As luck would have it my favorite half marathon in Arkansas and my goal marathon were scheduled one week apart. I know most people would forego the half and focus on the marathon. I might have agreed but the CASA Half Marathon was the 20th and final race on the Grand Prix series schedule so as far as I was concerned not running it wasn’t an option. My plan was to use it as a marathon paced run or maybe slightly faster but definitely not at all out half race pace. Last year when I was racing it as a goal race the weather was unseasonably warm (upper 60’s/ low 70’s) and I had a killer side stitch in the last 5k. I had a miserable race and suffered through the entire last half in survival mode. This year the weather was extremely different- upper 20’s/ low 30’s. Cold but perfect for fast times!
My friend Natalie picked me up at 5:20 and we drove to North Little Rock to meet our teammate Kelli. Then we drove into Pine Bluff, getting there around 7. We were freezing and debating what to wear. (We had all brought a few options.) Ultimately I decided on shorts, compression socks, my Searcy rush singlet and arm sleeves with gloves. I really don’t like being hot when I run and during the race I never regretted it.
My main goal for the first half of the race was not to see anything sub 6:30. I was really hoping for upper 6:30’s. I quickly settled into 2nd place female and as tempting as it was to want to get up there with her I knew it wouldn’t have been a smart move for me. I needed to be patient. There were times I looked down and forced myself to slow down. I guess it was good practice for the marathon. Then another time I had to remind myself to pick it up because I was talking to another runner (around mile 3) who was in town visiting his mom. Around mile 5 or 6 I caught up to a runner I knew from college, Jonah. We stayed together almost 2 miles. I caught up to the first female just before mile 8.
From this point on I decided it might be ok to pick up the pace a little since we were in the final stretch. It never felt forced though and I really felt comfortable. I was wishing I could really kick it in but I knew I needed to save it for the following weekend.
Official Finish Time- 1:25:31 (1st OA)
Splits: 6:39, 6:31, 6:33, 6:31, 6:34, 6:36, 6:30, 6:27, 6:23, 6:27, 6:25, 6:33, 6:21, 6:01 avg for last .17.
I could probably write an entire post on the Arkansas Grand Prix Iron Runner experience and maybe I will. Crossing the 20th and final finish line felt like a huge accomplishment. It wasn’t because of a finish time but it was the satisfaction in knowing that I saw something through from start to finish. Finishing all 20 races made me an Iron Runner. I used to think the people who did that were crazy so I guess it’s fitting that I joined them.
My friend Dan won overall! My teammates did well too. It wasn’t a PR for any of us but we ran strong races. My friend Natalie is coming back from plantar fasciitis and this was her longest race since we ran the Hogeye Marathon in April.
Great race and fun way to finish out the Grand Prix season. There were many runners I know who did set PR’s. It definitely made me want to try for another half marathon personal best sometime but not sure when that will be. But someday. I’m not finished with this distance yet. For now I have five more days to go and I’m in full blown taper mode. 3 Bridges Marathon- I’m ready for you!
A couple days ago I was interviewed by Rundaddio. Wes asked some great questions covering training, motivation, family, and goals. You can check it out at: www.rundaddio.com