Sunday: easy 20-minute recovery run
Monday: 30 minutes on the elliptical
Tuesday & Wednesday: nuthin’
Thursday: 45 minute easy run
Leading up to the Helvetia Half, I was pretty excited. I felt good about my last long run before the race, and I tapered smartly (wasn’t hard to do — I kind of love rest days). I ate well (polenta & shrimp at Screen Door, for the happy tummy win) and got plenty of sleep.
The only thing that gave me pause was the truly craptastic weather we had the day before. Gray skies, moonsoon-y downpours and lots of wind.
Maybe Portland got the angst out of its system, because we woke on Saturday to blue skies and 62° temps. Hell yeah. My spirits were high.
In hindsight, I totally over-dressed. I got warm right away, tied my top layer around my waist and wished I could lose the running tights.
Miles 1-3: I intended to go out slow. I wanted those first three miles to function as a warmup, to feel easy and fun. I imagined I’d run them at a 9:00-9:15 pace, but kept looking at my Garmin and seeing 8:20-8:30, so then I’d pull my pace back. I’m glad I did because it definitely conserved energy, but now I wonder if I should have just let my legs do the deciding. This part of the course was flat and easy, meandering past open, grassy fields.
- mile 1: 8:40
- mile 2: 8:37
- mile 3: 8:38
Miles 4-6: Heading into the fourth mile, I wanted to pick up the pace and catch the 8:30 pacer. (She had a yellow balloon tied to her tank top so she was easy to spot.) I wouldn’t catch her in this stretch, as I soon realized this was the hilliest part of the course. Luckily, the hills were rolling and let up with moments of downhill and flats in between. I saw my friend, Andrew, right before heading into the biggest hills (spectating on the sidelines with a cowbell and signs!) — it was a huge morale boost. The hill in the 5th mile did worry me a bit, as I saw a 10:40 on my watch. (Note to self: Do more hill training.) I wondered if it’d throw off the rest of the race.
- mile 4: 8:32
- mile 5: 9:18
- mile 6: 8:21
Miles 7-9: I ate a gel around mile six, and I felt a surge of energy in the seventh mile. I was actually really surprised at how good I was feeling. I wasn’t breathing very hard; my legs felt nice and springy. From here to the finish, I stopped looking at my Garmin and just let my legs take me. In this stretch particularly, I focused on passing people. There were a few people who just weren’t having it, and we alternately passed each other back and forth for a few miles. It was fun to feel my competitive streak in the middle of the race, and it made these miles go by pretty quickly. The course’s last hill was somewhere in the seventh mile, I believe, and it was pretty much flat from there to the finish.
- mile 7: 8:19
- mile 8: 8:13
- mile 9: 8:01
Miles 10-13.1: I saw Andrew and another friend, Jenny, around mile 10. I knew they’d be there, and it was another huge boost. It signaled I was on the homestretch. I started picking up the pace (though, if you look at the numbers, my pace didn’t change all that much until the last mile, so I know my legs were getting fatigued at this point). The course turned right onto a gravel path in mile eleven. I ate a second gel while I rode out the gravel. It’s not the easiest surface to run on near the end of the race, but not terrible either. I finally passed the 8:30 pacer during this leg of the race, and just kept telling myself that I wanted to finish strong. When I headed into the Hillsboro Stadium, I was giddy. I knew I’d beat my goal time (under 2 hours) and I was ready to stop running. :)
- mile 10: 8:14
- mile 11: 8:18
- mile 12: 8:08
- mile 13: 7:51
- mile .1: 6:46 pace (that’s nearly a sprint for me!)
Official time: 1:50:26, Garmin pace: 8:22 (since I ran 13.2 miles with taking long corners, I think), official pace: 8:25
The verdict? The race was well-organized, not too big (just 2,500 participants) and the course was really nice. Not a super fast or flat course, but not as hilly as folks make it sound. Oh, and, having spectators rocks. I’m pretty sure I need Andrew and Jenny and Dillon to come to every running event I do from now on. Not too much to ask, right guys?
If you’re wondering if you should do the Helvetia Half next year, DO IT. And tell me other half marathons I should sign up for this year. I’ve caught the 13.1 bug.