Sunday, I ran the march madness half marathon. I had never run it before, but a lot of people from my club were going (and we all know what happens when your friends jump off a bridge...) Registration was tricky. The race was capped at 1,000 and it was sold out within minutes of opening on new years eve at 6am. Daniel surprised me on the morning of the race and tagged along for the hour drive. Parking was a breeze and packet pickup was quick and easy. We meandered around for a bit, before meeting up with the club for a quick group shot.
The only thing I knew ahead of time was that the race was popular, well run, and very hilly. I train on a prairie path (read: net elevation zero) and it was a hot day, so I was planning on using this as a tough training run and cruising into the finish in about 2 hours or so. We lined up (the race was not chip timed and didn't have pacers, so I seeded myself somewhere in the middle with a fellow GER), The gun fired, and we were off.
We decided that our game plan would to run in the 8:40-8:45 range for the first 5 miles or so, then have some time in the bank to take the hills nice and slow since they were stacked in the back half of the course. This plan was thrown out the window almost immediately. We went through mile 1 in 8:03. "Oops, way too fast. Must. Slow. Down." Mile 2: 8:05. "Oh shit, we are going to be so screwed." We didn't settle into a slower pace until the hills picked up around mile 6.
Each hill had a cutesy name. There was the lung buster, sneaky hill, shoe tree hill, big hill, and the ever dreaded 10 mile (aka heartbreak) hill. For the first time ever, I was actually passing people up the hills. After making it past the 10 mile point feeling decent, I decided that I would PR instead of wiping out at the end. And I did!
My official gun time was 1:51:49, which is nearly 4 minutes faster than my previous PR. Here are my garmin splits and elevation map for any other running geeks out there.