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Monday, October 19, 2015

Race Recap: Loveland Half Marathon 2015

This year's medal was cute. And look, that's my face.
The Loveland Half Marathon took place Saturday, October 17, 2015 at 8:00am. [Course map]

Much like last year, the week before was stressful. I went to Dallas for a few days and I had a bunch of adulting to do. Once we got to Cincy I was able to relax. I redeemed my Marriott points for a two-room suite outside of Loveland. We grabbed Chipotle, checked into the hotel, and watched HGTV and a Terminator marathon. I took a shower, laid out my gear in the second bedroom, and tried to chillax.

Cold and sleepy
It was 34 degrees at the start, so I decided to wear leggings instead of capris. Ugh. I remember liking to run in cold weather, but I've blocked out the crappy part of being miserable until you get moving! Anyway, the hotel room had a toaster so I prepped my peanut butter toast, got dressed, and we left around 6:40. Packet pickup ended at 7:30 and the drive was about 15 minutes. We arrived with time to spare, lucked into a killer parking spot, and I was able to use the porta potties a billion times. I also wore Alex's winter coat until the last possible minute.

I felt pretty meh going into the day and I didn't know what to expect. I memorized my mile times from last year and figured I could beat last year if I was having a good day. So my goals were:

A New PR
B Match last year's PR of 2:08:52
C Don't walk.

Miles 15
My feet were numb for the first two miles, but I didn't fall. This section contained the hills and at first I was thinking, "I must be in better shape, these aren't bad!" ...then I got to the bigger hills. Honestly, just knowing they'd be done by mile 5 helped. I knew I needed a 10:20 or better pace on miles 1 and 2 to maintain my B goal. I also knew I needed to avoid running too fast. I think the hills were a blessing. I usually start too fast and burn out, but with the hills I couldn't do that.

At mile 3 we began the major downhill. The road was newly paved and I let myself go faster, but I kept it in check. I knew there were a few more rolling hills before mile 5 so I settled into a nice pace behind another woman and enjoyed the scenery. Before mile 5 we crossed a bridge and while I was admiring the river and listening to the ladies behind me, I tripped in a hole! I didn't fall or stop running, but I hurt my ankle. It must not have fully twisted because in a few miles it felt like normal half marathon pain.
Splits: 9:39, 9:46, 9:30, 9:22, 9:30

The elevation chart
Miles 59
This race is great because I can mentally divide it into chunks – which makes it go by so much faster – and the scenery is lovely. The bike trail at Mile 5 kept us two wide and I found myself next to an older gentleman. My miles were clocking in lower than my B goal and I felt pretty good. I remember having a Hallmark moment last year ("If I keep this up, I can get a PR. If I decide to walk I will always wonder what could have been..."). I felt the same this year.

Here I am again! Running.
When we hit the turn around at Mile 7 the dude took off ahead of me, but I kept him in my sights. I stayed with a mini group and passed when I could spare the energy for a surge. Eventually I was back with the older dude and my miles were clocking in at the low 9s. Wowee. I think I felt my best right after mile 7. I ate my gel and had to hold onto the wrapper for two miles (I wanted to avoid littering), but even with that weird distraction I was able to maintain my pace.
Splits: 9:20, 9:20, 9:05, 9:11

Miles 9–13
At mile 9 I pulled away from the dude and found myself thinking, "Hey I only have 4 miles left. I should run it really fast." Instead, I maintained my pace without getting too crazy. So when I hit 10 I thought "wouldn't it be awesome if I ran the last 3 miles at 5k pace?" Well, it would have been. But honestly my legs were getting tired. My power between miles 7 and 10 had taken its toll. I tried to convince myself to speed up during the last mile, but 12 was tough. Ultimately, I tried to "run the mile I was in" and knew I wasn't going to stop to walk (even if I wanted to). I caught up with another woman and stayed with her until the end. I think it helped to have a motivating mark. At 12.8 we made our way to the finish and we started to ratchet up the pace. We rushed into the finish panting hard as I saw Alex off to the side.

I'd been breathing heavily for the last half mile and I was worn out at the finish line. It was hard to wait for my medal and stand still while someone cut the chip off my shoe. Alex came over and congratulated me and I sat down on the curb for a minute to catch my breath. I was way more tired than normal! Anyway, I looked at my time and I was shocked to see I'd knocked off 6 minutes from last year! Wahoo! We took some photos then went to a diner near to the finish for hot cocoa and a big breakfast.
Splits: 9:13, 9:06, 9:23, 9:07, 8:06 (final .1)

Hot cocoa
Stats and Final Thoughts
I've had a weird year of half marathons: I was sick at Cap City, Medina was great but not a PR course, and Indy was black flagged. It was really nice to have some validation that, yes, I am faster. I love Loveland and will probably run it again next year. It's kind of insane I'm so close to 2 hours! A sub-2 half is in my future! I don't really know when – it could be years from now – but now I know it will happen if I keep training and running! What an awesome feeling!

Final time: 2:02:42 (2:02:23 at 13.1)

Overall:* 208/446 (46%)
Gender: 75/217 (35%)
Division: 14/31 (45%)
*Walkers were sorted into separate results.

Up Next: OSU 4 miler this Sunday. I want to get an official 4 miler PR since the Labor Day course was short, but my legs are still really sore, so we'll see how I feel. ;) 

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