marathon.” Example:

hartfordconvostacy

Thank you Stacy. You were right. I owe you a drink.

The reason for my mental confusion: My NYCM training in the weeks leading up to the half were intense. I ran long each week – distance, check.

Speed? Not even close. I had not (and still haven’t) done any speedwork since the week before I was put in that damn walking boot. So what happened?

Everything lined up for me during this race. The weather (although cold, was very comfortable to run in) and my fueling were obvious factors. My passion for the sport came out during this race. I wanted to be out there and run a strong race. My mind is in a better place than it was a month ago or 2 months ago and even than before I got hurt. This race reminded me that hard work and dedication coupled with a strong heart WILL inevitably lead you to accomplishments.

The best thing I got out of this race: confidence. I spent a lot of weeks really down on myself for not being able to run. I worked my way back into the distances the best that I could. It turns out, my body (and mind) needed to rest (for 5 weeks) in order to start working properly again.

Moving forward: No more “I don’t think I can run that pace for …… (insert distance here).”  Strictly positive thoughts helped me through this one. Give it a try!

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NYCM Training – Week 14 Recap

I am 3 weeks out from the NYC Marathon. This past week was supposed to be “peak week.” I suppose it would be peak week for me if I were still following a training plan.

SO going with unconventional training, this week was actually the lowest mileage I ran since coming back from being injured (I think anyway).

Week 14 (10/8 – 10/14)

Monday 10/8: Rest

Tuesday 10/9: Bike – 10 mi, NTC – Arm Definer 15 min

Wednesday 10/10: Rest

Thursday 10/11: I wanted to get a few miles done at my half marathon goal pace (for the ING Hartford Half on Saturday)!

5 Treadmill Miles – 1 mi Warm up @ 9:22, 3 x 1 mi @ 8:00, 1 mi cool down @ 9:22

Friday 10/12: I should have rested before my half marathon. Instead I ran in Central Park at lunch with my friend Chris, in this outfit (with a regular bra, because why wouldn’t I forget a sports bra for a run i shouldn’t be running):

Chris clearly thought I looked awesome (NOT embarrassing). Why else would he take a picture?

Chris is doing the NJ Tough Mudder on Oct 20. He wanted to run a fast 6 miles. I stopped short at 4.62 miles and kept the pace at 9:05ish. I’m a good person.

Saturday 10/13: ING Hartford Half Marathon. Big fucking PR! I couldn’t be happier!

Official Stats:

13.1 mi – 1:45:38 (8:03 avg pace)

Overall Place: 888 of 5,946

Gender Place: 237 of 3,320

Age Group Place (25-29): 45 of 555

Sunday 10/14: Rest day/Eat EVERYTHING in sight. And then 3 huge tacos for dinner.

Total Weekly Mileage: 23

Brooklyn Half Marathon

I wanted to run this race for two reasons:

  1. I’m sick of NYRR rejecting me in the NYC Half lottery. I am going to do the qualifying races this year.
  2. I signed up to run the Philly Marathon with Melissa on November 18, which is exactly 2 weeks after the NYC Marathon. Brooklyn was 2 weeks after the NJ Marathon, so it was a good test to see how my legs would react to running a long distance in a short time frame.

Unfortunately, the week leading up to the race was rough for my body. Last Saturday, I re-injured my neck just walking into my house and spent the entire night crying on the couch and having to lift my head with my hands. On Tuesday, when I felt better, I thought it was a BRILLIANT idea to do the Insanity Fit Test (the first of the series). I realized how out of shape I was when I woke up the next morning and couldn’t walk.  Unfortunately, for the last few (or 5 or 6) months, I have been severely slacking on strength workouts. I would say during marathon training all I did was running/other cardio and chair sits in my elevator at work. This soreness (which usually lasts 2 days max) lasted up until the race on Saturday. I panicked, obviously, and thought to myself, “What the hell are you doing, you only ran 5 miles in the past 2 weeks, what makes you think you can just go run a half marathon? Damn fool.”

