November 19, 2012

Women's Half Marathon, St. Petersburg, Florida, Nov. 18, 2012: race recap

It's official: I love the Women's Half Marathon!

I ran this race last year as my first half marathon, and even though I was disappointed in my performance, I thought the race rocked. It's so well done. Everything. It's organized. It's a great course. It has sufficient water (and Gatorade) stops. It has great bling. And, as a bonus for me, it's local.

So it's probably no surprise that I ran this race as my fourth half marathon, and I thought the race rocked again. 

After more than three months of training, my running group friends and I were ready for this race. We met up early Sunday morning at a hotel close to the start (for indoor restrooms and a place to gather). It was a short walk to the start line.
Lori, Christine and me outside the hotel before the race

Thankfully, we didn't get to our corral any too early. It was crazy crowded and kind of warm for such a cool day (really, pretty ideal running weather: 60s and overcast).


A few minutes after we found and squeezed into our corral, the race started. It was pretty crowded for the first mile, so Lori and I started off slower than we usually do. 

Since we are fortunate to train in the exact location of the race, the course was extremely familiar. We ran along the water, into a neighborhood and back out along the water. We took a GU gel around mile 4 with some water.

At this point, I felt great! I was a little nervous when we got to mile 6 because this is where I stopped to walk last year (and never recovered). We kept on trucking through mile 6. We even kept on trucking on the Pier, my running nemesis. It proved to be my nemesis again as it was super windy. We ran straight into a strong wind up the Pier. Thankfully, once we ran around the Pier and back the other way, the wind was at our backs.
I highly dislike you, Pier!

Around mile 8, we took our second GU gel followed by water. Aside from the pesky Pier, I think the last 4 miles are the toughest of this course. It involves a gradual incline up through downtown St. Petersburg, a trip around Mirror Lake (boring), then on to Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays, before heading to the finish. 


We knew what was ahead and prepared for this portion of the course. Our coach had us do multiple Mirror Lake repeats during training so once around the lake wouldn't seem so bad during the race. And, it really didn't seem so bad.

The run from Mirror Lake to Tropicana Field is what did seem bad to me. Even though I ran the course last year and did a 12-mile training run that included this portion of the course, I thought Tropicana Field was much closer to Mirror Lake than it really was. This part seemed long, but we kept running.

Once we hit Tropicana Field, we ran inside the dome. Yes, as a part of this race you run around the warning track of a Major League Baseball field. For a baseball-loving girl like me, this is pretty sweet. For a runner who ran 10+ miles on asphalt, this switch to a squishy surface is not so sweet. It was definitely slower going here. 

We had a gradual incline outside of Tropicana Field before we hit the downhill run back to the finish. Around mile 12, I met Denise. She was working a water stop, and I recognized her from her blog and the Tampa Bay Bloggers group. She was so sweet to jog some with me before taking a picture of our group.
Our coach joined Lori and I at this point to run with us before
going back out for the next group to bring in to the finish.

Then, it was time to really kick it in. We only had 1.1 miles left, and I was ready to run fast. It was all downhill to the finish. We took off. We ran hard that last 1.1 miles. Really hard. Really, really hard.


After a strong finale across the finish line, we received out medals from the military, grabbed some water and snacks, and met up with others from our group.

With the coveted bling
Purple power
Ahh! Grass!

I was happy with my performance. I only walked through water stops. I had a really strong finish. I ran the entire race with my running buddy, Lori, and really enjoyed almost every minute of this race. 


I was shocked to realize that my time was 2:45:33. This is only 3 minutes faster than my disastrous, walk-a-ton result of last year. Why did I feel so disappointed last year and feel happy this year? I'm not sure. I guess running the entire distance (aside from water stops)  feels better than walking portions. I'm not sure. 

The other question is: why is my time only 3 minutes better? I feel like a much stronger runner. And, the weather this year was ideal – especially compared to the hot, miserable, above-average temps of last year. Maybe I didn't push myself as hard as I could? I probably need to pick up the pace sooner. I'm just so conservative and worried I'll burn out before the finish. I need to work on that. 

As far as this race, I loved everything. As far as my performance, there are definitely things I can work on. 

13 comments:

  1. Congrats on your finish! this was definitely a well.put together race! I saw Denise but sorry I missed you guys! you PR ed and that is fabulous ! :D

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  2. Congrats on running a great race! Sometimes it's not about the time on the clock, but how you feel when you finish - especially when you know you've give it your all after months of training. :)

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  3. Congrats on a great race! The important thing is that you had fun :) I love the medal, it is so cute.

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    1. You are right! Having fun is the most important thing, and I did.

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  4. Whoooeeeee nice job. I love the Women's Half Marathon series medals. So cute. Sounds like you had a really fun time. I go back and forth between being focused on fun and focused on performance. Three minutes faster is no small feat. You should be proud.

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  6. First of all, a 3 minute PR is huge! Some people only get seconds off their time. I think you did fabulous! Second of all, the reason you felt crappy last time and better this time with only a 3 minute difference was because you probably ran your little heart out and were pooped half way through! That "banked" time put you far enough ahead that even though you walked, you time didn't suffer to greatly. This time around you ran a strong and smart race and didn't need to walk. The times are similar but this race was way better! You should be proud! Now that you've got a good race strategy under your belt, I predict a 5 minute PR (if not more) coming your way! (Sorry about the deleted comment. I dont know why my google sign on is weird with your blog!)

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    1. Well, it's a 3-minute PR for that race. It's 12 minutes slower than my half marathon PR. I'm beginning to wonder how I ever got that PR. It seems so far out of reach now!

      You are so right! This race was way better. I ran smart (maybe too smart), and it was fun. Thanks for the reminder! I needed it.

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  7. Congratulations on this accomplishment!

    I loved the race as well, even though I just did the 5K.
    It was so inspiring and amazing to see women who were going through cancer treatment, others who have overcome health and weight issues, new moms and young moms whose kids ran up to hug them as they crossed the finish line; 72 year old women; Fab 50 women; and so many of their families and friends cheering them on.

    Just loved running with so many women - watching their faces of determination and joy -knowing they have accomplished so much.
    Each one of them has an amazing story.
    Reminds me that each one of us is on a Journey!!
    Thanks for sharing your story with us!

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    1. Thanks, Marsha!

      It is incredibly inspiring! I love seeing the wide range of people that run. Everyone is there for the same reason, but the stories of how everyone got there vary so much.

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  8. Congratulations! Sounds like you did awesome. I really enjoyed reading your blog. :)

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    1. Thanks! And thanks for checking out the blog.

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