Wow, what a day! For background, I ran my first half marathon back in May 2010 – Boston’s Run to Remember. I was shooting for sub-2:00, but with the heat and humidity that day, I struggled to get a 2:13. I signed up for the Baystate Half last year, but on race day I had such a bad cough that running was out of the question. My next half was to be the Half at the Hamptons in NH early this year. An internal infection benched me for that one. So this was my fourth sign up, fourth run through of all or most of a 12 week training program, but only the second half I actually started.
I trained well for this. No injuries, no illnesses. Lots of hard runs, hill work, various repeats, tempo runs and decent long runs, including two 13-milers. I felt ready. My goal was … well, there are always three goals, right? My bare minimum goal was sub-2:00. The goal I felt pretty good about making was sub-1:55. And the goal that I felt was maybe possible if all factors lined up just exactly right was sub-1:50.
First half of the half: Things went really well. My plan was to do the first 10 miles at around 8:30-8:23 and then if I had anything left, give it hell for the last 5k. (8:23 is what it would take to go sub-1:50.) But I found myself doing 8:20 or under for the first 3-4 miles. And I felt great. Didn’t feel like I was really pushing it at all. Actually, really had to hold myself back to keep it that slow. Started getting slightly winded in mile 6, but not bad. Made it through the first loop feeling really good.
Kept going pretty well through mile 7. In mile 8 though, I noticed that rather than running comfortably at 8:20ish, I was having to push it to stay under 8:30. But I pushed it and kept it under for the next couple of 2-3 miles. I wasn’t dying, but just starting to struggle a bit.
As I approached the 10 mile mark, I started psyching myself up for the push on the final 5k. But I started pushing a bit too early, probably closer to 9.5. I was up in the low 8:00’s. When I hit mile 10 I was at just over 1:25. This left me just under 25 minutes to meet 1:50. I could do this. Miles 11 and 12 I was doing mostly sub-7:50. But that took just about all I had. I hit mile 12 pretty wasted, and still had 1.1 to go. And about 9 minutes to do it in.
The last mile I just had nothing. I was hanging on at around 8:10 for most of it. Couldn’t get a surge going. I was counting down the minutes and it was so tight. I couldn’t slow down, I couldn’t speed up.
The last half mile takes a bunch of turns and goes down various side streets and back alleys. Thus it’s impossible to judge how close to the finish you are. Every time I’d turn a corner I’d see another corner a few more blocks up, and another minute was gone off the clock. I finally caught sight of the finish line, showing 1:49:30 something. And passed under at 1:49:54. That was gun time. Chip time was 1:49:12.
I was so blown away to have made this goal. I didn’t really think I had that in me. Still getting used to the reality. That’s about a 24 minute PR. Whew!
A couple of other things to note on the course. There was quite a bit of debris on the road – dead branches from recent storms, etc. In the first 2-3 miles I heard two people go down within 20 feet behind me. Then at around mile 4.5 I tripped over a branch myself. I managed to stop myself from falling, but pulled my left hamstring. I’ve had a couple of injuries there before, so it had me worried. But after a few minutes it felt ok, until those last three miles, where it started hurting a bit again. Hopefully it’s nothing serious. Oddly, I saw the exact same stick on the second loop, and only narrowly avoided it the second time!
A major highlight of the course for me was around mile 4, there were a bunch of kids in costumes with a giant sign that read “Runners are Wicked Pissah!” If you don’t know what that means, it’s because you didn’t grow up in New England in the 70’s. I did, so it made my day, twice! You can google it.
Again, an awesome day. I’m still exhausted, but very happy.
Gun Time: 1:49:54
Chip Time: 1:49:12
Age Group: 82/387