Ready or not I ran the CASA Half Marathon exactly 4 weeks after 3 Bridges. I love this race and truly believe it’s the fastest half marathon course in Arkansas. (At this point I think I’ve run most of them!) I’ve worked this race into my schedule every year since 2013. CASA was originally scheduled for December but bad weather postponed the race 5 weeks. As luck would have it the weather on race morning was looking rough with 100% chance of rain and 8-10 mph winds.
I went into this race with one goal- set the State Masters Half Marathon record which was 1:26:55. Since I’d spent most of the previous weeks in marathon recovery I wasn’t sure where my fitness was in the half marathon distance. To reach my goal I needed my watch to average under a 6:38 pace overall so that was my basic pace plan.
Right when I got to the starting line I realized I’d left my gel in the car. I wasn’t sure if there was any aid on the course or not. Abi was at the start and planned to cheer and take pics. I told her where my gel was and she was able to find it and hand it off to me as I ran by her just before mile 1. (The course loops near the start in the first mile.)
From the beginning I found myself first female and 4th or 5th overall. There was one younger guy right in front of me and I decided to pace behind him to help with some of the wind/ rain. Around mile 3 I realized we were slowing down a little too much so I needed to take the lead. I was on a tight pace schedule! Maintaining a pace in the 6:30’s was definitely requiring more effort/ focus than I would have liked but a lot of that had to do with the pouring rain and at times strong headwind. This course is mostly out and back so whenever we hit a bad headwind I reminded myself to be glad because it would be better on the way back.
Miles 1-7: 6:43, 6:36, 6:40, 6:35, 6:36, 6:35, 6:33
After the turnaround the guy I had passed started to run right alongside me. We didn’t talk but we fell into a good rhythm and he was helping me stay on pace. We hit another strong headwind during mile 8 and this was probably the toughest mile of the race for me. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to keep my pace below 6:38. Fortunately when we turned back towards the lake things got better and we had the wind at our backs.
Around mile 11 I told my new pacing friend that we needed to keep it in the low 6:30’s. He said he knew who I was from IG and he was on board with the pace plan. We kept pushing and in the last mile he took off. (He set a 2+ minute PR!) I knew I was cutting it close but my watch average went to 6:36 in the last mile so I was hopeful I had it. When I rounded the final turn I could see the finish line and knew I could make it under.
Miles 8-13.1: 6:39, 6:33, 6:39, 6:33, 6:35, 6:24, 5:51 avg for last .10.
Official Finish Time- 1:26:37 (1st FOA)
Very happy and relieved to have made my time goal! It’s crazy to think I ran a half marathon almost 2 minutes faster 2 months ago but I know that’s part of the training, racing, and recovering cycle. Overall my splits were very consistent ranging from 6:43 mile 1 (slowest) to 6:24 (fastest) mile 13. Hopefully in my next half I can get back to consistent 6:20’s and cut the state masters record down a little more.
My cool-down consisted of running a mile in with my sister and then running a little with some other GP club members. I was able to work in 18 total for the day which was a great workout for Little Rock Marathon training.
This was my sister’s second half marathon and she set a big PR! So glad she had a great race despite some very challenging weather.
Next State Masters goal is the 15k distance. The current record (1:00:18) has been around since 1988 so it’s going to be tough. “Tough but doable!” This is my tempo mantra but I think it applies to this whole masters series quest!