Tuesday, August 16, 2011

YukanRun Half Marathon Recap

This past Sunday, Emma and I ran the Cape Ann YukanRun Half Marathon (whoa that was a mouth full!), which was an inaugural race in the YukanRun running series, made up of 9 races building from a 1-mile race this past spring, all the way to a marathon coming up in the fall. Each race you get points, which are added up to a season-ending score, the more races you compete in in the series. It encourages newer runners to continue to grow, while adding a competitive edge for experienced runners, on their accomplishments and fitness goals, and is pretty motivational.

The Pros:

  • Small field of runners: 237 finished the race - we weren't stepping over (or being stepped on by) a bunch of stampeding runners at the start, and were able to find our pacing in the first mile
  • Great Weather: the forecast was for rain, rain, rain, but there were only a few drizzles throughout, an overcast sky kept the heat of the sun away and the temps were around 73 and very light breeze, can't beat that for an August race!
  • Great Volunteers working the event: everyone helping out were patient, upbeat and helpful
  • The scenery wasn't too bad either: some winding woodsy roads opened up to gorgeous beach and ocean views, even with the overcast, it was very picturesque!
  • Mile markers were clear and the route was clearly marked: I never felt like I was going the wrong way or lost
  • The water stations were well placed: They had water every two miles, and starting with mile 6, they had water AND gatorade at each water station
  • Post-race nutrition was decent: Plenty of Vita Coco, Gatorade, Water, popsicles, bananas and granola bars to re-fuel with
The Cons:
  • Amenities were lacking: the race registration and post-events all happened at the local high school, but the high school bathrooms were locked up and they only have 3 or 4 porta potties for 237 runners (let alone spectators and volutneers) I almost missed the start because I was in a bathroom line 25 minutes long.  I missed my warm up and just barely tied my shoes before the starting gun
  • Nutrition on course: All half marathons I have done so far have had at least one water station with nutrition around halfway through the course (bananas or GU), but there was just water and gatorade - I had shot bloks with me, so it was a non-issue for me, but there were a lot of newer runners in this race that were probably not prepared for that.
I went into this race with a goal pace of 8:30s, thinking about the race as just one portion of my long run for the weekend. As opposed to religiously looking at my watch for pace, I decided it would be more beneficial to run on PRE (perceived rate of exertion). I started out with a comfortable pace, around 9 minute miles, or just under, for the first two miles, and as I got into my groove, I started logging 8 minute miles for the next 3 or 4 miles, still a comfortable pace; I could still talk, my breathing was not labored, and my legs felt strong and smooth.  

Between mile 6 and 7, we hit a turn around point and at this time, my pace took a dip to sub-8s.  I took some gatorade at the water station, and was pumped up by seeing the leaders of the race gracefully fly by.  I was moving at a noticeable faster pace, but still was not feeling labored to keep the pace up, so I continued on.  I had been a good 10 paces behind these two men, one in a white shirt and one in a red shirt, since about mile 4, and fell into their pace, keeping the 10 steps between us.  Around mile 8 I took two pieces of my Raspberry Clif Shot Blok and some water, and realized I was closing the gap with white and red shirt men, and re-assessed my PRE.  I still was breathing and moving smoothly, but the hills were feeling harder than the first time through (it was an out-and-back course), so I backed off slightly when to regulate my breathing.  

Around mile 9 1/2 I passed red shirt man, and caught up to white shirt man...he looked at me and just said "thank god the sun isn't out, or this could be unpleasant", I replied "I have been trying to catch you for the past 6 miles"...he laughed about that, and told me "That's hard to believe, you look like you are on cruise control" and I just laughed back with a "I do? I try to keep telling my mind that".  This little interaction which lasted for the next mile or so, went back and forth about what I am training for, what he has run and plans to run, and again re-assured me that I was maintaining an acceptable PRE to keep my long run going once we crossed the finish line.  I took another 2 shot blok pieces and some water and lost white shirt man around mile 10 1/2 just after the water station.  

This is also the point in the race I realized I was one of the leading women in the race, and I turned on my competitive mind.  This is also the point I broke away from my goal, of not racing...I finished really strong with a definite negative split, and at the last .2 stretch was neck & neck with another girl who looked to be my age...she looked at me and realized I was cruising past her and she turned on the jets...I told her out loud "Go For It" and I did something I have NEVER done at a finish stretch...I backed off and let her sprint ahead, instead of sprinting myself.  At first I wanted to kick myself for not pushing ahead of her at the last second, but then I smiled and said to myself, good for her and good for you - I had enough juice in the tank to turn around after the finish line (down a quick Vita Coco) and run backwards on the course to find Emma, run her into the finish, and go ahead alone to finish up my 18 mile long run goal.
Emma and I with our finishers' medals :) All smiles! Rocking the sweats and compression sleeves, it's hot, I know
There was so much excitement of the race, from running a race I really enjoyed and a course I actually took time to appreciate the beauty of, to placing 3rd in my age group (10th overall woman) without feeling the pressure of running a PR or crushing my competition...It was a really satisfying race, that just needed a few more porta potties to make it perfect :)  One more thing, as I mentioned in my weekly training recap, this race and subsequent long run, really boosted my confidence in running 26.2 miles and reaching my goals of not only finishing, but finishing under 4 hours in October.  I averaged a 7:51 pace for the half marathon, and an 8:31 pace for the last 5, and I wasn't totally drained - I felt like I could have kept going.  I even got back from my extra miles in time for the after-party, awards and raffle giveaways!
Accepting my framed certificate :) I have never placed in a race longer than a 5k!
Revisiting my goals for this race, I did not get the warm-up in (thank you porta pottie line), I did hydrate often and fueled efficiently, I finished my long run (+ some), I listened to my body the entire race, and I had a heck of a great time running out there without focusing on a PR...I enjoyed every bit of this race! I will definitely be looking into their upcoming YukanRun 25k and 20-miler for training runs prior to Newport.

Tell me somethinig motivational you experienced this past week/weekend!


  1. WAY TO GO! I'm in awe, you placed in the half then did the rest of your training miles? thanks for the inspiration!

  2. I seriously loved reading this recap. Sounds like you were just steady, consistent and strong for your entire run! AWESOME! I loved reading about PRE...I have never heard of that before and I hope to try and channel that on my next couple races. Congrats on a great weekend of running!

  3. Unreal! I love the "back and forth" banter with other racers... the last run I did I had a great chat with a girl afterwards about how we pushed each other to keep our speeds up (passing each other back and forth). There's nothing better than someone who is gracious enough to thank you afterwards! Congrats on a great race!!

  4. You did an amazing job, and handled the whole race so well--I'm so impressed that you carried on and made it your long run!


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