I had to wake up very early in order to get to the 7 AM start on time from good ol’ NJ (SPOILER: I was late). I drank a butt ton of water, put on my running outfit (compression socks and all) and forced myself to go to sleep.

A very less than glorious 4 hours later:

Yes, I Loraxed my dog. Don’t judge.

After traveling all over in order to get there the best/fastest/least traffic way, my friend Sky and I arrived at Coney Island (finish area) with about 20 minutes until the start. Because MTA doesn’t ever let anyone down, the Q train traveled about .000001 MPH. After we arrived at Prospect Park, we took a quick potty break and jogged from the subway station to the start line (it wouldn’t be nearly as fun if I didn’t run at least 1 mile to the start line of every single race I run in). Then the volunteers let us know the corrals were closed and to go to end of the line. We were literally the last people to cross the start line of about 17,000 runners I think. Definitely a first!

Last in line

It was a bit hard to navigate the first miles due to the back up and the walkers (or because I already felt like shit, but am blaming it on the walkers). I also saw a girl dribbling a basketball while running (I assume it was for a charity, I haven’t googled it yet).

I wouldn’t be able to handle to bouncing noise for that long.

Mile 1-4: 10:08, 9:46, 9:02, 9:24

Sky and I run the same pace and before we knew it, we settled into this natural pace (which was quicker than I wanted to run). The next few miles were in Prospect Park, which I love! The hills are inviting to me (I also think I’m weird for saying that so you aren’t alone). The crowds were pretty great in the park as well.

Miles 5-7: 8:50, 8:52, 8:35

After we left the park it was time to run back to our car, or down Ocean Parkway to Coney Island. I don’t think I really liked this part of the race. I am happy half of the road was in the shade, and was confused to see a significant amount of people running in the sun, but I did feel a like I was running a long stretch of pavement to nowhere. Basically, the miles were boring, except for this:

WE LOVE RUNNING!

Miles 8-10: 8:48, 9:04, 8:38

CRAP. I looked at my watch and said to Sky if we maintain this pace we can finish under 2 hours. It was either the race atmosphere made me want to do that or I wanted to get the hell off of that road and onto the Cyclone ASAP. I guess I was being punished for calling the miles boring because during mile 12, I got a side stitch that felt like some ran at me and stabbed me with a machete (although I’ve never been stabbed with a machete, I truly believe that is what it would feel like). I had to do breathing exercises to get through it, but I didn’t pull over because I HADDD to run a sub-2? Weird. While I was performing lamaze exercises, this one ran by me (fast). Ego blow for sure. I wish I looked up her bib number to see how she did.

13.1 in sandals. Not even comfortable Sanuks.

Miles 11-12: 8:35, 9:04

I saw the ocean and I went for it. And by went for it, I mean I tried to stop limping and breathing like Darth Vader.

YAY FINISH! ARMS UP! ahhhh I’m going to puke.

Mile 13: 8:44 (.1 – 8:16 pace) I REALLY picked up the pace for that last .1!

Overall, a good race. I’m happy I didn’t have to use the restroom during the race, because each potty had at least 20 people waiting at it (including non-runners, which I thought was weird). My legs still felt good afterwards (good sign for the NYC/Philly marathons in November). I have not seriously trained for and raced a half marathon in over a year (PR was 13.1 NY in March 2011 – 1:50:10). I now know I want to train for and race the crap out of a half marathon and finally get under 1:50.

I wanted to meet up with Kara, Lora and Katherine but my phone died (I used it as a boom box during the race, I’m sure everyone around me was thrilled). I did get to have a giant beer and party rock to LMFAO with the unicyclist while staring longingly at the Cyclone. Great place to end a race, Kudos NYRR.

I even used Instagram. I’m so trendy.

Did anyone else run the BK Half this weekend? Or any other races? How did it go?

Does anyone know the charity where you bounce a basketball all over the world?

Does anyone know how fast the girl in the sandals finished? She smoked me.

Who wants to help me run a half marathon under 1:50?