Guys, this race was SO great. There were so many awesome things that happened within a 24-hour period, but by far the best one was getting a new PR! That’s right – this was my fastest half marathon to date.
This was my second time running the Hokie Half. It’s a really special race to me because it’s at my alma mater (well, at the research center) and it means I spend time with my college roomie, Sarah. Even though she lives about an hour away from the race, it’s worth getting up extra early in the morning to hang out with her and her husband.
My boyfriend and I packed up the dogs early Saturday morning to drive down to Sarah’s. It was Turbo’s first road trip, so I was a little concerned about how he would do; he ended up doing really well. We gave them two stretching / bathroom breaks on the way (one for lunch and one at packet pickup) and I think that helped them deal with being stuck in the car for 4.5 hours.
We got to Sarah’s in the afternoon and were able to successfully introduce all the dogs. Sarah has two dogs as well, Dexter and Ariel. Dexter and Turbo were basically instant pals and Toby loved Ariel, but she did not have the time of day for him. She’s a little shy, like Turbo.
I convinced my boyfriend to take anniversary pictures for Sarah and Jason while we were there so we spent time doing that, I got a one mile run in, and we went to dinner so I could carbo load. After a fun, but short visit, we were off really early Sunday morning to drive to Tech. By early I mean well before the sun was out. We parked close to the start, which is something I do enjoy about this race, and I had plenty of time to hit the bathroom. My boyfriend stayed with the dogs and I started the race at 7:01am. It was cool and foggy and pretty decent weather.
One thing I remembered about this race from two years ago was that it was hilly, that we ran by the mall, and that there were lots of miles run on a trail. I also had a faint recollection of walking a bit at the end (literally the last mile) because of all the hills. Well, my memory was correct about all of it! I kept it in the back of my mind to reserve a little bit of energy for all the hills that were sure to come.
I started the race strong with several miles under 10 minutes. My goal was to be under 2:20 so I knew I needed to stay close to 10 or 10:15 minute miles. Around mile 6, while on the shaded trail, I knew I was in PR range. I tried not to get too cocky since really anything can happen, so I focused on just enjoying the race. I had a good playlist (the same one I’ve listened to on multiple races) and the scenery was really gorgeous. Virginia Tech is nestled in country and farmland so as you can imagine, it is pretty neat running past a pasture of cows!
At mile 11 I knew I was going to get a PR. I also knew there might be another hill or two and I was right. For about .3 miles of mile 12, it was an uphill turning incline. It was really tough. I tried SO hard to push through and run up the whole thing but it was slow and my calves were burning. I gave myself permission to walk for the shortest of moments to refresh my energy a bit. After that I ran the rest of the way. After getting back to a place I recognized, there was one more uphill and then I saw mile 13 and my boys! It was so fun coming up that last hill to see my boyfriend, Toby, and Turbo waiting for me. And they recognized me – I saw it in how excited they got!
Luckily, it was a downhill finish and I ran my hardest knowing I was getting a PR and crossed the finish line with a huge smile on my face. I collected my finisher swag (HUGE medal, finisher tee shirt, and car magnet) and quickly found my boyfriend. After hugs from everyone, we packed up and started the trek home.
This was a wonderful race. There was nothing exceptional about it, but it felt great the whole time and I pushed myself just enough. I finished in 2:11:17 with a 10:01 mile pace! I am so happy and I will probably try to run this one again next year.