Friday, September 16, 2011

Half Marathon Strategy, Votes Wanted, Aspaeris Winner!! oh and a blog hop!

The first half marathon I ran I went out with pretty aggressive 7:20 splits for the first three miles.  My goal for the race was to finish close to 1:40, so the pace was ahead of schedule, but I had a hard time not starting out like a gazelle and why not,   I felt good, it was still fairly cool out and I was so excited to do my first half marathon.  I wanted to rock it.   6 miles into it I was struggling along with the rolling hills in the 75 degree and rapidly warming heat with 8:30 splits.  I had skipped the first water station that was three miles in and brought no energy gel with me.  I stopped and gulped the water great fully at the half way point and walked a little for the first time. I was being passed left and right. By the time I finished I averaged 8:47 splits, had walked some every mile and was very discouraged. .  I was hot, dehydrated. miserable and pretty sure I was never going to run a half marathon again EVER!  Why would I?  I was hating the run from even before the half way point. My time was 1:55:35.  Not a bad time I know, just not what I was expecting and I felt defeated mentally and physically.

Of course I did sign up again a week later for another half marathon in two months.  Why wouldn't I?  I needed redemption.  I needed to prove to myself I could do it.  I could run a smarter race and have a much better time.  I was not going to let one bad race ruin the distance for me. If so many other people loved doing it, surely there must be more to it than I had experienced.

I looked at all the things I did wrong
  • went out way too fastA slow early pace conserves greater stores of glycogen, whereas fast early pace depletes glycogen supplies at a horrendous rate-a critical concern in any race over 5K. The rapid glycogen burn results in a large increase in lactic acid-translating into a much slower pace.
    Jeff Galloway, in his book Galloway's Book on Running, claims that for every second you run too fast in the first 3 miles, you'll run as much as 10 seconds slower per mile at the end in a 10K. Presumably, in an extended event like the half marathon, the slow down will be more dramatic than this.
    Thus, a moderate early (even) pace or negative split race minimizes the threat of glycogen depletion and reduces your chances of premature exhaustion-your energy is economically burnt during the entire race. 
  • did not hydrate well for the heat or at all.  It is recommended that runners consume about 6-8 oz of water for every 20 minutes of running
  • No gels:  some people say you don't need them for a half marathon, but I find them beneficial if not physically then mentally.  I like to use Shot bloks or chomps. I find they go down better than gels for me.  I like water to wash them down, so I find wearing a hydration belt is helpful. 
I revised my strategy based on research I did. 
  • HYDRATE at EVERY water station
  • Bring some energy gel, take at miles 5 and 9
  • Do not go out like a gazelle
  • Try to get a negative split (first half slightly slower than the last half)
It also helped that it was 42 degrees.  I averaged 7:47 splits for a time of 1:41:07.  A nearly 14 minute PR.  AH redemption tasted sweet.  Suddenly I loved the distance.  I had felt great the whole way through. The slower start meant that a lot of people were ahead of me, but I steadily picked of women and was only passed the whole time by one other girl.  That felt awesome.

Sunday I have my fourth half marathon and you can bet I am excited about it!  It is the race that got my picture in Runner's World in July.  Do you see me in the blue shirt and hat on the right behind the sunflowers?

I applied for a Team Refuel grant and you can help me by voting for me HERE.  The voting period lasts a month and will run to October 15th.  So I will be begging for you all to send votes my way as you can vote once a day!  I encourage all of you to apply for the grants also.  I think they will have three more rounds of handing out the grants.  They can be for an individual or a team.   You would all make me so happy if you sent a vote my way! 

Finally linking up with Fitness Friday Blog hop over at Life..As I see It.  Click here to check it out

And the moment you have all been waiting for (could this post get any longer?)  the lucky winner of their very own Aspaeris pivot shorts is...

could this be you?  Dog not included..
Plug in the numbers...hit enter

 Winner is
Christina is awesome, you can check her out here.  Besides being super cute she has a fun blog and has had some really great giveaways lately..  None of which I have won, but I won't hold that against her. :) Congrats Christina  (she also has a really awesome name)(I am really a Christina on my birth certificate but I don't know that I have ever gone by that name)

Tell me you favorite, best, craziest whatever racing strategy  for a half marathon.  If you have not ran one just tell me your favorite, best strategy for racing in general!


  1. Wow, you are fast! Even with your bad race, you were faster than me!!! I am trying to get a sub 2 hour Half this weekend, so I am glad of your advice. I agree with you. I have also found that slow and steady wins the race, no matter what your "slow" and "steady" are! The race I have run the fastest was run just like that. My boyfriend an I run together sometimes and he is a gazelle with a fast pace at the beginning and a slower one at the end, so I am trying to get him to run at ONE pace!

