{race report} Dallas Half Marathon

I signed up for this race back in July. At that point, December was so far away that I wasn’t concerned about running 13.1 miles at all. But then we hit the 30 day mark and I was pretty freaked out. The most I had run at that point was about 1 hour or 5-6 miles. No where near 13.1. 

But alas, the day quickly approached and I had no choice but to be ready. I laid out all the necessary ingredients for the race including compression sleeves, arm warmers, sneakers and gels (chocolate and strawberry banana). I ate a balance dinner of grilled chicken, salty rice and a little broccoli. I set my alarm for 5am and prayed that I’d cross the finish line in one piece. 

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After a fitful night of sleep (probably due to Saturday afternoon’s 3 hours nap), I woke up at 5:15am full of adrenalin. I munched on a bagel with cream cheese and a cup of coffee. I made up a water bottle with grape Nuun and filled my SPIbelt with my gels.

Getting to the race in the morning was less stressful than I anticipated. With 25,000 runners and even more spectators trying to get within a mile of downtown Dallas, I had prepared for the worst. Another couple met us at the apartment and C drove us down to the race. He dropped us off, gave me a good luck kiss, and headed off to park. 

Jessie, Brian and I headed into the Convention Center to drop off a bag at the bag check and use the “non-porta potty” restrooms. The energy was infections and I somehow wasn’t worried at all.

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At around 7:20am we made our way over to the start line which was about a 7 minute walk from the Convention Center. The majority of the racers were already lined up in their corrals so Jessie and I had to fight our way into a good spot in Corral C. Shout out to sweet Jessie for starting back in C with me and calming my nerves!

At about 7:50, I took a gel and our corral started to creep toward the start line. It’s really an amazing scene. All these runners in every shape and size making their way toward the confetti filled start line as the MC hyped up the crowd and the music blared.

Then, all of a sudden, we were running. Well, more like jogging. But that was it. It was happening. I was going to run 13.1 miles. 

Per my coaches instructions, the first 10 min was an easy warm up. I just tried to focus on not tripping over everyone else’s feet and trying to navigate the crowd without running too many extra zig-zagging miles. 

From there on out, the plan was supposed to be run 1 mile, walk 45 sec. Originally, I admit, I thought that was a silly plan. I figured if I just ran slow and steady, I wouldn’t need to walk. False. 

Miles 1-4 were fun. There were SO many people around and there was a lot to look at. Jessie was running with me the whole time (even though she’s much faster than me) so it was great to have a buddy while I got my legs under me. 

Mile 1 – 11:41
Mile 2 – 11.:31
Mile 3 – 11:04
Mile 4 – 10:51

After these four miles, I realized I was having a really tough time keeping my heart rate down. Training pace for me is 155-175 but my heart rate was already at 178 (race pace = 175-185) and staying there. Even for my walk breaks, it just wasn’t coming down at all. I was a little worried about this because I knew I would have a hard time sustaining race pace for 13.1 miles. I was still hoping it was just adrenaline. I took a gel at mile 4 as well (originally supposed to take a gel every 30 minutes).

Mile 5 & 6 still felt really good. I saw C and my coach at Mile 6 and gave them a big smile. I was feeling strong despite my high heart rate. 

Mile 5 – 11:40
Mile 6 – 12:07

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Jessie pulled ahead after Mile 6 so it was just up to me to get myself through the next 7 miles. Mile 7 was downhill a lot and I took another gel just before the next water station. At Mile 8 we ran through part of Highland Park and I saw some more familiar cheering faces which was a nice boost. I was actually pretty surprised how good I felt at mile 8. My heart rate was still through the roof but when I looked at my watch as I passed the mile 8 marker, I was excited. I thought there was still a chance I’d make my sub 2:30 goal if I kept feeling good and could kick the last few miles.

Mile 7 – 11:05
Mile 8 – 12:33 << I thought I was doing better than this at Mile 8…

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Things took a turn for the worse at Mile 9. I was kind of ready to see the finish line at that point. (Good news, I think I’ll like doing a 15K…) I felt like the time between Mile 9 and 10 was an eternity. I probably should have taken another gel at Mile 10 but I didn’t think I could get it down. My legs were so tight and my knees were starting to ache. I was also starting to realize how hot it was. I thought Mile 11 was never going to come.

Mile 9 – 11:01
Mile 10 – 11:49
Mile 11 – 10:55 << Somehow, even though I felt awful, I ran one of my fastest splits. I think this was a big downhill…

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Then surprise, at Mile 12, you get to run out and back. So you think you’re so close to the end and then you realize you’re just running away from the finish line and will soon have to loop back. That was cruel. Just cruel. I think they also forgot to put water stations towards the end of the race. At least that’s just my opinion, maybe I just really needed more water at this point.

Mile 12 – 12:05
Mile 13 – 13:14

FINALLY I could see the finish line. It took everything I had just to keep putting one foot in front of the other and get myself to cross the finish line as quickly as I could. It actually felt worse to be walking at this point. I was SO ready to be done. 

As I got close to the finish, I spotted C and my coach. With a pained look and a pouty bottom lip, I gave them a thumbs down as I realized I would be 9 minutes off my goal (2:39 finish). But hey, at least I ran 13.1 miles and got a PR! 

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So much pain…also, why are my hands doing that….?

All in all, it was too hot, my HR was too high, I probably need more fuel and more water. But I freaking ran 13.1 miles! So I’m pumped. I actually already signed up for another half in March! I need a new PR!!
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