2017 CASA Half Marathon
The CASA Half Marathon is one of my favorite local races; on several occasions, I have set big goals for this race. In fact, I set my current half marathon personal best on this course last year (you can read about that here) and had a great day! Imagine my disappointment when registration opened up this summer and I was not running at all, not one step; I did not sign up.
Thankfully, I am running again. It doesn't feel amazing but I'm working at it, trying to stay patient and stick with the plan. I managed to run 13.1 miles a few weeks ago, at the Richmond Half Marathon (recap here), so I told myself that if the CASA Half Marathon folks posted a Black Friday registration discount (which they usually do) then I would go for it...and they did (thank you!).
Like last year, I knew the weather would be cool and crisp at the start line, my favorite; however, I also knew that my hamstring injury flared up a bit after my first genuine try at a track workout, just a couple of weeks ago, so I was rather concerned about how my body would feel on race day.
My neighborhood running friend and teammate, Mindy, offered to pick me up on race morning which was a real treat, especially when you consider that I realized I'd left my sunglasses, water bottle and GU at home after we were already over halfway there and she always keeps extras of everything in her car (face palm). For this, and so many other reasons, she is my hero.
"No worries," I joked, "I always have the best days when I'm the least prepared." I'm good with the positive self-talk, right?! As it turns out, it wouldn't be far from the truth. From the moment I began my short warm up, I felt like it could be a good running day.
Even though my running coach, physical therapist and I had planned to run this by feel and "take it easy," I was feeling spunky after that effort at the track (even though it nearly took me down) and had a tentative plan in mind for how I wanted this to go, if my body was willing to cooperate. I set out with a goal to run the first half of the race at about a ten minute pace and then adjust accordingly. What's the worst that could happen? I'd have to walk the second half? I've already done that twice, since being injured, so that seemed like no big deal.
As it turned out, I had no trouble getting comfortable from the start and ran the first seven miles in 9:53, 9:38, 9:42, 9:39, 9:34, 9:38, and 9:43. My body felt good, no major problems, so I kept going.
I decided that, after running miles 8 and 9 in 9:41 and 9:28, I'd try to pick up the pace a bit and think of running the final three miles like a three mile tempo run that I'd done a few weeks before; the prescribed paces for that run were 9:15, 9:00, and 8:45 and I felt motivated to do it.
Unfortunately, we hit a massive headwind between miles 10 and 11 and whew! Everyone was talking about it after the race! I felt like I was on a treadmill, moving my legs and going nowhere; it was tough! I tried to stick with my plan, and ran miles 10-13 in 9:17, 9:09, 9:07 and 8:37. With an official finish time of 2:04:14, I felt really proud of my effort.
As a Masters (40+) runner, the overall Masters winners are pulled from the age groups first and then the age group winners are awarded; thanks to a couple of overall Masters winners being pulled from my 40-44 age group, I earned a 3rd place age group award which was quite a surprise.
Having spent the better part of the year (since March) as an injured runner, this race was a great boost and a nice way to end 2017; being around friends and teammates made it even more special and I'm looking forward to continuing my training toward, hopefully, more progress next year. THANK YOU FOR ALL THE CHEERS AND ENCOURAGEMENT!