Hey guys! I’ve got another race recap to share with you. I think I have officially overcome the fitness plateau where I was stuck on for seemingly years. It’s very rewarding to finally see the years of hard work paying off. I would absolutely work hard either way and I wouldn’t stop if I wasn’t seeing improvements, but it’s a very satisfying feeling for sure.
Last Sunday morning I ran the Northshore Half Marathon (formerly the Gulf Coast Half Marathon) in Mandeville, LA. This was my third time to run this race. The first year was 2011 (my time was 1:33:21 (7:07 pace)) and the second year was 2016 (my time was 1:32:18 (7:02 pace)). This is and has always been a very well-organized race. The parking, the bathrooms, everything along the course (volunteers, markings, aid stations, etc.) and the post-race awards were seamlessly executed and very efficient! I would highly recommend this race to anyone that is looking for a flat, fast fall half marathon.
The course is beautiful. It starts in the Fontainebleau State Park, winds through some residential areas of Mandeville and runs along the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain. The race starts at 7, which is great! Usually I like it because it makes a big difference because of the heat and humidity, but this year we had cool temperatures and low humidity. It was an absolutely perfect day to run. We really couldn’t have handpicked better conditions. The temperature was in the upper fifties and the dew point was in the forties!
We went over to Mandeville the day before the race with Jessica and Wes. It was only about a two hour trip, but it was nice to get our packets the day before and also nice not to have to get up at 3 a.m. or something silly the day of the race in order to get there on time, which I have definitely done before.
Race morning was pretty low key and typical. I woke up around 4:45 a.m. and went in search for coffee (which I found in the lobby of our hotel). I drank two of the tiniest cups of coffee I have ever seen in my life (hence why I had two) and got ready fairly quickly. We were instructed to arrive at Fontainebleau State Park no later than 6 a.m. to avoid traffic issues. We got there just before 6 and had no trouble getting into the park or finding a parking spot. We hung out in the car for a few minutes and I took a gel and ate a banana while we waited (about 45 minutes before the race). Shortly thereafter we headed out to do a two mile warm up.
We timed everything pretty well and arrived back to the car about ten minutes prior to the race start. I quickly changed into my #fastshoes and made my way over to the start line and into the corral. I met a few fellow McKirdy Trained athletes while we waited, which was cool (hi Valerie & Jennifer)!
The race plan looked like this:
First 6 miles: 6:20 – 6:25 pace
Second 6 miles: 6:15 – 6:20 pace
Last mile: We race!
Actual splits were:
First 6 miles: 6:26, 6:27, 6:12, 6:21, 6:15, 6:23 (6:21 average)
Second 6 miles: 6:25, 6:20, 6:26, 6:32, 6:27, 6:19 (6:24 average)
Last Mile: 6:17!
I don’t really have a play-by-play recap of this race. First of all, it’s been over a week ago now and I honestly don’t remember as much as I would have had I gotten to this recap sooner. Oh well. Life happens. Secondly, while it was a long race (relative to the other races I have done recently), there wasn’t a whole lot of excitement as far as passing people, etc. I was the second female from the starting gun to the finish line. The first place girl dropped me like a hot cake in the first half mile! She went on to run a 1:19 half marathon (6:01 pace), so that makes sense. At the time, I thought she might fade back at some point, but that definitely didn’t happen. She was smoking!
Daniel ran the first five miles of the race with me. In addition to the half marathon, there was also a 10 mile race option, which worked quite nicely. We worked together for those first five miles and then parted ways. I was jealous that he was half way done at that point and that I still had over 8 miles to go. Eight miles seemed like a really long way to run. Looking back at the splits, I see that miles 3 and 5 were a bit too quick. I felt fairly comfortable, but I wasn’t really able to pick the pace up at all during second half of the race.
The half marathon course merged with the 10 mile course somewhere around mile 9 of the half marathon. This really didn’t affect me too much. We were running on a rail to trail section at that point and I had to weave around some of the runners, but it wasn’t problematic at all. Miles 9, 10 and 11 were the toughest of the day by far. I really felt like I was starting to fade. In actuality, I guess I didn’t fade as much as it felt like I did, but I definitely didn’t feel comfortable at all. I told myself to get to mile 10 and then it would just be a 5K to go. I was working possibly harder than I ever have before during a race in order to just keep the pace somewhat consistent.
When we got back into the park and made the final turn towards the finish line, I found another gear and added a bit of extra pep to my step. I averaged 10 seconds per mile faster during miles 12 and 13 than I had during miles 9, 10 and 11! I’m happy with that. Even though I was completely uncomfortable and working insanely hard, I still managed to dig just a little bit deeper. I repeated to myself over and over again to “finish strong,” and I feel like I did just that!
I crossed the finish line in 1:23:22 (a one minute twenty second PR!) as the second female and eighth overall finisher. Daniel captured the above photo of me at the finish line. I knew he was running strong for the first five miles of his race, but after talking to him at the finish, I learned that he ran strong the entire race and came away with a 10 mile PR in a time of 1:03:51! We went back to the car briefly and then eagerly waited for Jessica to come in. She came in at 1:34:53, which was a PR as well! Woo hoo! PRs ALL AROUND. We were all ecstatic!
Jessica and I headed out to do a two mile cooldown, giving us 17.5 miles for the day! Definitely a good day of quality marathon work. We stayed around for a little bit after the race and waited on the awards. The post-race party is always fun at this race and it was a beautiful day to be outside and soak up the sunshine and bask in the triumph of our PRs!