Runner’s World Half Recap!

So, how did that half go after a 5K + 10K + 6 miles before, at the end of peak week?


That’s an interesting question, huh?

All weekend, I’d hoped I’d find someone to run with to the race, so I didn’t get lost. Luckily, the night before, Jocelyn and Jess both said they’d run with me, as they’re both running New York, too. SCORE.

We met in the hotel lobby around 6:45 and took off for the race. IT. WAS. COLD. I’d contemplated bringing the throwaway gloves I got in the swag bag, but I am an incorrigible packrat, and I hate parting with things. Even throwaway gloves. It should also be noted that it was dark, and this is the only time this weekend I did not wear my glow-in-the-dark jacket.

I should note here that in the cold, I could, um, feel that certain body parts felt cold, too, and it hurt.

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Hills on hills on hills.

We reached the start about 15 minutes before gun time, and kept running a few more minutes to get up to 6 miles. I think we confused people as we ran against the crowds walking to the race, as we got some weird looks.

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We ended up keeping a decent pace despite the hills and sleepiness. (GAP=Grade Adjusted Pace, according to Strava, which I’ve been playing with.) I took several Honey Stinger gels just before we started, as I try to “fuel” roughly every hour/6 miles.

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I dressed much more appropriately for the weather on Sunday. I took off that long-sleeved tee during the race and was wearing a short-sleeved one and felt plenty comfortable.

We lined up with Meghan from Runner’s World at the 1:55 pacer. LOL. This was no Philly. I ran the first 2-3 miles with Jocelyn and Jess, but felt like I was expending an awful lot of energy to keep up with them, which I shouldn’t have been doing that early in the race. As we went over the bridge, I started hanging back a bit from them and eventually lost them.

After the last long run I’d thought had been too slow, Jess said to aim for my last one to be at a 9:45 pace or less. Usually when I’ve run races as part of long runs, I’ve been good at making myself slow down or being okay if I’m running slower, but during this race, I just kept feeling like I was running through quicksand and didn’t want to look at my watch to see anything other than distance.

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Turns out my pace was just fine…until it wasn’t.

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This course was pretty hilly, and each hill killed me mentally. I looked up each hill and just thought “ugh, are you serious?”

I pulled out every mantra: “it’s not supposed to be easy,” you can do this,” but no positive thinking could have saved me at that point.

I tried so hard to focus on the course around me, and not focus internally. There was nothing good to see internally, anyway. The beginning and end of the course took us through the areas of Bethlehem we’d run on our shakeout run and in the 5K/10K, but the middle miles took us through mostly residential areas, and the residents were awesome at coming out and cheering for us. Through one uphill patch, the Running Skirts folks had posters on the trees with funny and motivational quotes. It reminded me of a long patch during MCM where there were posters like this. After this hill, the Running Skirts people had a “twerk to win a skirt” contest, which was hilarious.

Around the hill at mile 8/9, my stomach also started bothering me, and I stopped to walk a few times. I saw a Port-a-Potty at mile 8 or 9 and thought maybe I could wait. I really didn’t want to stop. Once I got about half a mile past this, I regretted this decision and had to walk some more. Based on my paces, I must have stopped somewhere around mile 10. I felt like I didn’t have much left in the tank, so I also took a few more Honey Stingers at this point. We had a talk after the race about how long gels take to kick in, but I hoped for a placebo effect even if it took them longer to kick in physically.

After a bathroom stop, I felt better, and really wanted to try to redeem whatever was left in the race. I kept telling myself it was just a long run, but my ego kicked in. I was wearing a bib, and I wanted at least a semi-respectable time on my Athlinks. I reminded myself that whatever pain I’d be feeling after mile 20 of the marathon would likely be much worse, and I needed to keep practicing picking up the pace when I really didn’t want to. At some point, I saw the 2:10 pace sign. OH HELL NO. Sub-2 wasn’t happening, but I was not letting a race slower than 2:10 happen. I saw the pacer sorta far ahead, and I powered to and past the pacer. Okay, better.

While I definitely felt better and picked up the pace at the end, I was still struggling mentally. WAIT, 26.2? In two weeks? Umm…crap. Really?? I tried to not look at my watch at the end and just run by feel, which worked.

