Monday, December 26, 2016

My Continuing Quest of the Sub-2 Half Marathon

I started writing this race recap last month, but got writer's block. Then we bought a place and that kept me pretty busy.

November had me like:

And then December had me like:

But now we're settling in and I'm ready to get down to business. Are you ready?

Back in August I decided I wanted to sign up for a fall half marathon for no good reason other than, why not?

At first I was going to do the Rock n Roll half for Halloween. However, once October rolled around and they still hadn't been able to finalize the course, I gave up on them. Instead I found a small, local race that was perfect. It was:

1. On the same day as the Rock n Roll so my training wouldn't need to be altered

2.  Walkable from my place, rather than an hour long train ride

3.  A fraction of the cost of the RnR

The morning of the race, TriGuy walked down to the start with me and I shared some of my misgivings:

He was right.

I read the Hanson Method for Half Marathons and adapted it into my very own plan with help from Erika. I called it:

I ran 6 days per week, with 3 easy runs, 2 technical runs, and 1 long run. So yes:

I also worked to perfect my nutrition. When my trusty water and sport beans combo left me still feeling worn out, Erika suggested I add in some protein. I tried peanut butter and cracker sandwiches.

You try eating while gasping for air breathing hard.

I decided to break my crackers in half and devised my perfect plan, alternating half a cracker with 2 sport beans every 1.5 miles. I was hitting my target times and feeling really good about my training.

So I should have felt more than ready.

Getting back to race day:

When we got to the starting line it was raining.

Par for the course in Seattle but fairly unusual for LA.

In fact, the race organizer said a lot of people decided to stay home because of the weather.

There were only 30 of us, so our "pack" was pretty small and I quickly found myself a half-step back from one particular guy. I wasn't sure what to do; I wanted to stay on my mile pace but it was pretty awkward to run that close to a stranger.

Of course I didn't want to slow down either. I eventually went with speeding up a bit, which didn't really please the guy, but that wasn't my problem. He could catch me later if he wanted to.

Spoiler: he did not catch me.

The course consisted of 3 loops. We shared it with the 5k and 10k runners, and I was never sure who I was racing against.  Any time I saw a familiar face heading in the opposite direction I assumed that person was ahead of me. I knew I was hitting my splits but assumed those runners were faster because of my experience with racing.

Halfway through the race it was time for me to refill my water bottle.

I should have asked for help but I was trying to rush.

At that moment I realized I had forgotten to switch off my watch's auto-pause. This might not seem like a big deal but I had a goal to hit.

I wouldn't know my finish time for sure until the official results came out.

By the time I got to the last turnaround I was very concerned that I would not hit my goal. I kept checking my pace plan, which I had written on my hand, and suddenly realized I only had TWO miles left, not three.

That meant it was time to pick up the pace.

I'm not gonna lie; it was TOUGH to keep running so fast the whole race, and for the last 2.1 miles I was trying to run as fast as I could without burning out. I kept telling myself how disappointed I'd be if I missed that sub 2 by a few seconds just because it was hard.

I also remembered what Erika wrote on my pace recommendations:

I pushed to the finish and a handful of people were there to congratulate me.

My watch showed that I finished under 2 hours but I wouldn't be sure until the results came out. In the meantime, they gave me 2 medals, a finisher's medal and a 2nd place medal!

To say I was psyched is an understatement, especially when you compare this race to all my other half marathons.

ChelanMan Half 2010 2:32:36 = 11:39 min/mi

Seattle Half 2010 2:26:17 = 11:10 min/mi

Rock n Roll 2011 2:20:42 = 10:44 min/mi

Rock n Roll 2012 2:13:18 = 10:11 min/mi

Heroes Half 2013 2:04:17 = 9:29 min/mi

Heroes Half 2014 2:13:25 = 10:11 min/mi

Seattle half 2015 2:17:39 = 10:30 min/mi

And the official results from this race:

It was a sub-2!!

Monster Dash Half 2016 1:58:10 = 9:01 min/mi

In order to finally reach my goal, a few things happened:

1. I left my stressful job and have been essentially on hiatus this year. This gave me lots of energy.

2. I moved somewhere that is much flatter than Seattle, and my race was pancake flat.

But if that's what it took, so be it.

I'm not sure if I'll run another half in the new year, but Erika and I got into the Chicago Marathon in October!



  1. Congratulations! I always choose my races carefully- it's great to get an overall medal. Now, by May I won't be working (after 41 years as a speech pathologist also...I have over 40 kids on my caseload right now and they keep coming...I work PART TIME! It's crazy!) So maybe then I can relax and train and not have to get up at 3:45 and run in the dark!! Nice race report!

    1. Thanks! I've never paid too much attention to how I chose races other than convenience. I would never run at that hour; I'm sure you will really enjoy your retirement--just a few months to go!

  2. Nicely done, Julie! So exciting to beat your goal of a sub-2 hour half.

  3. Yooooooo! You did it! That's awesome! Who cares how long it took to overcome the writer's block, I'm just glad you shared it so I could share your excitement. As a long time reader, I am psyched for you and with you. Really, that's an amazing accomplishment. You're in an elite club. Wait, did I also read that you bought a place? In California? You can afford to buy a place in California? Yoooooooooo! Double triple back flip amazing! Super Congratulations!

    1. Thank you so much, Pickleope! I truly appreciate that you are a long time reader. I am so sporadic with blogging that I always feel like my commenting on others' will look like I'm just trying to drum up my own traffic. I need to be better about that.
      And yeah, it took us a year, but we finally managed to find a place that didn't require a total tear down AND was in our budget!

  4. Being able to walk to a race sounds too good to be true. I always dread having to recover in hotel rooms and friends houses. I like my space, especially after a race. I need to get Hanson Method for Half Marathons; I need all the help I can get. OMG, You were the second female overall!! Congratulations! You killed it :)

  5. Thanks Mary!! It was amazing to be able to walk to the race! I am exactly the same way about recovery. I definitely recommend trying the Hanson Method--but I did tweak it a bit because it started off way too advanced and I didn't want to hurt myself. And apparently that worked ok because yeah, second female overall! I don't expect that to happen regularly but it was so cool!

  6. This sort of message always inspiring and I prefer to perused quality content, so cheerful to discover a great put to numerous here in the post, the writing is just incredible, much appreciated for the post. Hockey ornaments

  7. It sounds too wonderful to be true that Accounting And Bookkeeping Service you can stroll to a race. I detest having to heal at friends' and hotel rooms' homes. Particurly after a race, I value my privacy. Hanson Method for Half Marathon is what I need.


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