Monday, October 13, 2014

2014 Northern OH Half Marathon Race Report

I can be stubborn. It's both a good and bad trait to have as an athlete. I had looked forward to the Lake Health Northern OH half marathon for months. I felt like it would be a great opportunity to go for a shiny, new half marathon PR. And it probably was a good opportunity for that; however, my circumstances had changed. Last Sunday I started to get sick and by the time the weekend rolled around I was still sick with a seasonal bronchitis that I tend to get each year with the seasonal changes. I told myself if I felt okay race eve and race morning I would go for the PR. As luck would have it I did feel better although not 100% so I made a judgement call and decided to give it 100% effort.


I had slept pretty well the night before the race and was up at 5:45 to get ready, which really just consisted of getting dressed, using the restroom and eating breakfast. Steve was racing as well and we left the house around 6:30. We parked near the start in Fairport Harbor at 6:45 and headed out for a little mile warm up and to meet my friend Jillian to give her the race packet we'd picked up for her the day before. It was a chilly morning with temps in the high 30s.

Start & First 8 Miles:

I lined up near the front of the pack a couple of rows back on the left side as the course started with a straight away quickly leading to a downhill ending with a left-hand turn. A few of my friends that were racing were nearby as well as Steve. I tried to stay warm until the bullhorn sounded for the start. It was a fast start and the downhill section was a little rough on my knees with the cold temps. My first mile was a little fast being sub seven but I knew I would slow down and settle in soon after and I did. My early splits were all between 7:25-7:35 so about right where I wanted to be. At mile 5 before the aid station I took in my first gel and felt pretty good heading into the little climb up Courdoroy road. I noticed my tempo starting to slow a little as we approached Headlands Beach for the turn-around so I took in another gel here at mile 8.

The Last 5 Miles & Finish:

The sun was out and it definitely warmed up the back part of the race, which I was okay with. I was able to lose my arm warmers and focus on the task at hand. There is some climbing heading back toward Fairport over by Pickle Bills and then again a little later. These splits did not look as good as I had some 8 minute miles in there and I had been passed by one woman. I really just tried to stay focused and not over think those miles. I figured I had some time from the early miles in the bank and knew I could get back on track. I still felt kindof bonkish though and did a final gel coming up before mile 11. That one didn't sit as well in the tummy but did give me a little boost.

The course was changed from last year so instead of crossing the bridge to head back toward the beach, a decent little climb up to a side street was added. This was a little tough at mile 11 and I slowed a bit there but was able to quickly get back on track as my heart rate came down. The last two miles I focused on a nice, fast cadence and trying to hold steady around 7:30-7:40 pace. I did start to wonder if the finish would ever come as I was more tired than usual for a half. Finally made the turn onto 2nd street toward the finish and was happy to be done with the race. I had come up short on the PR with a 1:40:45 but that was good enough for 7th place female and first in the 35-39 age group. It was also a PR for this particular course where I had run 1:42 and change last year.

Postrace & Closing Thoughts:

Steve, me, Jillian, Courtney & Chris post-race
After the race was not pretty. I walked over to the car and basically coughed up a lung or two. I was pretty exhausted from pushing myself. Eventually I changed into warmer, dry clothes and headed to the finish area to hang out with my friends and get some food. Steve ended up PR'ing and having a great race with a 1:27 and change and my friends Jillian, Courtney & Chris had all PRd also. I was happy for them but definitely feeling disappointed about my own performance. Everyone had things to do or just wanted to go home and relax so Steve and I headed home. I was not feeling well at all and spent much of the day in bed resting. In hindsight maybe I should have either sat this one out or went a little easier given my situation. Lesson Learned. I guess I can't beat myself up too much as I was only a minute and change off from my PR and that was at the Towpath, which is more of a PR-friendly course.

To make up for this race I feel I owe it to myself to try again when I am healthier so I have signed up for the Buckeye half in Akron later this month. It is a pretty flat course and I have run it years back when they held it in the summer. I'm looking forward to seeing what I can do at 100%. Hoping there's a sub 1:39 in me! If not, I may try again in late November.

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