    PS I voted for you!

  2. I'm excited for your race this weekend! I feel like what happened for your first marathon is what happened to me with my 20k a couple weeks ago. I pretty much forgot everything I've ever learned about running and killed myself. Oh well. Next time will be better, right?

  3. Good luck on your race! I have had similar experiences and have found that knowing what my pace can/should be is key. I am a SLAVE to my Garmin and running my plan. My best half marathons have started out conservatively and finished strong with negative splits. Even on those races (I have run 15 half marathons) where I am not feeling my best, running that strategy still gives me decent finish times without feeling like crap at the end.

  4. I hope you have an AMAZING Race! I took a minute to send you a vote! Best of luck.

  5. good luck!!

    ps i would pee my pants if i saw myself in runners world!

  6. Good luck on sunday!! I always hold myself back at the start of a race, I find my pace and stick to it. Then about halfway through I pick it up a bit, to make sure I have enough steam to get me to the end. Have a great race, love the picture!

  7. If it makes you feel any better, I did the same thing and it wasn't even my first half. Ugh. Live and learn right?
    Good luck!

  8. I loved seeing that pic in Runner's World. Made sure to pick it up and look at it in a local bookstore and made a point of showing it to The Captain and telling him "I know this girl!"... lots of heads swivelled!

    Good luck with your half - you are going to be so awesome! What cute outfit have you picked?

    Congrats to Christina... I hope she picks RED - I am dying to see them on her.

    And yes, voting for you NOW!

    Have a wonderful weekend.

  9. Good luck at your race! It sounds like you have figured out what you did wrong previously, so I am sure you will ROCK this one!!!

  10. I saw you in that Runner's World--how cool is that? You will definitely get your "redemption" this time around on the half marathon!

  11. Good luck on the race!

    Your race strategy in how you got your 1:41 time is exactly what I did to get the exact same 1:41 half marathon time in my first one, haha I ran the first 7 miles at 8 min pace, then the last 6 at 7:15 pace or something - I didn't know what I was doing, haha

    But yea it seems like you got race strategy down now. My general race strategy is:
    -try to start out a little bit slower than goal pace
    -stop at every water stop, walk at least as much as it takes to fully drink what I have in my hand
    -take a energy gel and salt tablet every 4-5 miles
    -most of all, enjoy the race!

  12. AHHHHHHHH I have been DYING all day! I got your comment through my phone but I couldn't comment on your blog from the computers at work! Damn those restrictions on high school computers!! I am so excited that I won!! This absolutely made my day/week. I was feeling so blahhhh but I now have a HUGE smile on my face!! I actually just got the red ones but want the black ones SO BAD. They look so good on you (but everything does!). I can't wait! I guess I should e-mail you my info?? Eeee!!

    Also, you know what's really funny?!?! My first half I ran in 1:58 and my second one in 1:44! A 14 minute PR!! TWINS! I didn't break it down the way you did. I just didn't train for the second one and I think my legs were just really well rested!

    You totally deserve that grant and I am going to vote for you EVERY SINGLE DAY as many times as I can and from whatever computers I can get my hands on. I will even do a post on my blog to notify my readers that they need to help you out!!

    THANK YOU AGAIN! You are the best!! <3

  13. My half-marathon PR (1:58:57) was obtained by going out slow and even, taking a gel every 5 miles, high fiving lots of little kids along the way, and having a pace partner to run with me and keep me motivated!

  14. That's so cool that you got in Runners World!

    I would say that starting out slower is for the best. I am not a fast runner. I always hang back in the beginning and run at a comfortable pace. It is easier to end a race feeling strong rather than feeling like you might die.

  15. Good luck with your race! Your first half experience sounds a lot like mine :). My 2nd one wasn't quite as big of an improvement, though!

  16. Good luck! Can't wait to hear all about it!

  17. Even though I didn't win, I still voted for you!

  18. this post made me double envious. Once b/c you got to be in runner's world and twice b/c I didn't win the shorts :P Yay Christina.

  19. good luck! I think you are going into this so well prepared!! cant wait to hear about it!

  20. My first half marathon I saw a sign at mile marker 10 that said a half marathon was a 5k race with a 10 mile warmup. I thought it was cruel but find it is an excellent strategy. Conserve energy the first half or 10 miles and race the rest like a 5k or 10k. Running the competition down and passing them can be motivating.

  21. That is awesome! Love how you took a "not what you expected" race and challenged yourself to do better rather than letting it defeat you.

    Off to check out and vote at Team Refuel!

  22. Hoping you did awesome at your half this weekend! I loved seeing your RW photo... it's fun to see yourself in random places!

    I will go vote now....

  23. 42 degrees?!?!?! I can't even imagine that!! No wonder why you started out like a gazelle??!!!


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