Half Marathon Trainers


Post race report: my first 1/2 marathon (long) (Read 341 times)

TRIing to beat the heat!

    Hi all! I finished my first 1/2 marathon this past Sunday with a lingering cold (3 weeks now) and in some pretty sticky conditions (65F, 95 to 100% humidity). A few of you really helped me to figure out my final weeks of training and choose a realistic goal pace... and guess what? Everything went as smooth as can be! My original goal was to complete the event in under 2 hours... and I got 1:58:25! Very happy! I wanted to share a condensed post-race report from my blog: Finish time: 1:58:25 Age Group Placement: 20/104 Gender Placement: 142/843 Overall Placement: 396/1484 Race morning came early- 4AM early. The forecast was 65F, 95 to 100% humidity and overcast. It was the warmest, muggiest morning of the entire winter season. Race start was at 6AM and we had a bit of a drive to the race location. With nearly 2,000 participants in the small city of Sarasota, FL parking was at a premium. After a quick pit-stop at a gas station to 'unload' we headed to the race start, hit the Port-A-John again. MILES 1-4 6AM is dark... and that gun went off right at 6! The race itself was very organized with pace corrals (I started in the 9 min/mile corral), pace groups and aid stations every 2 miles with full-strength Gatorade!!! Thank heavens there was no yellow water. It took me about 40 seconds to get up to the start after the gun went off. The first 3 miles of the race were run in complete darkness through residential areas. I really couldn't see anything more than the runners in front of me and the balloons on the 2 hour pace group sign. I just followed the balloons and 'hoped' that the pacer was doing a good job. A few people tripped over cones, so eventually people started screaming out "CONE" every 30 seconds. I opted to wear my iPod, but I kept it low enough to be able to hear those "CONE" calls and any other calls that were shouted at us. The most rewarding part of the race for me during the first few miles came in the form of runner footfalls. Clomp, clomp, clomp... I loved this! I nearly cried during the beginning of the race... I was running a 1/2 marathon! MILES 5-10 The best part of the run for me took place during miles 5 through 10. I was warmed up, still nicely hydrated (although sweating like a pig as usual) and my legs felt great. The John Ringling Causeway Bridge is located smack dab in the middle of the half-marathon course. Most of Florida's coastal courses are pretty much pancake flat; well, this 78' high bridge (at water clearance) makes this course the exception to the rule. The 1/2 mile uphill part of the bridge occurs at mile 5.5 and again at mile 7 after the turnaround. I fell back from the pacer on both climbs and had to play catch-up on the downhill and flat portions. Strength training needed! I also noticed the first sign of a blister on my left big toe. My HR was about 3 or 4 beats higher than I would have liked it to be following the up and back over the Ringling Bridge. Some of this was due to the hill itself, but most if it was trying to catch back up to the pace group. I was unable to bring my HR back down, so I pretty much said screw it and pushed on. Around mile 10 I had my first doubts about whether or not I was going to be able to keep up with the 2 hour pace group for the remainder of the race. My legs were starting to feel the first signs of fatigue. MILES 11-13 Miles 11 and 12 were without a doubt the most difficult for me mentally and physically. I thought about walking at least 4 times during these miles, but I knew that if I started it would be too easy to do it again. I also feared that if I walked, I might not be able to start back up. Unlike a few of my training runs where my legs were the limiting factor at the end of a long run, during this race, it was my cardio (although my legs obviously felt heavy and tired). Dealing with that 180+ HR for miles 7, 8, and 9 really zapped my reserves. Eventually I was able to reduce my HR by about 3 beats (and along with it, my overall pace) and felt a bit more comfortable. Somewhere around mile 11, the pace group leader told everyone that was around her that if they wanted to go sub-2, they better get in front of her. Everybody moved on, but I was still about 10 seconds behind her. She looked back, saw me, slowed her pace slightly and grabbed my hand! She then pulled me up to the correct pace and said, 'there you go'. I got in front of her and never saw her again. Legs were pretty much on autopilot during mile 12 and of course, once that mile 13 sign appears it's pretty much no-holds barred! I kicked it into high gear with what little I had left and achieved my sub-2 hour goal: 1:58:25! NUTRITION I was instructed at my triathlon camp last week to really be cognisant of what I'm drinking in the days before the race. Too often people consume too much straight water and end up flushing precious electrolytes from their system. So I opted to mix my grape low-cal beverage with 1/2 of a camelbak elixer tab during the days before the race. This kept all of my drinks low-cal, but still nice and salty. Race morning was a packet of oatmeal two hours before the race and then a packet of gel 15 minutes before the start. I also had about 4 to 6oz of coffee and approx. 10oz of a sport's drink. I drank a mouthful of Gatorade at every aid station and took my gel pack at mile 7 with water from an aid station. I probably could have used another gel somewhere during the race. Food for thought. Despite the fact that I sweat more than most AND that I look like a salt block after a race, I think I did fairly well with my nutrition/hydration. I also took 1/2 of an immodium tablet since I often get stomach cramps when I race with any intensity. I'm glad to say that there wasn't a hint of cramps on race day. Yes, I am still hacking like a fool from the cold that won't quit. Three weeks now! REFLECTIONS ++Using a pace group worked very well for me. It kept me from going out too fast and it reminded me to pick it up when I felt myself unintentionally slowing down. ++My confidence remained high throughout the race. When I had the urge to walk, I was able to mentally push-through it and continue on. A good reminder for future races when I feel this way (and I will feel this way). ++Running with blisters stinks! If you know that you overpronate, don't run a long race in a neutral shoe. Newbie mistake... it won't happen again. ++Race pace confidence can come from doing a good 6 mile tempo run before the race itself (thanks VixiDu). This allowed me to really dial in on a realistic race goal. ++I have determined that I am in no rush to conquer the marathon, but I am excited about doing the Philadelphia 1/2 marathon in November. The Marathon is in my future, but just not in my near future.

