That's right: a second blog post. This time, with good great reason. One of my goals for this year is to break 90 minutes on a half m...

Danbury Half Marathon

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That's right: a second blog post. This time, with good great reason.

One of my goals for this year is to break 90 minutes on a half marathon. Sometime in the pit of despair that is January, I started poking around the internet for local half marathon races. The most convenient one was in Danbury, just 20 minutes from our house. It also checked a bunch of other important boxes, including prize money ✔ and some possibility of winning that prize money ✔.

BUT.. it was two weeks before our first race of the spring.

I hemmed and hawed about racing it for months, and then finally asked my coach, on a scale from 1-10, how stupid it would be to race it. His response? "I think it's a good idea." I couldn't believe my ears!

So I signed up. And then I spent the next two weeks freaking out.

I think I calculated every possible pace for every time between 1:30 and 1:35, plus mapped out at least five race plans. I obsessed over what to wear. Wrote a detailed fueling plan. The usual type-A stuff.

I also looked up half marathon advice. The best piece: know why you're doing it. So the night before the race, I decided: I wanted to know what I'd do when shit got real.

Dan came with me to be my support crew and personal paparazzi. (Pro-tip: he's on Instagram, now. Give him a follow!) We arrived about 45 minutes before the start, and I jogged a mile and a half. I was nervous, so my heart rate was through the roof, which made me more nervous, which increased my heart rate.


I wanted to win, so I toed the line. And when the horn sounded, I immediately threw my plan out the window, because duh.

Ok, so it wasn't that bad, but it took a lot of willpower to not take off with the lead group. I tried to count the women as they passed me. By the time things settled in, I figured I was in 4th or 5th. I took my first gu at 3 miles, trying to stay ahead on fueling. (Eat before you need it.)

My plan was to hit the 5k mark around 22:30, and I clocked in at 22:04 [4:24/km]. I made a quick assessment. I'd gone out too fast, but it was mostly downhill, the wind was at my back, and my heart rate was a little high but comfortable. My breathing was much less labored than the people around me. Also, I really wanted to catch the woman in front of me, so screw tactics I was going for it.



Passing off my earmuffs. Time to get to work.
Over the next 5k, I started to close the gap on the leading women. Dan drove from the mile 3 meet up to mile 6, cowbelling from the car as he passed. We hit our first hill, and then a gradual descent into the 10k. Goal was to hit 10k at 44:10; I was through in 43:46. [5k split 21:42 - 4:20/km] Too fast, but damnit I wanted to win. And I was technically on my target pace, 4:20/km, just riding off of seconds gained in the first 5k.


Dan only snapped one photo coming into the 10km mark, before quickly digging out the pretzels and prepping my snack pickup. The handoff needs practice, but I grabbed a few. I also picked up two gus at the aid station at 10.3km.

There was an out and back section from the aid station through 13km. I'd driven the second half of the course the day before, so I knew the hills were coming. I wanted to take the lead before we hit them, so I hit the gas. As the leaders doubled back, I passed the last woman and took the lead. I also ate another gu here, my last fuel of the race.




Dan pulled over around mile 9 to cheer one last time before the finish, and I shouted to him "Dan I'm doing it!" as I flew down the hill with a grin on my face.

Then things got real.

I ran through 15km in 66:13, about 20 seconds slower than the plan (65:50). [5km split 22:27 - 4:29/km]

Because my goal was to find out how I reacted when shit got real, I knew this was coming. It helped me push for this moment. And I womaned up.

The hills were hard. (Really it was one hill, climbing continuously for 2.5km before immediately descending.) Rowing has developed my climbing muscles incredibly well, so the uphills were a nice break from the flats. But they destroyed my pace, and the slamming of the downhill thrashed my legs. I had a large enough lead at this point to let off the gas and catch my breath, but I found myself pedal to the metal, grinding into the depths of misery.

Just before the 20km mark, one of my Oiselle teammates had gathered a cheering section that pushed me into the last stretch. I crossed the 20km mark in 1:28:38 and with over a kilometer to go, I knew I wouldn't be breaking 90 minutes. [5k split 22:25 - 4:29/km] I let their cheers carry me forward. Don't think, just do.





And then I broke the tape! I've won two other local races, but neither one had a finishing tape. Seeing it as I rounded the last bend put a huge smile on my face.

Final time was 1:33:22 (average pace 7:08/mile - 4:25/km.)




And then, I got the best kind of trophy—a check! Prize money was $200 (plus some mini-champagne bottles).

I'm definitely soaking in the win and confidence boost, but my priority for the next two days is recovering so I can get back to training. I'll be trying to get extra sleep and drink more water. On the nutrition front, I'll also be upping my protein and fruit/vegetable intake. I'm hoping by tomorrow I can accomplish some gentle stretching and foam rolling.

Woohoo!

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