Saturday, February 28, 2015

February: Race recap x 3

Between racing three out of four weekends and it being a short month, I almost thought I'd let February get away from me before doing a new post! But here I am to give you three recaps in one.

Dallas Hot Chocolate 15k, Feb. 7
Until this race, hadn't gotten to run a 15k since my 2011 NYRR PR. They're literally nonexistent in Houston, so my coworker Roy and I made the trek to Dallas to check out the Hot Chocolate series. Even though this was three weeks post-marathon, this race was pretty much a guaranteed PR since my old one one was 1:20:31/8:40 pace, significantly slower than my half and 10-mile PR paces (8:05 and 8:15, respectively). Can I just say: holy hills, Dallas? I was pretty happy with my 1:17:39 PR but I'm fairly certain I could have averaged faster than an 8:20 pace if not for the mountains of hills at miles 6 and 9.

I smoked the "sweating for the wedding" that beat me at the Houston Marathon.

Cruising to a PR! My form looked awful in the marathon 3 weeks earlier. Perhaps the once-weekly yoga I've been doing since then has been helping?

Jailbreak Half Marathon, Feb. 14
Birthday half marathon, and my first of six for the spring season! I was killing it for the first 6 miles, matching my 15k pace, and then we hit the monstrous Fred Hartman Bridge that connects Baytown to La Porte. It was literally the only hill of the entire race, but between that and how quickly the temps were rising, my race was all but over after that. I finished in 1:55:25, which wasn't half bad for about a month post-marathon. Times aside, I'd always wanted to do a birthday race (excited to do the LA Marathon next year) and I managed to enjoy the race because of that alone. And I beat the twin who was visiting for the weekend, muahaha.

28 and feeling great!
The Woodlands Half Marathon, Feb. 28 (today)
I'd been looking forward to this one for a while. The Chronicle served as a media sponsor this year, so the race ended up comping 20 entries for our run club and 17 people claimed them. If you recall, this race was a miserably humid fluke 80-degree March 1 last year. I kept optimistically saying that it had to be winter-like on Feb. 28 this year. And I was right! 37, feels like 32, and glorious at the start. I knew I still wasn't in PR shape (uhh, hello, virtually no speedwork done since the Houston Marathon), but I was confident I at least had a sub-1:50 in me.

I ran negative splits from 8:20 to 8:05 in the first 4 miles. When my mile 5 slowed down to 8:13 and I noticed my legs starting to feel tired (at mile 5, what?!), I pulled my iPod out of my back pocket even though I've shunned running with music since last summer. I'd packed it at the last minute as a last resort after remembering how bored I felt in the later miles of the Jailbreak Half. Today, I decided silence is for the birds. Whatever works, right?

As soon as I plugged in and cranked up Pink's "Just Like a Pill," (RUN...just as fast as I can...to the middle of nowhere...), BOOM! 7:49 mile 6 and sub-8s for the next four miles. I took a free Gu around mile 8 (vanilla bean is delicious ice-cold, who knew?) and flew through those middle miles. This race was almost completely flat but a small but steady incline at mile 12 threw me and the last two miles were actually my slowest. At that point, I didn't care, though — I knew I'd be finishing really close to my PR for my second-fastest time, well under that 1:50.

Call me a cold weather wimp but I was glad I made the choice to wear my fleece-lined tights today. Real feel of 32F is cold!

Yay Team Chron! 
And that I did: 1:47:49, 1 minute and 52 seconds off my PR, a pretty sweet victory for my 20th half marathon. I was so happy to end up with this result and now I don't think a spring half PR is that out of reach. I have four more halves coming up (NYC, Sugar Land, Nashville and Newport) and I'm pretty sure I'm going to go for it at the Newport Half on May 30.

Until the next race: NYC in two weeks, which I'm hoping to run faster than last year's 1:49:43.