I’d planned on running 1 more mile at the end just to get 20 in, but I was SPENT at the end. When I ran into Jess, she said she was looking for me to tell me not to run the last mile, since the course (and the 6 miles before) had been so hilly. She told me I definitely got in a great training run, and lots of hill training. We added up my times, and they were more than 3 hours. Some training plans tell you not to run more than 3 hours, since studies show that the gains may be minimal and recovery time is lengthened. Either way, I was happy to not have to run one more mile.


Photo credit: Tina

I crossed the finish line – where I got a high five from the hot, hot Dave Willey and Mr. Bart Yasso – and ran into Tina almost immediately. Turns out we ran about the same time. Damnit! Wish I had seen her during the race! We walked into the Visitors’ Center, where we promptly sat down and did not move until we were forced to.


Photo via Ericka? I think?

We ran into the rest of our buddies, too!

Remember that pain from running over? Well, I got back to the hotel, took off my bra, and noticed some nice blood stains on my white sports bra.

Four lessons: 1. Don’t wear a white sports bra. 2. Get rid of that sports bra. 3. That can happen to women, too. 4. BODY GLIDE EVERYTHING.

I’m so happy that long, long run brought me into taper.

Thanks to Runner’s World for the comp race registration, transportation, lodging and meals. You guys rock.

Tell me about your roughest long run or race ever. This was one of mine, mentally.

24 comments on “Runner’s World Half Recap!

  1. Dori

    Congrats on finishing up a very long run and going into taper! The race sounds like it was really tough and I think you did a great job pushing through. I also think you’ll feel much better on your real race day. And ow. Was it a different sports bra than what you usually wear?

  2. Shawna

    haha totally with you on “body glide everything.” i’m still dealing with a crazy painful sports bra chafe from my marathon over a week ago…which gets to your question of the hardest race i’ve done. just ran my 1st full marathon, and it’s possible that running 10 minute miles at 23-25 felt like running underwater with spikes in my hip. yep. 🙂

  3. Jessica @ FromtheKitchentotheRoad

    My hardest runs were last winter. I was training for my first marathon and didn’t have easy access to a treadmill. That meant I had to run through everything. 18 miles through snow kinda sucks. The actual race was probably my hardest run ever though. My hamstring decided it was done around mile 12-13 so I had to run/walk the rest of the way. I had trained so hard and well. It was an extremely disappointing end to my first marathon showing.

  4. meredith @ The Cookie ChRUNicles

    I can’t pinpoint one super tough run/race in particular but what I can say is, I know the feeling. It is so rough to get through when you just want to stop but you pushed your way through a serious amount of miles! Amazing. After the fact, isn’t it a great feeling? Even my run this morning was tough. My legs have been feeling sore, achy and tired and my pace has been way off – to say it is bothering me is an understatement. But I keep going and mentally push myself through it. Doing so in a race is sooooo much tougher. Great job. Enjoy the taper period before the marathon.

  5. Kristine

    Congrats on powering through! During my 18-miler for my Chicago training this past summer I was just over it from the first step I took. It was hot. I was running straight uphill through the Presidio to Golden Gate Park (not nearly as fun as Central Park!). My legs were heavy. I was mentally and probably physically burnt out from training. I knew I had a running buddy waiting fr me around mile 8 so I just went head down and roughed it out until I met her. It was literally terrible. Oh and then I tripped and fell off a curb. Which was great. I think as cliche as it is the horrible runs really do make you appreciate when you have an OMG I LOVE RUNNING run. You’re going to sub 4 next weekend- just leave everything out there and have fun!

  6. Ashley

    Seriously — I have LOVED reading all of the recaps from RW weekend, but dear lord yall are crazy. The best kind of crazy, but crazy 🙂 way to get it done lady 🙂

  7. Gianna @ Run, Lift, Repeat

    Congrats on getting through it and truly entering taper! Ready for NYCM!!
    I unfortunately have had my fair share of races that turned out awful. I have a very tempermental GI system and have PR’d in bathroom stops (most recently I ran the Newport Half in Jersey City as part of a long run and think I counted 6 – I just have to laugh it off some times)
    Those hills must be great training for the marathon though, you are going to rock it!

