Tobacco Road Half Marathon Recap
AKA, 2 hours or BUST.
It’s been two weeks since I finished this race. And I haven’t taken a SINGLE step in another run. My neck is still on the outs, and it could be another month before I can run again. Major bummer. My new goal is to be ready for the Marathon Training Team on June 2nd! Even if I can’t run a single step until that day, I want to be there bright and early and kick that run in the butt.
I digress. On to the best half marathon ever created…
I started race morning bright and early at 4:30am. Brian and I spent the night at my parents’ condo in Raleigh and didn’t arrive until late on Saturday evening (I had a work event all Friday and Saturday AM…needless to say I didn’t get much rest). There was a HUGE thunderstorm on Saturday night, and it ended up waking me up a few times. I actually ended up waking up before my alarm and started to prep.
I decided to go the neon/awesome/sparkle route in terms of race attire. It made me faster.
By 5:45 I had the rest of the family up and ready to rock and roll (sort of) and we made our way to the start. The race organizers had sent out COUNTLESS emails about pre-race transportation. Apparently in 2011 the transportation system was a major disaster and lots of people ended up missing the start of the race. I’m happy to report that we had NO problem with parking. My parents, brother and Brian dropped me off around 6:15am and I had 45 minutes to kill on my own. From there they made their way to a viewing location with no problem. I know some shuttle buses were running people back and forth to a remote lot, and it seemed to be going well.
After I was dropped off I moseyed around a little bit and then found a spot amongst the crowd in an attempt to stay warm. It wasn’t super chilly, but just enough to make we want to huddle up in a crowd of body heat. I ended up meeting a super nice girl who was also on her own. We chatted for a solid 30 minutes and she gave me piece of gum. I chewed it the entire race (it made me faster).
The gun went of promptly at 7:00am and we were off. My game plan was to PASS the 2hour pacer, and gain a nice lead on him for the first half of a race. Unfortunately I started about 1 minute BEHIND the pacer so I was instantly worried about my plan. The first half of the race had a nice overall downhill, with a few NICE downhill parts.
I literally had this elevation profile memorized. I knew that in order to break 2 hours I would need to maintain as close to a 9 minute pace as possible. Obviously that would be a whole lot easier between miles 3-5 and 7-9 than during the last 5k of the race. I actually PLANNED to start out fast and use the hills to my advantage, so I could comfortably coast up the hills.
I stuck to my plan and ended up passing the 2 hour pacer about 1 mile into the race. At the turn-around I knew I was about 1:30 ahead of them, but the worst was yet to come. I crossed the half way point just as the clock was hitting 1 hour (and I knew I was 1 minute behind the clock). 2 hours was within reach if I could hustle through the 2nd half. I knew I had about 2 minutes of wiggle room.
At mile 9, things got hard. I started to slow down a bit but was determined to push through. Thankfully the uphill was pretty gradual so I didn’t notice it much. However, at mile 11 I ended up semi hitting a wall. My legs felt like death. And the 2 hour pacer passed right by me. I knew I had a little wiggle room (thanks Garmin!) but I wasn’t totally sure how much.
The end of the race was torture for me. I hustled as hard as I could, but I never quite caught up with the pacer. It was killing me to see them in front of me. But those darn hills at the end felt so.much.worse than they actually were.
I gave it everything I had the last half mile. I knew I had to push it to reach my goal; according to my Garmin timer I had right around 5 minutes to complete the last half mile +.1. That .1 nugget was uphill and I busted my booty to make it up.
I crossed the finish line and stopped my Garmin at 1:59:32 but wasn’t exactly convinced that I had done it. For some reason I thought maybe I had over estimated how far behind I started from the 2 hour pacer, and how much time had passed between me starting my Garmin and the actual start time. All of these thoughts were crossing my mind and I could barely breathe. I vaguely remember getting my medal and silver blanket. Then I spotted my dad, brother and Brian (not sure where mom was?!) and immediately burst into tears and gasps of breath. It took a moment of convincing, but they were all sure I had achieved my goal. It was a REALLY freaking good feeling.
Eventually I composed myself, got some tasty bread and we hauled butt out of there! On the car ride home I checked my splits:
Exactly what I had planned. And it worked.
Later that afternoon I got my official results:
Epically happy with that. My first half marathon in 2010 was 2:20 something, so this is such an awesome accomplishment. I also really enjoyed this race. It’s well organized, the pre-event communications are top notch and the course is fun. It’s mostly along the American Tobacco Trail which is a nice change of pace from typical road races. I really liked running through the forest on the man-made trail. Two thumbs up!
Next up, getting healthy in order to do it all again!