Wow! What a race. I had a lot of firsts with this race even though I’ve done countless half marathons, this one was full of surprises with the pace I was able to hold and also with how my body reacted and felt. I finished in 1:43 a new PR that I’m so happy about! With the way I was racing before some stomach issues at mile 9, I think I could have had a 1:40 finish, which gives me a lot of hope and excitement for this year’s racing season.
The race had a later start (9am) due to the chilly weather lingering here in Vermont. I took a bus to the start and arrived about 20 minutes before the start time. That gave me just enough time to get myself sorted, say hi to some friends, and mentally prep for the task ahead without too much time to overthink things.
I honestly didn’t know what to expect or what I was capable of at this point as far as time since my training really hasn’t been steady over the winter months due to snow and ice, a knee injury, and I had only done a few runs at race pace. I decided that morning though that I was going to push it as hard as I could and see what happened.
I, of course, started out too fast like I always do and was doing 7 minute miles which I gradually increased to 7:15-7:30. Since the first few miles were in neighborhoods, there was a lot of crowd support and my race excitement fueled a faster pace. By mile 4 though I knew I needed to be careful with the energy I was expending in the first miles and slowed it down between 7:30-7:40.
My biggest struggles were with miles 4.5-6.5 and then 9-11. Generally mile 9 or 10 is my rough point in races, but this time it wasn’t because I was running on empty. It was because my stomach started hurting. It was bothering me starting around mile 7, but I could work through it. Right past the mile 9 marker I couldn’t push through it anymore – I thought I was going to be sick my stomach hurt so bad. So I had to stop on the side of the bike path and lost a couple of minutes of time. I was crushed because I was on pace to hit a 1:40 until that point. I practiced deep breathing and soon felt okay enough to push through. Mentally I refused to let it get me down. Sure, a 1:40 would have been awesome, but I wanted to get under 1:45 which was still a very real possibility. My next mile was slower, but then I picked up the pace again around mile 10.5-11. I knew that it was all or nothing at this point and decided to go for it.
Mile 12 had a couple of hills that are a struggle at the end of a race! Once I saw the mile 12 marker though I just pushed it as hard as I possibly could knowing that I can handle anything for one mile no matter how much it hurts. As soon as I turned the corner and saw the finish I bolted as fast as I could. When I saw the race clock was almost at 1:43, pure happiness and excitement filled me. I think I had the biggest goofiest smile on my face and just felt all this hard work I’ve been doing for over a year to break 1:45 had finally paid off. It’s a pretty incredible feeling. There’s nothing like the feeling of accomplishing something you’ve been putting so much work in for. That’s probably one of the reasons I love running races – it let’s me push myself to extremes and gives me so much confidence.
I will say though that even though it was well worth it, every mile of this race hurt. I didn’t have one moment where I thought I had extra energy to spare and it makes the finish that much more worth it. I tried to distract myself with the “well…what doesn’t currently hurt” game, but all I could think of was my fingers so that quickly ended that game. Instead, my method to mentally get through was just accepting that it was uncomfortable and that’s okay!
Sunday left me feeling less than stellar as my body was just feeling a little worse for the wear between sore muscles and my stomach not feeling great. I’ve actually never had a race where I’ve encountered so many stomach issues the day of and after so I’m trying to pinpoint what’s going on with that so there’s not a repeat of that in the future.
I am so excited though and ready to dive back into training with sunshine and warmer temps predicted as spring makes an appearance here. The next half marathon is in a month! I have my eyes set on a certain time, but I’m going to keep that to myself for now and see how training goes for the next month!
And with all this being said, here’s my training plan for the week!