Friday, March 27, 2015

Syracuse Half Marathon 2015

After Lake Effect, coach and made Syracuse half a 'maybe' on the calendar. Mainly because of the mental state LE put me into- and because 'Cuse was 4 weeks out from Boston. We decided after Johnny's that I would actually run Cuse but that I still had the ability to pull the plug on it at any time (i.e. if it was a blizzard race morning like last year). So I was going into the race weekend pretty relaxed because it wasn't certain I'd be racing, therefore it wasn't a goal race. The goals for this race were less about time and more about running controlled, confident and keeping my head on straight.

After watching weather reports, I knew that morning could be tough and didn't want to drive so I booked a cheap motel for the night before. This allowed me to go out to Syracuse Saturday, have a beer and some food with Heather and then relax. I think I watched Hulu on my laptop in bed all night, crazy Saturday party girl I know.

I woke up before my alarm Sunday morning, which isn't unusual for race day- but it wasn't my mind or body, it was the sound of snow plows. Looked out the window to see...
No, not crazy amount of snow. But still not what you wanna see on race morning!
I got ready as if I was going to run, and decided I would make the call when I actually got there. It was only a 10 minute drive, but traffic was really bad once I got into downtown so I parked in some random apartment building lot and hoped I'd remember where I was. I had time to run to the Oncenter, pickup my bib and then bag check. I sent a last message to coach "cold and snowy, will be slow" so he wouldn't worry if he saw slow splits on tracking. The fact that they do bag check is huge, especially on a cold day.

As I was running around warming up, I realized the roads weren't THAT bad. The RD had posted on Facebook that they actually took the time to hand salt the course over night. I have to praise them for this, last year the course was a MESS and this new RD made sure that wasn't going to happen if he could help it. I did some strides, and decided I was going to run even if it was a little slower. Luckily Heather found me before the start, her photo proof that I was incredibly at ease going into this race. We chatted and talked about our plans to go to Empire Brewing Company after (one of my favorites), and she told me to run the race for the beer. Good friend I tell ya.
"Do it for the beer!"
Start Conditions: 15 degrees, 15-20mph winds

Traffic was so bad they delayed the start 15 minutes, but eventually we were able to get going. I settled into a pace and didn't look at my watch a ton, just plugged along. The longest hill of the course comes early, I just tucked in and focused on powering up without killing myself. I pictured myself running up one of the Newton hills, and then realized this was a GREAT chance to work on stuff for Boston. I pretty much forgot I was in a different race. I tackled the uphills, relaxed and focused on form on the downhills. I enjoyed not being a slave to my watch and really just wanted to take the course bit by bit. I forgot how many little rollers are mixed in, and how many turns there were- but it gave me good opportunity to focus on small chunks instead of being concerned about my overall time.
No, the elevation isn't crazy but there really are no flat parts. Constant up and down- Great Boston Training!

I don't remember a ton about the middle miles, I do remember swearing a bit about the nasty headwind from 5-7ish. I decided I would pick up pace more once I got to the 15k, I remembered looking at the map before the start and thought that the steep downhill was mile 9....not 8. So, I saw the downhill and tackled it and was like "Weeeeeeeeeeeee" and then realized that I was pushing a mile early. Well fuck. It didn't make a difference really but was just one of those forehead slapping moments. I'm 27 and apparently suck at reading a map, I'll blame it on a frozen brain.
I'm not sure what this face is.
Anyways, after that downhill I was near a very tall lean man in shorts and a singlet. In my head I named him thin man. Thin man and I were step for step for a while, which was amusing because his legs came up to about my shoulders. I could tell he was struggling with his breathing, I encouraged him a few times as best I could. When we were coming down a little hill and passing the Irish bar Kitty Hoynes (fantastic aid station/cheer section), thin man ruined our unofficial race friendship by cutting me off. He was fading and getting a little loopy and nearly plowed me over stepping in front of me. Luckily I backed off and then darted around him(never to see him again), which triggered lots of "You go girl" from the crowd. Tall Thin man-0, Short Laura-1.

After that it was 'okay I wanna be done', I looked at my watch for the first time in a while and knew that I could squeak in under 90 if I picked it up a bit. Well, okay then! {The whole time I was running I assumed I was more on 1:32-3 pace but again I wasn't paying attention to my Garmin} I knew it wouldn't be a PR but I was really happy to know that even though I wasn't giving 100% I could still break the 90 minute barrier that for years seemed so impossible to me.

As I approached the finish line I could hear Heather cheering, the word "growler" stuck out loud and clear and I ran faster. My name is Laura, and I run for beer (specifically EBC "Local Grind").

Overall really happy with this race, no it wasn't a PR{actually it at the very least IS a course PR by a few minutes} but it was a great training day. I ran at a comfortable pace without killing myself, focused on form with the rolling hills- and I finished with my head on straight. I'm in the peak part of training, the part where I am feeling beat up but still able to knock out some solid races and workouts. Things like that make me uber happy. When I got to my phone, coaches message to me was awesome- because we were 100% on the same page. Talking about not getting greedy during this race because Boston is the goal. Talking about discipline and managing expectations while thinking about long term strategy and overall technique. So no, I didn't throw down a PR 4 weeks before Boston but I gained the confidence from this race as if I had.



  1. Congrats on a great race! Such a smart approach and sounds like you had fun doing it! Hope the post-race beer was just as wonderful as imagined. Great job, it will pay off loads in Boston :)

  2. So awesome! What a great tune-up race leading up to Boston!!! So excited for you :) And way to go by leaving Thin Man in the dust....

  3. If I would have tried to run this, I would have tripped or slipped a dozen times AT LEAST. Seriously, good job sucking it up and beating tall thin man hahah!

  4. Great job - always good when you end up running a better pace than what you are estimating by feel. Glad it was a good race for you!! Way to beat the thin man!!

  5. I am proud of you. The weather conditions were not great and you made the best of it. What scarf are you wearing? I cannot believe how easily it stays on your neck.

  6. You are exactly where you should be before Boston- how exciting!! I'm excited to see how it goes for you! This cycle was not as I planned and at this point my goals for Boston are out the window- I'm just going to have fun with it. But I'll be cheering for you as you fly by me!

  7. So exciting to see so many people get ready to race Boston!! Congrats on a great tune up race - you'll be ready to let it rip in a few weeks!!! :)

  8. Awesome run Laura! You are so strong and running this time without expectations and less than 100 percent effort is a hugely positive sign for Boston and beyond. Your running continues to inspire me! Good luck with the last few weeks of training before Boston. xo


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