Two weeks ago, Jennie and I did the Rivertown Races Half Marathon & 5k. Half Marathon for me. 5k for Jennie and Nate. This was a fantastic race! Especially considering the fact that most of GR was underwater and the race had to be relocated at the last minute. Despite the relocation, they put on a near flawless race for their inaugural year. My goal for the race was to improve my PR from a couple weeks earlier (1:31:06) and officially best my unofficial PR (1:29:XX) that I ran during the first half of last year’s Woodland Marathon.
I met up with a couple guys from the RunGR group before the race. They are both much faster than I but figured that I could try and pace off of them a least early on. As soon as the gun went off, I took off and quickly found my groove. I knew that I would have to shoot for a 6:50 pace to hit my goal. After getting comfortable in my pace, I hit the first mile in 6:27. Yikes. A little too fast. I tried to hold up a bit for mile 2 and pulled back to a 6:36. Better, but still fast. However, I was comfortable, so I decided to just go with it. I kept my teammates in sight in front of me and used them to judge my speed. Around mile 4, I had a guy catch me and I chatted with him for about a mile before I dropped back. It is nice how much having someone to run with makes the time fly by.
In no time, we hit the turnaround point of the out and back course. It was a small race so I knew I was only 12 or 13 guys back from leaders at the turn. I was still feeling great and at that point and I knew that I pretty much had my goal in the bag unless something catastrophic happened.
The back half of the course had quite a bit of uphills which explains why my early miles were so fast – they were downhill and I didn’t realize it. The worst of the hills were from miles 9 & 10 where my pace dropped to just over 7:00 min/mile pace. I got passed by a couple people during this stretch but as soon as the course flattened back out, I picked the pace back up. I was super impressed with how much cheering the fellow runners did. I felt like I had a constant stream of cheering and I passed runners still headed out to the turn around. I did my best to smile, clap, and return the cheers.
In no time, I was on the last mile. Up until this point, the miles seemed to just be clicking by with relative ease. The final mile, however, seemed to take forever. At each corner, I could see two people (one of whom I knew) behind me and I was determined to hold them off. As I passed by the one runner’s husband and daughter, I could hear them cheer her name so I knew she was right on my heals. It gave me the motivation I needed to keep the pace up.
In the end, I managed to hold them both off and finished in 1:27:57 – good enough for 15/145 OA and 6th in my age group. A whopping 3+ minute PR! I can’t wait until I turn 30 this summer though. This makes for the 3rd race of the year where I would have podiumed in the 30-34 age group. haha. Oh well!
We followed up the Rivertown Races with the River Bank Run this past weekend. This is 9th year in a row that I have done the 25k – gotta keep the streak alive. Out of all those years, there is only one year where I haven’t gotten a PR, and I was hunting another one. I have had the goal of going sub-1:50 in my head since late last year so that is what I was shooting for. Actually, after doing the math, I was modified my goal to 1:48:30 which would be a 7:00 min/mile pace.
We got to the race super early because the 5k started at 7:20 and Jennie was running it. I had hoped to watch her race before I started at 8:20, but because of a new staggered start, it took Jennie over 15 minutes to even cross the start line. I was able to see her get started, but by that time, I had to start to get ready myself.
I lined up with the 7:00 pace group at the start. My intention was to stick with them until the halfway point and then work on picking up the pace if I felt good. That isn’t quite how it turned out though. Right out of the gate, I set my own pace and clicked off the first two miles at 6:50-ish. A few miles later and I had already built up a full minute buffer between myself and the 7:00 pace group.
In the past, I have sort of struggled with my pace a bit at this race because there are so many people. I do better in smaller groups and often having all the other runners around makes it harder for me to focus on my own race. Not this year though. I completely zoned out, found a groove, and ran my own race.
The hills of Butterworth slowed me down a bit as usual but I was taking them in stride and not discouraged. However, at mile 13 the wheels really started to fall off and I had to hold on for dear life. This is totally my fault as my training for this race was a bit sub-par. My 2 long runs leading up to the race were two half marathons; I never ran the full 15.5 miles ahead of time. Nor did I do the recommended hill workouts. I paid for it during the final 2.5 miles.
Thankfully I held the final miles at a 7:00 min/mile pace so that I could hit my goal. I crossed the finish line in 1:47:58 shattering my previous PR by 6+ minutes! I couldn’t be more happy with the results.
After the race we cleaned up and met up with the RunGR group for some Mexican recovery food before promptly passing out on the couch for a long nap.
Thanks for reading!