The racing high from USA Half Marathon Championships is starting to recede and now is a good time to reflect on my race. Flash back to the end of fall when I realized the half marathon was in January this year and I knew I wanted to race it. I missed the deadline to sign up for last year’s half by one day! (rookie mistake) Flash forward to a week before the race and I knew I was ready to roll. I was rolling through workouts, nailing the times and felt confident. The best I have felt probably ever. I had one set back during the last workout I had scheduled. It was supposed to be 3×300 with a 3k in the middle followed by 3×300. I have just worked four 12 hour nursing shifts in a row and was feeling it. I felt heavy, tired and blah and was way off pace time. It was only 4 days until race day and I was nervous. I put the bad workout behind me, thought about all the good ones and hopped on the plane to sunny Houston,Texas. Yee Haw!
This was my first elite championship race and I was in awe of how organized and smooth it all ran. Stephanie came along as my support crew and they picked us up at the airport and shuttled us to the elite hotel. I tried to play it cool and not stare too hard when I realized Ryan and Sara Hall were in my shuttle group. We got an itinerary for the weekend which included free breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks anytime you want them. A bussed tour of the course on Saturday and a technical meeting to go over all the rules and pick up bib numbers. We were made to feel very welcome and it was great meeting new runners at the events. Saturday night the dinner opened at 6:30 which a huge line of runners getting in the last big meal before an early bed time. You could feel the nervous energy throughout and as usual, when a big gathering of runners occur, talks of splits, pacing, and fluid intake was a part of the never ending chatter. Afterward it was back to hotel room, ice bath, and a quick pep talk with my coach to make sure I knew the plan. Don’t go out too aggressive, drink fluids at 5, 10 and 15k, and race the second half. Bed time consisted of a lot of tossing and turning and little sleeping. Soon my 3:15am alarm was going off and I jumped out of bed already giddy with excitement for the day.
Pretty soon I was sitting on the bus ready to be taken to the start line. The weather was perfect. A little chilly with a slight breeze and the sun wasn’t set to come up until half way through the race. The warmup area consisted of 3 blocks to loop around in with enough porta cans for me to visit multiple times and not be stressed out about making it back in time. Our race was set to go off at 6:55, 5 minutes before the marathoners and rest of the halfers. I placed myself in the back of the crowd so I wouldn’t go out blazing and we were off! The front ladies separated themselves pretty quickly from the rest and I settled into a nice rhythm and found a group to run with. I am usually the one to get stuck in no man’s land so I was proud of the fact I had bodies around me. We were cruising along at a good pace, a little faster than I had discussed with my coach, but I felt strong and smooth so I stuck with it. The elite men marathoners passed us around mile 6 so smooth and effortless. They were a stinky group of men (phew!) but still inspiring all the same. We were going great until about mile 9 and then it started feeling really easy. The next mile proved why coming in around 5:50 pace which was 10 seconds slower then what we had been doing. The next group was way ahead and I knew would be difficult to catch on my own. I stayed with the group I was in, hoping we could rally and pick it up. Every mile got about 1 second slower and although I tried to push the pace a few times I kept settling back into the group. The last 2 miles were the roughest and even though the pace had dropped I knew I was still on PR pace. I crossed the finish, saw my time and was stoked! It was a 1:30 PR of 1:15:37 placing 26th overall and I felt great! I saw Caitlin Comfort, another Haute Volee runner, after the race and congratulated her studly performance. 3rd place with a blazing fast time! We went for a cool down together, although it was more of a shuffle because running had become rather painful.
I would definitely run this course again. It was fast, flat and spectator friendly with great temperatures. 20 women ran under the Olympic trial 2016 qualifying time for the marathon. Up next on the schedule is an indoor 5k at the University of Washington on February 14th. My goal is to finally break the cursed 17:00 minute barrier that has eluded me since my freshman year in college! Let’s start a trend #meganunder1700
Until next time!