This year’s Boston Run to Remember half marathon was not a race I will soon forget.
The day started out like a normal race morning—early as hell. My 4:45am wake-up gave me barely enough time to get ready and make coffee and breakfast to go. I picked up Steph at 5:30am and we made our way to the seaport. Of course, I got lost trying to figure out the maze of road closures. Note to future runners: if you’re driving, give yourself ample time to find parking. We headed down to the race start right around 6:00am, which gave us an hour to stretch out, warmup, and hit the bathroom before the 7am start.
Going into this race, I had a plan to try and maintain an 8:30 min/mile pace. I knew I could probably hold that as long as nothing crazy happened. But when I saw how big the crowd was (there were 11,000 runners) I got a little nervous. The Run to Remember also has a 5 miler option (read my 5-miler race recap from a couple years ago) and both races start at the same time. But the energy at the start got me really excited to race again.
Before I knew it, the gun went off and we started running. My fears about being slowed down with the crowds came true, but it really only lasted a mile. Soon I started running my goal pace and quickly found myself running faster than goal pace. I kept trying to tell myself to slow down and conserve my energy, but the pace felt really comfortable and so I decided to try to stick with something in between an 8:00 and 8:30 min/mile.
- Mile 1: 8:40
- Mile 2: 7:55
- Mile 3: 8:09
Soon, I started getting into a groove. I felt really good! My leg turnover felt really comfortable and easy and my breathing started to really settle. I felt like I could maintain this pace for a while, so I decided to stay with 8:15 min/mile as much as I could for the next few miles. It was tough though. Once we got to mile 4 and 5 we were in the direct sunlight on Memorial Drive and it was getting hot. I skipped the first water station, but after mile 2, I hit every water station just to try and stay hydrated.
- Mile 4: 8:15
- Mile 5: 8:11
- Mile 6: 8:05
- Mile 7: 8:08
Around mile 7, things started getting a little harder. I had to stop at the water station because I could not handle eating a gu and holding a cup of water at the same time. I decided to stop for 10 seconds to finish my gu and drink all the water in the cup. I did not want to spill all the water all over me when I really needed it to go down with the gu. Also, lemon lime gu flavor on a hot day, not good. Then about a minute after I started going again, I had to pull up and stop because my shoe was untied. Getting the momentum to get back into the groove was hard at this point. The sun was also starting to get to me. I also lost my rabbit. Up until this point, I had been running near this older gentleman in a red t-shirt. He was holding a pretty steady pace and I thought, “As long as I keep up with red-shirt, I’m good.” So when I lost sight of him after having to stop twice, I got a little discouraged. I made it my mission to catch up to red-shirt. I could see him far in the distance on the straight aways, so I knew he wasn’t too far off. I also got a big boost from Steph around mile 6. The turn around was up ahead and I saw her pass on my left. I knew she was gunning for a sub-1:45 and looked really strong, so I knew she was on pace for it. Then I figured with the turn-around up ahead, that we were maybe 5 minutes apart. I was doing better pacing-wise than I thought! That gave me a big boost.
- Mile 8: 8:17
- Mile 9: 8:07
- Mile 10: 7:56
Mile 8-9.5 was all in the sun. At this point, I was getting pretty tired. I kept telling myself that I can do anything for 3 miles. The time was not now to quit. The views were also pretty spectacular of the city. I kept trying to focus on the people around me and the view to distract me. Around mile 9.5, I saw Bernie at the Mass Ave. turn off of the Mass Ave. Bridge and that gave me a huge boost of confidence. I called him after I saw him because we barely missed each other and I told him I was on pace to break 1:50. He asked if I had anything left, and I said yes. Then he said, “Push it!” And that I did.
- Mile 11: 7:51
- Mile 12: 8:04
- Mile 13: 7:33
- Mile .1: 6:50
When I realized that I could break my goal (mid-racing math is hard!) I decided to just book it. I had some left in the tank and wanted to just leave it all out there. I knew that if I didn’t push in the final miles and didn’t break 1:50, I would have kicked myself. At this point, there were a lot of twists and turns downtown. I kept trying to dodge potholes and wind tunnels to keep the momentum going. But soon, I could hear the crowd by the finish line and booked it for the last mile. Then I saw the clock…
I went sub-1:50!
My official time was 1:46:28. That’s a 10-minute PR. I honestly thought the 2 pit-stops were longer than they actually were. A couple minutes after finishing, everything started hurting and cramping. My left hip definitely did not feel great the next day, but I did it! Steph even PR’ed! 1:42 for her!
When I think about 1:46, I’m still shocked. I ran my first half marathon in 2:12 three years ago. I can’t believe that I’ve cut almost 30 minutes off of that time. But I think a lot of factors have led to this big PR:
How I cut my half PR by 10 minutes
- More years running=more experience. I knew nothing about racing three years ago. I was just running these races to finish! Now, I run them to race. I know more about pacing, about fueling, and about preparation than I ever did 3 years ago.
- I’m training smarter. I’ve incorporated prescriptive workouts: tempo runs, speed intervals, hill intervals, strength training, and yoga. They all have a purpose and supplement the easy runs and long distance runs that I always did. I’m a stronger runner now because of all of this and stronger=faster.
- I am finally breaking out of my comfort zone. For so long, I ran races at the same pace because it was comfortable. I knew I could finish a half marathon at 9:30 min/mile pace or 9:00 min/mile pace without getting too winded or pushing myself too much. But that doesn’t yield PR’s. If I wanted to PR, I had to push myself. I honestly think that’s why I had such a big PR in terms of minutes shaved off my time. I pushed myself to the limit to see what I could do. Honestly, I think I could have pushed myself even more and maybe broke 1:45. But I will happily take 1:46 any day.
The next thing on my mind: the marathon. Now that I know what I can do in a half, I know I can knock my full marathon time down a few pegs as well. Sure, it’s not a 100% 1-1 ratio from the half to the full, but I know that it gives me an idea of what worked and what didn’t in terms of training to get me here. I really think I could hit 4 hours or even break it in my next full if I train smarter. I’m completely pumped to see what happens.
Overall, I loved Boston Run to Remember. There were water/Gatorade stops at almost every mile (new this year), a gu station, lots of crowd support, and facilities. It was also a very organized race. Stephanie picked up my bib for me the day before without issue and said she got in and out really quickly. I was never confused about where to go or what to do. The course also offers a pretty spectacular view of Boston, so I highly recommend it for those in town for Memorial Day weekend looking for a race to kick off the weekend. I plan on coming back next spring!