2019 MU Half Marathon – I did it! I ran the race in 2:15!

I did it. I ran my race. That’s why I’ve been spotty with blogging and posting, and a big part of the reason I wasn’t coaching the past few months.

First I want to go over the race weekend, then how it differed from last year, then how I trained.

Soooo race weekend. The race this year was on 11/3, and 11/4 is LB’s birthday. (Last year race day WAS his birthday). So the day before the race he had a birthday party. That meant I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off the week prior and stressing that he had a good time. The party was a success saturday morning, and after going home to pack we started off to Huntington WV.

Logistically, I booked 2 hotel rooms in Huntington side by side so my parents could stay nextdoor. They kept the kids while we raced. We hit the hotel when we got into town and my parents and sister watched the kids while we went to pick up our race bibs.

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Time falls back the night before the race (always) and that’s helpful if you DON’T have kids. If you DO it is NOT helpful. The night before the race I was up with Viv a lot, and she woke up at 4 AM wide awake. Honestly that night when she wouldn’t fall asleep I basically almost had a whole mental breakdown about how RIDICULOUSLY hard this was with kids (the extra items to pack, the extra room to book, how hard the car ride was, how quickly we would have to be back after the race, how annoying it is to run with growing milk producing boobs, I mean I was ON ONE). Butttttt I made it through.

Unlike last year, I did not vomit from nerves (I am an anxious person, too much excitement and my belly goes wild). I got dressed and made sure my playlist was right and checked the weather and checked in with my friend Maria who was running the full marathon. Oh and i chatted with Brian, who was of course in the room. I packed 2 packs of organic race gummies (idk, some brand with a bee on them I picked up at race registration like last year) and 2 organic fruit strips from Aldi. I’d trained with them and liked them. The running gels work better, but make me sick so I didn’t pack those this year.

I did almost forget to pump! Viv doesn’t take a bottle but I didn’t want to leave her without one. My pump wasn’t working right, so I hand expressed 2 oz into a bottle before we left while LB was trying to invade the room I was in. It was a stressful mess. I got downstairs to leave the hotel around 6:45 and the race started at 7. Mixed up some Energize preworkout and started chugging.

Outside we quickly realized that we made a mistake – the car windshield was frosted over. We did the dangerous “spray with water enough to see and drive” method and made it to the parking lot.

We jogged over to the start line with about 3 minutes to spare.Looking around at pacers we saw the 2:00, 2:15, and knew the 2:30 was behind us somewhere. I wanted to find a 2:20 and Brian wanted to find a 2:10 but we were too late to look (and I actually don’t think they existed). I told Brian months ago not to run with me – to go ahead and PR. At the end of September my long runs were 11:47 min miles and I had planned to run this race in about 2:30. However all October I trained with Morgan at the gym and somehow the extra strength training and some faster paced treadmill miles helped me get a lot faster. So my new plan was to shoot for 2:25ish. Honestly I thought I’d run out of steam if I ran faster than that.

We took off and for the first mile or so me and Brian were together. I was annoyed at the crowd (because I don’t like running in a pack like Brian does) but I kept up with the 2:15’s. It felt like my normal comfortable pace! I hung back a little and towards the end of mile 1 or 2 I told Brian to head off without me. I didn’t want to hold him back AND I kinda prefer to run ‘alone’.  He went off ahead of the 2:15s and over the next few miles he got to where he was mostly out of sight.

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The run was fairly uneventful. Around 3 miles I had a fruit strip for energy. Every water station I had water or gatorade. The gatorade helped my performance but it really upset my stomach. Because of the pumping disaster that morning I didn’t have time to have breakfast so all I had before the race was energize.

I continued to run with the 2:15s. Around mile 6 I actually passed and ran in front of them.

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I have never ran 6 miles this fast. I was FLYING and this made me a little nervous but whatever. I pulled out a pack of gummies and started eating (it took me a whole MILE to eat because I had a slight cold/snotty nose from Viv and when I was chewing I couldn’t breathe!)

This race takes you through the city of Huntington and once we hit the park (Ritter park for those familiar) I was getting tired and felt like I was running too fast so I slowed down. I fell behind the 2:15’s around mile 8 when we were leaving the park and my goal was just to keep them in sight. I did. They slowed/walked at each water break so that gave me time to collect myself.

Around mile 9.5? I saw Brian ahead. the 2:15’s were catching up to him but by my fitbit, they were running way faster than 10:17 miles. I ate my second fruit strip and made it my goal to catch him. By the time we got to the water station around mile 11 he slowed down to drink and I skipped the stop and sped to him. I tapped him on the shoulder. His sweet voice was like “oh hey! Look at you! How you feeling?” I told him “TIRED! don’t wait on me. Go on!” and fell back.

Idk if he was afraid his postpartum less experienced wife was going to beat him, or if he just had a lot in the tank from hanging back, but he sprinted those last 2 miles. He finished at 2:11.

