Executive Summary: Tune up race and pacing experiment for my first HM (next month) completed in 1:26:15, 8:38 pace, beat my goal by over a minute and ran about a 1-minute negative split.
Background: I’m training for my first half marathon, which will be on April 14. I’ve been following Pfitz’s HM plan “B” in his Road Racing for Serious Runners, and it’s been going very well. Last week I ran 50 miles, peak miles on the plan. This week’s plan called for an 8-10K tune up race. Instead, I chose to run a 10 mile race that’s also a benefit for the school district that I work for.
I’ve never raced farther than 10K, but have suspected that I would like distance racing better than the shorter ones. But today was the test! I had to keep reminding myself that it wasn’t going to feel at all like a 5K, and should be a lot more pleasant. On the other hand, I really had to take a wild guess as far as pacing. Up until sometime this week, I’d been aiming for a sub-90minute goal, going out at just under 9:00 pace and maybe picking it up if I could. But on Wednesday I woke up with the number 8:45 in my head. I’ve run that pace a few times recently and it felt good. But could I hold it the whole way? I was a little worried that I’d blow up after a few miles at that pace. I wanted to try, though!
At packet pickup there was a little kid, maybe 7, handing out the bags who wanted to know if I was fast. He then advised me that the 10 mile distance was pretty far and made him throw up, but that the 5K was pretty short.
My husband is not a runner. But last night as he came to bed, he said, “8:40”. I asked what he was talking about, and he said that was his prediction for my pace today. He knew my goal was 8:45 and knows that I like to push myself, so he was predicting 8:40. Isn’t that sweet?
Prerace: I ran 2 easy miles for a warm up and then met some of my coworkers for a group photo. Several of them were walking or running the 5K. Then I ran a few strides to try to get a feel for race pace. Then over to the line, and we were off!
Miles 1-4: I definitely had my eye glued to the Garmin as I tried to find my pace. I just don’t have experience running anything sub-9 and I didn’t want to run my whole race in the first mile. I had to slow way down compared to what felt like "racing" from my shorter races. It helped that the race started on a gradual uphill that led to a bridge. That wasn’t a problem in the first mile, of course, and I was settling into my stride and even passed a couple people who faded on the uphill.
The sun had just come up and there was a lovely view of the sun over the water. It was so nice!
We came off the bridge, did a little loop downtown, and then headed out into farmland. Again, everything was really pleasant and I was loving the pace. It felt really comfortable and I was thinking “if this is what HM pace feels like, I like it!” The people around me had kind of settled, too. I was mostly on my own through here, but staying even with the people in front and behind.
Mile 1- 8:50
Mile 2- 8:41
Mile 3- 8:41
Mile 4- 8:40
You can tell I was glued to my Garmin, can’t you? I really was trying to learn how to pace myself evenly, and I didn’t have any experience to know how I “should” be feeling at this point.
Miles 5-8: I started to get a little nervous through here. The pace still felt really good, but I guess I was still worried that things would suddenly take a turn towards suckville at some point? On the other hand, I was feeling strong and wanted to pick it up a bit. But not too soon! I did not want to crash and burn! I started to feel what might be the start of a side stitch. Or was it nerves? I switched my breathing to exhale on the other foot, since I read somewhere that it helps, and soon forgot about it.
I had brought a gel and a handheld water bottle with me. I know I don’t need it for this distance, but brought it anyway in case I wanted it. More of a mental crutch? In any case, since I was feeling nervous, I ate about two swallows of gel at the 5 mile marker, with some water. After that I would just keep sipping from the water bottle. I was too scared to try drinking from a cup on the run, hehe. That’s for advanced runners.
Through this stretch I was playing leapfrog with two women who were clearly out for an easy run. They were chatting away and did not look like they gave a damn about their pace. I was trying to run evenly, but mostly had my screen showing average lap pace instead of current, so we kept passing each other. I don’t know who was more consistent.
There was one little stretch where the people ahead of you were coming back along the same road. I saw the kid from packet pickup, looking good and way ahead of me! It turns out he’s a first grader, and he finished in 1:11:13! Hopefully without puking this time.
I took note of the 10K time, although it wasn’t marked. My only 10K race was last fall, and I ran a 58:30. Today I hit 10K just under 54 minutes! I allowed myself to speed up a bit through here. Except for mile 7, I don’t know what happened there.
Mile 5- 8:44
Mile 6- 8:32
Mile 7- 8:47
Mile 8- 8:36
Last two miles: Finally I was pretty sure that I was going to beat my goal pace. Still felt really good, although it was taking more effort for sure! I passed a few photographers and hammed it up a bit. We’ll see if any of them get posted. At mile 9 I passed a woman who I’d been running close to the entire way. She said something about me starting my kick, but really I had just noticed that I had faded a tad and was trying to step it up. In any case, I think she was done at that point.
