Monday, January 09, 2012

Race Report: 2012 MS BLUE Half Marathon

MS BLUES Half Marathon
January 6, 2012 - Jackson, MS
2012 Chip Time: 3:14:13
(2011 Finish: 3:04:07)

Well this race is fast becoming one of my favorite hilly half marathons and one of these days, I'll actually have an uneventful late summer/early fall and actually run the full Marathon distance on this course. Maybe...

So this time my attempt to train for the full Marathon was pushed aside by a week in the hospital due to multiple pulmonary emboli in late August. Of course, instead of considering doing nothing at all, I simply switched from the full Marathon to a Half Marathon training plan. (I've let very little get in the way of races over the years, ya know...) It helped that my friend Amanda wanted to train for her first Half Marathon in February and asked me to join her for her race. Now I had an enthusiastic training partner for long runs every weekend and an early season goal race to get the year started right.

Now there were two "unknowns" going into this race day:

1.) How fast could I run this race, considering that all my "long run" training has been about 2-minutes per mile slower than my average "long run" pace?

2.) How much of an impact is being 15 pounds heavier going to have on my pace, in general?

and I got my answers...

1.) As fast as I expected and 2.) jury is still out this but I will conceed that, of course, losing weight will make me faster, in the long term.

Race Summary:

I was high on optimism that I could run this hilly half marathon at exactly the pace that I ran it last year. (3:04:17) and I nearly did.  The first 9 miles I was on pace for my goal and having absolutely no problems with my nutrition and energy. The next 5 miles, were another story all together. Heading into Mile 10, my pace was beginning to slow but my spirits were high. My left arch started aching with every stride.  I walk a little bit, stopping to loosen up my left shoelace and that seem to ease the problem. I did a little "self talk" and told myself "That was my bad mile, every race has a bad mile...Keep pushing" and picked up the pace - stopping briefly for a port-o-potty break.

Things improved until midway through Mile 11 when my right hip decided, "I have had enough!" and cramped up nice and tight on me. I took an extra minute to try to walk it out on my next walk break but it seemed every attempt to begin running brought on another round of cramps. My IT band was not happy and I think it was contributing to some hip cramping. It was at this point that I let go of my "Finish Time" goal and just focused on simply getting to the Finish Line. It took me until Mile 12 to figure out that if I really slowed my pace down, I could at least "jog" a little bit for 4 minutes at a time.  I wont lie, it really pissed me off that I could not catch the "walkers" who were less than 200 yards in front of me, even when I was "jogging" for 4-minutes at a time but I just kept on moving toward that finish line.

The TREAT for this race was having the pleasure to cheer on my friend Christine Rocky, whom I met through my sister Heather, as she took 2nd Place Overall for the Women's Marathon!  She passed me in the last 300 yards and once again I marveled at just how FAST other people can run. Christine finished 26.2 miles in 3:13:31...13.1 miles and 1-minute ahead of me.

At the finish line with Christine!

Am I disappointed in this race result?

Actually the answer is NO. (realizing that surprised me too!) All things considered, it was a beautiful day on a hilly challenging course and up until I had some physical pain, I was running exactly the pace that I imagined myself currently capable of.  It's not my best Half Marathon performance by far (my PR for the Half Distance is 2005 Myrtle Beach at 2:42) but I came away from this race knowing that I controlled what I could (my pace early on), accepted what I could not control (hip cramps) and push through to finish what I started.

Mentally, I had my "Race Face" on and never let the negative thoughts take up more than a moment's time before I put them away and got back to the task at hand. That is a far, far cry from the triathlete that I was back in January 2009. I can say without a doubt that my year of Ironman distance training and racing changed me as an athlete, for the better. I am not afraid to push and I am able to shut down the negative voices in my head, that knowledge/ability is "PR worthy" and the time will come when I can put that together with some speed and have an amazing race day.

This Finisher's Medal made the last 2 miles seem less sucky! LOL

For now, though, I am content.  It is just the first week of January 2012 and I already a Half Marathon in the books!

Life is GOOD! LiveSTRONG!