Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Harbor Heights Half Marathon

April 2, 2016

I decided to run this race a few months ago, when my boss at Fit2Run said she could get me an entry. Since I'm working on adding half marathons this year, I jumped at the chance to run one for free! Since I've been dealing with issues with my left hamstring and hip, I decided I would take it easy for this race. Ariana volunteered to pace the 2:15 pace group, so I told her I would help her with it. It was the first time pacing for both of us. I felt like it was a good opportunity to see if pacing would be something I would enjoy.

Race Morning: Ariana and I met up with Gina, who volunteered to drive us down to Harbor Heights, which is east of Punta Gorda. Just under an hour from where we live. The days leading up to race day had been hot and humid. Race day was even hotter and more humid than it has been since the summer! It was in the low 70s and very steamy! So glad I wasn't trying to set a personal record out there. It was NOT the day to do it! We arrived with plenty of time to get a good parking spot, pick up our race packets and then sit in the car for a bit. About 20 minutes before the start of the race, we picked up the 2:15 pace pole and got a photo with the other pacers. We then headed over to the start. It didn't look like a very big crowd. With the half and 5K combined, it was under 500 runners. A recorded version of the National Anthem was played, with some children present to sing along. Once that was done, we were off!

All the runners spread out pretty quickly. We had a small group near us, but I wasn't ever sure if they where pacing with us or not. Gina decided to hang with us for a bit, even though her goal was much slower for the day. We did some loops through the neighborhood, which was very quiet at this time in the morning. The sun wasn't all the way up yet, so the first few miles were bearable. Both Ariana and I had a hard time keeping to the slower pace. As a result, some of our early mile splits are a bit on the fast side! Ariana held the sign for the first few miles, then passed it off to me. We passed it back and forth every few miles, to give each of us a break. It was a little on the heavy side.

The course was pretty boring. We would run down one street, make a turn and then run down the next street that was parallel to the last. And continue on with that. Once the sun came up, it got very hot. There was no shade at all. On the roads we headed south on, we got a nice breeze, but then we would turn a corner and head back up the next street, with the breeze at our back. The runners we had with us, started dropping off. We had one guy until mile 10, who was doing great, but pulled ahead to soon (around mile 10) and lost steam before the finish.

Hard earned finisher medals!

We were both very glad to have each other during those last couple of miles. It was hard going! I really wanted to slow down, but we needed to keep our pace, in case other runners who we came up to, decided to pace off of us until the finish. We would catch up to people walking or running slowly, they would see us and then they would pick up their pace!

We ended up finishing ahead of schedule. One, the course was short! And two, we did run those first few miles about 10 seconds per mile faster than we should have. All in all, I enjoyed pacing. I would like to try it again at a bigger race, where I might actually have people hang with me for the entire time! :)

I am also very surprised that I ended up placing third in my age group! Shocker, since it's such a slow pace for me normally. But, that's what happens when you run a small race. :)

Monday, April 4, 2016

Sarasota Half Marathon

March 13, 2016
Race morning started off with an hour less of sleep. It’s not a fun day when Daylight Savings Time begins on the morning of a race. I got up around 4:30 and was out the door by 5:30. It’s a local race, but parking is an issue and I wanted to make sure I got to the lot, across the street from the race, before it filled up. I hung out in my car for a bit, before Gina showed up. We then headed over to the start area. We hung out at the Fit2Run tent, before I went to use the porta-potties, then went ahead and got into the corral. I had about a 10 minute wait, but I wanted to get in there a little ahead of time, since it was a hassle to get into the crowded corral the year before.  Soon we were off!
The first little stretch is always very congested. Even though I was pretty far forward, there were still people ahead of me that I had to dodge around because they were walking or running much slower. Just before mile one, we make a right turn, heading towards the Ringling Bridge. I see Melissa off to the side, but I’m on the far left, so I don’t get a chance to say high. Over the bridge and then out to St Armand’s Circle. Ran a loop through the circle, before heading back over the bridge. This time, I was able to catch Melissa’s attention and grab a high five from her. Made the right turn on to 41 and headed back towards the stop. It’s always fun to run past the area where all the relay people are waiting for their runner. Miles 1 through 6 – 8:13, 8:36, 8:27, 8:39, 9:10, 8:50
We had a mile or so on the main road before making a left into the neighborhood west of Tamiami Trail. This is the new part of the course. In previous years, since they moved the start from the Ringling Museum to the Van Wezel, we have run a few miles up Tamiami Trail, before turning at the Museum and coming back to the finish through the neighborhood boarding the water. This new part of the course was so much better! My right calf has been feeling tight, but just before reaching the museum, it is really hurting. I stop and stretch and then have to stretch about every mile before reaching the finish! I was actually kind of worried I would pull something. It was so painful! I worked on keeping good form and not extending my stride, which seemed to help a bit. At least it took my mind of the pain. Once we reached the main road, I tried to speed it up again. Made the turn to the Van Wezel, then pushed it hard for the last stretch before reaching the finish line. Miles 7 through 13.1 - 9:05, 9:12, 9:22, 9:11, 9:15, 9:40, 9:07, 1:12
Finish - 1:58:05

Super happy with a sub 2 hour finish. Wish I could have run a faster race though. Need to work on getting my hip, hamstring and calf better!