Friday, April 24, 2015

Race Recap: Rock n Roll Raleigh Half Marathon

Here it is!  My PR race recap! 

Rock'n'Roll Raleigh Half Marathon
April 12, 2015

State: #20 (North Carolina)
Lifetime: #53

I thought the easiest way to do this recap would be to break it into segments.  I actually wrote a large chunk of this on the plane back from Raleigh so I wouldn't forget the details!

Waiting to start

The race started right outside our hotel, about a block away.  It made for an easy and quick race morning!  The corrals were pretty small and were starting every 1-2 minutes.  I started in Corral 4, and I remember thinking I should probably have moved back since I was taking it easy.  By that point it was too late and we got ready to go.

Miles 1-3

The first couple of miles took us around downtown Raleigh.  I knew I was going faster then I had thought I would in mile 1, but it was slightly downhill so I figured that was why.  My legs felt nice and loose and I decided I would run how I felt for the next couple of miles.

Miles 2-3 passed uneventfully as well, except my pace picked up even more.  This section was still downhill and I was letting gravity do it's thing.

Paces: 8:37, 8:11, 8:12

Miles 4-6

During mile 3, I had realized the 3:45 (marathon) pace group was right near me.  I did some quick math and figured out a half at that pace would put me pretty close to a PR (or at least one of my faster times).  My legs were still feeling good, so I decided I'd try and stick with them as long as possible.  I knew the courses split well before the Half finish, so it wouldn't be the whole time.

The pacers were great, they chatted and kept me distracted during these miles.  After a bit more downhill, there was a long (close to a mile) up hill at mile 5.  Even still, our pace was about 1 minute of so ahead when we hit the mile 6 marker.  They kept saying we'd slow down on the big hill that was coming, but by this time I had started to think a PR might be possible and those extra seconds were going to be needed to do so.

Paces: 8:25, 8:13, 8:26

Miles 7-9

Just past the 10K mark, there was a water stop.  The pace team decided to take it slow through the water stop since they were slightly ahead of the pace.  My legs were still feeling really good and I didn't want to stop.  I could tell the PR was in reach and didn't want to risk doing anything that would cause a delay.

There was another long (almost a mile) climb in mile 7.  This was the big hill the pacers had been talking about, but I didn't realize it until it was over.  Since I didn't know it was "the hill", I just put my head down and push through.  The flat when the hill was over felt so good.  We went made a loop around a neighborhood and then it was time for the Half and Full to split (about mile 8).  At this point (mile 8), I was rapidly trying to do the math on what pace I needed to make to PR.  I thought it was possible, but just to be sure, I tried to pick up the pace a little starting at mile 9 (which was on a slight downhill, so that helped).

Paces: 8:12, 8:29, 7:59

Miles 10-12

These miles were a bit rough.  I had picked up the pace and didn't feel horrible for mile 10.  There was a pretty big section of downhill, which felt amazing then, but on Monday my quads were hurting.   It was during this mile I caught up to the 1:50 pace group, which I knew had started in the corral in front of me.  I knew if I stayed in front of them, I'd be fine.

Mile 11 brought on another hill.  It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't pretty either.  I had some thoughts go through my head that maybe I had picked it up too soon.  What if I died in the last mile?

Mile 12 was by far the worst.  There was another hill.  It wasn't as long as the earlier ones, but it was pretty steep and to be honest, my legs were hurting.  I remember making a left turn and seeing the hill and saying (out loud), "Are you kidding me?".  There was a part of me that just wanted to stop and cry during that hill (but don't worry, I didn't).

I think this section was a big mental game for me.  I said in my 2015 goals, I wanted to work on mental strength and learn to push through the pain and I think this race showed that I am getting stronger on that front.  For these last miles, every time I crossed a mile, I'd start to do the math of "I have to run at least an ___ minute per mile pace to PR".  Every time I'd do this, I'd force myself to stop.  I didn't want to think that way because I felt like I was giving myself an excuse to slow down because it hurt.  I'm not kidding that in mile 12, I wanted to stop and cry on that hill, but I pushed through.  Mile 12 wasn't pretty, but I am pretty proud of myself for that mile.

Paces: 7:44, 7:52, 8:02

Mile 13-Finish

By the time I made it to the last mile, I was an odd combination of emotions.  I was completely spent, but knew I still had a mile to go.  I was so happy that it (the PR) was going to happen.  I was in shock, since I hadn't planned on this at all.  Basically, I spent the entire mile 13 trying not to cry.

Every time we made a turn, I'd look for the finish line.  For the last 0.5 miles, I was counting down the tenth's of a mile.  Okay, only 0.5 to go.  Only 0.4 to go.  And eventually, we were at the State Capitol building, which I knew was right near the finish line.  And when I made that final turn and saw the finish... I honestly can't even think of how to describe it.  I think relief is the best way.

The finish was here and I was going to do it.  I was going to PR.  And not just PR a little, PR by a lot (by 2 minutes and 22 seconds to be exact).  Passing the mile 13 marker, I started sprinting to the finish line.  I wanted to know I had given it my all.  Crossing the finish line was awesome.  I was definitely crying, but they were tears of joy (mostly, there might have been some tears of pain in there as well).

Paces: 8:02, 6:28 (for .19, according to my Garmin)

After crossing the finish line and collecting my medal, I made my way through the finisher's chute.  I made sure to pick up a water and a Gatorade as well as some food for later (I am a weirdo and can't eat right after I race.  I use a recovery shake as that's about all I can get down).  Fortunately, the finish chute ended right in front of the hotel so I made my way inside to get some recovery in before heading to the beer garden (I figured I deserved my free Mich Ultra).

Final Thoughts
Basically, I loved this race.  And it wasn't just the PR (which we'll talk about below), but it was the race itself.  Rock n Roll puts on a good race and this was no exception.  From arriving at the start to the finishers chute, it was well run.  The corrals were organized, the course was challenging but gorgeous (Raleigh sure is a pretty place).  If you are looking for a North Carolina race, I'd recommend this one.

Now about that PR.  Basically, anytime you PR, it's awesome.  But this wasn't just a small PR, this was a pretty big one (2:22 minutes!).  It's been about a year since Nike DC and I've spent some time since the race thinking about the two races (Nike vs Raleigh).  Even though I was dying at end of Raleigh, I actually felt much better then during Nike last year.  I remember crossing mile 13 (at Nike) and thinking I could not move any faster.  I had really want to get sub 1:50 at that race and missed it by 2 seconds.  I just could not get my legs to move faster.  That was not the case this time around.  I still manage to sprint the last 0.1 to the finish.

Nike DC was also much flatter then this race was, which is crazy to me, because I don't usually run hills very well.  So I am extra happy that I PR'd on a hilly course.  Which (of course) makes me think that I might even be able to run faster on a flat course.  But that's a discussion for another time.

Official: 13.1 mi, 1:47:39, 8:13 pace
Garmin: 13.19 mi, 1:47:39, 8:10 pace

Anyone else run Raleigh?  What did you think?

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