One of my favorite races of the year is the Red, White, and Boom half marathon in Minneapolis. This was the race that I first broke a 2:00 half marathon, on my second race ever. It usually ends up being a super hot and humid day, but something about the excitement of the race makes up for the weather! The race also follows a pretty flat and scenic course, with lots of people coming out to celebrate the event. The race finishes by running across the historic stone arch bridge which is always a great ending!
As I shared after my last half marathon, it’s been a rough season of racing for me. After having a great 10 mile race at goal pace, and feeling like my training was going so well, I got sick and it all fell apart in 2 half marathon attempts after that. I also discovered that I had an iron deficiency, and suspect that I was overtraining and exhausting my body between the two half marathon attempts.
June was a super frustrating month of running for me because running at what should be an “easy” pace for me felt impossible. My heart rate would skyrocket. I would literally have to stop to catch my breath while running 9:00 paces for a few miles. For comparison, I ran 10 miles at a 7:35 pace in March! I’ve had a few “good” runs where I’ve felt okay while running, but at a much slower pace than I was hoping to be at.
I’ve already had the experience of trying to push through at a goal pace that my body wasn’t ready for, and then suffered the second half of the race, so this time I goaled myself to start slow, and try for an 8:00 mile. Now that I’m into marathon training, I’m doing a better job of letting go of the half marathon goal I had this year, because it just didn’t work out for my body this time!
Race day was one of the hottest days of the year so far. The race starts at 6:30am, but it was already 70 degrees and 97% humidity. Given the conditions, I knew it was not going to be a fast race for me, so I just kept telling myself to be slow and steady and get through the 13 miles.
I started out with a solid first mile, at a sub 8:00 pace, but I was already getting really tried and sweaty and knew I had to back off. I think I held an 8:15ish pace for most of the first half. My GPS was having issues and was clocking that I was half a mile off of the mile markers on the course, and this affected all of my Starva data, so I don’t even know what my actual splits were!
I knew my parents would be at the half way mark, and knowing that I would see them carried me to that point. After that point, I started stopping at each water station– grabbing one cup to drink, and one cup to dump on my head! I also had Nuun electrolytes in my portable bottle, which came in handy with how much I was sweating.
The sun started coming out at mile 8 and it really started to heat up. They changed the warning flags to red for “extreme” heat, but I actually felt okay compared to my last few races. It was hot, but I was running at a pace that I could carry, and I was elated that I didn’t feel terrible like I had during so many of my runs the last few months!
The last few miles were a challenge, but I just wanted to finish. My shorts were so soaked with sweat that they were splashing water onto my legs every time my foot hit the ground! I kept having to pull them up so they didn’t fall off!! At one point, I looked at my watch and misread what it said and thought I wouldn’t even finish in under 2 hours and was a little bummed, but then I realized I was just reading it wrong / probably hallucinating at that point!
I gave it everything I had over the stone arch bridge, and was so happy to see the finish line. I ended up with a time of 152:59, which is my slowest half race time in 3 years, but I am not the least bit disappointed given how my body has felt and the weather that day. I am coming to terms that sometimes you don’t reach a time goal during a race season, and you can’t dwell on that. I also still finished 11th out of 119 females in my age group, so it was still a pretty good race time!
In my few runs after the race, I feel like I’m improving every time. I’m seeing much faster paces, and my VO2 max is reading closer to where I was before I got sick. It’s interesting to see that I’m physically feeling better but that it’s also showing up in the data! My next race is a 5k in a few weeks, and I have no idea where my body will be at fitness-wise, but I’m excited to give it my all!