    2012 Goals

    Sub-1:42 for half marathon √ (1:41 at Disney, Jan '12)

    Sub-22 for 5k √ (21:51 in Sept '12)

    BQ for marathon- FAIL

    Prince of Fatness

      Great work! Congratulations.


        That is a terrific first half! Very well done indeed. I am glad you enjoyed the race, and stuck with it to make your goal.

        PBs since age 60:  5k- 24:36, 10k - 47:17. Half Marathon- 1:42:41.

                                            10 miles (unofficial) 1:16:44.


          Congrats! That is a great time!


          Jazz hands!

            Woohoo! Your first half in under two hours!!
            run run run AHHHHHH run run run
              Sherry congratulations, that's a fabulous time and a great report. Your training and prior race experiences paid off for you. So many things go through your head both before and during the race, but you were able to cope with them. You practiced good nutrional needs as well as gave people some sound advice about drinking too much water. Larry


              "Today I broke my record for most consecutive days lived!"

                Sherry, great race report. Thank you for giving us such detailed recollections and insights. I'm so thrilled for you that you got your sub-2. It sounds like your dogged determination paid off. There's nothing quite like finishing a race knowing you gave your all to reach your goal. No one did it for you. What a great pacer you had! It sounds like she really had your time in sights and knew what it would take to get you to achieve your goal. I'm planning to start my marathon with a pace team and am praying for a similar experience. Thanks for the insight on how to avoid flushing out electrolytes. My normal fluid of choice is watered-down low-cal cranberry juice. Maybe I'll try what you suggested. I'm glad you thought the tempo run helped. Can't wait to read your RR from Philly! (Hey, heal up! 3 weeks hacking is a long time! You know, I had a leftover cough from a cold and when I went back for a follow-up it turned out to be allergy-triggered asthma? Take care of yourself, and don't assume anything!) Congrats again on a great finish, Sherry, and don't you dare slink out of the group now, o you half marathoner, you!

                Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Heb. 12:1b)
                Mile by Mile

                  WOW Great race report and I will bookmark it for great nutrtional advice (I'm also a big sweat-er). Maybe I'll see you in Philly - its on my schedule too if I can get work and home organized around it, I'll be the one about 15 minutes behind you! A



                    Nice to hear from you again, Ayola.

                    PBs since age 60:  5k- 24:36, 10k - 47:17. Half Marathon- 1:42:41.

                                                        10 miles (unofficial) 1:16:44.


                      Thanks Simon, I'm around. Nothing too exciting to report, just slowly ramping up mileage to 30 mpw before a June 10K. Then up to 40 mpw in the summer. I'm doing it mostly with low heart rate training, so its really slow A



                      One day at a time

                        I just noticed your report since I was gone last week! Great job! I really enjoyed your report - it will inspire me to run my 2nd HM in October faster! I need to find a pace group, I think, but I don't know if the Maine HM will have one. Someone suggested that my son pace me, but he would DIE running that slowly, lol. I think I will have to pace myself better somehow. Good luck training for Philly!