Over the past 14 weeks, I’ve been training for a May 1 marathon (the Avenue of the Giants Marathon), where I hope to finally qualify for Boston. At my age, that means running a 3:25:00 which works out to a 7:49/mile average pace. As I do every marathon training cycle, I scheduled a “fitness test” half marathon about 4 weeks out to see if I need to make any training adjustments before the big goal race. So today I ran the Livermore Half Marathon.
As usual, I didn’t taper going into this test. In fact, I had already run 30+ miles earlier this week, including a 13 mile tempo effort on Thursday night. So, going into the race, I thought I’d be thrilled if I could run anywhere close to 1:36 or even 1:38. My previous PR was about 1:37 and that was during a cycle where I was training specifically for a half marathon. When this morning came, I went back and forth on whether to make this a good, hard training run or to really go after it and actually race. As I stood there in the starting corrals, I made to decision to go for it.
The course was beautiful. It went through a couple of Livermore neighborhoods, then off into rolling hills of the surrounding vineyards and regional parks. While certainly not flat, the hills weren’t too bad either. The most significant climb started at about the 7 mile mark and peaked at the 9 mile mark having risen 150 ft in the process. Again, nothing compared to your typical trail race, but it definitely got your heart going. I tired to ignore my Garmin as much as possible and just ran by feel. I knew at that distance I should feel uncomfortable, but not gasping, the whole way.
When I started the decline after mile 10, I knew I had some spring left in my legs, so I pushed pretty hard to the end. My last three miles were some of my quickest of the day: 6:57, 7:07, 6:56. I ended up running a 1:33:11 or a 7:12 average pace. A brand new PR at the half marathon distance and a huge confidence boost going into my A race in May!