This past weekend I ran the BAA Half for the first time, which is a race I’ve registered for twice. Last year a stress fracture caused me to drop out the week before.
This year, I’ve been working with a coach and I’m “in-season” as Steven puts it, so I didn’t have much of a taper week prior to the race (also my fault for mixing up the dates on the program). My shakeout run on Saturday was a 20:03 5k, which would’ve been more than a 4 minute PR this time last year.
The night of the race I laid out everything I planned on wearing and eating, as has become custom. It helps to make race morning easier if you don’t have to think about anything. I had quinoa, a salmon burger and stir fry veggies for dinner, which is a bit different than normal (usually sweet potato instead of the quinoa).
Race morning we drove to UMass Boston to park and took a bus to Franklin Park. The porta potty lines were absurdly long, which was my only negative feedback regarding the race.
When I asked Steven about my goal time, he said I was to run a 1:28-1:32. My previous two half marathons were 1:37 and 1:50 (1:50 was during Heartbreak Hill Half weekend, where I also raced a 5k and 10k the day before). This worked out to around a 6:50 pace which scared me a bit (a lot).
I saw a quote from Shalane Flanagan earlier in the week where she mentioned sharing and being proud of your goals and the work that it takes to get there. I hadn’t wanted to share my goal time since it was such an aggressive PR, but after seeing what Shalane said, I did. I’m very glad I did, since it helped hold me accountable when I wanted to slow down later in the race.
I did my 10 minute warmup run and dynamic stretches and lined up with the 7:00/mile pace group. I set out too fast, as I always do. I started chatting with a couple of other November Project runners and when my watch beeped to note the first mile down, it was at a 6:40 pace… Too fast for my own good. I slowed it down a bit for the next mile or two, and then came the turnaround. We started running the opposite way, right towards the runners previously behind us. I ran one of my fastest miles of the whole race, since I was watching for friends and cheering on anyone I recognized which included quite a few November Project people. The next few miles were relatively uneventful. At the 6 mile mark I checked my watch and realized I PR’d my 10k by over 4 minutes, which gave me a confidence boost.
I had a serving of both ENERGYbits and RECOVERYbits pre race, and refueled with 30 ENERGYbits at the 10k mark, according to plan. A few more miles ticked away, and then came a climb at mile 9. I saw a few friends, picked up the pace and passed a whole bunch of people going up the hill. Thanks November Project Fridays. Training on Summit Ave every Friday has incredible benefits come race day. There was another climb around mile 11, where I started to slow down. It was the biggest climb of the race and then we ran towards the Franklin Park Zoo, which was mile 12. I started to slow down and decided I needed more ENERGYbits, but I didn’t have any water.
I chewed a half serving and managed to swallow most of them. That gave me what I needed to pick up the pace. My last full mile was at 6:25, and the final .2 (I need to mind the turns more) were at around a 5:30 pace. The last ~200 meters were around White Stadium (a track) where the stands were full. I found myself in a full sprint towards the finish line with everything I had left, and crossed in 1:28:43, good for a ~9 minute PR.
I did not do a cool down run, and paid for it the next day with some soreness and hamstring tightness. Hit the track again the following Tuesday and ran my 9 miles of speed work at a slightly slower pace than normal, but was able to get through the 12x400m workout with no problem.
ENERGYbits and RECOVERYbits 15 minutes prior.
Half cup of water every 2 miles
30 ENERGYbits at 10k (41:20), ~15 at mile 11.
ENERGYbits and RECOVERYbits immediately post run.
No stomach cramps, minimal energy issues which may have been more mental than physical, as it was my longest run in 4 months.