It’s been about a month since I ran the Prairie Dog Half Marathon in Arvada, CO and so it means I’m long overdue for a race recap! School and work have both been busy and blogging just hasn’t been the priority but I just turned in my last paper so it’s time to get to some fun writing (even though writing how to influence waste diversion in local governments is really interesting to me).
So earlier this year I decided one thing, I will not be running a marathon this year other than the January WDW Marathon (which of course is subject to change). With school, work, and a wedding I figured I had enough on my plate to not add the high volume of running that marathon training requires.
I also decided that I NEEDED to set a new half marathon PR this year. I had set a PR in every other distance in the past 5 years but my half marathon from 2014 was still standing. Over the last few years I hadn’t really focused on racing half marathons so the PR just kept standing. So this year I was going to run a couple half marathons and see what I could do about that!
The Prairie Dog Half Marathon is actually a part of a series of races put on by a local race group called 3W. You can run once a quarter and earn another prairie dog medal. I looked at the course, the date, the time, and past race results and decided this was the race for me. One of the factors that did weigh in was that if I could run the time I wanted I could place in the top 3 females based on past race results. Quite the incentive to get in gear!
Every race I set some goals and for this one, here’s how they laid out:
A: 1:35 - This would be a real stretch goal but not totally outside the realm of possibility
B: 1:38 - This is a push pace but doable
C: 1:40 - I would be thrilled to know 2 min off my previous PR
D: 1:42 - Just beat my previous PR
E: Finish - Get ‘er done and celebrate running!
So that’s what we’ve got. I got really nervous leading up to the race, the idea that I could actual place in a race also was something that made me uncomfortable but excited. It was a new feeling for me!
So the week before I ran easy and got myself mentally prepared to just enjoy the race! I was able to do bib pickup the morning of the race so I got to spend Saturday relaxing and getting myself prepped!
It was set to be chilly so I know some layers were going to be needed. I got there and the temps were on the edge of needing leggings but I”m glad I left them on since the clouds remained and there was a breeze.
I got there bright and early which gave me plenty of time to get my bib and get psyched for the race. I did some warm-ups and just tried to stay relaxed and excited. It was a low-key local race so there wasn’t a ton of fanfare at the start.
With a countdown we were off! There was a nice pack of women that I settled in with but after a few turns and some uphills where I got stuck behind some runners I knew that pacing off of them was going to drive me crazy. Was it too early to surge ahead? I went for it and put some distance between me and the 2nd and 3rd women and we all settled into our paces. Shaking them at the beginning made me nervous because I have NEVER led a race like this. It made me nervous but I also knew what I wanted to run and so I just kept to pace. If they caught me they caught me, I was here to run my race.
The first 5 miles were a gradual uphill until you got a mile loop around a lake. The plan was to keep paces comfortable until the lake loop and then lay down some speed. I was able to keep my pace under control as we wound along the multi-use path, we then climbed the hill to the lake, and then… mud. So much mud. What I was expecting to be my fastest mile turned into my slowest mile due to the inch of mud that affixed to the bottom of my shoes. Not cool.
After the loop we were back on the concrete multi-use path and after a short downhill, we started gradually climbing again until the turn around at mile 7.5. Once I turned around, I was flying. I felt so good and was able to determine that I had about a minute lead on the 2nd place female. Was I about to do this? Was I about to be the first place female?
I also knew that turning around meant I had a couple miles before meeting up with the 5k and 10k runners who were also running the same course but had started after the half marathoners. I just kept smiling as I continued back to the finish. I did finally meet up with the other racers which other than a kid I almost ran into when he darted across the path was actually fine. By the end I was over all the turns though. Miles closest to the start/finish definitely had the most curves which is not what you want when you are getting tired.
I ended up finishing with 10k runners who were running my pace so at the end I got a nice competitive kick from the woman who was running the 10k that I finished with! Look at us go!
I crossed as the 1st place female and demolished my half PR! I finished in 1:37:55 just under my B goal!
This was a solid run local race and while I feel like the course was a little short, I was thrilled to smash my half marathon PR on a less than perfect course. I’m really looking forward to running a more traditional road half marathon this summer to try to see how much more time I can take off of my half marathon time!
Overall, this was a fun local race. It didn’t have a lot of flash but the low-key nature helped me stay relaxed throughout the race and the fun prairie dog medal was great. I also LOVE a race that gives me a pint glass.
Such an angry prairie dog.
i got an extra pint glass for placing!
This was a solid race and a great test for me as I look to speed up a bit more this year. I’m definitely walking away feeling like I have more to give this distance this year and look forward to where the year takes me!