Hi everyone! Well, I did it: I ran my 6th half marathon! I ran the Her Tern Half Marathon, an all girls half marathon here in Anchorage. I also ran this last year and was hoping for some improvement overall since last year’s race ended with me hitting a wall! Let’s start from the beginning:
On Saturday, I woke up bright and early for our last HTH group run. We ran 20 easy minutes, did some drills, and ran 5 strides. We all got kind of emotional after the last stride because it meant we were finally ready for the race! After all of that work it was finally time for us to party at the expotique, and it did not disappoint! First, we got our HTH training group water bottles. Then we got our race bags which included a super cute Baggu bag with tons of coupons and our tech race shirts!
Once we had our coupons, it was time to shop! I hung out with my friends for at least an hour trying on all the cute Brooks HTH branded stuff, and finally decided on this boxy HTH shirt ($25 off), a Nathan phone carrier ($10 off), 3 tubes of Nuun (buy 2 get 1 free), and I also caved and bought the HTH race necklace! It’s the same design as the bracelet but I honestly needed a new necklace and getting one with the finish line coordinates just seemed like a good choice – especially considering that basically all races in Anchorage end at the same place!
We also stopped by the HTH wall of runner names! We were so excited to officially be running this!
At the expo, I discovered that my one running buddy was running with her mom as a pacer to hit 2:30 – and I could run with them too! So I switched my start time to 9:00 and prepared to hit my goal. I tried to relax the rest of the day and was actually feeling much calmer than I thought I’d be!
I woke up on Sunday and was actually pretty excited for race day. I loved showing up at the race and knowing so many people there. We spent the time before the race running some easy laps on the park strip and doing yoga led by one of our awesome coaches. And before I knew it, it was time to run!
For the first half of the race, I was hanging close to my friend and her mom. We were listening to music but not doing too much talking, so you could tell we were serious (although I may have fist pumped and sung along with some Nelly songs!). We were sticking pretty close to our goal time and I was actually feeling really good – much better than any recent long runs, even with the heat and sun! We turned around at mile 7 and I pulled ahead of them for a bit because I was starting to realize that running a race with others was way harder than I thought. If they wanted to take a quick break my brain was like “Do it too!” even if I felt good enough to keep going. And I had my own strategy of taking breaks when it was hilly, which they weren’t really aware of. So when she stopped to walk for a few seconds I decided to keep going until I hit a hill around mile 8. After walking for a few seconds, I sped through the rest of the hilly portion of the race course in an 11:25 pace! Usually at mile 8 I’m halfway dead and my brain is telling me that it’s time to stop and that I should never run again. I was so proud of myself, but I was still doubting I’d be able to make it to the end running that fast. When I stopped in the 9th mile at the water stop it was really hard for me to get going again, mostly because I started feeling this nagging muscle pain on the back of my right knee. And then guess who I ran into!
Kelsey from Keeping Up With Kelsey! I was so excited to see her here! She’s the one who is hosting the 50 states run challenge that I’m featuring on the side of my blog, and when she told me she was coming to Alaska for a wedding I knew exactly what race to recommend for her to run! It was pure luck that I ran into her just as I was starting to feel like I was in serious pain, because she was feeling some knee pain too. So we walked to mile 10 and then hobbled our way through a 12:00/mile 5k to the finish. But it was actually just what I needed! I was starting to feel the serious pressure that comes with gunning for a PR, and I was forgetting how much fun this race could be. So we spent those miles talking, running, and having way too much fun on the race course. We may have done some epic jump shots for the photographers and gotten a little too silly with our pictures 🙂 When we got to the N Street hill I was so glad to see my amazing HTH training group coaches at the bottom just waiting to run me up! I could not have done it without them! At the top of the hill I still had to run 2 blocks to the finish line, which almost killed me. But I made it!
And no, I did not PR. I had so many girls from our group congratulate me on finishing, and I received the awesome finisher’s bracelet. But I was more focused on getting a drink and eating some cupcakes. I was super excited to see that there were water bottles and bagels too, which is a huge improvement from last year! After taking a few pictures I was starting to realize that my leg pain was getting to be pretty intense, so I hobbled back to the car and went home for some relaxing and leg icing to feel better. I actually feel like I recovered from this race so much easier than any other half marathon! I was really proud of how strong I felt after it was over, and I’m kind of looking forward to running another one as soon as possible. That is, if my leg isn’t actually injured. I’m not sure what’s going on there, but it feels painful behind my knee when I stretch my leg out straight. I’m hoping some more rest, ice, and yoga will help me get back to normal in a few days.
Overall, I would highly recommend this race for any women who are looking to run a race with great swag, awesome pre and post run activities, and lots of fun running support! It was a great race and if/when I run it again I’ll make sure to join the running group again too. If you’re wondering how I’m feeling now that the race is over, stay tuned to hear more about that later this week. I can’t just not PR and leave it at that!
Have you ever had a mid-race injury? How do you deal with running races that don’t end up the way you planned? What is the most fun race you’ve ever run?
Note: all race day pictures were borrowed from Facebook friends/the course photographer because I left my phone in the car 🙂