Yesterday was the Heroes on Hines Half marathon. Justin picked out this race, because it's in his hometown and he does most of his training on Hines Drive, so it had kind of a special appeal to him. Me, I didn't really want to do it. Seemed small and boring, and I was debating whether do it as a training run as part of a 16 or 18 mile long run, or rearranging my training schedule and going all out to see what I had. Justin decided he was going to give it his all, and really wanted an age group award. In the 3 races we have done together prior to this one, Justin has beaten me every time (every time has been really close though! Anyway, I decided I wanted to race too. Mainly to beat Justin. So, our goals going in to this were as follows:
Justin: "Get an age group award". I told him that was a silly goal because he had no control over who showed up to the race, and that he should have a time goal. So he said he was aiming for a sub-1:50 time.
Ty: My main goal was to PR. My current PR is 1:53:something from the OC half marathon in May. That's around an 8:45 min/mile pace. I had a feeling I could do that no problem, so I set my "A" goal as an 8:15 min/mile, which sounded doable, but challenging, based on my recent training paces. And of course, the only thing that really mattered was that I beat Justin. :)
It was soooo cold and raining when we woke up for the race! Luckily, the rain stopped just in time for the race, so we were left with 40s and cloudy, which is PERFECT running weather for me.
We parked in a neighborhood near the start line, instead of the designated parking lot. I would recommend to the race organizers to have portapotties at the parking lot as well as at the race start. Most of us want to wait in our cars until closer to race time on a cold day, and for those in the parking lot, that made using the bathroom an issue if you had to go all the way to the start line. As it stood, the bathroom line was pretty long when we made our way to the start. Justin just about missed the start of the race because he was late getting in line. He ended up starting at the back of the pack, about 2 minutes after the gun.
That kind of messed up my strategy, because I wanted to start behind him so I knew that if (WHEN!) I caught/passed him I would be ahead of him on chip time. Instead I started 1-2 minutes ahead of him, so he had the power position. If he ended up catching me, I wouldn't know how much space I would have to but back between us in order to "win". Or, worst case, we would gut it out side by side at the finish, only to have him beat me by 1-2 minutes chip time regardless of whether or not I crossed the line first. Oh, by the way, before the start of the race, we put brunch on the line. Loser buys. He was pretty sure he was getting a free brunch.
I opted to not wear my watch. I always race better that way. I tried to take it easy at the start, just running by feel. There were no pacers or clocks on the course so I really had no idea how I was doing pace wise at all.
The course was a weird double out & back in opposite directions. We headed one way for about a mile, turned around and came back, did a little detour around the start/finish area, and then headed the opposite direction for a longer out & back. A lot of people would hate that course but I like that kind. I LOVE running into opposing runner traffic. It helps motivate me to see/cheer for other runners. I like looking for people I know too. And counting how many women who might be in my age group are in front of me. :)
|My forearms were strangely sore after the race. I had no idea why til I saw this pic. Looks like I was holding my arms really tight for some reason!|
After the first turn-around, I saw Justin, but he was reaaaallllly far back. That was to be expected with a 2 minute late start on his part though, plus he was trying to start out slow. (I think he overdid it in that respect, but, better safe than sorry!)
|Justin hamming it up for the photographer. :P I think we are definitely going to have to buy some of these pics!|
As I approached the 2nd turn around at mile 8 or so I realized I must be doing all right, because I didn't count that many women in front of me. I think I counted 5, but missed a couple of the leaders. I had a nice group that I was running with and leap frogging with a bit, helping me keep my pace. I love it when that happens.
After the turn around, I saw Justin way too close for comfort! He made a hand signal to me indicating the small space and I knew I had more work to do if I wanted my free lunch, so I picked it up as much as I could while still feeling sustainable for the remaining 5 miles. At this point, I had one older gentleman with me who I basically ran with side by side and stride for stride until mile 11 or so when I started putting in my final kick and left him behind. It is great to have a race buddy! We didn't talk at all except at one point I said "Thanks for the company" and I high-fived him when he came through the finish line.
Oh I forgot to mention, I maintained my race strategy of walking through the water stops. I hit every one except the first and last one, and walked through each of them. Again, I always have better finish times when I take walk breaks at the water stops, so I'm sticking with what works! Plus I actually get to drink something instead of choking or spilling water. :) I also had a shot blok at like mile 3 and mile 7. And some Gatorade at mile 9 or 10.
On the last mile and coming into the finish I really flew. I wouldn't be surprised if my last mile was sub 7:00 min pace. I felt great. As the clock came into sight, I busted into a huge smile when I saw 1:44:xx, which was better than I could have ever expected! It was a huge surprise because I had no pace information at all as I came into the finish. Final chip time: 1:44:54 for a HUGE personal record and an 8 flat average pace per mile.
|What the hell?? It was not very long ago that that was my 5K race pace!!!|
I grabbed a water, high fived my running buddy when he came through, and then walked back to look for Justin. Basically as soon as I picked a spot to stand, I saw him coming. He came in hard/fast!
His clock time was slower than me but I knew he a start delay and I didn't wait long for him so I still had no idea who "won". I thought it would be really cool if we ended up with the exact same finish time despite not running a single step together!
|His finish photos crack me up!! You can see me in the background of this one with my water bottle!|
We went over to the stage to find out our official finish times (after running to the car to get some warm clothes! Brrrr!) and discovered that I beat him by 17 seconds! And that we both got our age group awards. 4th for him and 2nd for me. We were 43rd and 44th overall out of the 367 total participants. Really cool that we finished so close!
|Justin claiming his age group award. :)|
|Me getting mine.|
The age group awards were lunch boxes. I am one of the few people who actually keep/display my awards, so I would have rather had a glass or plaque or something, but I appreciate the creativity and uniqueness of a lunch box, and the idea of giving out something people can actually use. It looks a little silly on my display shelf though :P I would use it, but it is waaaay to small for me. My lunch box is like 3 times that size. Girl gotta eat to support all this running/biking/swimming/lifting!!
The medals were the best part of the schwag collected (between the shirt, lunchbox and medal). I love the medals that have a custom lanyard, vs a plain ribbon. They really look nice. It is also a good solid/heavy medal. Very nice!
After we collected our awards we headed to Denny's where I collected my prize for beating Justin:
The record is now 3:1 in favor of Justin. Next up: Harrisburg Marathon. I'm pretty confident that I'm gonna take him at that one. The longer the distance, the better my chances. :) Apparently some friendly competition is doing wonders for my paces! ;) (Also, let me just say, that I think it should count double when I beat him. It's a 30 y/o female vs a 25 y/o male. I should get a handicap!)