No full-blown race recap / review since this was more of a tempo run than a race for me, but did want to give a brief update.
Big NOLA confidence boost today!
As I said in my post last night, this race was a NOLA tune-up. I was not going to race at full half-marathon speed, but shooting for an average pace of 7:16 (Just under goal marathon pace). The weather conditions were tough with 25+ mph wind gusts and a “feels-like” temp of less than 15 degrees at race start.
I knew the course was going to be hilly, but it was actually a little more challenging than I expected. There was a nasty hill right at start, and at least some elevation gain in every mile with several long inclines throughout the course. I was a little worried about the three-mile gravel segment, but this turned out to be a great surface. The ruts in the road were more like packed dirt than gravel which felt fantastic. It was a bit of a shock moving back to asphalt.
I felt great during my warmup, though it was tough to keep my toes from going numb. Even though I knew 7:16 was my goal today, I really just wanted to run at a pace that was within myself and felt comfortable. After finishing the first mile in 7:14, I ended up settling in around 7:05 pace. I felt strong up most of the hills, and smooth on the flats and downhills. I generally resisted the temptation to go crazy on the downhills.
The only time I felt uncomfortable was when we were running directly into the wind. It was hard to keep rhythm and some of the time I actually had to run with my head pointed down. Even with the hills and headwind my slowest miles were 7:23 and 7:17. All of the rest were under 7:15, with three miles under 7:00 min pace. No one passed me after mile four, and I was able to consistently pass other runners all the way to the end.
With about a quarter mile to go, there was a guy with a white shirt up ahead of me that I really wanted to catch before the finish. I was pretty sure that if I kept running around 7:00 min pace I would not make it past him. I decided to be content with my pace and not go crazy. Then as we were climbing the last hill, he took a peek over his left shoulder and looked me right in the face. I knew then that I HAD to catch him. Since I had plenty left in the tank, I took off. As I passed him I looked down at my watch and saw that my current pace was somewhere around 5:45. I held this all the way to the end, and was even able to high-five my daughter Kate and my Dad just before crossing the finish line in 1:32:41.
(yes, my awesome family came out in the frigid temps and wind to cheer me at the finish!)
This time was 23rd overall, and 4th in my age group. Probably wasn’t the smartest thing to finish that fast, but it is also a big confidence boost to know that I ran a 1:32 half marathon and still had lots of gas in the tank. When I finished my legs felt good, and even now several hours later they still feel great.
It was cool to have several of my friends there as well (Paxton, John, Susan, Ed, Andy, Aine). I was able to run the first few miles with Paxton which was fun. Also, Susan finished 2nd in her age group!!
All-in-all, it was a great day and mission accomplished. Next Saturday will be my last long run before NOLA, and then the dreaded taper.