This one stunned me.
Prior to today, my half marathon PR was 1:23:20 (6:22 pace) and that was just a few months back on November 2nd. I've been snowshoe racing all winter and I've been doing indoor winter track for the last 12 weeks so I felt pretty confident about breaking my PR today. Goal for today: 1:22:00.
I lined up with Mike Wade and Joe Rogers at the start. Joe was aiming for a 1:20 so I figured I'd try to keep him in my sights for as long as possible and see if he could drag me along.
I'd consider this a fast course, or at least a course that has the potential for being fast. Wind can play a huge factor in this race as the course heads down by the water around mile 7 and hangs around the shore for the next 3 miles or so. This course is famous for the head winds during this stretch.
The first 2 miles were pretty fast, with a gentle downhill and then plain old flat. I hit 2 miles at 12:05. There are a couple of decent climbs in the 3rd and 4th miles but today I felt great and pushed the hills hard, hitting mile 4 at 24:41. The next few miles are long, mostly straight and either flat or gently downhill. I really thought I could pick up the pace and hold it during this 4 mile stretch and averaged just under 6 min pace for the stretch, hitting mile 8 at 48:35. Joe kept his lead, however.
I didn't really hit the winds until mile 9 and 10 and unfortunately got stuck in no mans land during this stretch, unable to get behind another runner and working way to hard. Mile 9 was easily my slowest mile of the day at 6:29.
By this point I felt pretty good about beating my PR but I wasn't sure by how much. Mile 11 was mostly flat and mile 12 had the last hill on the course. Today the hills did not slow me down and I ended up having one of my fastest miles of the day during mile 12 (5:58) and finally caught Joe as well. Thankfully the course ends with a downhill before flattening out a 1/4 mile before the finish.
It wasn't until I was a few hundred yards out that I spotted the clock, and it was 1:19 something. What the...I had a chance to break 1:20? I ran as hard and fast as I could hoping to break 1:20....crossing the line at 1:19:55 (6:06 pace)! I was stunned. I beat my PR by nearly 3 1/2 minutes.
I feel very satisfied today and grateful I've remained injury free for over a year. Next up, the Eastern States 20 Miler on March 29th.
Photo credit to the much injured Jim Johnson :-)