Most half marathon training cycles are a tumultuous mix of highs and lows. This time around the lows have definitely outnumbered the highs. Stress response in my left lower leg, re-tweaking of my left calf and general not weirdness in SLL AKA stupid left leg. BUT I have been able to run (albeit with more breaks than I would like) and after last weeks 10 miler I was pretty confident that I could finish the Salt Lake half marathon on April 16th. But part of me – the obnoxious, competitive side – wanted to figure out a realistic goal pace for the race. Lucky for me, this weekend was the last in the RUNSLC series – a 15k that I wanted to use as a tune-up for the big 13.1 in two weeks.
I’ve really enjoyed this race series (5K and 10K reports here and here) – for one they managed to find the only flat 9 mile section in Salt Lake. But it’s also well-organized, low key and a great motivator for early spring training. Plus, sprinkle-covered donut holes at the finish. The 15K also covers about 3-4 miles of the half marathon course.
Going into the race my goal was to race strong. At the 10K I went out too fast and felt so awful for the last two miles – I did not want that to happen again and have a much longer sufferfest. I wanted to start off conservatively/sensibly/who am I kidding I just picked a random number at 7.55-8.05 min pace and see if I could maintain it for 9 miles. The race started at 8 am with beautiful weather (sunny, blue sky and 40F).
The first three miles were pretty solid (7.57/8.07/8.02) and I was feeling good. This was the exact opposite of the 10K, where a quarter mile in I knew that I was not going to have a good day. One thing that freaked me out was I felt like the whole world was passing me out in that first mile and part of me started to panic. But then I had a little word with myself and decided to concentrate on my own race but it took some convincing not too run “just a little faster” to catch up. 9 miles is a long way.
By the end of mile three, the race had settled down. I could see a couple of women ahead of me and decided that I would try and catch them by the end of the race. This started six miles of a near perfect progression run (7.56/7.50/7.40/7.37/7.39/7.36). At the halfway point I was 11th woman (it’s an out-and-back so pretty easy to see who’s in front of you) and ended up finishing as 7th (28 overall; 3rd in my age group – dam 30-34 is super competitive). Catching up to and passing those other women was such a confidence booster – I did mention my obnoxious, competitive side earlier, right?
This was the first time in the series where I actually sped up at the finish – and this was captured by my husband who cheered (along with our dog Sophie) at two points on the course. Usually, I am just hanging on at the end and have not extra energy for a last push but this time it really was my day. I ended up finishing in 1:10:23 (7.49 pace) – pretty much the same pace (7.46) as my 10K race 4 weeks ago.
This race was just amazing. I felt strong. Nothing hurt (besides my lungs at the end LOL!). I paced well. I ran a negative split. My last mile was the fastest. It was a total redemption race and made me excited – and not terrified – for my half marathon. It was everything you could ask for in a race. Well except for being 15K – it was only 9 miles long. Oh well.