Sunday, June 13, 2010

Rockford Half Marathon- A PR!

I am very late on this race report (the race was May 16th!) but better late than never, right? Adam and I decided to run the Rockford Half Marathon as a way to stay motivated to keep running during the winter. Also, we figured it would be an easy race for our most supportive spectators (my parents) to cheer for us.

It turned out to be near perfect race weather. It was in the upper 40s and cloudy at the start and reached a max temp in the 60s. The sun came out for the last few miles.

We started downtown. The first 2 miles we were going at a nice clip (for us, anyway) doing 8:30 min/miles. The race went right down N Main street past the neighborhood where I grew up, so that was entertaining and fun. Around mile 3 or so we saw my parents who were at North Towne. As always, it was so great to have spectators to look forward to. My parents have been great supporters of my (and now also Adam's) running. They've been to 3 marathons, some in quite inclement weather (the "cold" year for the Chicago marathon). My Grandma Nelson has been a great supporter too, making it out for 2 of those races. I still have this picture of her running down Chicago streets ringing her cowbell. I hear she was moving more quickly than some of the runners- my parents almost lost sight of her during my first Chicago marathon!

Back to Rockford. After we saw my parents, I was feeling pretty ambitious so I decided to push the pace a bit. At this point, I broke away from Adam. I should note that he had a terrible cold and felt just awful. I'm so appreciative that he even did the race at all, because it would have been really easy for me to back out if he bailed!

Miles 3-7 were great. The course went downhill for 1/2 mile which I tried to fly down, then 1/2 mile uphill that was not quite as fun. But I was pretty much passing people this whole time, hoping that my fast pace wasn't going to come back to haunt me.

By mile 7, I was starting to feel tired, but I didn't want all my hard effort during the first 7 miles to be wasted so I pressed on, looking forward to the next point where my parents would be waiting. I kept thinking they'd be around the next corner. I kept thinking that for about 3 miles, which was painful, but at the same time good, because I had decided to not allow myself to take it easy until after I saw them.

After I saw my parents again, I was really, really tired. But at that point I knew I was roughly 45 sec-1 min faster per mile than my previous 1/2 marathon PR of 2:07:48 (Tyranena Half in 2007) and I really didn't want to blow it in the last 3 miles. I had a few fleeting thoughts of trying to break 2 hours but the idea stressed me out so much (I was so TIRED and couldn't IMAGINE keeping up the same pace for another 1/2 hour!) that I downgraded my goal to just not stopping running, i.e. not walking. I just had to be confident that my "taking it easy" pace for the last 3 miles wouldn't be too slow. I think I did mostly 9:40s for the last few miles, which is still good for me.

I saw my folks one last time close to mile 12 which was a nice surprise because I didn't know they'd be there. And then one last uphill to the finish line. Ke$ha's "Tic Tok" pulled me through the last mile-it's a great song for running- very upbeat and the goofy lyrics are entertaining.

I didn't quite make sub-2:00, but I was close! My final time was 2:00:19 (9:12 min/miles). So I was 26 sec/mile faster than before, cutting 7 minutes off my time. And I have a great shot of making sub-2:00 at my next half w/ only 19 s to cut off!

Adam and I after the race. Thanks for running Adam! Couldn't have PR'd without you!

That afternoon we went to the Rathskeller, a traditional German restaurant in downtown Rockford. Adam had learned about the infamous "beer-in-a-boot" so wanted to see it for himself.

Here's my dad at the Rathskeller's outdoor patio with "The Boot". When the waitress brought it out, the other restaurant patrons (mostly other runners) started cheering like crazy!

Adam very proud of his boot!

All in all, it was a great race and a great day. This day and this race finally made me consider myself a runner. Not just someone who slogs through marathons at a gruelingly slow pace but an actual runner. Admittedly 9:12 min/mile is not that fast. But I think 13.1 9:12 min/miles in a row is something I can be proud of. And I'm improving. Hopefully, I can keep improving to the point that one day I can qualify for Boston.

Based on this race, I've stepped up my goal for the 10/10/10 Chicago Marathon. I'm going to try for sub-4:00. Maybe a bit too ambitious, but I might as well try. Gosh, wouldn't it be nice to not have to run for over 4 and a half hours like I usually do? The best thing about getting faster is you don't have to run for as long!

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