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Race for the Halo - Run

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Houston, Texas
United States
51F / 11C
Total Time = 45m 53s
Overall Rank = 3/48
Age Group = F30-39
Age Group Rank = 1/14
Pre-race routine:

Burned myself out pretty good at the end of the year last year and bailed on a couple races (a 5k and a 10k)....was starting to wonder if I was ever going to feel good and feel that drive to compete again, but thing eventually turned around. I started feeling pretty good when it came to swimming and (easy) running, but my biking still felt like garbage for a while and my coach was hesitant to give me any quality running work until my biking came back around. About a month out from the race, I still wasn't doing anything other than easy, aerobic running and I was threatening to bail on this race (not that it would have changed my coach's mind because he's a smart, unbiased guy like that and knows when to push me and, more importantly, when to hold me back and to keep me from doing stupid shit). I think my first run with strides and track run showed up on my schedule about four weeks ago.

In the few weeks leading up to the race, my (easy) running was the best it's ever far. Initially, I wasn't running long (45 minutes, max) and I wasn't convinced I was going to be in a place to actually race a 10k, but over the past few weeks, my long run (though only 60-70 minutes) was exceeding the race distance and I was feeling good.

The week leading up to the race was not an easy training week (this was definitely NOT an A race) with hard VO2 and threshold bike sessions, 10k worth of swimming, and north of 20 miles of running (though no track workouts or anything overly strenuous). The night before the race had my typical pre-race beer (this time a fantastic Brett DIPA, dry hopped with Simcoe/Galaxy/Mosaic hops!) and a good night of sleep :)

Got up in the morning, had some steel cut oats with a scoop of protein powder and a handful of almonds for breakfast, and then headed over to Michelle's for the drive up to the race venue. We got there right about 7am with plenty of time to pick up our packets, check out the raffle items, stay warm in the car, use the restrooms, warm-up, and then line up for the race.

The day before the race had temps in the low-80's with a nice cool front expected to roll in that night. When I got up in the morning, my weather app said it was 54F....not quite as cool as I'd wanted, but sure beat the hell out of the 80's! When we go to the race venue, it was a few degrees cooler and a lot windier....and I kicked myself a bit for not bringing some warmer clothes for warming up and for after the race.

Event warmup:

I told myself that I'd head out for a 15 minute warm-up at 7:45am, pee one last time, pin my bib on myself, and then line up for our 8:20am start. I headed out for a mile on the race course to scope it out, and then headed back in with a handful of strides to get the legs turning over and the HR up a bit. Knew it was going to be a decent tailwind for most of the first mile and a headwind coming back....told myself to find a big guy running at my pace to break the wind for me (wouldn't happen, but I was thinking about it for sure!).

  • 45m 53s
  • 10 kms
  • 04m 35s  min/km

Since it was a small race, I lined up toward the front. As they started counting down time to the start, my HR spiked from the 60's up over 110 without any physical exertion! The race started and everyone took off like bats out of hell....I kept it under control as I had a plan and figured I'd reel people in over the course of the race. Marc suggested that I could hold 7:30's for the race....I was skeptical, but I told him I'd try. I knew the first mile would be a bit fast with the tail wind, so I mostly went based on feel initially. About 3/4 of a mile in, you turn off the street and onto a somewhat narrow walking path....thankfully, I'd started reeling people in by this point and didn't have to do any crazy maneuvering on the narrow path. First mile clicked off at 7:14....I told myself not to worry and just keep the effort level where it was.

Shortly after the first mile, the course turns to a dirt/gravel path, which ends at a grassy section that loops around a body of water (it's not really a lake....slightly bigger than a puddle and there all the time, so I'll just call it a body of water). I never ran cross country, but I imagine this is the kind of terrain they run on....uneven, grassy section with some tree roots that try to trip you up and make it interesting. I wondered how many people would eat it on this section as I passed through the first time.

Coming out of there, I noted to myself that I was a quarter of the way done....and I was feeling pretty good (I mean, it hurt, but it felt manageable and like I would be able to hold on for the entire distance). Second mile clicked off at 7:24, which seemed about right. I was preparing myself for the third mile to be slow since part of it would be going into the headwind....and, unfortunately, did not find anyone running my pace to break the wind for me! In fact, about this time, I was passing a handful of people and saw the race myself past the people and was hoping he'd get some decent shots of me out front :) The third mile clicked off at 7:18 and I was really surprised and pleased.

The race is a combined 5k/10k race, so as I was nearing the start/finish, I was making a mental note of how many people were heading back for a second loop. I was the first female and there were only a handful of guys ahead of me, so that was kind of cool. Also, I was in a really good place, mentally....I even thought to myself, "that was so much fun, I think I'll do it again!" I made it my goal to continue to try to reel in as many people as I could.