My watch didn’t connect to my phone when I started the run so it was telling me I wasn’t as far as we were. I thought we had nearly 3 miles left at that point (there were no mile markers other than that 6… or I missed them) so I was worried. But soon after we turned a corner and I saw it. The 2 overpasses over 3rd avenue that let me know I was close to the stadium, and the end.

I felt a burst of energy and pride. I was DOING it AND I could still see the 2:15s. I was going to beat ALL my goals. I was going to BEAT 2:20! I was listening to Beyonce “Before I Let Go” and I was so hype I was SINGING. I couldn’t keep my arms pumping because I was kind of dancing. At this point the half marathoners run straight and the marathoners turn to go around and do another loop. The marathoners pass the half marathoners on their way in. I saw Maria! She was clearly making great time (she finished in like 3:40 and won 1st place in her age group). She stretched her arms out and I ran into her and embraced her lol! I don’t know if that’s what she expected but my runners high was in full effect.

I made it into the stadium, got my football, and saw Brian recording. I ran as fast as I could (I was tired so it wasn’t that fast) and made it across the finish line at 2:15:06!

I laid down on the ground AS SOON as I was done so I didn’t throw up lol. I LITERALLY have no regrets. I left it ALL out there on the course and couldn’t have ran it a single second faster. And I beat every goal I had!

Training?

Time is hard to come by when you have young kids. All summer I had my step daughter (12), my baby (now 7 months) and my son (just turned 5). With Brian’s work hours and honestly my fatigue from being up feeding an infant and typical momming, I wasn’t running. I hardly ran at all until LB started preschool (9-12 M-F)  in September. I went over my plan a bit in this post. The main changes I made were changing my weekday runs to treadmill runs in October and running those at a 9-10 min mile pace until I couldn’t go anymore then slowing and speeding etc. And I started strength training again. Making those changes took my training pace for long runs from 11:48 to 10:47. My last run was the weekend before the race, I only ran 3 miles but ran them at a sub 10 min pace (like 9:48 maybe?). I knew I was ready.

I struggled a lot in the beginning because my weak core (I carry babies hella big and always have diastasis recti after). Without core strength running is HARD and hurts your back. Building that up through training at the gym with Morgan helped me a lot.

Differences from last year?

I did this race for me. I wasn’t pregnant (thank God! lol) and… My sister didn’t run with me. She doesn’t run at all anymore, really. I’m not ready to talk about this in detail but if you’re reading this and struggling with mental health, DO NOT STOP RUNNING. Don’t. No matter what.  Her absence cut a little bit, and I was reminded throughout the whole course. Especially the end. She didn’t meet me at the finish.

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My cousin carl was also missing. He broke his leg last year and it is still not 100% so he cant run on it. I missed him, too. He was the one who always stayed on his training and registered early and reminded us to do the basics, so it was HARD without him!

Race wise there were less people running the half this year (like 700 something vs 900 something). And I noticed less mile markers. By less I mean I only saw 1. This could have been because last year I was running 3/walking 1 with my sis (and walking majority of the last 4 miles) and going at a slower pace. I took time to talk and observe how beautiful the course was and took pic of any mile marker I saw. Also, the shirt we got for running this year wasn’t as nice as last years.

I also got to run with a pacer this time which was nice because at each water station they tell you what pace that mile was and if we are on track or not. AND I got to see Brian! Last year I only saw him at the start and end.

After the race my pelvis and knees were sore and during the race my ankles felt tired but other than that I was good! I bounced back a lot faster than last year. I didn’t even need a nap after the race.

All in all, Brian finished in 2:11. He cut 11 minutes off of his time from last year. (our family goal holder is still my sister from her first race, Brian missed her time by seconds!). And I cut 1 hour and 1 minute off my time from last year. My race pace was 10:19. I have NEVER ran distance that fast. At all!

And next year if I run it, I’m running sub 2 hours. Trust me.

This race proved to me that yet again, I can do things I didn’t even IMAGINE I could do. I am fast. I am an athlete. I am more than a mom. More than a fit mom. More than a postpartum runner. I am SO MUCH MORE than I give myself credit for. I talked about this in an instagram post monday – but for SO LONG I got positive reinforcement from school or from my career. I was always one of the smartest in the room, one of the best workers. I always got my raises and promotions and referrals and bonuses.

Motherhood isn’t like that. I get praise from my husband but if you’re a SAHM, you know what I mean. A lot of what we do seems invisible and in society – we are never doing good enough. there’s always more. The task is never done. And it’s been hard to maintain my confidence.

This race really reminded me how amazing I am. And if running 3 x a week can have this big of an impact on my race finish – imagine what all the work I put into mothering my babies is doing for them. I need to set more aggressive goals and quit fearing failure. I need to believe in myself. I am strong and effective and amazing and great.

And I am a runner.

 

 

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