Good morning and happy Monday everyone! I hope everyone had an awesome weekend and was able to get lots of rest. My weekend wasn’t exactly restful, but it was successful nonetheless because half marathon number three is in the books!
On Sunday, I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh Half Marathon and it was one of my best races to date. Race weekend began on Saturday when I drove to Raleigh for packet pick-up at the health + fitness expo. This race requires you to pick your bib up ahead of time which, although it can be kind of annoying if you live far away, made race day a lot smoother. The expo was super well-organized and had plenty of vendors selling runner clothes, shoes, accessories, food, basically anything you could every need. Once I got back to my dorm, I studied and relaxed for the rest of the day so my legs would be ready to go the next morning.
Race day began at 4:40 am when my alarm went off. I stayed up a little too late the night before watching basketball, so this was a little bit of a rude awakening. I made coffee, got dressed, and got all my stuff together before getting picked up at 5:15 to drive to Raleigh. My pre-race breakfast consisted of coffee (+coconut milk), a banana, and 2 hard-boiled eggs, which I ate in the car on the way to the race. By the time we parked and walked to the start it was about 6:00. It was chillier than I anticipated and very windy, so we waited in the Marriot lobby for about half an hour or so before braving the wind to check our bags, use the porta-potties one last time, and find out corral. When I signed up for the race, I set a goal of 1:45:00, however, I since I had to take a couple weeks off in March due to some shin issues, I was just hoping to beat my previous PR of 1:55:00. My race plan was to start out around an 8 or so pace and then see how I felt.
The gun went off right at 7:00am and we were off. I took the first 4 miles to warm up, and averaged about 7:55/mile, which I was happy with. My outer shins weren’t too happy about such a speedy pace on the pavement, but the tightness calmed down after mile 4. I gave myself permission to ease up on the pace since I was so ahead of PR pace, but found myself feeling better and better after each mile and couldn’t bring myself to actually slow down.
Miles 4-8 were much harder mentally. I still averaged around 7:50/mile, but I was questioning how my legs were going to make it 5 more miles. During this part of the course, there were so really nice rolling hills, which I appreciated. The uphills didn’t seem so bad since I was able to get so much momentum from the downhills. Since I held such a fast pace for the first half of the race, I told myself once again that I could slow down and still PR, but I was still feeling good and decided to try and hold the pace a little longer. I also stopped for water for the first time around mile 7. During a race, I hate stopping, so I don’t usually take in fuel or water, but I figured a couple of sips might be beneficial.
Miles 8-10 were for great some strange reason. There was a great downhill section from mile 9-10 and I ended up running a 7:33 for mile 10, which was my fastest of the race. I was really excited when I saw that and realized I was going to PR big time. This section was also probably good because I was over half way and could count down the miles until the end instead of just until half way (it’s the little things, right?).
Things went down hill at mile 11 (not literally, because there were actually some pretty bad uphills in the last section of the race). I felt fine when I got to mile 11, so I figured I’d just cruise the last 2 miles in to the finish, no problem. Well, just before mile 12 there was an incredibly steep hill that never seemed to end, and so I unashamedly took a 30-second walking break at the top just after we reached the 12 mile marker. This is where my legs turned into bricks. All of a sudden I could feel just how fatigued my quads and calves were, and it took everything in me to finish this mile without walking. I also started thinking about how much pain I’d be in the next day, but figured it was too late to change that, so I kept moving. Whatever mantra I was saying in my head must have worked, since this mile ended up being 7:34, and I finished feeling tired bu strong. My final time was 1:42:26, which is a 13 minute PR!!! I was so happy with this since I didn’t have huge expectations for the race.
Post-race I stretched and walked around a little since my calves and quads were starting to cramp, and had a Perfect Bar + some Gatorade to refuel. A hot shower, lots more stretching, and plenty of food happened once I got back to campus. I woke up this morning and could barely stand on two legs when I got out of bed, but I’m hoping that walking around today will ease some of that soreness.
Overall, I am so pleased with my race weekend. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh course is really great, and I would highly recommend this race to anyone. I am also happy about how much I was able to push myself mentally, since that’s always the hardest part for me. Looking ahead, I am doing my first triathlon of the season on Saturday (not the best move to do it within a week of the half), and then I hope to start training for an intermediate distance triathlon and the Peachtree Road Race 10k. This race was a big confidence booster going into the summer season, and I can’t wait to see some improvements!