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  1. I was waiting on my professional photos from this race to post this, but 2 weeks later I've decided I might be waiting until my next race so here it is! This race was November 5, and I am now 2 weeks out from my big goal race marathon at CIM. The Short: Based on the crap weather (72*, dew point of 70*, 15-25 mph south wind), my goal for this race shifted from aiming for a solid time to running it at goal marathon pace (6:17). I also cut out the small taper for it, running 70 miles for the week instead of the planned 61, because there wasn't any reason to sacrifice marathon training volume when there was no chance at a fast half. My goal that stayed constant was to get the overall female win, and I accomplished that one despite not being able to quite hit goal marathon pace (I averaged 6:20 pace...but let me tell you, 6:20 sure felt like 6:05 pace!). However, I loved the hometown event and ran with a smile on my face the entire race! God doesn't always give us what we want (such as nice race weather), but He always gives us what we need (perhaps the way things turned out will be more beneficial for The Big Goal). The best part about the race was that two of the ladies I train with took the 2nd and 3rd overall spots, effectively giving our group the 1-2-3 sweep! Oh, and Albani's shirt was also a hit, and she couldn't have worn it in cooler temperatures. But her dad gives her junk food while her mom races! The Long: I included this half in my race schedule because it's local, the organizers do a fantastic job, and it was 4 weeks out from my goal marathon so I thought it would be a good checkpoint -- also because my coach recommended that I not run the Bass Pro full marathon as a B race like I usually do. The course isn't fast because it has one million turns, the final 2 miles up inclines, and the field at my pace is always very thin/nonexistent, but those cons are usually balanced out by nearly perfect weather and by it being a hometown race (typical routines, no travel, sleeping in my own bed, eating at home). But, alas, the 40*/sunny/light wind combination we usually get for this race was not to be in 2017! Instead, it was 72* with a dew point of 70* (i.e., painfully humid) with 15-25 mph south winds. Midwest weather is predictably unpredictable, but our high of 83* on this day set an all-time record, so it's usually not quite this extreme in November. I knew I couldn't run a PR or anywhere near it in those conditions, because anytime the dew point is in the 70s my performance nosedives. I've read that humidity that high reduces your VO2 max, and based on how my races go in those conditions I fully believe it (not where I originally read it, but it is mentioned here and here so I did not make this up!). Pre-race my goals shifted from gunning for a fast time to mainly working for the win and running around goal marathon pace. I also ran 70 miles during race week, so I figured to some degree this could simulate the second half of a marathon. Race morning I woke up in my own bed after the time change (meaning an extra hour in bed!), headed to the race with my husband and daughter, and warmed up with my dear friend Missy. It felt more like a workout day than a race, and I felt no pressure. I hoped to keep my pace between 6:15-6:20, and I knew I shouldn't bank on a negative split because the course started off working its way north (tailwind) and finished working back south (headwind), plus the beginning has more decline and the end has more incline. After the gun I found myself in first female position for the half (the first female in the full was just ahead of me, but I know her and knew she was running the full...she is also my coach's wife and he was running with her!). This seemed like a great sign for me, because I was running around 6:20 pace. There were a handful of men around too. The half and full courses split just after the 1 mile mark, and I saw 3 men in front of me. I also got a female lead cyclist at that point, and despite my experience with having a lead female cyclist without actually leading in Kansas City two weeks prior, I trusted that I was leading this time since it was a much easier gauge in less of a crowd and complete daylight. Around 2.5 The race itself was pretty uneventful, while at the same time very enjoyable -- the awesome local race feeling! I locked into the effort that felt sustainable for 13.1 and ran familiar streets. I drove the course twice the week before this race to prevent any re-occurrences of The Bass Pro Wrong Turn Incident of 2016. I thought driving the course beforehand helped me run the course tangents, but sometimes I couldn't run the tangents due to cars parked on the side of the road, aid stations, or huge mile marker signs blocking the path; however, I thought I did a much better job than my watch indicated. I later learned that the current half course isn't certified anyway, so perhaps I did do a better job with tangents than my watch showed. There are two certifications on the USATF website for the event, but neither is the course we ran (see here and here for the certified ones), also making me not feel so bad about missing the Missouri State road racing record for age 37 (1:23:11), since it wouldn't have counted anyway. Nor would a PR have really counted had I run one, so maybe I can even say I dodged a bullet there (just being optimistic)! Excuse the tangent - pun intended. My pacing was very consistent when considered with the elevation and headwind/tailwind situation, so even though I wasn't running my fastest I thought I did really well at zeroing in on the effort I could sustain for a half in these conditions. I got to see my husband and daughter around 2.5 and 9.5, something that I don't get to do in non-local halves. Elevation I really enjoyed all of the amazing spectators and volunteers out on the course. Many took the time to shout "First female!", "Girl power!", etc. as I passed. I am so thankful for our amazing running community! Around the 15K, I heard one spectator say to another, "Wow, she looks so strong and fast", and that made my day. I ran with a smile plastered on my face the whole race. It's such a fun race to win. Even though I never felt stellar, I loved being out there and having the opportunity to race locally and see so many people I knew. My lead cyclist was awesome, and I asked him to let me draft off him going south, but we could never quite work it out -- I think it's difficult to maintain consistent 6:20 pace on a bike, because that's very slow cycling. Around 9.5 - running into the wind & trying to draft I have often struggled with the last 2 miles on this course, but I got a boost from my friend Danielle cheering around mile 11 and a man passing me a bit before mile 12 (he went on to beat me but I hung with him until the last half mile or so). It felt great to hear the race announcer mispronouncing my name as the overall female winner for the half Running happy around 11.5! I look like I'm haulin' here (although I was not necessarily) Sweet finish stretch Clock shot I then got to see two amazing ladies I train with come in 2nd and 3rd overall females! I was so proud of them and that our group dominated this one. I will also add that I know they are both in 1:25-1:26 shape and that this race did not show anyone's true fitness level (the overall male has run 1:12 recently). Official results can be found here, and a news article about the race here. After the race (and an I'm-dehydrated-and-starving cool down to make it an 18 mile day), I enjoyed socializing with our amazing running community. Albani and I also volunteered at the expo the day before the race and enjoyed plenty of that there too. Runners really are the best people! Future marathon pacer Missy's daughter Emma ran a 5K PR with Danielle's help! Awards Results Splits that reflect the headwind/tailwind miles well (7-10 headwind) Although it would have been nice to have a confidence-boosting speedy half going into CIM, maybe I got more benefits from skipping tapering for this race and the heat training adaptations that I hope occurred from it (in a timely coincidence, I read this blog post regarding the benefits of heat training the day before the race). On one hand, I think if I want to run a marathon at 6:17 pace, I ought to be able to hit a half at that pace under any circumstances, but on the other hand I averaged 6:10 pace for a 10K on Labor Day in similar weather, and then managed 6:07 pace for half a few weeks later with decent weather, so I haven't lost faith. And, I ran far better at Bass Pro than I did at Dam to Dam, so I guess I can call this my 70* dew point PR! Hopefully this also means that I'm due some really, really nice weather at CIM! I know that God will give me what I need, even if it isn't what I want, then too.
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