Well after 4 months of training the day had arrived for the 2013 Little Rock Half Marathon. I had decided to run the half in November of last year. I wanted to train for an event that would get me through the winter. I chose the half because I was looking for a fast time. I set my goal for under 1:40:00 with 1:35:00 being my ambitious goal.
I knew that I would have to up my running in order to reach this goal. Throughout the summer, I had steadily been increasing my distance per week and number of times I ran per week. I wanted to grow my base before I really started to focus on speed. My "speed" workouts would be small races that were ran across the area. The training number throughout Nov, Dec, and Jan were really good. I was feeling great and running well. I accomplished more effective training for this half than I did for any of my previous marathons. In Feb, I would decrease the miles while shifting the focus to more pace related work. This worked out well as I was able to run a minute and half PR in the 15k. As the date approached, I knew I was ready to run!
During the week of the half, I took it easy with a short run and a massage just to make sure to keep the body loose and ready. The only concern for the race was that it was going to be cold. The forecast for the week were calling for lows in the mid 20s on the morning of the race. I decided to go with a cheap jacket that I could pitch right before race start, gloves, skull cap, long sleeve tech shirt, and shorts. I woke around 4:30am to get ready for the race. For breakfast that morning, I had peanut butter sandwich, banana, coffee, and some orange juice. I left my house around 6:00am and got downtown around 6:45. I found a parking spot in one of the parking garages and decided to chill out in my truck for awhile. Eventually, I had to use the restroom, so it was time to go out and brave the cold. After using the restroom, I realized I had forgotten my sunglasses, so I used the chance to warm up and run back to the truck. I still had plenty of time before race start, so I wasn't rushing too much. I went back to the start area, dropped off some clothes for after the race, and then went and warmed up for about 10 minutes. Eventually I made way to my area with about 10 minutes to go and waited for the start!
I was in the corral B, so we were the second the group that would go off. The clocked reached 8 and the first group went. We all moved closer to the start line and just a minute and half later our group was off to the races. I knew that to reach my goal of 1:35:00 I would have to put in around 7:15 min/mile. I wanted the first mile to be easy and use it as a warm up. I was feeling good and trying not to let the excitement get to me. I hit the first mile at around 7:20. As I was getting into the second mile I was beginning to fell a slight side twitch come on. I focused on my breathing and relaxed myself. I was still running well and feeling good. The second mile came in about 7:06 with part of it downhill into North Little Rock. Running through North Little Rock, this part of the course is flat, but I was start to feel that I was going to be able to hold my 7:15 pace.
Thinking to myself, it's alright, still 10 miles left. I was able to average about 7:20 through mile 4. From Mile 4 to Mile 5, you head pack to Little Rock, and go up the Broadway Bridge. As I was running up the bridge trying to control my pace, my time really dropped. I was hoping to pace myself a little up the bridge, but this was to slow. I hit mile with a 7:41 pace, uggh.
When I got to the 10k mark, I was around 45:00 minutes and my legs were feeling heavy. I was just trying to hang on already and still had half a race left. Miles 6-10 were pretty tough. At times, I would try and pick up the pace to only find that I was going now where fast! My breathing felt good, but legs were lead. I was already getting sore throughout my quads and could almost feel them cramping up. I continued to run as hard as could to reach the under 1:40:00 goal. I can usually finish a race strong, but at this point I was looking to hang on. Miles 10-13.1 were paced around 7:40! I finally reach the final chute down Hwy 10 and run as hard as I can pushing towards the finish. I reach the finish and cross in 1:39:01. A new PR and a hard fought one at that!
After crossing and slowing down to a walk, I made sure not to allow my legs to cramp and fall to the ground. It was a slow walk to receive my heavy medal. While not as gigantic as the marathon, it was still a heavy and nice piece of hardware. I picked up some snacks and then onto picking up my clothes. A great race finished.
Over the course of this week, I tried to think what happened and why this race didn't go as well as I had planned. Talking to a friend, they mentioned that sometimes now matter how hard you think about, some days aren't meant to be. This was probably that day. While my legs were hurting when I crossed the finish, I still felt like I could have run all day. I didn't feel tired. I still reached my goal of under 1:40:00, set a PR, and had a good day. Another plus on this journey, I was able to train consistently and did not get injured. Hopefully this early season training will allow for more good results throughout the year!
Next up is the Spa City 6-hour MTB race on March 16th and then Ouachita Challenge on April 6th. Also, on April 27th, I'll hopefully be testing for my 4th degree black belt. I have a lot of training to do over the next two months, but I'll fun out there.