I noticed a guy in a yellow shirt a ways up in front of me. I wasn't sure if I could catch him, but I was going to try. As we got out to the walking path, I was making the time we got to the dirt/gravel path, I was making even more progress....and by the time we got to the grassy loop at the end, I was feeling pretty confident that I was going to catch him. Back on the gravel path, I was closing the gap and told myself to put in a bit of a surge so he wouldn't latch on and sit on my heels. I was successful :)

Shortly after passing the guy in the yellow shirt, the hurt started to set in. But I knew I had less than 10 minutes to go and I could endure the pain for a little longer. The miles were clicking off a little slower on the second half, falling in the 7:25-7:28 range, but still sub-7:30. And I realized that a) I PR'ed my 5k as part of a 10k, and b) I had a chance to hold on for a 7:23 average, which is the same pace as my previous 5k PR (from April, 2016). So I dug deep and held on.

Unfortunately, the course was long. My Garmin clicked over to six miles and I was still a ways away from the finish line....then 6.2 miles (10k) clicked by and I still wasn't able to see the finish. Crossed the line at 6.54 miles, very pleased with my effort, but a little bummed to know that my official time is going to look "slow" in comparison to what I'd actually done. But whatever....couldn't bring me down after PR'ing my 10k at my old 5k PR pace :) :) :)

I always feel a little bad for the volunteers at the finish line....they want to be super helpful (give me a medal, offer me some food/water, congratulate me for finishing, etc.) but this is the point where all the pain catches up and my brain doesn't have the bandwidth to manage. I stood there, hunched over, trying to catch my breath for a few moments and then was finally able to thank the volunteers and accept their offerings :)

What would you do differently?:

Nothing! While I expect that I'll continue to improve (hell, maybe one day I'll even say something like, "And I raced a half marathon at my old 10k PR pace!"), I'm very happy with how this race went. I kept myself in a good place mentally throughout, and I exceeded my expectations!

Post race
Warm down:

Went out for a 10 minute easy warm down run to flush the junk out of my legs, and then drank some water, ate two bananas and two cookies (yeah, yeah, I know!). I changed out of my wet clothes and kicked myself again for not bringing warmer clothes....but found some sun and an area to hide out from the wind a bit while waiting for race results

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Headwind....and the normal "still working on my running" comment :)

Event comments:

This race is pretty good and I would certainly do it again, but I was disappointed that the course was so much longer than a 10k. It's not a certified course, so I can't be too picky....but they moved the start/finish in relation to where it's been the previous three years, and everyone said the course was quite a bit longer this year than in the past.

The timing company (not associated with the RD) also created some issues. I guess they forgot to sync the time on the start and finish mats, so they had to manually adjust times at the end. There were some errors and people were being given the wrong awards (even though I was the first female, they had me as second in my AG somehow). I think they got things all worked out in the end, but it took a lot longer to get results than normal....and it was chilly out!

Last updated: 2017-02-26 12:00 AM
00:45:53 | 10 kms | 04m 35s  min/km
Age Group: 1/14
Overall: 3/48
Performance: Good
Course: Two loop out and back
Keeping cool Good Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2017-02-27 1:45 PM

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Houston, Texas
Subject: Race for the Halo

2017-03-07 9:37 AM
in reply to: #5214548

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Austin, Texas
Subject: RE: Race for the Halo

Awesome!  A plan to draft on a run - I love it. 

What a fantastic race for you - congrats on holding your 5k pace and just crushing it!

Interesting that you had a slight positive split.  It's the received wisdom that a slight negative split leads to the fastest overall times, but I think I've hit almost all my PRs with either an almost exactly even split or even a slight positive one.  Not saying that should be the plan, but it's just worked out like that...  Curious, on your previous PRs, have you noticed a predominance one way or the other?

Again, congrats on a great race and maybe more importantly getting your "race groove" back (I hear you on that one!)!!


2017-03-08 12:58 PM
in reply to: mcmanusclan5

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Houston, Texas
Subject: RE: Race for the Halo

My previous 10k PR was full of positive the blowing up kind of positive splits!  Every mile was slower than the previous one :P

For my 5k PR, the splits were fairly even.  First mile was my second fastest, the second mile was my slowest, and the third mile was my fastest.

I think my HM PR (which is the run split of a HIM) was fairly evenly split. 

I think even splits or slight negative splits are best for's just that I don't always execute the way I should.  I think one of the big problems for execution is you have to have a pretty good idea of what you can do before you do it!  I'm getting better at going by feel, even for the first mile, but it's easy to start too hard and have to limp it in (limping by pace standard....because the effort will feel ridiculously hard still!).

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