  8. Ashley @ BrocBlog

    For some reason 11 miles is a distance that I cant do no matter what. Ive done 2 half marathons and 11 mile training runs are the worst thing on the planet but 12 is fine and I can push through 13.

  9. Katherine

    Runs like this happen. Don’t read too much into it. Three weeks before my most recent full I attempted a 12 mile run (right after my peak training week) and it was a struggle fest. My legs just needed a little rest and I ended up setting a 32 min PR in the marathon. Hang in there, don’t get too down on yourself.

  10. Jillian

    Your train job has been intense! Way to go. I can’t wait to read about NYC.

    My toughest long run was my 20 miler before my first marathon. I had graduated from college the afternoon before and was getting into my car to move cross country after. Suffice it to say I was an emotional wreck. I started crying inexplicably at mile 10 (I literally couldn’t control myself) and just kept panting “I’m so tired. I’m so tired. I’m so tired,” for the next 10. Hot mess. Luckily, my wonderful running bud, Kate, stayed by my side encouraging each step. Honestly, I’m exhausted thinking about it!

  11. Kashi @ Cape Island Runners

    By far my worse run was two winters ago when i was training for an ultra. i needed to get a 25 mi run and the weekened forecast was for a nor-easter so i just thought “why don’t i just run home from work? it’s about the right distance and my husband can pick me up for those last few miles!”. this was at the end of a long workweek and so the run started about 5pm. genius, lol.

    i also usually do long run in the AM and know exactly how to fuel for them. i have a sensitive stomach but was also worried about not having enough gas in the tank, so i ate too much that day, and esp too much fiber! about 8 miles in, my stomach started rebelling and it did not stop til the bitter end. i had to stop 4x that i can recall and a few of those i was incredibly lucky that i made it into a stall in time! it was ugly. add to that the storm started rolling in a bit sooner than expected, so it was windier, colder and foggier than i thought it would be. i was under-dressed and i have raynaud’s, so my fingers and toes were freezing. i had to call my husband from a fire station to tell him to change the pick up time (i dont run with my cell) and they were like “are you ok??!!” – he wanted to come pick me up, but you know how stubborn runners are – the only thing that would make this run worse would be bagging it. i limped my way to our meeting point and just sobbed for like an hour. it was total misery and really made me question my ability to do the ultra (it was my first) – this was only halfway there and i was dying! luckily, it was the worst bump in the road and the ultra itself went smashingly! but i shudder every time i think of how horrid and discouraged i felt after that run.
    you’ll have a great day in NY, don’t worry!!

  12. Patty (

    We are so close! Awesome job doing all of those races, I doubt I would have been able to! I am also feeling like “wow I can’t believe I’m supposed to run 26.2 in less than 2 weeks.” It seems surreal and I’m honestly doubting myself a little bit, but I hope adrenaline and the crowds get me through!

  13. Cathryn

    You did well to keep going – the marathon will be completely different. Different mind-set, different strategy, different sports-bra by the sound of it!!! Nearly there now 🙂

  14. meghan @ little girl in the big world

    Sorry you had a rough race, but just think of it as shaking out the rustiness before race day! I’m motivated by Athlinks too. I have a race from Disney where I stopped for a zillion pictures and I refuse to claim it as a result of mine.

    How long do gels take to kick in? I don’t think I’ve ever heard a number.

    And sorry about the bra incident…that sounds painful.

  15. Jim Thomas

    Congrats on finishing! That’s a big accomplishment there. Any time a race happens it’s hard to get that fear mentality out of my system. Not even against anyone else but for the fact that I need to beat myself. It’s crazy but i’m getting better at it.

  16. Kristina

    My roughest run was a 30K trail race – I was doing really well until around mile 12 when I bonked. Total, 100% bonk. I wanted to quit and I didn’t even care. Unfortunately, it was a trail race, so just pulling out wasn’t much of an option. I finally made it to the aid station and the volunteers took one look at me and made me sit down, drink coke and eat salt. After about 15 minutes, I was ready to go – it totally sucked but it made me way more aware of how much elevation gain and loss can take out of you. And I was glad that I finished!


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