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Sunday, October 28, 2018

My annual Jazz Half PR

I feel like I just wrote this post, but that was last year: Jazz half marathon, PR. Same thing this year!

The Jazz half is one of my favorite races, and I was happy to run the race even though I doubted I'd PR: we are mid-marathon training, and this year was a little harder than last year. We're racing in early December instead of mid-January, so we're further into the heavy training, and plus last year I took a day off for mini-taper before the race. Not so this year. So I didn't expect much. I also had no idea what kind of shape I'm in. I haven't run a race uncomplicated by some odd factor, like insane weather or a short course, in months, and my workouts have been a little slow, actually.

I got to the race start really early, like 6 am, and easily picked up my packet. My group met up at 6:15 for a 3-mile easy warm-up. I was a little worried about the weather, because instead of being a crisp fall day, it was quite damp. But the humidity actually burned off as the sun came up, and the day became nicer as the race progressed! We ended up with low to mid 60's and sunny!

The race started inauspiciously. For one thing, I realized that I'd left both my Gu and my sunglasses in the car. I found out that there would be Poweraid on the course, so I wasn't worried about missing the Gu, but I knew that the course up St. Charles Ave on the way back would be full sun straight in my eyes (later, after the race, I found out I'd forgotten one more thing: after being particularly annoyed and frustrated that my feet were inexplicably sliding around in my shoes, I found that I had forgotten to put on my running socks, and ran the race in the thin and cheap dollar store socks I sleep in!). And then the race was delayed, a long 15+ minute wait for police to signal that the course was clear. While we waited, I accidentally let my Garmin go into energy-save mode, and when I turned it back on, it couldn't find a satellite. Not that you can trust your Garmin downtown anyway, what with all the tall buildings in the way.

Finally, we started, and I tried to just run controlled and rather slow. Coach Jimi had recommended doing 5-10 at marathon pace, then speeding up, but I was having trouble telling what pace I was running exactly.
I train with this great group of people, who all ran great! (Yes, I stole David's glasses)

Miles 1-5: Once I finally got a satellite, my pace was way off; plus, I kept missing splits. For the first few miles I ran with the women's 5k winner (for real. This race is very much all about the half marathon; the 5k is tiny!). I encouraged her for a while, but eventually moved ahead. Somehow I got distracted during all of this, and by the time we'd moved onto St. Charles and I saw a mile marker, it was mile 4, and I'd missed splits for 2 and 3. I could also tell I was way, way off on my Garmin already. At mile 5 I saw that I was a full 35 seconds off the mile marker! So that certainly made pacing hard. But I felt like I ran 6:50 or around there for miles 2-4 after a too-fast 6:39 for mile one. I picked the pace up at five, and passed the older gentleman I'd been running near (he asked me if I was first female, which was cute, but heck no - this year this race got a big, fast crowd and I was nowhere near!).

Miles 6-7: Down St. Charles was awesome - so many people I knew were out cheering! I heard my name SO many times in this race, like...fifty times. It was so cool. At mile 6 I passed the Varsity Sports group, manning the relay exchange, and got a ton of cheers. I felt great this whole time, now running low 6:40's.

Miles 8-9: Once I got to Audubon Park, I decided to run a strong loop through the park, then start some surges once I got back on St. Charles. The park is my home turf, so I love this part, but I also hate that it's packed with people. There was a ton of weaving/passing here, and while I still felt great, I started to get a little tired in here. But I also passed two guys, which was a boost (I never saw another women for the whole race!)

Miles 10-11: UGH. Straight down St. Charles, and the sun was glaring into my eyes. And I also didn't see the ten mile marker and missed that split. And I totally forgot to throw some surges in. But I was still getting a ton of cheers from spectators and other runners heading the other way, and now I was running mid-6:30's.

Miles 12-13.1: Tactical error, here. I had my eyes on another runner far in front of me, a strong and experienced member of our group, and I allowed our distance to guide my pacing, almost subconsciously. But I didn't realize that he was feeling bad and slowing down. When mile 12 beeped, I'd slowed to a 6:39, and I didn't love that. I picked it up for mile 13. It ended up being a 6:25, so I like that, although I had zero kick for the finish. But as I neared the clock, I noticed excitedly that it was still in the 1:26's! Even that didn't motivate me to a fast finish, and I crossed in 1:27:04. I was stunned. I had no idea I'd run anywhere close to that time. My pie-in-the-sky goal was 1:27:59. Instead, I ran 6:38 pace, eleven seconds per mile faster than last year, and it felt...dare I say...almost easy?!

I'm very happy with this race, and thrilled with my time; I felt smooth and controlled the whole way, and this gives me a little more confidence for marathon training.


  1. Congrats - that should be a major confidence boost for you. PR-ing a half during full training, and having it feel "almost easy" is a very good sign, I think.

  2. Congratulations on the huge PR! You needed this confidence boost as you seemed to be questioning yourself lately. You are so speedy!!

  3. Wow. I am honestly not surprised you ran that time, though. You have been killing it in your workouts for the past six months now, in crazy weather. Sounds like a lot of little annoyances (the socks! the sun! the Garmin!) But you just pushed through and ran an amazing PR. Congrats!

  4. Fantastic job, well done and thank you for the excellent write up.