This past weekend I ran the Emerald City Half Marathon as a tune-up race. Race day is still 8 weeks away, so it was a little early for a tune-up race, but I thought this would at least be a good opportunity to practice my fueling and get in a faster long run training run. I had 17 miles on the schedule for this weekend so I got to the race early and did about 3.5 miles at a zone 2 pace to warm up and planned on a 0.5 cool down run.
I ran the quarter marathon part of this race last year as a training run for my fall half marathon and was looking forward to doing the half marathon this year. This race is in a suburb of Columbus and goes through neighborhoods and an absolutely beautiful metro park. It’s usually pretty hot and humid for this race, but we really lucked out this year with perfect weather for an August race. There were a lot of PR’s and strong races amongst my friends.
I wasn’t sure how I would go about this run since the weather can be unpredictable in August. I was hoping to at least run it at goal marathon pace, but after my Wednesday tempo run in the heat I wasn’t sure what I would do if the weather was too warm. I don’t usually post about my race goals and this is a great example of why – I usually wait right up to the race to really decide what I am going to do and sometimes I make decisions during the race depending on how I feel. This was definitely one of those days.
I started out nice and easy and hit the first mile at 8:56. At mile 6, I hit a 8:41 average mile and decided I felt good enough to try to run the race progressively. I figured if I started to tire out I could always hold the current pace instead of progressing more. I succeeded in continuing to run progressively and hit my last full mile at a 7:56 pace.
The course was absolutely beautiful, especially the part that went through the metro park. The quarter marathon also goes through the park, but not as much as the half so I had only seen a glimpse of it last year. The course has a lot of small rolling hills, especially within the neighborhoods, but the park has a lot of shaded areas which I just felt I could fly through once I was out of the sun. I was really caught up in the beauty of the course and have been finding that I really enjoy these quieter courses that are more scenic and have less spectators. Maybe I have a future in trail running that I have not yet discovered.
My legs felt pretty good during the race and my fueling plan seemed to worked out well. I had brought a handheld with me incase it was hot that day, but I didn’t bring it on my warm up miles and felt find so I decided to leave it in the car for the race and practice drinking from the aid stations. I don’t plan on carrying water with me during the marathon so I was glad it wasn’t too hot to where I felt I needed to carry it. I took water from the first few stations and then switched to Gatorade in the second half of the race.
This was the best I have felt since I first broke 2 hours during my second half marathon that I ran in Richmond a few years ago and my final finishing time was very close to that time as well. I finished with an official time of 1:52:56 and an overall negative split.
Mile 1 – 8:56
Mile 2 – 8:51
Mile 3 – 8:54
Mile 4 – 8:46
Mile 5 – 8:48
Mile 6 – 8:41
Mile 7 – 8:39
Mile 8 – 8:22
Mile 9 – 8:19
Mile 10 – 8:11
Mile 11 – 8:14
Mile 12 – 8:10
Mile 13 – 7:56
.28 Finish – 7:20
One of my favorite things about this race is the ice cold wash cloths they hand out at the finish. I also devoured a banana and two cups of Snowville Chocolate milk, yum!
Overall, this was a good tune-up for me. It gave me confidence to continue with my training as-is and solidified my fueling plan for race day. Even though a half marathon can’t really help me predict how the marathon will go, it did reassure me that doing my training runs in my heart rate zone 2 is really helping my body build a strong base and learn to burn fat for fuel without losing my speed. It is definitely a training strategy I plan to continue into 2016.