The Fox Valley Half Marathon was supposed to be the finish of my own Project 1:59 – in other words a sub 2 hour half marathon. While it didn’t end up quite the day I was hoping for, there was still a lot to be happy about from that day.
I decided back in July to take a break from volume to work on speed and follow Kara Goucher’s Project 1:59 training plan. It’s a 10-week training plan developed in conjunction with Strava that put plenty of focus on speedwork. Long runs in the plan were on Sundays, so I shifted it a day. The general plan for me worked like this:
- Monday – Turnover Day
- Tuesday – Recovery Run
- Wednesday – Tempo Run
- Thursday – Off/Strength
- Friday – Recovery Run
- Saturday – Long Run
- Sunday – Off/Yoga
I was performing well in training, hitting paces on turnover and tempo days even when I was feeling tired. The added benefit of training for a shorter race this summer was that while many in my running club were getting up super early for 5:30-6am starts I got to sleep in a little and join them mid-way since my longest training run was 11 miles.
The race itself was one that I would do again. The course is relatively flat except for a hill a little over a mile into the race that felt like a mountain even though it was probably 100 feet. Thankfully, a good portion of the race is also shaded, which helped greatly with the heat. I carried a handheld with Nuun and an extra tab of Nuun in my shorts pockets, so I didn’t need to get water at every aid station. The aid stations were well-spaced and it was easy for me to refill my bottle quickly when needed. There were even a few people out in front of their homes on the course with their hoses on, ready to cool us off – much appreciated!
When I signed up a for a September race, I was expecting slightly cooler temperatures. Instead I got a day that was about 70 degrees at the start and 84 by the time I finished the race; Not exactly PR-inducing temperatures. Despite the heat I had a decent pace thru the first 10 miles. Goal overall pace is about 9:09. I started off purposely a little slower at 9:34 and aimed to get it to be closer to 9-9:10 for the next several miles and then get to 8-8:30 in the last 3.1 to pull off the sub 2. Miles 2-10 were 9:15, 9:01, 9:03, 9:19, 9:18, 9:04, 9:23, 9:07, 9:06.
In mile 11 the heat finally got to me and I walked just a bit. I wish I could say thank you to the woman who ran by and said “come on, you can do this” and encouraged me get my butt going again. The last 3 miles had a little more walking – 9:50, 9:30, 9:41, but I didn’t push past the discomfort of the heat enough and couldn’t really make up that time. I finished strong for the last .1 (.21 on my watch) at 7:44. Official race time was 2:02:46. Even though I didn’t end up with 1:59 I did still end up with a 5 minute PR. I am pretty proud of that given the heat.
Within a few days after the race I still couldn’t get the sub 2 out of my head and decided to give it one last shot. Naperville Half on October 21st will be my plan B. As I write this Fall has definitely arrived with 40 degree mornings, so hopefully I won’t end up with snow on race day!