Way back in August, Iron Girl announced a new women’s half marathon that would be held April 29, 2012 in Columbia, MD. The announcement was right around the time of the Iron Girl triathlon managed by the same group, the Columbia Triathlon Association. I’ve loved that race all four times I’ve done the triathlon, and of course I love half marathons. I signed up right away!
I was quite happy with my training for this race. I ran a mid-March half marathon and early April 10-miler. I got up to 12 miles two weeks before the race, when often I don’t go beyond 10. Still, I went into race day with no expectations. I’ve run in Columbia before, and I knew it was going to be hilly!
My fastest recent half marathon was a 2:04 in January for the Disney relay — which was flat! I had hoped for, but not really tried for, a sub-two finish in quite a few races since my near-miss in 2010 with a 2:00:16 in VA Beach — also flat!
I was full of doubt when I lined up with the 9-minute pace guys — it was so close to the front! Could I really do this?
I decided to give it a shot. It was a little tough at the start as the field spread out, but once we hit our stride it wasn’t too bad. I actually felt quite comfortable. The only time I was huffing and puffing was during that mile-seven hill. Our pace group slowed down a little bit for that hill, but stuck together.
Around mile nine, I felt myself falling a little bit behind — but then I realized I never took any fuel. Gu to the rescue! I felt better after that and had no trouble keeping up. This was my first time running with pacers, and it was a fabulous experience. I didn’t have to obsess over the pace on my Garmin — they were doing all the thinking for me! We had a small group that chatted for most of the race, a great distraction.
Once we passed mile 11 and started going downhill, our pacers let us know they were sticking to their 9-minute miles, but they’d find us at the finish if we wanted to break away. Most of us took off to see what we had left!
Yes, that was a pretty strong finish!
Aside from my brief pre-Gu struggle, I felt great the whole race. No trouble with the pace. I quickly shook off my doubts, and completely enjoyed my time running. No “are we there yet?” or “why am I doing this?” mental games, either. It was great!
I didn’t expect my first half marathon under two hours to have so much time to spare.
Official time: 1:54:59
Age Group: 63/325
It was a little disappointing that I tracked the course short, though. Looking on the race organizers’ Facebook page, it seems I wasn’t alone. Being an inaugural race, it may not have been a certified course (I don’t think I saw it written anywhere). Darn!
At least I know I finished strong, and would have still been under two hours if the course was long enough. And if they call it a half marathon, it’s a half marathon. Right?
Right.As much as I don’t like to “borrow” official race photos, it costs $23 for a single photo download. That’s just ridiculous.