On Saturday morning John and I made a quick trip to Wynne, AR for the Midsouth Half Marathon. I only told a few people I was even racing. I just didn’t want to make a big deal about it. I wanted to focus on my mission- to break 1:25!! Ideally I wanted to run a 1:23:xx but I knew that would be tough.
Pre-race logistics were a breeze. I registered and warmed up with plenty of time. I ended up seeing several runners from Searcy and others I know from the Arkansas running community. Along with the half there was also a full marathon and a 5k and all races started at the same time. My race plan was to go out around a 6:30-6:35 and then settle into 6:22-6:27 for the rest of the race. I’ve run this half twice before (2011 & 2014) and I ran the full in 2015. It’s a very simple course- mostly an out and back with the final 150 meter finish around the track. Even though I’ve run it before I didn’t remember any major hills. In my mind I was envisioning a pancake flat course. It’s probably good I didn’t study an elevation map because I think I would have held back.
Miles 1 & 2- 6:33, 6:27. I was right on target but it took a while to find my rhythm. I definitely wasn’t “holding back” and I wasn’t sure if the 6:20’s were going to feel good. I was pacing with a guy I met at the start who knew me from Instagram and we have mutual running friends. He was running right around my pace so I just went with it.
Miles 3-8- 6:20, 6:20, 6:20, 6:24, 6:22, 6:22. These miles felt amazing. I wasn’t even thinking about pace- it was just like clockwork. I knew this was on the faster end of my goal pace zone but I was feeling good so I just went with it. Around mile 5 Tyler (my pacing buddy) pulled ahead. He was dropping sub 6:20’s and I just didn’t feel ready to push it that much so I stayed with my own race plan. I kept him in close sight though and kept moving forward. It was great seeing John in so many places along the course.
Mile 9-11- 6:27, 6:29, 6:42. This was definitely the hardest section of the race for me. It was a long gradual incline and my pace started to slip. I worked hard to keep 9 & 10 under a 6:30 pace. By mile 11 I felt like I had nothing left. How was I going to get through 2 more miles? I felt like my great race was slipping from my fingers and I couldn’t save it. The only positive was that the distance between Tyler and myself remained the same. We had both been affected by the uphill.
Miles 12 & 13- 6:33, 6:13, 5:40 pace for last .20. During mile 12 we finally started heading down. I was able to refocus and pick up my pace to get it back close in decent pace range. Around this time a loose dog jumped out and started following Tyler for a minute. Then of course it started following me and even nipped at my right heel. This really accelerated my “pick up the pace” plan and fortunately the dog left me alone after a few more seconds. I was regaining my speed and slowly catching up to Tyler. Right before we hit mile 13 I caught him and I knew once I passed him I was committed to sprinting the rest of the race. I really didn’t want to be passed back on the track in the final seconds. I glanced at my watch and knew I ran hard I could make it under 1:25. I love finishing a race on a track so this small section was by far my favorite part of the race.
Official Finish Time- 1:24:44. (1st female OA/ 2nd OA)
After the race I cooled down a mile with Tyler and then a little more with the second and third place females.
Then John and I headed back on the course to cheer for a friend from Searcy who was running his first marathon. He was doing great and I’m glad we were able to check in on him. Then we went back to the high school where they were about to start the awards ceremony. This race always has a really nice lunch spread included for all runners. I also won a gift basket which included some unique (and very practical) items.
Post Race Thoughts:
After I finished I looked at my race data on Strava and miles 9-11 made so much more sense.
I didn’t feel as bad for being slightly off pace. I’m just glad I was able to pull it back together and finish strong. Could I run a half marathon faster? I think so. It would probably take a flatter course (hills in the second half are killer!) and good weather. Still, very happy with this one. I honestly didn’t know if I’d ever run a half this fast again so I’m very thankful. This was tie for fastest half pace (6:25 avg) on my watch. I should add that the weather for this race was absolutely perfect- mid 40’s!!
For now I’m going to have to put the half distance on hold. I have two 10ks coming up and marathon training continues!