Half – Marathon #2: Pacers and Side Stitches

I ran my 2nd Half Marathon of my “12 Half’s, 1 Full, 1 Tri in 2015” goal today.  I stayed up way too late last night due to a couple reasons. 1) I think I drank that cup of coffee a little too late in the evening (even though caffeine doesn’t usually affect me like that) and 2) I had this idea to start a blog and was thinking of a name for it, and trying to figure out what blogging site I wanted to try.  It was after midnight before I finally fell asleep and then was up at 5:30am.  I was out the door a little after 6am, got a coffee and made the 1+ hour drive up to Portage MI for the 3rd Annual Winter Blast 5k and Half Marathon.  I was a nervous mess.  I didn’t feel like I had trained well enough (mostly because I hadn’t trained at all due to my ankle tendon injury), I paced back and forth for a while, trying to keep my mind busy.  I didn’t feel ready at all, and I wasn’t even sure if I would be able to run it much, plus I was by myself with no support or running buddies.  My plan going in was to run 4:00 min/walk 1:00 min.  The race had pacers ranging from 1:30 – 3:00 finishing times.  I knew my last half back in January was at about the 2:20 mark and I really wanted to try to do better this time.  I positioned myself between the 2:15 and the 2:20 pacing groups.  I thought if i could keep the 2:20 group behind me I would be all set.  The gun goes off and 400+ runners cross the start line.

So far, so good.  I knew my ankle would hold out at least 15 minutes so I thought I would run until it started to bother me.  It’s difficult with that many runners, confined to one lane on the road, to slow down too early in the race without irritating those behind you.  I was able to run constantly for the first 2.26 miles.  Once the crowd thinned out a bit, I started my run/walk plan.

I stopped at a couple aid stations to get something to drink.  I could see a pacing group up ahead at one point and thought, “hey, that must be the 2:15 group, and I’m gaining on them, soon I’ll be able to pass them”.  At about mile 8 I had them, and then I got a good look at their pace flag and it said 2:20…what the heck?!  When did the pace group that was behind me sneak past me?  It had to of been at one of the aid stations while I was attempting to drink my Gatorade without drowning.  I worked myself ahead of them and was able to maintain my position in front, until about mile 11.  That’s when the attack of the side stitch struck.  Usually I can breathe my way through it, but not this time.  I gimped through the current 4 min run, but when it was time to run again, it still wasn’t possible.  I ended up walking a bit more than I wanted.  At this time the 2:20 pace group passes me!  And I was unable to catch back up.

Over all, my finishing time was 2:20:39 and I placed 34th in my age group.  I felt pretty good about my run, and was happy to have ran faster than the half I ran in January.