Mile 1 – 7:16 – I had a few people I was keying off of. I’ve had a few rough starts in my last few races, so my goal was to go out slow. I was running with a friend with a 1:32 PR who was also hoping of running under 1:30. He found a guy that was hoping to run 6:30s, so we keyed off of him. Unfortunately, he did not run anything close to a 6:30 in the first mile. A lot of the other people I thought were going to run around 1:28-ish either ran way faster or way slower. I was a little bummed that we went out so slow, but having went out too fast and died a few times lately – especially a 5 mile race just two weeks ago – I wasn’t exactly brimming with confidence.
Mile 2 – 7:08 – Again, maybe a touch slower that I would’ve liked to go out. In an ideal race plan, I think I’d have run 7:05, 6:55, and then just started to tick off 6:50s. So after mile two, I’m already probably 24 seconds back off what would’ve been ideal not great.
Mile 3 – 6:51 – Felt better about this mile. Not feeling like I’m pushing whatsoever. Felt really comfortably strong, but I’m somewhat dreading the hill that is coming up from for the entire fifth mile.
Mile 4 – 6:56 – Again, I feel fine about this mile. Maybe would’ve liked to have run 5 seconds quicker since I’m 30 seconds behind where I’d like to be and I know I’m going to lose time in the next mile.
Mile 5 – 7:24 – Worst mile on the course. It’s a long straight climb that is uphill for 1.3 miles on loose gravel. It’s not the steepest climb I’ve ever done, but it’s just a steady killer. Plus, the road is rarely traveled, so it’s hard to find a packed spot to run on. Luckily, it rained the night before so it was harder than it usually is. I talked to one of my former runners who ran the girls race. She said she was clipping off 6:10s until she got to this mile and ran 6:40, so losing 30 seconds is probably about what I should’ve expected. At the same time, I’m over a minute down on my goal of breaking 1:30.
Mile 6 – 7:13 – Legs were a little zapped from the uphill gravel mile. It feels like running in that stuff (which I do a lot of) just has the ability to suck energy right out of your legs. Any thought I had of breaking 1:30 probably went out the window during this mile. I’ve got 1:36 deficit which basically meant I’d have to run 6:38s the rest of the way. I just don’t have confidence in myself to pick it up that much.
Mile 7 – 6:59 – Really was feeling very strong. I wish I would’ve had the confidence to try to pick it up even more, but I just don’t want to fall off the planet.
Mile 8 – 6:57 – There are kind of a sneaky amount of hills these past few miles, but finally we get a mile that has more downhill than uphill. My friend Derek that I’ve been running with is starting to get a sore knee. He was starting to trail behind me just a bit, so I was trying to push a little to see if he’d go with me.
Mile 9 – 6:46 – The most downhill mile of the course and I at least took advantage of it. We caught a runner who’d been ahead of us by 30 seconds to a minute for most of the last 9 miles. Unfortunately, ahead of him, there wasn’t anyone in sight to try to catch.
Mile 10 – 7:09 – Half mile climb during this mile as well. First time in the race I really started to feel a little “squeeze” in my legs.
Mile 11 – 7:01 – I knew sub-1:30 wasn’t a possibly and I wasn’t going to PR today, but I really wanted to finish as strong as possible. I was feeling really good at this point.
Mile 12 – 7:09 – This mile was on the local bike path right by my house. Since I’ve run around this about 500 times in my life. I really started trying to focus in. At the end of this mile, I threw my second earbud in (I’d only had one in for the whole race).
Last 1.1 – 8:10 – Not as strong as I would’ve wanted to finish, but I left the race feeling really positive.
1:33:05 – 7:06/mi average – I don’t think I’m quite in sub-1:30 fitness yet, but I feel like I’m dang close. In hindsight, I’m in way better shape than I thought I was. My legs still had pop in them. Way too much pop, in fact. In a way, it makes me feel great and it makes me feel awful. I feel great because it gives me a ton of confidence for my next race. I know I can go out harder and I know I’m not going to die. I also no that I’m making strides towards a potential marathon PR in October. Looking back, when I PR’d in the marathon in 2004, I ran a half marathon at the end of August in 1:34:34. Now, I’m a 1:30 ahead of that over a month ahead of that. At the same time, I really would’ve liked to finish the race feeling pretty spent like I’d squeezed everything out of myself. That definitely wasn’t the case. I’ve got another half marathon in a month (unless my brother and sister-in-law choose to have a baby that day which is the day before their due date). It’s been over 8 years since I ran 1:32:53 and made it a goal to go under 1:30. It would’ve been way too easy to just go run a sub-1:30 in the race that has probably been my first legitimate shot at sub-1:30 in 5 years. Overall, though, my training has been going great. As long as I continue to stay healthy, I should have multiple shots at breaking the sub-1:30 barrier. This race wasn’t everything I wanted, but it was 1:03 faster than I was a month ago on a respectable course feeling as strong as I’ve felt in years. It wasn’t a PR, but it’s my third fastest half marathon I’ve ever run (out of 26+ half marathons I’ve run). Three and a half months ago, I was sitting in a hospital. 2 and a half months ago, I was on a crappy medication that killed my running and made me fall asleep at the dinner table. All things considered, I’m pretty happy with where I’m at right now.