Race Recap: Gazelle Girl Half Marathon
Given how the last couple of weeks of marathon have panned out, what with some unexpected hip pains, I was not in a great state of mind going into today’s Gazelle Girl Half Marathon in Grand Rapids. The plan before my body started to fall apart was for the race to be part of an 18 mile long run, but given how little I’ve run in the last couple of weeks, I scratched that and just focused on the 13.1 miles, knowing if I felt okay at the end, I could do more. I spent the days leading up to the race reminding myself that it was okay to take a DNF if things starting hurting too much. The marathon is my end goal, not this race.
I arrived downtown around 7:15 (the race started at 8:00), just as Andi texted and asked if I wanted coffee. Um, yes. Yes, I do. I was a bit chilly and the thought of something warm to hold on to and sip leading up to the race sounded heavenly. The line at Starbucks was outrageous due to a conference in town, so she was still in line by the time I arrived. We stayed in the warmth for a bit before venturing to the starting line.
I lined up near the back of the 10:30 pace group, knowing my paces since my hip started acting up have been a bit lower. My fear was that I would start out too fast and having things hurt sooner rather than later. Although I did end up starting out faster than I planned, and passed the 10:30 pacers within the first mile, I was feeling really (really!) good so decided to just roll with it and see how things went. It could backfire on me, but it was a risk I felt was worth taking.
In truth, a lot of the race was a bit of a blur and I zoned out a lot. Knowing that I can’t have music during triathlons, I tried to keep that at a minimum just to get used to running without it. I’ll run a lot of shorter training runs with no music, but I didn’t feel quite ready to leave my headphones at home.
At 5.25-ish miles, I had kept up a good pace to that point, but realized I hadn’t taken in a Gu, which I generally do around 4.5 miles. As soon as I realized that, I ate one and hoped it wasn’t too late in the game to throw me off. Fortunately, it was a good jumpstart and I felt the positive effects of the carbs and caffeine quickly.
Not long after this, there was a small group of spectators, including a guy with a megaphone. He was shouting all sorts of encouraging things, but “it’s a beautiful day to feel beautiful about yourself” really, really stuck with me. I repeated that throughout the rest of the race. I felt pleasantly surprised by the amount of crowd support along the course. There’s something so motivating about people, even random strangers, cheering you on. During registration, we had the option to put our names on our bibs and I’m so glad I did because it was awesome to hear my name and those voices of encouragement.
Around the halfway point, I knew I was well within reach of a PR, but halfway through 13.1 miles leaves a lot of room for things to fall apart, especially given how I’d been feeling the past couple of weeks. Still, knowing that in the back of my mind was enough to keep me really motivated. I ate more Gu around 8.5 and 11 miles. Despite the first being a bit later than it probably should have, I think I spaced these out well enough. I didn’t bring any hydration with me and I wish I would have, because I could have used one or two more water stations along the course, especially in the second half.
It was decently windy for the majority of the race and it started to wear on me in the second half, particularly in the last 5k. With my energy fading fast, but with a PR still as s a very real possibility, I tried as hard as I could to keep running. I walked a few times in that last 4 miles, which is evident in the sudden drop in my overall pace. I think if it hadn’t been for the wind, I probably could have ran more in that last stretch, but it was a major energy-sapper. At the 13 mile marker, I knew I needed to finish strong if I wanted that PR, so I gave it everything I had left.
Mile Splits and Results
- 1: 9:49
- 2: 9:37
- 3: 9:54
- 4: 9:53
- 5: 10:03
- 6: 9:54
- 7: 10:06
- 8: 10:09
- 9: 10:56
- 10: 10:21
- 11: 11:16
- 12: 11:15
- 13: 11:19
- 0.31 : 3:04 (9:52 pace)
Garmin time: 2:17:38 // Chip time: 2:17:34 (1066/1981 overall, 208/333 age group)
PR CITY, BABY! By the chip time, it was a six second PR, so certainly not much, but a PR is a PR! I am thrilled.
For a race I didn’t know if I would have it in me to finish, a PR was an amazing surprise! With five weeks left until the marathon, this race gave me a much-needed confidence boost. Thanks to the Gazelle Girl staff, planning committee, volunteers, and spectators for making this a great day!