When I was offered a free entry into the Icebreaker Indoor Half Marathon through my running team, I have to admit that at first I wasn’t super-excited. Forty eight laps around an indoor track didn’t exactly seem all that thrilling. As the race drew near, I started to see it as an opportunity for a fast race in perfect conditions. Though the track is not a forgiving surface (it’s just thin rubber over the cement floor), the temperature inside hovers around 50 degrees, it is dry, and there is no wind. There were two heats for the half marathon, 7am and 9:30am, and I was in the first heat.
I woke up around 4:45am for the 7am race start. Pre-race I had a banana with pb, honey, and cinnamon and coffee. (Pictures are from my iPhone).
I got myself ready and headed out the door just before 6am. I got to the Pettit Center and headed upstairs to packet pickup. The room upstairs was warm, and a nice place for runners to hang out before heading into the cold oval. About 30 minutes before start time, I consumed my secret weapon.
Two medjool dates. These things taste like candy and are little energy bombs. I snapped a photo of the track from above before I went down to warm up.
The timing table:
That big screen on the left of the picture was displaying names all day with the number of laps completed. It was on a scroll, so I didn’t get to see my name every time around, but I did manage to catch it quite a few times. I was planning to rely also on the lap counter on my watch, hoping that I would remember to press it after each lap. This would be key for pacing, as I was hoping to average around 2:00/lap.
I had time for a short 2-lap warm up before it was time for the national anthem. I lined up somewhere in the middle/front of the pack and got ready to run. The race started, and there was a lot of congestion right at the beginning, but I was surprised how quickly things spread out on the 2-lane track. The rules of the track are similar to a freeway, run on the right (outside) and pass on the left (inside), running counterclockwise.
Behind those people walking were the water tables. Each runner had their own water bottle with their number on it. If you wanted water, you yell your number out as you pass the tables. The next time around, a volunteer hands you your bottle. You run with it for a lap, then hand it back. They had plenty of great volunteers here, and I had no problems getting my water when I needed it.
My first few laps I really tried to just settle into a groove. My pace was spot-on, and each lap ticked by in the 1:55-1:58 range. It felt quick but manageable. I knew I had a long way to go, and hoped I could maintain the speed. Around 3 or 4 laps in, I was lapped by the race leaders, who were running well under 6 min pace. As the race progressed, it was fun to see how everyone was spread out. I would get lapped by the same guys every so often, and I would lap the same people every so often as well. I don’t remember how many laps in I was when I got lapped by the first female, but she ended up finishing about 7 minutes ahead of me.
Half way through the race I started to feel like I was losing energy. I got a little worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up the pace. I ate a PB flavored GU (my new absolute favorite, obviously), and hoped that it would do the trick. A few laps later, I felt better, though it still seemed like I was working hard. With ten laps to go, I just wanted to be done. I also knew that it would be over before I knew it. With two laps to go I picked up a little speed, and finished my last lap in 1:52, which is sub-7 min pace.
Official chip time: 1:33:12
3rd overall female
I wish I would have pushed it a little harder to break 1:33. Judging by the fact that I was able to pick it up at the end, I know I could have done it. Overall I am happy though, as I’m pretty sure this is about a 14 minute half marathon PR for me. I don’t even know the last time I raced one (besides on trails), but it was years ago for sure.
On the way home I rewarded myself with a Starbucks soy mocha which I’m pretty sure contains the optimal carb:protein ratio for muscle recovery.
Stay tuned this week for an announcement of my next big race. Hint: It’s a long one that involves a belt buckle.