I admit that in the last few weeks I have not been looking forward to this race. Part of this was because I ran a horrible 5k back at the start of August and was just not too keen on racing and then the elevation profile (which ended up being a non factor) scared me. It looked really hilly compared to what Garmin records for my own runs but what I learned today was that the Garmin is not very good at elevation as my own hilly runs are much more more difficult than any of the hills I faced today. Also adding to my race grumpiness was that the kids were sick with colds and the weather forecast was rainy and windy.
This morning when we left the hotel it was rainy, windy, and there was a lot of lightning. We got as far the the Petit and then we sat on the Highway waiting to get into the stadium for almost 50 minutes. I was quite certain that we would miss the start as the lighting had stopped for 15 minutes. We did finally reach close and safe enough to the entance road for me to run to the start with 8 minutes to spare. I do not know if I have ever been less than 30 mins early for a race so this is not my normal race routine. I am still worried that the man in the black SUV who watched me quickly squat in the Miller Park landscaping will report my bib and I will recieve a ticket in the mail. I admit I was not very modest about it.
Lucky for me and the other thousand particiapnts still trying to park they delayed the race for 20 minutes. Looking back I was much better off sitting in the van for all that time rather than in the drafty stadium.
The race started and finally my gloom and doom attitude went away as my pace felt super easy. I was careful to hold back but did run the first few miles just a tad faster than I had planned as I was able to easily converse with my fellow runners. First few miles were 6:47, 6:43, 6:45, 6:52, and then 7:02 as we reached a hilly section. Also it worked out that the rain was gone after the first mile. I know those splits are all over the place but I was just running by feel and adapting my pace to the hills and wind. My next few miles were either long uphills or long downhills as my splits show 6:46 6:55 7:00 6:45. Mile 10 was a killer with a horrible headwind and the largest hill of the race. I am a broad shouldered girl and a headwind is super tough for me and that was a super slow 7:29. The entire race was windy as we crossed a lot of long bridges but it was picking up towards the end. I was right back into the race though as mile 11 and 12 were a speedy 6:36 and 6:38. Two men that I ran the first few miles with left me early in the race as they were determined to run all their miles the exact same pace but my more adaptive approach seemed to work far better as I passed them both by mile 9 so I do believe that I executed this race course very well. By the time I was starting mile 13 I was feeling good and was ready to give it my all. I was really hoping that it could be possible that I would finally break 1:30. Then the final mile turned....directly into the headwind and my PR dream was gone. I tried so hard to get back onto pace or any pace faster than the 7:29ish that the Garmin showed but I just could not pick up any speed. This was further complicated by a short stint into the tunnels of the stadium and part way around the field as the sharp turns through hall tunnels and the soft dirt track were not conductive to a fast pace either. Then it was back into the headwind for the last 1/4 of a mile and as I passed the 13 mile mark (7:27) I knew that there was no way I would even be close to sub 90. Final time was 1:30:40, 5th OAF, and 2nd in my age group.
I should be really really happy with this race as I had no real time goal going into the race because of the weather and my crabby pre race attitude. I also think that I ran the best possible race I could have today. This was also by far the least painful half I have ever ran. This was the first time ever that my fastest miles were near the end. I even smiled and waved at every single cop and crowd as I really thought that finally this was the day. I just really believed for 12 miles that I was going to finally beat this goal that has evaded me for so long. It is hard to let go of a belief that kept you running hard for so long on such a gray and windy day. So it was a bitter disapointment when everything fell apart the last mile.
Good things about today were the hot shower after the race at the hotel (Thank God for 11 am check out) and the confidence that maybe next time I will finally have everything come together to break 1:30. I am not sure if I should try another half in October as they are so expensive and I may be past my peak. I will just see how I recover this week.