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At the Races

Philadelphia Half Marathon, November 17, 2013–Paige Sato

Philadelphia Half Marathon, November 17

After my first half (Jan, 2012), I knew I could do better than my 2:22 finish time. But immediately after that, I’ve been battling wonky hamstrings, a yucky piriformis and two stress fractures. Frustrating to say the least, because each time I toed up to the starting line over the past 20 months, I haven’t been at my best and the races were both a physical and mental struggle.

This time was different. Something happened this summer and magically one morning my hammies and butt didn’t hurt. Really. It was that sudden. And it happened just in time to train for Philly.

I’ve been working with a coach, and our goal was to first rebuild my fitness level (which we started pre-miracle healing), then to add some speedwork to the mix. I need to be held accountable, or else I’d never see a track workout or hill repeats, and knowing that someone was checking up on my workouts made it that much easier for me to get out the door at o’dark thirty every morning.

Heading into Philly, I was feeling better than I’d ever felt before. And I was excited for my race. My coach and I agreed on a fairly aggressive goal: 2:05. My B goal was 2:10. My C goal was to not beat myself up if I didn’t reach either my A or B goal. For some perspective, my PR was 2:16 and at my last half in the summer I ran a horribly hot and humid 2:34.

Despite warnings about security and needing to get to the race start by 5am, everything at Philly went smoothly. I was in the purple corral (predicted 2:10 finish time), and crossed the starting line about 21 minutes after the elites.

The weather was perfect, the crowds slightly smaller than I expected, but route was really enjoyable. I love running through cities! At mile 3 I saw my husband and youngest daughter in front of our hotel. Around mile 5, I was completely surprised to see the mile marker. And at mile 7, I was thinking the experience was going by too quickly.

But then came that hill at mile 10. Funny how that really didn’t go by so quickly. To hit my 2:05 goal, I needed to be at 1:36:30 at mile 10. I was at 1:36:40. I was wicked pleased.

The next three miles were tough though. I needed to run my last 5k at a 9:10 pace, but what should have been a rewarding downhill was really jammed packed and tight. And, unbelievably at mile 12, I had a bout of nausea and I actually had to stop for about half a minute. Frustrating. Even with all that, I crossed the finish line sprinting (for me).

Time: 2:09:09.
Distance ran: 13:36 miles. (I guess I did some bobbing and weaving.)
Lessons learned: take more water (i think i was slightly dehydrated and thus the nausea). no more weaving.
General thoughts: CAN. NOT. WAIT. for the Shamrock next March. Sub 2:00–I’m gunning for you!

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