Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Flower City Half Marathon race report

This is the 2nd annual running of this race, which is run entirely within the city limits of Rochester. Remember when I posted about this last week and said it was flat except for a hill in the middle? I lied. It's flat in the beginning and the end, with the exception of THREE MILES of hills before and throughout that %&*#-ing cemetery. I forgot how hilly horrible that shit was.

Anyways, I came into this race well rested and tapering. I did not have a long ride on Saturday; instead I had a 1.5 hour recovery ride. I chose to do this ride outside because it was sunny and beautiful out. Although I had good intentions at doing this at recovery pace, I didn't. I didn't hammer it, but I didn't go easy like I should have done.

My race plan for Sunday was to run the first 10 miles with the 1:40 pace group and then try to drop them for the last 5K. Goal time: sub 1:40. This goal time has been on my radar since my last half marathon in 2009 where I ran a 1:41 on a nice flat course. I pulled that 1:41 out of my ass and I KNOW that with some legit training I could go sub 1:40 for sure. I was skeptical that I would be able to do it for this race given the fact that I have done no speedwork whatsoever and my running has been lagging behind where it was last year due to time off for my hamstring injury. So I went into the race drooling over the sub 1:40 but not super cocky that I could get it.

Sunday, I got up at 5 am, ate the typical breakfast of banana, protein shake, toast, and applesauce. My gear was all laid out from the night before so I just put on my race gear and grabbed my bag. I parked in a parking garage downtown where I immediately ran into Solveig. We walked inside and found Ken, Greg & his fiancee Amanda, and a few others. I did a quick warmup and lined up practically on the line so I could be right behind Andy, the 1:40 pace leader/exboyfriend/pacing buddy. You think that would be awkward, but it's not. I set my Garmin to show "average pace" so that I could keep track of where I was (I needed to maintain a 7:37 pace) when I was slowing down through the cemetery section.

can you find me?

The gun went off and we started running. The first couple miles wind through a not-so-nice part of Rochester that I would probably never run in by myself. I had talked to Andy on the phone a few days before the race and we had discussed pacing strategies, since he had never been a pace leader before. We both knew that the course slows way down at about the halfway point, so he had a plan to bank some time in the first half. This is exactly what happened. For the first 6 or so miles, my Garmin showed an average of 7:30 pace. This pace was easy for about 5 miles, and then the 6th mile I really had to work to keep it up.

Once we hit the hill on Goodman, I knew I wasn't going to be able to maintain that pace because the hill is pretty long, and that's exactly what happened. I fell right off the back of the pace group on that hill. My average pace fell to about 7:35 going up that hill. I regrouped and brought my pace back to where it needed to be once I got into the cemetery because those hills are rolling, but I just could NOT catch Andy. The cemetery was awful. It has steep rolling hills, lots of twists and turns, and I had to go to the bathroom. Oh wait, that happened last year too! Mother f-er. Last year I stopped at a portapotty, this year, I was just going to hang on and RUN. I felt like I was going to die, which was appropriate since I was running through a bunch of graveyards! I managed to get my average pace back down to maybe 7:33 through the cemetery by working the downhills hard.

down the finish stretch
K-Dub passed me at mile 9. We exited the cemetery and I got a slight 2nd wind at mile 10. I passed K-Dub back and was running right with one of the Fleet Feet guys named Robbie. I told him I was trying for a 1:40 and I was right on pace, but I was slowly slowing down the last 3 miles. I could see my average pace drop from 7:35 to 7:36 to 7:37. I knew it was going to be right down to the wire. The last 2 miles were torture. We headed over the Ford St. bridge and down the long stretch through Cornhill that I HATE. You know the finish is so close, yet so far. Robbie was running right in front of me and told me to pick it up because I was almost done. I turned the corner and saw the finish. I knew at that point that I was not going to come in under 1:40. I saw Greg on the left and he started running me in, yelling at me to sprint in.. thank god for Greg. What a great guy!

I finished in 1:40:55.

That's a PR for me by about 40 seconds. It's hard not to be happy with that. The course is harder, it's early in the season, and I PRed! I may not have hit my ultimate goal, but I was only 55 seconds off. Mary told me that if I had done my recovery ride the way I was SUPPOSED to do it the day before, that I could have gone under 1:40. For the record, I ran this race in a 1:50 last year. So.. 9 minutes faster.. NICE!

I guess that sub 1:40 is for another day!

I ended up 8th in my age group out of 199 women, and 35th woman overall. Everyone else had a great day as well!

Nutrition: I ate 1 shot block every 2 miles. I almost choked on a shot block once, and I did not eat one at mile 12 (thought it was pointless and I was too tired to chew by that point).

Greg, me, Solveig, Kenny - the lovely members of Train-This post race!
I have fantastic teammates. Thanks for everything you guys! And now.. over 48 hours later, my quads are STILL WRECKED!


  1. Congrats on your PR! That's a great start to the season for you.

  2. Congrats on the PR Alexa!! Great race report! :)

  3. What is it with everyone still be wrecked over this race? I am hurting, Greg is shot....I have never felt this terrible after a half marathon in my life! lol

  4. Great job on the PR! :) I agree with Mary - the sub 1:40 is there!

  5. Congrats on a PR on a challenging course! What a great way to kick off the season!

  6. congratulations on a PR. Great race report! You'll be crushing Wellington in no time.


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