Sunday, April 15, 2012

Race Recap: Running of the Elk Half Marathon {04.01.12} + a NEW 13.1 PR

Race:  Running of the Elk Half Marathon 

Date:  Sunday, April 1st, 2012
First Annual – Inaugural Event

Official Results:

The Jesse:
13.1/2:12:14/10:06 avg
(Garmin – 13.21/2:12:19/10:00 avg)
Females 30-39: 58/166
Overall: 415/885

The husband:
13.1/1:40:01/7:38 avg
(Garmin – 13.17/1:04:05/7:36 avg)
Males 30-39:  9/125
Overall:  36/885

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The first annual Running of the Elk Half Marathon (the inaugural event) took place on Sunday April 1st in Elk Grove.  I had been looking forward to this event for a long time – ever since our city council member, and fellow training group member, announced the race (he was race director!) last year.  This even was held locally, less than 2 miles from our house.  The course was flat and fast.  This event was my “comeback” race after my injury last fall.


Race morning started much like any other race morning … up early and out the door by 6:20 a.m.  We jogged about half a mile to the nearby shopping center and picked up our friend, and fellow running buddy, Kelly who joined us for the rest of the jog/walk to the race location.  Once we arrived at the race start we had plenty of time to use the restrooms, find our running groups tent, take a group photo, chat with friends, and warm-up before the race began.

04.01.12 group photo The Running Zone Spring 2012 Training Group

When I posted my race goals I was seriously about how conservative they were.  After really pushing hard at my last 5k (and PR’ing) I just wanted to run a comfortable pace at this half marathon and enjoy the event.  I was happy with my previous half marathon PR (from last October) and didn’t think I would be running a PR race at this event.  Little did I know …

I lined up at the start with Kelly and right before the starting gun went off the pin that holds my Garmin onto it’s velcro strap came out.  I spent the first several minutes trying to fix my watch and successfully got the pin back quickly.  I was caught up in the excitement of the race and my adrenaline was pumping.  I was excited to be running a half marathon --- I do love that distance after all.  I was running with Kelly and even though we were keeping a great pace I knew that if I didn’t tell her to GO then I’d be holding her back from her PR attempt.  Around the half mile mark I told her to go and get her PR.  I was feeling great and the first mile came up quickly, my Garmin chiming in at 10:21!  The pace felt comfortable so I decided to hold on for as long as I could then slow down in the later miles if I needed.  I had no idea that I would be able to hold that pace, and go faster.  It really wasn’t my initial plan.

The second mile was much like the first.  I continued to feel great and not like I was pushing too hard.  I saw a lot of familiar faces during an out and back section of the course and when my Garmin beeped at mile two and I saw 10:13 on the screen I was surprised how good I was still feeling considering the pace I was keeping!  I usually can’t hold on to a 10:xx mile for so long.  Around mile 3 I saw my old boss from my restaurant job in college just ahead of me (I had seen him pre-race in the morning and wished him good luck).  I had a feeling I’d see him out on the course.  At first I tried to pick up the pace to catch him so I could chat with him and maybe run with him for a while but I quickly realized that I would get too tired and burn too much energy if I did that so early in the race.  I kept him in my sights for the next couple of miles.  Mile three came in at 10:09. 

By mile four we had turned onto a long stretch of a flat, straight road.  While the course was flat, it really wasn’t that scenic.  And thankfully it wasn’t too hot since there was virtually no shade.  By this point in the race I knew if I kept up this pace and tried to pick it up even more then I could PR.  I was still feeling great and keep repeating to myself “you can do this”.  In the back of my mind I knew I could slow down if I needed to and still reach my original goal of a 2:30 finish … but I also knew I could attempt a PR based on how my first few miles went.  I decided to run for the PR.




