Our first race of 2020!! We have our eyes set on some high goals for this year starting with this race. Hoping to PR with a time better than 1:54:01.
Going into the race I felt relaxed and ready. Just maybe a little cold. With a race in January of course it’s going to be cold. But, once you get moving it turns into the perfect running weather. And on this day we could not have asked for better weather considering the time of year. At the time of the gun going off it was around 37 and in the mid 40’s when we crossed the line with clear skies all day.
Prior to the start of the race we positioned ourselves in between the 1:50 and 1:55 pace group. The gun went off for the start of the race and we quickly made our way to the start line and we were on our way.
Just out of the starting gate we were surrounded by what seemed like hundreds of other runners and I was tuned into the sound of all the foot strikes landing around me. As the race progressed, that sound faded a little with each mile as each of the 6,000 participants spread out through the 13.1 miles.
I felt good throughout the majority of the race. When my Garmin buzzed at each mile I was glad to see I was maintaining a pace between 8:30-8:45. There were a few times where I noticed the run to be wearing on me and at that time I would focus on my form - getting my knees up just a bit higher and getting a further kick back at the end of my stride.
Through the first eight-and-a-half miles Tif and I were shoulder to shoulder. But at that point GI issues hit me and I had to slow. Also, one of my safety pins that attached my bib came unclipped. The only two issues I had in the race came at the same time.
I was not able to re-clip the pin while running and I knew I did not have time to stop and fiddle with it. So, for just over 4 miles my bib flapped from one side to the other.
For my sudden urge to have to use the restroom, I kept a slower pace for about a quarter to half mile and drank some water, this seem to help ease things. Tif had pulled away from me during this time and I saw her looking back to see where I was. I wasn’t sure what she was thinking, if she would continue on her pace or slow for me to catch up. Slowing I did not want her to do so I surged enough to catch back up with her.
When my Garmin buzzed at Mile 10 I did some quick math and I knew that a PR was still possible, but would be difficult. The pace had slowed just a bit but we were both determined.
With a half mile to go I knew we had to turn on the burners. We did. We passed a group of runners as we made the final turn and one said ‘way to finish strong!’ I knew we would have to keep it up to reach that goal.
But we couldn’t hold on to that surge, crossing the finish line just 43 seconds short.
Not a PR, but we both felt really proud of the effort we gave and at the end of the day that’s what matters most: knowing you gave all you could.
Last year, we took on this course for the first time. It was an incredible payoff, giving us our long desired sub-2 hour time, and by a good margin: 1:54:01.
This year, we went in with hopes to improve on that, and at the least, register our third half marathon time under the 2-hour mark.
It was another chilly start to race morning, but not as bad as last year's 33° pre-race temps. Even though it would prove to be perfect running weather, the standing and waiting and shivering for 30+ minutes is never much fun.
Cait and I positioned ourselves in the starting corral. Cait eyed the 1:50 pace group, but I summoned her to come back closer to 1:55. In the days leading up to the race we both battled some cold symptoms, and I wasn't sure I was at 100%.
My goal was to start at a comfortable pace, keep with the 1:55 group, then hopefully use the last 1-2 miles to finish strong.
In the early go, the 1:55 group made its way ahead of us, but still within striking distance. All I could focus on in the first mile was how cold and numb my face was. I thought it was odd, especially since we have run colder races that didn't impact me like this. But I knew the cold feeling would be short lived.
Mile one was definitely conservative: 9:00 pace. I knew I needed to pick it up in order to achieve any of the goals for this race.
The second mile seemed to get me into a groove. The numbing cold was gone and the body was moving well. Good enough to throw down an 8:32 pace.
We also pulled ahead of the 1:55 group and stayed ahead of them for a good while. Although I always knew they were on our heels when we passed spectators and aid stations who would give the "Woo-hoo, go 1:55" cheers.
Somewhere between miles 2-3, though, I knew this race was going to be a grind. I recall having to go to a mantra to distract me from the struggle as we were passing Austin Beer Works. Yep. That's pretty early in on the course!
"Dig deep". I repeated it over and over with every foot strike, trying to find a rhythm of the mantra and my cadence. Eventually, the struggle I was feeling in my body diminished and I was able to keep moving forward. Fortunately, there was some mental fortitude within me during this race, because the next 7 miles were very consistent pace wise:
Mile 3: 8:35
Mile 4: 8:36
Mile 5: 8:35
Mile 6: 8:36
Mile 7: 8:46
Mile 8: 8:33
Along the way, though, the 1:55 group passed us up again. I remember feeling deflated thinking that I was in a better position than I was. I think the reality of not hitting the PR set in just a bit at this point.
At the 9-mile mark, you are met immediately with a gradual, long incline. This was another "Dig Deep" moment. It's also the point where I noticed Caitlin fell back a bit. I looked behind me a couple of times and could not see her. Then, I finally got my eye on her as I crested the hill and I could see she wasn't too far back. It was at this point last year where she really struggled and I had to go get her and offer encouragement for her to stick with me on our PR pace.
This year, she made her way back to me without the extra encouragement. After the race we both shared how we experienced our own struggles along the way and how the other being ahead really helped each of us from not giving in to that struggle. We truly are a team and supportive of one another. When it comes to race day, we are not competitive (with each other) like so many people assume. We want each other to reach our best on the given day.
Knowing we were in the home stretch, Caitlin made mention we had less than 5K to go. Although there were some hills to contend with, I kept reminding myself that the hardest work was already done. Now it was time to see what I had left.
After miles 9 and 10, the 1:55 group was a good distance ahead. Still in eyesight, but our work would be cut out for us. When my Garmin lapped at Mile 12, I told myself it was time to go. I dug deep down for this final stretch. I recall passing the 1:55 pacer just before we made the final right turn to the finish. Caitlin was a little ahead of me, and I was trying to hold on. I looked at my watch and knew the PR was not to be on this day, and thought maybe I should just coast to the finish. But I did not allow myself to give in. I finished strong to the line and celebrated a tough run with a time I'm happy with. Moreover, it was a perfect day for running, and to do it in an amazing city and share it with an incredible woman - I could not ask for more!