Thursday, November 10, 2011

Half-Marathon Thoughts

Huntsville Half Marathon 2010
(I'm in the green shorts)
So in the midst of my 50 Mile ultra training comes the Huntsville half-marathon this Saturday. I do this one every year and it is one of my all time favorites in Huntsville.  Most of the time, when this race rolls around, I am in the midst of training for something else or still recovering from something I've already run, and I never really know what sort of finish time I should expect.  This year is no different.  I've been ultra training and trying to push the pace on some of my runs, but not really enough to make a difference in the shorter distances.

I looked at a recent 5k time, which was 23:43 at the Ribbon Run on October 15, and plugged it into the Runner's World training calculator.  That gave me a projected half-marathon time of 1:48:54.  I was sort of disappointed in that (although it is probably realistic), so I plugged in my 5k time from the Apple Festival 5k in September which was 22:59, and got a 1:45:32 half-marathon prediction.  I liked that one better, but it still would not result in a personal record.  No matter what these predictions say or what numbers I plug in to the training calculator, I think it is pretty realistic not to hope for a personal record this time.

After plugging in my 5k times and trying to find a satisfying prediction, I took a look at what I'd done in the past.  Here's what I've got.

March 2011 - Seaside Half in 1:44:17.  That is my current PR.

November 2010 - Huntsville Half - 1:47:51.  I was pretty proud of that since I was still recovering from a brutal 50 mile trail run the month before.

Februray 2010 - Mercedes Half in 1:47:44.

November 2009 - Huntsville Half - 1:48:19.

And there are others further back, but the general progression was about a minute per year until the Seaside Half early this year, which was a month after my marathon PR in Feb.  Seeing this information didn't really help me much in trying to figure out what I will be able to run this Saturday, but it was interesting anyway.

In order to run a PR half, I'd have to run faster than an average 7:57 pace.  I just don't think I have that in me for 13.1 miles right now.  It would be great if I did, but I don't really know how I trained to get to that point in February.  In theory, I should be in pretty good shape right now if I'm planning to run a 50 Mile race in a month.  But how does ultra training lend itself to a fast half-marathon?  Does it at all?  I think I'd be happy with a finish time around 1:48, but if I can't run a PR half this weekend, does that mean I'm not ready for the upcoming ultra?  And that leads me to look at my training thus far and shake my head at the shorter-than-planned weekly totals and ask the question of the last 4 months, am I doing enough?

I'm going to stop there and remember what I said in the first paragraph. I love this race.  And I have always loved this race no matter what my finish time happened to be.  So I'm going to go with that.  I'm going to show up Saturday morning with my mom in tow.  I'm going to hug my sis and my friends who are running this distance for the FIRST TIME EVER (and I can think of at least 4 off the top of my head).  I'm going to run with all I have and enjoy the fall colors before the trees drop the last of their leaves. I'm going to cheer for all my peeps on the greenway section (my favorite there-and-back part), and I'm going to finish with a smile. 

I still have no idea what sort of finish time I should aim for, but I'm planning on having a great time while I'm out there and despite my doubt, I'm looking forward to it! 

Huntsville Half Marathon 2009 with Julia


  1. I will be calling splits at mile 7 so please yell as you run by! So many friends are running it this year! It will be fun to cheer everyone on! Wish I was runing it but I am just happy to be running again! Good luck...I think you will do great!

  2. I will look for you and yell as I run by! It will be so good to see you there!

  3. What I like about this post, Jane, is that is is realistic. You go into the nitty-gritty of how to make a race goal. Basing it on previous races of the same distance and then comparing it (with a race calculator) to other distances is the best way to figure out what you can realistically do. Of course, you may surprise yourself and do better than what you think too! I hope it goes well for you tomorrow!

  4. I found your blog through Katie @ How We Roll. I probably would have done the same thing you did recalculating to see what I should be able to run. This was my first half and I hit my goal so I'm happy. Can't wait to hear your recap!