Mile four came in at 10:14, mile five at 10:09, and mile six at 10:05.  Right at mile six we turned off the long straight road and there were several spectators in this area.  I knew the half way point was just ahead as well as the relay exchange point.  Right around the half way mark I saw a fellow running group member (who wasn’t running the race) and that really gave me a little boost of energy!  I pasted the half way point right around 1:06:xx.  I crested the only “hill” in the race and knew I’d be turning again soon, right by the relay exchange.  Mile seven came in at 10:14, then I made the next turn, heard a few running group members/spectators yell my name at the exchange point and I noticed my pace picked up a little.  I was on another stretch of flat, straight road that curved at the end before turning again.  I had lost sight of my old boss, was running into the sun (it had been at my back or side earlier in the race), and was starting to get tired.  And then mile eight came in at 9:54 and I knew I had to try to keep the rest of my miles sub-10.  I started to play my speed games (fartleks) and would pick up the pace and hold it as long as possible then recover for a minute or two before picking it back up to get a sub-10 mile. Then I would recover when the Garmin beeped at each mile for a minute or two again.  I kept repeating this all the way to the finish!  Mile nine was 9:51.  Half way into mile 10 I saw my old boss ahead of me, walking.  I knew I could catch him, and that’s exactly what I did.  Except I was in the middle of a fartlek and he was walking so instead of chatting I just yelled his name and we exchanged waves as I sped past him.  Mile 10 came in at 9:57 except now the course had turned again and I was running directly into the wind.  I knew I only had a 5k to go and I was hoping when I turned again in about a half of a mile the wind would not be directly in my face.  I was wrong. 

The last 5k of the race was almost entirely with a head wind.  After only a few short minutes of running directly into the wind I felt exhausted.  I kept pushing when I could but I wasn’t able to pick up the pace for long before needing to slow down to recover with the strong head wind.  Mile eleven came in at 9:54 and about a half mile later we turned again and the wind was not as bad.  I was really starting to feel fatigued and didn’t think I was going to end up with a PR after all especially because I loose all ability to do math when I’ve been running for that long, LOL.  I just kept pushing, recovering, and telling myself that “I felt great” and “I can do this”!  The aid station at mile 12 had some volunteers from the armed forces and they were yelling and encouraging all the runners … it really gave me a little push.  Mile twelve came in at 9:55 and I knew I was in the home stretch to the finish.  I was now on the same course as our local fun run 5k’s that we run four times a year.  I knew where every turn was and what to expect for the rest of the race.  I hunkered down, pushed hard, and ran.  Mile thirteen was a 9:34 and when I saw that final mile marker I started running as fast as I could.  There were a lot of spectators lined up along the last 0.10 of the race and into the finish chute.  I saw a lot of familiar faces including the husbands.  I just wanted to be done.  I really picked up the pace and chicked 5 guys before finally crossing the finish line was a brand new half marathon PR. 

Official Results:  13.1 / 2:12:14 / 10:06 avg

2:02 PR --- previous best was 2:14:16 from October 2011


 Running of the Elk - Garmin splits


The husband PR’d.  Kelly PR’d.  Several members of our running group also PR’d.  My old boss finished his first half marathon!  The course, while boring at times, was great – except for the wind (though there wasn’t anything anyone could have done about that).  The weather was perfect.  The post race expo was great with lots of vendors and lots of food/snacks.  There ended up being 2300 race participants between the three events (half marathon, half marathon relay, and 5k).  For an inaugural event, I was extremely impressed with how well everything was put together.  I’m already looking forward to next years event!

After the race we hung around for a while … eating, chatting, spectating.  Eventually we made our way over to Starbucks for a post race coffee and then walked home.  After showering we headed out for lunch then we went and got relaxing hour long full body massages.  Later than evening we walked to our local pizza parlor for pizza and a pitcher of beer … and, of course, celebrated our new 13.1 PR’s with a bottle of champagne that night :)


Two weeks later and I’m still on a runner’s high from this race … and still basking in the glory of my new PR :) 

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What I learned:  Speed work pays off; pushing hard it worth it even when it hurts; I’m a stronger runner than I thought I was.

What I would have changed:  Nothing.  I know I ran a smart race and I blew my conservative goal out of the water!

How I was brilliant:  I ran a smart race and ended up with a new PR. 

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EG Citizen Jon
Front Page of the Elk Grove Citizen

  04.01.12-2 04.01.12-3



giraffy said...

Love it!!!! Congrats! I'm totally stealing your race strategy for PCRF in three weeks ;)

That Pink Girl said...

Dang woman, you really know how to make a comeback! Congrats on a HUGE new PR!!! And I can't think of a better way to celebrate than with champagne!

Christy MyDirtRoadAnthem said...

Great job on a brilliantly executed race! My best half marathons have all had negative splits and your negative split is awesome!

How nice to have a race so close to home that you can just jog over to it!


ajh said...

Nice job on the PR! Fun to race with your husband. He is speedy fast isn't he! Love all the pics.

Ali Mc said...

GREAT JOB!!!! that is one amazing PR :) you are so lucky to have all that work out for you and be with your hubby too!YAY!!!

Suz and Allan said...

Congratulations!!! PR's for everyone! You both ran a great race!