Race Report: Cheyenne Half Marathon

Race information

Goals

Goal Description Completed?
A Finish in top 3 women Yes
B sustain goal marathon pace (8:00 min/mile) Yes
C Set new PR (sub-1:39:27) Yes

Splits

Mile Time
1 7:33
2 7:39
3 7:43
4 7:23
5 7:46
6 7:29
7 7:34
8 7:30
9 7:41
10 7:22
11 7:16
12 7:27
13 7:20
0.1 0:17

Training

Since mid-July, I’ve been training for the NYC Marathon, using the NYRR Virtual Trainer “moderate” plan. I was coming off an injury in June, so I wanted to stay fairly low-mileage for my marathon block to try to keep from re-injuring myself. I’ve been averaging about 40-45 mpw this cycle, which is a bit lower than I usually prefer. However, this block I’ve been focusing way more on getting in quality workouts at least once or twice a week, which is a change from my usual “100% easy miles” philosophy I’d been following for the past year. My old half marathon PR was from last September, and I had spent about 12 weeks training for it, averaging north of 50 mpw with workouts, so I wasn’t super confident in my ability to set a new PR. This race also had the added bonus of being my first road race at altitude (6,000+ ft above sea level), and my past PR was set at on a flat, sea level course.

Race Strategy

I jogged two miles to the start with my boyfriend as a warm up. I didn’t want to miss my long run for the week, so I planned to get in 19 miles total, 13 during the race. I split it up so I’d run 4 miles as a cooldown post-race. Before the gun went off, I was debating internally whether or not to go for a PR or to just use the race as a marathon pace workout long run. I told myself I’d try to run PR pace for the first couple miles, and if it felt totally awful, I’d back off to marathon pace and just settle for a good workout. I knew I had a decent shot at getting on the women’s podium, as recent race results in the area didn’t seem to indicate there were many “fast” women in town.

DSC_6984

Race

The first 3.5 miles are just one long, very gradual uphill. I’m not very strong uphill, so I let a bunch of runners speed away from me in those first couple of miles and tried to concentrate on making sure I didn’t go out too fast. I settled into somewhere around 3rd or 4th place woman, and tried to get into a groove. This part of the course winds through a couple of the nicer neighborhoods in town, and goes right by the park I usually run in on weekday mornings. It was nice to be familiar with the area and have a general idea of the course ahead of me. At around mile 3.5, there’s a bit of a downhill into a different neighborhood. I caught up to a girl ahead of me who had clearly gone out far too fast and was already beginning to fade. We chatted for a couple minutes as we ran together (she began to spring a little when I started to catch her), and then I dropped her at around the start of mile 4.

The last half of mile 4 was the steepest hill on the course (~5% grade), going up a highway overpass. Again, I tried to run by effort, not pace, but still groaned a little internally when I saw my pace slip to almost 9:00 min/mile at one point. I knew I could make it up on the downhills though, and I knew that the rest of the race was almost completely downhill or flat to the finish. I checked my overall average pace and saw that I was still on track to break my PR. All I had to do was make it through the second half. At around mile 7.5, while nearing a street crossing, I was almost hit by a car that didn’t understand the directions coming from the cop who was directing traffic. That was fun. The next couple of miles were winding through the rodeo grounds and parking lots nearby. This was probably my least favorite part of the course, as there was a strong manure smell and the cone setup in the parking lots was mildly confusing to follow. Once I made it out of this section, at around mile 10, I was still on track to break my PR.

I told myself that all I had left was a 5k. And 5k’s are short. I could keep it up for another 5k, and in less than 30 minutes I’d be done. There were more spectators on this part of the course, as we wove our way downtown to the finish line. I started to pick up the pace a little, and I could feel the slight downhill grade helping. As I passed an aid station in the first part of mile 11, a woman yelled to me that I was in 2nd place, which was a shock to me. I must have lost track of the women ahead of me, as I had totally thought I was in 3rd place at the most. A young girl handing out cups of water with her dog told me that I was “super awesome” as I went by, and I really started to try to kick it up another notch. With less than a mile to go, I started to have an asthma attack, which is something I haven’t had to deal with since last December. I was having trouble breathing, and all I could think about was making it to the finish line. I was just watching the time on my watch and pushing as hard as I could. The sooner I finished, the sooner I could breathe again. The moment the finish line came into sight, I gave it all I had left and felt a huge weight lift off when I saw the clock hit 1:38 as I crossed.

After Party 84

What’s next?

NYC Marathon is in one month! I had a rough week of training last week, including a semi-failed long run (only got 16 out of 21 planned miles). I’d like to run my first BQ at NYC (sub-3:30), and this half was a huge confidence boost that I haven’t lost my “speed” while I’ve been focusing on ultras for the past year. I still feel very new to the marathon distance however, so I’m not totally convinced I can pull it out. We shall see!

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