Saturday, April 30, 2011


Did you like how I just slipped in that little tidbit about running a half marathon last night? My friends and family liked it too. I've actually been pretty excited to run this half but I guess with the 50K coming up and buying a bike and learning to ride and all that, the half sort of didn't get mentioned and no one knew I was running it. Also I ran it completely by myself so get ready for plenty of pictures of just me.

So I originally signed up planning to specifically train for this half, and because it was completely flat and I really wanted to beat my previous PR (1:50:56). When I signed up for the 50K, I decided I was ok with just running it for fun, because I knew my focus would be on distance, not speed.

My average pace for the Frederick Half Marathon, where I got that time, was 8:27. I decided my goal pace would be 8:20,  but I really didn't think there was any chance of that and would have been happy with anything under 2 hours.

You know you are off to a great start when you are running late because of this:

Somehow my camelbak got soaked in the fridge? And considering the temp at the starting line was in the 40s, I wasn't exactly feeling strapping a soaking wet backpack to me.

Once that little malfunction was taken care of, I headed to the race. It was capped at 200 runners, and put on by my school, Towson University! 

I started out around an 8:30-8:45 pace. I was feeling pretty good and felt like I could pick up the pace in the second half. The race was on the NCR trail, a paved trail through the woods. You ran out 6.55 miles, turned around, and ran back. It sounds like that would be lame but for some reason I love the NCR and wasn't bored at all.

At the turn around point I figured it was make or break time - either pick it up and try for a PR, or just accept that it wasn't happening that day. I was feeling good and decided to go for it. Around mile 8 I remembered that handy little function called "average pace" on my Garmin and realized I could use it to figure out if I was on pace or not. Ya, I'm dumb. My average pace was 8:32 so I only needed to knock off 6 seconds to beat my time from Frederick. I figured I was so close so I had to do it, and 6 seconds was nothing.

Um, it was not nothing. The last 4 miles were GRUELING, they felt like an all out sprint. It was just a constant battle between me and my Garmin to get the pace down.

After I took my second Gu at mile 9 I figured I would feel the pick me up. I was pushing so hard and could barely get the pace below 8:30, and the average pace still hadn't dropped below 8:32. I ran up behind a guy doing about an 8 minute pace, and told myself I had to stay with him. I felt like I was sprinting and there was no way I could keep it up for 4+ miles, but it was such a good chance I had to try. He had a Frederick Half shirt around his waist so I used that at my motivation.

Around mile 11 he slowed down and I realized now I had to do it by myself. With only 2 miles to go, I HAD to keep it up but I was so exhausted. I focused on every runner I saw and ran up to them, hoping they could pace me, but ended up passing them all (it was only like 4 or 5 people). 

With about half a mile to go my pace finally hit 8:26 and I wish I could say I got a huge boost and it suddenly felt easy, but it was more like "ok I'm on track 4 more minutes until this torture can end!". 

I saw the clock at 1:50:44 when I crossed and was so relieved. My Garmin said 1:50:33, and official results are not up yet. A PR is a PR, even only by 20 seconds! I ran my ass off for those 20 seconds!

This race was a serious testament to the power of the taper. I specifically trained for Frederick, and my only goal was below 2 hours. I pushed myself in the race but NOTHING like that, the pace felt comfortably hard pretty much the whole time. 

Let's review:
Frederick: Hilly course, so hot they almost canceled the marathon (I'm talking in the 70s at 4am when I woke up, and close to 90 when I finished), ran 1:50:56 feeling pretty good the whole time.
Leadstrong (aka today): Completely flat course, temperature in the 50s with almost no wind, aka absolutely perfect conditions, felt like I was going to die and like the last 5 miles were an all out sprint. 
Yup, I'm the creepy girl who asks strangers to take pictures of her with her medal in front of the bathrooms.

I blame the high mileage (for me) training for the 50K. Roserunner is trying out the taper for the first time this weekend, I am curious how it works out for her. She's an awesome runner and you should go wish her luck in her marathon tomorrow!

Other random things I did differently: drank coffee before the race, had 2 Gus (as opposed to zero in Frederick). I think both helped. 

Took my fourth ice bath, and I am still amazed so I am still taking pictures of each one. Get used to it.

This is what an ice bath really looks like when I am not posing for a picture.

Why do you think this picture is vertical on the blog but horizontal on the computer?

Other random thought: When I posted my comment about the Volturi, I had a secret panic attack that all my readers were super high brow cultured people who would either have no idea what I was talking about or completely lose all respect for me. Thanks for not letting me down.
How freakin cute is the race shirt?

 Nope, still hadn't showered when I took that pic. An ice bath and wiping the sweat off your face with your hands in the car on the way home is the same thing. Plus blogging is clearly way more important.
I am totally celebrating my ass off tonight - it's girls night out!

UPDATE - Official results were posted and my time was 1:50:34, and I was 4th out of 52 in my age group! 33 out of 150 total! Woo hoo!


  1. Congrats--a PR is a PR! Tried my first ice bath last night and it was a success!
    Have a great girls night!

  2. Awesome run Alyssa!!! Of course blogging is way more important than a shower. Hygiene is so over rated anyway!! : )
    Have so much fun at girls night!

  3. A PR is awesome! You are a speedy chica :) I guess we'll have to make sure to have a good taper for the 50K so you don't suffer so much trying to keep up with me, lol.

  4. Awesome job! Congrats on your PR :)

  5. Wow, congrats! You are a stronger woman then I :)

  6. woo!!! For a super secret half marathon and PR! You're awesome.

    Too bad we couldn't meet up while I was in DC, but we literally came, went to the wedding and now we're on our way home. Maybe next time we'll stay long enough to enjoy the place :)

  7. Nice job on the PR! That is a super small race. I ran one that probably had about 300 people in it and I remember feeling like I was running alone a lot of the time cuz everyone was in front of me. heh

  8. Awesome, awesome, awesome! Congrats!!!!

  9. Gosh, how did I MISS this -- HUGE!! look at us, knocking down PR's like they're nothin :) Well not nothin, we actually worked our butts off, but I love reading about how "grueling" it was and how hard you pushed it. Fierce. that is all.

    Love you for all your support, love love love. Tapering clearly did work, didn't it! It was a rough two weeks though, mentally. But I guess I do have to thank the knee scare for forcing me to be still... I'll def address this Q and the knee Q in a post this week.

    Also, hehe...Bliss is maybe too strong a word for the last 3 miles. I was elated because I knew I would finish!! But I was also thinking "ow, ow, ow, can't wait for the end". Absolutely.

  10. This is RI-DIC. Congrats on a new PR! And I totally feel the same- the last 3-4 miles are always killer. Ice baths are the best!


Thanks for commenting! Comments make me probably more happy than they should.