Last weekend I ran the Air Line Trail Ghost Half Marathon and it was fantastic! I came off my marathon training last month still feeling incredibly strong & wanted to run this race because it is local to me and is a ton of fun. Despite a nagging hip issue, I figured four weeks was enough time to recollect myself and get some quick training in for one more big race. After the Hartford marathon I took one week of light running and rest, lots of foam rolling, stretching, and re-hydrating. Then I set up Garmin’s half marathon Level II plan in my calendar & went at it. I began the plan in the last three weeks of it, so basically a few good hard workouts and a quick taper, which was exactly what I needed to take me to race day feeling strong, but not over-worked.
I did approach the race with a PR in mind. I knew this might be a lofty goal having just come off a grueling marathon block & dealing with whatever was going on with my hip, but I was fairly confidant that if I adhered to a solid race day strategy I could achieve what I was looking for. Besides, I knew this course was conducive to fast times if you approached it the right way. My plan was to take the first mile or so very conservatively & not worry about the crowds, the hills, or the pace. From mile 2 on to the half way mark, I would aim for a 7:12 or under pace while riding the down hills and maintaining composure. I knew the second half of the race would be all up hill, so I wanted to have something in the tank. I planned on a surge at mile 8, where the serious hill climbing begins, and pushing out a strong last 5k. This should all have lead me to a sub 1:35 PR.
A rush of a crowd flew by me at the start, and I grudgingly let them go. The competitive side of me wanted to chase them down & assume the lead. But the intuitive side knew that most of them wouldn’t be able to hold the pace, especially once they started going up! I sat back to bide my time.
My pace was a bit faster than I had anticipated, but the miles ticked by with ease. I decided to skip the water stops and even my gel since it was a cool day (36 degrees) and I was feeling super. By mile 7 I was starving & really looking forward to the chili and coffee at the post race party. By mile 9 my arm began to cramp and it was extremely distracting. By mile 10 my hip completely gave up on me. However, I kept my sights on runners ahead of me and methodically picked them off, one by one. Though I certainly slowed (mile 12 was the hardest for me with a 7:20 pace), I was able to keep moving forward without compromising my goal. And, I am quite proud to say, that I was not passed along the way except my one young man right at the end. I came pounding through the finish with a 1:31:15! My best time by almost 4 minutes! Strategy really paid off and I walked away from that course incredibly happy.
I finished 19th overall and the 2nd female, 1st in 30-39 age group.
Now, I am taking a breather. This week has been light. I’ve even WALKED. That’s right, I’ve been walking. And by the end of the month I just may stop running altogether. Recovery is important for getting stronger, and when I tackle my Spring marathon I plan on unleashing the whole Mazy monster! I have some really big plans for next year, which means that the rest of this year calls for rest, recovery, and rehabilitation.