Colonial Half Marathon Recap and PR

Finally I get a chance to recap the Colonial Half Marathon, which I ran over a week ago in Williamsburg, Virginia.

I’ve been so excited to put together this recap because I was able to set a PR of over 10 minutes in this half marathon (1:40:34!!!). I also won third place in my age group and a medal πŸ™‚ So let’s start with that…

Pretty, eh? They had to mail it to me because I left too quickly after the race (and seriously, I would never have thought that I would place so I never planned on staying for the results to be announced). I’m extremely proud of myself for how I ran in this race because 1) it was quite possibly the most difficult, challenging course I have run in 3 years (since I did some races in West Virginia) and 2) I set a kick ass PR (obviously) without doing any crazy specific training. Wohoo! So let’s recap the pre-race festivities and race experience as well as why I think I was able to shave over 10 minutes off my time.

We arrived in Williamsburg on Saturday before the race. **** Oh, I haven’t mentioned that I have a boyfriend? I suppose I haven’t gone out of my way to mention him before, but we’ve been together forever and he has come to every major race I have run ***** The drive was only 2 hours from Charlottesville, but I swear it felt colder when we got to Williamsburg. We walked around the cute, historic downtown area and checked out the shops before grabbing dinner. Per usual, I eyed all the treats

We ended up eating dinner at the College Delly, a great place right across the street from the William and Mary campus (where the race started).

The College Delly is a well-known establishment especially among students and it was the perfect pick. They had a bunch of cheap pasta dishes that were perfect for a little carb loading. After fueling up, we went back to our hotel (actually it was a 2 bedroom condo with full kitchen), watched a movie, and went to be super early. I slept like a log. This is huge for me because I always have trouble sleeping the night before a race, but we were asleep by 11pm and slept until 10am. Are you worried that I slept in through the race start???? Rest assured, I didn’t. The race didn’t start until 1pm. ONE O’CLOCK IN THE AFTERNOON!!!!!! It was amazing. It was glorious. It was everything I could have ever hoped for in a race start (can you tell I’m not an early morning person?).

And the weather was perfect too. Just around 50 degrees at race time with sunny skies πŸ™‚

So on to the recap of the race itself. I never planned on pushing it hard during this race. In fact, I thought about just using it as a training run just like I did the Frostbite 15K (where I forced myself to stay around a 9 min/mile pace). But once we got started, I felt pretty good. I even felt that way when we hit the HUGE hills that seemed to never end. These were not rolling hills my friends. They were enormous inclines that lasted for 3/4 of a mile each time. Maybe it was the hilly training runs I had been doing in Charlottesville, I don’t know, but I actually felt pretty good and pushed up my pace (although I’ve now learned that if the race website says it will be a “challenging” course, I should probably take that into consideration).

By the time I got to mile 10, I could tell that I was on track to kill my previous half marathon PR. My (bad) knee didn’t hurt at all. If anything, I just had some slight IT band pain in my left knee (which has continued to plague me actually, but more on that another day). You can tell that I am really pushing it in this race photo. None of my usual thumbs up, peace signs, or smiles here

But wait, there was one smile (captured in the picture below). When I finally got back to William and Mary Hall, where the finish chute was, and saw the clock, I broke out in a huge smile. I couldn’t believe it said 1:40 something. I had a little tiny bit left in me and pushed it as hard as I could over the finish line (I actually felt light-headed after crossing it, but hey it was worth it!)

My new half marathon PR was official: 1:40:34. I couldn’t believe it and enjoyed my personal victory with a post race naner.

Oh and I don’t think I’ve said this enough (I’m such a brat, but even I am surprised by this)… I won third in my age group! When my medal came in the mail, I happily wore it around for a few days hours.

I didn’t follow any specific training program or do any specific speed work, so how did I PR by so much? On such a ridiculously difficult course? Well, I’m not 100% sure, but I have some thoughts…

1) I changed up my training the week before and ran 3 10+ mile runs (including the race) rather than one long run of 16 miles.Β I really think this must have made a difference. In my attempt to “taper” in a different way (taper meaning changing my mileage in my overall marathon training) I unintentionally incorporated some longer tempo runs.

2) I now run with a Garmin!Β This was only my second race with my new Garmin and I really think knowing my pace and splits makes a huge difference in my racing strategy. I didn’t end up getting a picture of my final Garmin time because I was just too overwhelmed after I crossed the finish line.

3) Hill work. I’ve been running on a lot of the hills in and around Charlottesville and was totally ready to tackle the hills on the race course. The only downside? I think I’m starting to develop a bit of ITBS, which I have been trying to treat head on in the past week. But hey, if I injured myself during the race, at least I went down in a blaze of glory, set a PR, and won a medal πŸ™‚

4) I’ve been running more “half marathon distance” races lately (in the past half year), including the Capitol 10 miler, RnR Las Vegas Half, Powhatan 10k Trail Race, and Frostbite 15k. It helps to race the same distance consistently. I usually change it up more, by running a marathon or a longer triathlon, so keeping the distances consistent has seemed to help (I remember this was the case when I used to race a 5k almost every weekend). It also helps that I have been in the middle of marathon training and have also had some longer runs (14-15 miles).

5) Sometimes everything just comes together: training, sleep the night before (ohhhh like I said before I had the best night’s sleep before the race), food/carb loading, weather, etc.

So that’s a wrap on the Colonial Half Marathon. Next up? The Irish Sprint 10k in Quantico on St. Patty’s day (after which I am partying all day in D.C. πŸ™‚ ). That’s only in a week and two days!!!!

And I just signed up for my fall marathon yesterday, the Marine Corps Marathon!!! (which is now full)

What’s your next race?Β 

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