This morning I ran a new to me race, the Detroit Women's Half Marathon. The entire race takes place on Belle Isle. Many people who have completed the Detroit Free Press Marathon remember Belle Isle as being on the latter part of that race course.
The race started at 8:00 a.m. I arrived around 6:30 a.m. to give myself ample time to pick up my packet, warm up, and do the other pre-race rituals we runners all have. I could not have been happier with the parking situation - plenty of spaces literally 100 feet from the start and finish line. Major bonus points for this! The weather was very warm given the beautifully low temps we've had over the last few weeks - high 60's and very high humidity. After my 20 minute warm up and strides, I was already sweating. A lot. As badly as I wanted to go for a half PR today, I knew adjustments needed to be made. So rather the 6:45 pace I hoped to run, I decided to treat this run as a steady state effort with the goal of 7:10 average pace.
About 90 minutes prior to the start I had a serving of plain Generation Ucan mixed with a scoop of Ucan Hydrate (Berry flavor). Five minutes prior to the start I popped in a piece of Cinnamon Run Gum for a little caffeine boost. The race started right on time and I watched the eventual winner take off like a rocket. She was quickly out of sight. During the first mile I ran nearly side by side with a woman who dropped back after the first mile marker. The course went into a more secluded section without spectators and I continued on as second place female, which is where I would remain the entire race. I ran the majority of this race alone, which was a first, and a really good opportunity for me to practice the new and improved mental game I've been working on since the Boston Marathon in April. Near the mile 5 marker you run parallel to the finish line, which was both a blessing and curse. I received great support and encouragement from those working the finish line, but at the same time you just want to cross that line!
At this point the sun was fully overhead and beating down on me. I had taken one Salt Stick prior to the start of the race and probably could have benefited from a second capsule at the halfway point. At mile 8 I chewed a second piece of Run Gum and hoped it would give me a little kick. I was really heating up but my breathing wasn't too labored and my legs felt really good. Also around this time the half marathon course joined with the 10k and 5k courses, which meant there were a lot of walkers to maneuver around but I didn't have to do much bobbing and weaving. They were also very supportive and encouraging to me, which I appreciated. Once I hit the 10 mile marker, time seemed to fly by and soon it was time to turn into the finish chute. I was the second person to cross the finish line, and first Master. My official time was 1:33:30, 7:06 average pace. A PR? Not even close! But it was a good solid effort on a hot day. My splits were very consistent, and more importantly I executed my mental game plan really well. I wanted to focus on two things this morning: staying in each mile, not getting ahead of myself, and staying focused and positive during rough patches, which occur during every race. It was surprisingly easy to stay in the moment and focus on what was happening each mile. I did have some instances where I started to think about how insanely warm I was, and when I did, I was able to acknowledge it and then just let it go, returning my focus back to the task at hand. Success! Maybe there is hope for me yet. :) After the race, I downed some water and jogged a 15 minute cool down.
Would I run this race again? Absolutely, and I will probably run it next year. The course is very flat and fast, and a great opportunity for me to nab a half marathon PR on a cooler day. Running a sub 1:30 half marathon is still an important goal for me. Someday, maybe after a few more marathons, I may actually do a half marathon specific training cycle and see how much I can lower my PR of 1:30:04. My only complaint from this morning would be the course markings. Since I was alone for long stretches of the race, I had a few instances where I questioned whether or not I went the right way. Not a good feeling! Other than that, the logistics, the volunteer support, and even the race t-shirt were awesome.
There are 7 weeks until the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. Unfortunately today was not the best gauge of where I'm at fitness-wise, so I'll keep putting the faith into my training and hope for some cooler weather on November 4th!