The last mile featured the bridge again, and I have to say I was scared of it. I laid off a bit on the way up, and was definitely feeling it! But I was able to use the downhill to recover my pace and then run in. I was running hard but not kicking. One woman passed me with about a quarter mile to go. I maybe could have held her off, but she seemed stronger. I don’t know if she had been hoping for a race. Instead, I congratulated her.
I did push when I saw the finish, though! My legs and lungs were burning, but I had a solid finish (not a sprint, but still) left!
Mile 9- 8:18
Mile 10- 8:16
Final 0.01 (hehe) 0:06 (7:06 pace)
I ended up with about a 1-minute negative split and a chip time of 1:26:15. That was good enough for 57/108 OA, 22/59 female, and 6/14 in my AG.
Final thoughts: Overall I feel like I ran a solid tuneup race and am happy to know that this is a pace I can maintain. I’m pretty sure I had 3 more miles in me at this pace today, and with another month of training and a taper, who knows? McMillan now says 1:55 based on today’s race, but I’m pretty sure I can beat that. This one was on tired legs and holding myself back a bit for most of the way. And yes, I can say for sure that I really love the feeling of racing above LT! Such a difference. I am really looking forward to continuing to train for HM-type races.
Sadly, though, it doesn’t look like I’ll be able to run my tempos at 8:45 anymore! I’ve also got some new training paces after today’s effort and it looks like it’s time to embrace just a little more pain then what I’ve been used to lately.
I’ve also got some new training paces after today’s effort and it looks like it’s time to embrace just a little more pain then what I’ve been used to lately.
Honestly, that may be the best part of all!
You ran a very smart, well executive race. The hubby should be proud that he, er um, you should be proud! ; )
Congratulations on a very well run race! I know you are going to do great in your HM.
I feel a strange love for you Zel.
Great great run, especially for a tune up run. If anything, you might have run it too hard and the distance might have been too much for that purpose, but I think it indicates how hard you've worked in training. You've really brought your mileage up very nicely, as indicated in your log (I know your log is public, but i always feel creepy admitting that I've looked at it).
Anyway, congrats and good luck on your half! You should do really well!
Even splits with a pick-up at the end while feeling good? That's pretty much the ideal tune-up race.
With another few weeks of training + a taper + the race atmosphere I would not be surprised if you could run the half-marathon at this pace.
In the words of my late-coach : Just hang in there, relax... and at the end of a race anyone you see.....just pass them
Congratulations on a great race! You did an amazing job. I can't believe how high your mileage is!
You're going to rock the half, I bet you can't wait
Well planned, well executed, and sounded like you had a great time!
Congrats. That looks like a nice extended kick.
Sorry for getting too wordy. I tend to overanalyze these things and I save them for my record.
LRB- Thank you! DH sure has his bedroom talk down. Talk running to me, hehe. I saw him last night coming back from his walk as I was headed out for my run, and he even remembered how far I was going that day. So he at least feigns interest well.
workinprogress- Thank you!
Namtor- Thank you! And seriously, you're welcome to visit my log, I keep it open for a reason if it helps me to get better feedback. I know I like browsing through people's logs myself. I probably did run harder today than the 10K I was "supposed" to run, but I wanted to have a better idea of pacing for next month. We'll see how I recover this week, I guess.
Adam- Thanks! I am really hoping this was my HM pace today. I think it felt like it, anyway.
Coralie- Thank you! I am looking forward to it even more now! Running more miles has definitely helped my endurance a ton.
DaveP- Thank you!
BPlus- Funny, I didn't think of it as a kick at all. I guess I still have to break out of 5-K mentality.
Great race, Zelanie!! Your hard work is paying off with awesome running, and it's "rewarding" you with even harder paces going forward! Congrats!!
But The Smile That I Sent Out Returned With You.
YAYpril - B-Plus
Congratulations on running a great race and exceeding your expectations.
Woooohoooo, Zelanie! You're such an excellent athlete! Congratulations on this time. You've worked so hard, and it's definitely paying off. I totally can't wait until your half. There's no way you can't do terrific. I'm both jealous and proud of your success! (Hope you know I mean that in the nicest way.)
"We do not become the people who this world needs simply by turning our backs on anyone we don’t like, trust, or deem healthy enough to be in our presence. " ---- Shasta Nelson
Congratulations on a great race! Thanks for the awesome RR too! I'm excited to read about your HM in April!
"It doesn’t matter how often you do it or how much you accomplish, in general, not running is a lot easier than running." - Meb Keflezighi
Great job Zelanie! You'll do great in the half marathon too!
Thanks for sharing the race report.