It was another awesome race, a gorgeous day and a great experience. This particular race began 8 years ago when a group of running friends wanted to do an autumn half marathon race while training for a full marathon, but there wasn't a local race to do so they started their own. It has since grown into a decent size race of several hundred runners and it's all about fun. Each year the race directors designate a specific theme and runners are encouraged to dress up and be crazy. This year the co-directors couldn't agree on a theme so they decided to have two: Zombie Apocalypse and Joe-Fro. While I enjoy seeing the creative costumes and makeup the other runners come up with, I'm not too much into dressing up for a race myself. I just wanted to get out and see what I could do on this half-marathon.
As I told you before, the only other (official) half-marathon I've done was the Pocatello Half-Marathon in September of 2010. Since then, I've done 5 full marathons, improving my times significantly. I was excited to see how much I had improved on my half-marathon time, as well.
The race didn't start until 10am, so in the morning I had time to eat a good breakfast of oats with fruit, flax, nuts and honey before getting ready to go. Chris drove me to the bus loading area, where I met up with my friend Lisa. Our plan was to run the whole thing together, using a 6:1 run/walk ratio for the entire 13.1 miles.
The shuttle buses took us up to a place called Crystal Summit, which is above Pocatello. The course winds it's way down the mountains, the first couple of miles being mostly steep downhill, the rest of the way is more rolling hills, until we reach the finish at a park in town.
We couldn't have asked for better weather! It was sunny and about 35 degrees at the start, warming up to the 50's by the time we were done. There was very little wind, which is unusual for this area and the time of year, but we were not going to complain about that!
Lisa and I kept right on track with our 6 minutes of running for each 1 minute walking break and the first 7 or 8 miles literally flew by. When we reached mile 11, there was an aid station known as "Temptation Station," stashed with a variety of cookies, chips, Hostess treats, pop and even Jack Daniels! Lisa and I stuck with water. ;)
We were getting close to finishing and as I looked at my Garmin, I knew we were likely to reach the goal I had set for myself, which was to run it in 2:10 (or less). In order to reach that goal, we had to maintain an average pace of around 9:50 min./mile. As we came up over the last little hill and down into the finish line area and I saw the big timing clock - 2:04 something - I was ecstatic!! Two years ago I ran my first half with a time of 2 hours 37 minutes (11:55 min./mile pace and that was running the whole time, no walking breaks)! Saturday I ran a half-marathon in just under 2 hours and 5 minutes, averaging a pace of 9:33 min/mile - with walking breaks!!
And what else? I didn't have any knee pain! None! I guess taking a "rest" from running the past week and a half or so really helped. While I've had some (whole body) soreness since the run, I still haven't had any knee issues and my soreness is pretty mild. I gave it my all and got great results! A couple of things I learned from this experience: having a running partner that "fits" with you in terms of pace, personality, compatibility and strength is invaluable and can be an excellent training tool. Thanks, Lisa! :) Also, using the Galloway run/walk method makes me a faster runner, particularly on longer distances. Look at the photos (and there are plenty more on my facebook page, if you're interested: Redheaded Road Runner on Facebook), notice the smiles on our faces in all of the pictures? This race was fun, challenging, exhausting, exhilarating - exactly as all races and long runs should be. :)
P.S. Oh, and I also learned that it IS possible to have Halloween candy in the house and to NOT eat it! 5+ days post-holiday, the kids have eaten almost all of their candy, and I have not had a single piece! ☺