Saturday, April 25, 2015

2014 BB&T Corporate Cup Half Marathon

I'm going to run a half?
Two years ago, I ran my first long race, the 2013 Tower of Terror 10 Miler. I was vastly undertrained and terrified of earning a DNF, but I finished. Last year, I ran the TOT 10 Miler again, but was more in shape and actually trained! It was a great experience and reminded me why I love running so much, even though I never considered myself a real runner.

After taking some time off and focusing lesson on running for a while, I got a Facebook message from my coach at About Face Boot Camp that pretty much said, "Hey, I think you need to run a half in March." One of my goals for 2015 is to run 2 half marathons, so without even thinking about it, I said okay and signed up for the BB&T Corporate Cup Half Marathon on March 7.

When I signed up, I had a pretty solid 3 mile running base and knew without a doubt that I'd be training using Jeff Galloway's Run-Walk-Run method. Implementing his methods has meant a major improvement in my running and recovery times. However, I signed up without enough time to follow the mileage on his half training plans, so I used Hal Higdon's training plan mileage while implementing the Galloway walk-run-walk method. During training, I missed a couple long runs thanks to aggravating an old knee injury and catching a stomach bug, but went into the half with a long run of 10 miles, so I felt pretty confident about being able to finish the distance.

What I wasn't confident about was finishing 13.1 miles in the time limit. While my speed has improved a whole lot in the last two years (thanks to consistent runs and lots of hill sprints and strength training at AFBC classes), I'm still nowhere near being a fast runner! I started with no real time goal, except for to finish within the time limit of 3 hours.  In fact, I was so nervous about it that I barely told anyone that I was running, never posted anything on social media about registration or picking up, even up to the morning of the race.

Packet Pickup
My mom went with me to pick up the packet on Friday afternoon before the race. Finding the location and parking was super simple. After experiencing a couple of runDisney race expos, I was a little shocked at just being handed a bib and my T-shirt and that's it. There were a few vendors, but it was a tiny little pickup. Next year, I'd feel comfortable waiting until the morning of the race to pick up my bib.  After getting home, we went on a walk to try to get rid of my nerves, I made sure that I had all my race stuff together since I was spending the night at my parents, and tried to get to bed early.

Race Day
On race morning, I woke up way before my alarm because of my nerves! It was the morning of my first half marathon! And despite successful training runs and knowing I was in much better shape than in a few months before when I'd run the 10 miler, I was still doubting myself. But, I forced down a Bagelthin with peanut butter (my long run go to), coffee, and water and got myself ready to go. I was undecided on what to wear since it was SO cold and windy, but ended up wearing running leggings, a Raw Threads sleeveless shirt, a longsleeved 2nd later, and my lightweight running jacket. Of course I wore my trusty Brooks Ravenna 5s and taped my knee! I also had my Fitletic hydration belt with one bottle of water, one bottle of Nuun, and a pack of Shot Blocks.

I found the parking garage in uptown Charlotte with ease, and within a few minutes I was standing the atrium waiting for the start. I had enough time to find a bathroom (a real one!), second-guess my coat wearing decision, go back to my car to leave my coat, and walk leisurely to the starting line. Several people from my gym were running, but in the crowd of people I never found anyone. I was so nervous that it was probably just as well, especially since I think I needed to run my own race on that day.

There were no corrals, and all half marathon and 5k runners started at the same time. If anything, that's what I would love to see changed. I love corrals where you start with runners who are at about the same pace. I got as far to the right as I could since I figured I'd be a slower runner than most, started my Garmin and my Nike+ app, and started running! It was super hard to make myself run intervals from the beginning, but from reading the course description and other recaps, I knew the course would be flat to start but pretty hilly in later miles. Knowing that made me really want to try to stick to my intervals at the start, even if I felt like running the whole thing. I knew that I'd need energy in the last half. As far as pace goes, I was hoping to stay around 12:30 minute miles.
Corporate Cup Half Splits 

Let me say here that I've had my Garmin F10 for 3 years, and it has been great with no problems whatsoever! Of course though during this race, it completely shut down and stopped during Mile 7. Which means that I lost the data for those 7 miles! I am so glad that I was also using the Nike+ running app on my phone. I was able to restart it, but it only has the last half of the race. As you can see, I started out super fast for me! I felt great and was running a 2:1 interval (so run 2 minutes, walk 1 minute). During the first 6.5 or so miles, I felt like I could run forever! Well, I should have made myself stick closer to the goal pace during those first 7 flat miles, because I paid for it during the last half of hilly miles! 
Corporate Cup Half Splits 2

You can definitely tell that by mile 8, "rolling hills" had started and my legs were feeling it. Somewhere around mile 9 I stopped and took my shoe off because I was feeling like my sock was bunched and thought I had a really bad blister. Nothing was actually wrong, but I loosened the laces on my shoe and that helped.  I think it was around mile 10.5 or so that started a hill that was at least a mile long. I dropped down to a 1:1 interval and just tried to run as much as I could. During those hills my left knee also started KILLING me, and by halfway through mile 11 I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to keep walking on it, much less run!

But, eventually, I saw the Finish Line! One of the awesome AFBC coaches, Misty, was cheering on the sides and at that point it was great seeing a familiar face. Running across the finish line at my first half marathon was one of the best experiences I've ever had! 
BB&T Corporate Cup Results

I grabbed half a banana and a Gatorade, took a couple pictures, and made my way back to the car to head to my parents' house where I INHALED brunch that my dad made. I was super happy with my first half results, and maybe even more importantly, I learned a lot that I can use to improve next time! 
Half Marathon Finisher!


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