Sunday was my big race of the spring - the Lincoln Half Marathon. I registered for this race way back in December, because it sells out so fast. With great reason! Lincoln puts on a wonderful race. It is relatively flat, well-organized, and fun. But most of all, the spectator support is just amazing. I said it last year, and I'll say it again: I will forever run this race because of the fans!
I originally registered for the full marathon. Not knowing how my training would go, I felt comfortable registering for the full because Lincoln gives you the option to switch to the half at no charge. And a few months later, I did just that. I turned my focus to speed work and strength training with the intention of beating my half marathon PR (set in Lincoln last year, with a time of 1:54:18.)
So, how'd it go?
Allow me to back up just a little, to Saturday. I drove down to Lincoln to pick up my bib and check out the expo. As I was walking the few blocks from my parking spot to the hotel, I realized just how warm it was. I found myself seeking out shaded spots to stand in while waiting for lights to change. I rolled up my t-shirt sleeves and tied my hair up in a bun. Still, I was dripping with sweat. It was hot.
All of a sudden I was extremely grateful that the race started at 7AM, as opposed to 8AM. I was also so relieved that I had switched to the half. I couldn't imagine having to run 26.2 miles in that heat! It's crazy to think that during this race last year I was wishing I had gloves.
After making my way through the crowded expo, I went to visit my friends and play giant Jenga, stopped by the fire station to visit Kate, and then made my way back to Omaha, way too late.
I woke up to flashing lights outside my window. I was convinced it was a tow truck until I heard the thunder. The sky opened up and a huge storm broke out, including hail! While waiting for the hail to stop, I drank a coconut water and ate a baked sweet potato with peanut butter. Might sound weird, but it was filling and easy on my stomach. (I had to find a new pre-run breakfast during the 60 Day Challenge, since English muffins did not make the cut.) I hit the road just after 5AM and made my way to Lincoln in the pouring rain, wondering the whole time if this race would even happen.
Amazingly enough, the storm cleared just as I was finding parking. There was no telling if the rain would start back up at that point, so I made the last-minute decision to wear my hat instead of sunglasses. I grabbed a banana to eat while I made my way to the start line. It was cloudy and cool, and actually felt like a great day to run.
Although my goal was just to beat 1:54:18, my plan was to start out with the 1:50 pace group. I figured if I was feeling good, I might be able to push it enough to stay with them. Otherwise, I could always dial it back a bit, since I had a 4 minute cushion. I started out with the group and felt awesome - those first few miles flying by. I remember thinking to myself at mile 3, "I feel great! I feel strong. Remember this if you start to struggle later."
Well, the struggle definitely came, but I was able to stick with the group for the first 7 miles. I actually lost them around mile 5, when I stopped quickly to fuel and drink water, but kept them in my sight for the next 2 miles. After that, the gap started to grow. Mile 9 hurt, and I took a walk break on the hill. The next 2 miles were no fun, and I started doubting myself. I popped in my headphones and listened to Heartlines on repeat. It helped me power through.
With 2 miles left, I started to do my math. Was the PR still possible? How fast did I need to go? I realized I could do it if I stayed under a 9 minute mile...and if the course wasn't too long. I put my head down and repeated "I'm going to get my PR!" over and over again.
Right about then I saw my friend Kelly doubling back on the course. He had already finished (in 1:17:58...and 20th place overall!!) and was headed to find his wife to run her in. (Congrats to you both!!) It was a great boost to get a cheer from him. And then, with less than a mile left, I saw Kate! We missed each other earlier on the course, so this was a great surprise. By that point I was pretty sure I'd come in under 1:54, so I was feeling good. Still, I was able to pick up the pace a bit more to bring it in.
Official Time - 1:53:36
Average Pace - 8:39
- Mile 1 - 8:40
- Mile 2 - 8:35
- Mile 3 - 8:51
- Mile 4 - 8:17
- Mile 5 - 8:12
- Mile 6 - 7:55 <--- downhill + what the heck?!
- Mile 7 - 8:20
- Mile 8 - 8:45
- Mile 9 - 9:11 <--- walk break #1
- Mile 10 - 8:49
- Mile 11 - 9:19 <--- feeling it; walk break #2
- Mile 12 - 8:59
- Mile 13 - 8:30
- Mile 13.1 - 1:14
To be honest, the second half of the race felt much harder than I would have liked. Sure, getting the PR helped me forget the pain pretty quickly, but I'd rather not cut it so close. Although my training went well in that I ran my shorter runs fast, I could have done better with my long runs - not taking water breaks with the running group or picking up the pace a bit more instead of chatting. But that just means there's still room for improvement!
After all is said and done, I am very happy with my performance. The weather definitely threw us all for a loop, and I'm glad I didn't use it as an excuse to drop out of the race or give up on my goal. It feels so good now that it's over!