Sunday, November 6, 2011

Huntsville Half Marathon Goal Setting

The Huntsville Half Marathon is this Saturday, November 12, 2011.  I did a little digging back to see some of my old half marathons, just to get feel for how I think I can do.  I haven't done many of them!

Here are the ones I found:

2000: Rocket City Half Marathon* Huntsville, AL November 4, 2000-- 1:42:56 1st in AG
My first half ever, and probably my longest run ever at the time.  Entered on a whim!  I could not even find my old bib for this one.  It was before I started saving them.  I found a set of race results I had printed off of the computer.  Besides Joe Francica (1st OA), I didn't even recognize any of the top men's names.

*The Rocket City Half Marathon is now the Huntsville Half; it just changed its name in 2004.

2001: Freeze Your Half Off Half Marathon Auburn, AL February 10, 2001-- 1:37:59  4th in AG 
Graduate student at Auburn this year.  I was surprised to see this below my results: Candace Chambers 1:38:19.  Those of you local runners may know this girl.  Her last name is now Jacobs.  Candace wins almost every local race these days.  She's come a long way since 2001 (assuming this is the same girl?)!

2002: Can't find any results

2003: Rocket City Half Marathon November 8, 2003-- 1:35:50 2nd in AG, 6th OAF 

2004: Huntsville Half Marathon November 13, 2004-- 1:34:51 (PR) 1st in AG 4th OAF (results from Athlinks)

I have not run a half marathon road race since 2004.  In 2005, I was pregnant.  Then in 2006, I had a four month old and did not run it. 

I do have a really fun/crazy memory from the Huntsville Half Marathon in 2007, though.  I remember dropping Rick off so that he could run the half and then heading to the Aldridge Creek Greenway to run my own half marathon (on the section not on the course).  We had a sixteen month old and a two month old at the time.  We decided that Rick was definitely in better form to race than I was, but I was training for Mountain Mist and needed a long run that day.  So I pushed the kids in the double stroller for my own half marathon.  Then I nursed my daughter in the car and headed back to pick up Rick from the race. 

When I bring up these stories (also like this one), it is not to make anyone feel sorry for me or to make people impressed by what I did.  It is just to show that if you really want something, you will make it happen.  You won't let obstacles stop you.  I hope it can inspire you to try something you never thought you could do.  I am constantly getting inspiration by those around me  (Today I got reinspired by Ben Davis in the video found here.  Thanks, Runner's World!). 

In 2008 and 2009, I did not run it (I can't remember why, but having kids will do that to you!  I do remember volunteering as a course sentry one of those years).  In 2010, we were running the Marshall Marathon on that weekend.

All of this to say that I haven't run many half marathons for one reason or another.  I've run twenty-three marathons but only four half marathons.  I guess I would say that I prefer the marathon over the half, and my focus has been on training for and racing those events instead.  I've definitely had to become more selective about the races I do over the last five years.  The half marathons have kind of fallen by the wayside.  This year, though, Rick and I have a sitter for the kids, and we're both ready to compete! 

Setting My Goal For the Half Marathon

Looking back, my current PR is a 1:34:51.  Here's why I think I can beat that on Saturday:  My half split in Chicago was a 1:34:10!  But we all know that a half spilt does not count as a half marathon, so I will have to perform at my best on Saturday if I want to PR. 

While I was aiming for a 7:26 pace in the marathon, I will aim for around a 7:00 pace in the half.  Pace calculators like this one can help you figure out your overall time for a pace.  The 7:00 pace per mile is a 1:31:46.  The McMillan pace calculator puts my predicted half time at a 1:32:43 (7:05 pace) based on my most recent marathon time.  I would be happy with that time also; the goal is simply a new PR.

The biggest obstacle for me to achieve this will be the lack of speed work since the marathon.  I like to give myself sufficient recovery from marathons (I have tried shortcuts here in the past with awful results!).  I have taken my full 26 days of recovery (one day per mile raced).  I haven't pushed, except for two 5K races, since the marathon.  This can either mean that I'm fresh with a good base of training or that I'm out of shape from not doing speed work in a month.  No runs at a 7:00 pace can also hurt me as I try to find that pace during the half marathon.  It should feel slower than my 5K pace (by 30 seconds a mile) but faster than my marathon pace (by 30 seconds a mile).  This sounds nice and easy to me (but, of course, I am sitting at my computer and not attempting to run it!).

Most of my running group will also be at the half marathon on Saturday, some running their first half ever.  To all of the runners, I wish you luck and a great race!


  1. Well, you know I'm leaning toward the side of fresh and ready to race. I don't think you've lost all the work you did for the marathon, but you have recovered. And those 2 5k's count!!! I think you will do great out there and I will look forward to cheering for you when we see each other coming and going on the greenway. I always love that part!

  2. Obviously it was "fresh and ready to race"...GREAT JOB!!! You are unbelievably inspiring-always!!