Yesterday was such an incredible day. Honestly. I didn't get to bed until 2:30 in the morning the night before the race and then had to be up at 6:30 to drive from my boyfriend's down to my apartment to meet my dad. I was exhausted and wanted nothing more than to just stay in bed and sleep all day but I knew I needed to get in a long run and so I forced myself out of bed. To make getting out of bed even harder, it was the coldest it has been all year :32 degrees. I'm glad I checked the weather and saw that it was going to warm up to in the fifties during the race.
I was planning on wearing shorts and a short sleeved shirt but due to the cooler temps I wore a long sleeved shirt instead. I bundled up with extra layers for before the race and by 8:15 my dad and I were on our way downtown. We hit a lot of traffic on the exit ramp due to roads being closed from the full marathon so we didn't make it to the race as early as we had planned. Initially I wanted to run 3 miles before the race and then 2 afterwards for a total of 18. I only had time for one mile before the race though. I then decided to make it a harder effort and only do 15 miles.
The corrals for this race aren't very well marked so I just hopped in when I saw a bunch of people who had numbers close to mine. After a minute or two we were off and running. I tried to remember as much as I could from last year about the course and what to expect. I knew there were some hills in the middle miles that were pretty brutal but I couldn't remember exactly where they were. My plan was to run the first 5 miles at a really comfortable pace so I would have energy left in the tank for the final few miles. I wore my garmin but didn't reset it after my warm up and had it set so it wouldn't give me my mile splits. I actually really liked not knowing what pace I was running at.
Last year I remember thinking that the first 3 miles took forever, but this year they flew by. I couldn't believe how quickly the race was going by. At the first aid station I thought I grabbed water but ended up grabbing Gatorade. My stomach has had trouble in the past with Gatorade but I was really thirsty and there was no more water so I drank it and luckily had no issues. I also experimented with eating Shot Bloks through out the race instead of taking a GU. I only had 1-2 Shot Bloks at a time and also had them right before a water station. I preferred them so much more than eating a gel and will definitely be taking them during the marathon. I also liked that I could take as many or as few as I wanted to keep my stomach happy.
I saw my dad at mile 5 and loved the burst of energy seeing him gave me. I picked up the pace a tiny bit but not too much yet. Between miles 4-7 is where the most/biggest hills are located. I went up the hills with the mantra even effort not even pace. I went up the hills at a pace that felt comfortable and then flew down them, taking as much advantage of the downhills as possible. I kept running along happy as could be when before I knew it we were entering the lake which meant that the hills were over. Already?! What hills?! I couldn't believe how easy they felt.
At about mile 8 I started to pick up the pace even more. I knew I was going to PR but I wasn't sure by how much. I just decided to run hard and see where it got me. I was blowing by people and loving every minute of it. I seriously don't think I stopped smiling the entire race. Once I hit mile 10 I really picked it up so I was running at a slightly uncomfortable pace. I was charging up the final few hills and riding the downhills. I picked out people who looked strong that I wanted to pass. Despite how hard I was pushing it over the final few miles I was impressed with how strong I felt. I would it was a 300% improvement over how I felt running this race last year as my first half marathon.
Once I saw the 13 mile marker I sprinted with everything I had to the finish line. I knew I was going to get a nice PR but I still didn't know by how much. After I crossed the finish line I waited in an insanely long line to get my medal and some food and drink. I soon found my dad and stretched out a bit. Then I went for a short jog around M&T Bank Stadium with hopes of loosening my legs up. I was already really stiff but started to feel a little better the longer I ran. After we went to Noodles for lunch and then back over to the race finish area to check my time.
A PR by 5+ minutes from the RNR Philadelphia Half Marathon 4 weeks ago. Last year I finished this race in 2:23:03. I can't believe how far I have come in only a year and am now itching for that sub 2:00 half.
Sorry there are no pictures in this post. My computer screen cracked & now I'm using my old one which is being very temperamental. Will add pictures when my computer is fixed.