St. Louis RnR Half Recap - The Big Sub-2!

At 7 am on Sunday, October 27, the stars aligned. It was in the mid-30s at the start and I was thrilled about it because I prefer to run in colder weather. I'd had a breakout training week in terms of feeling good, not having calf pain, and killing my track workout. My mental game was the best it's ever been; I felt like it was my day to PR, if not to finally hit my sub-2 hour half goal. And it was.

Kevin and I stayed near the start line, so it was an easy 15 minute walk in the morning. We kept our sweatshirts as long as possible because it was cold, then finally gave them to gear check and headed to the corrals. I wore my heat sheet from the SF half until the start time which kept me much, much warmer. One thing I don't like about RnR races is how they draw out the start with so many corrals and time in between, but luckily I was in corral 4 and didn't have to wait more than a few minutes. As we started running, we had gorgeous views of the arch with the sunrise.

Jill and I by the arch. Not race day, but pretty none the less.

I went out around a 9:10 minute per mile pace to see how I felt. I've always had a fear of going for the PR or time goal and then just falling apart in the back half and not finishing at all. That's what always keeps me from letting go and pushing in races, but in the past few months I've gone for it in the 5K and 10K and knew it was time to really RACE the half. To see what I can do when I lay it all on the line. Between the cool weather and my good mental state, I finally felt ready. And no matter what, I knew I'd be glad I took the chance.

It didn't take me long to realize that I felt great and didn't need to back off at all. I crossed the 5K split at 27:48, definitely the fastest 5K I've ever run during a half. The 10K split came at 56:23, faster than my current 10K PR. My brain freaked out a little then, wondering how on earth that happened and how I could possibly keep doing it, but I stayed strong and pushed the bad thoughts out of the way. In Eugene this past April, my friend and Oiselle teammate Lauren told me that one day everything would just work and the sub-2 would come even when I didn't expect it; I kept repeating this to myself for the rest of the race anytime my brain told me to play it safer. A big thank you to Lauren for my mental boost and race day mantra!

Not sure where this was on the course, but I love the trees in the back.

From the 10K 'PR' on, I just felt really happy and excited. I didn't let my head tell me to slow down, I didn't feel stressed, and I had fun pushing myself. Somehow (weather?) this race didn't feel as tough as my last PR in SF even though I was running a faster pace. I was working hard but I could manage it and be happy doing it. I had a slight 'crap I slowed way down!' scare when my Garmin flipped over the mile going up a hill and showed me a slower pace, but that was easily remedied when we went down the other side.

My 10 mile split was 1:30:57, and around that time I really knew I could do it. All I had to do was hold pace, not even get faster, and I'd be in under 2 hours. Miles 10 to 13 are a total blur. I think I started celebrating in my head a little too early, although that probably helped me to keep pushing to the end. When we topped the last hill right around mile marker 13, the guy running to my right threw up on himself multiple times. I've seen people do that on the side of the road, but I can't say I've ever seen this scenario. Thank goodness I was a few feet away.

The rest of the finish chute being downhill and my friend, Jill, cheering on the side gave me a nice finish kick for a final time of 1:57: 50. Honestly, I'm still kind of shocked! Breaking the 2 hour barrier was one of my big goals for the year, not to mention something I've wanted to do for quite some time, and I'm thrilled.

Thumbs up to meeting a race goal!

Race details time. 

Expo. RnR tends to have big expos, and this one was as expected. There are many vendors and stores selling running gear, plus companies giving out free samples. This expo also had the 'Brooks Run Happy Island' area where you could do activities and win prizes. The highlight was riding the mechanical shoe. Yep, shoe.

I had to ride it on slow. I'm not that talented.

Also at the expo, I had the pleasure of meeting Oiselle teammate Farron. She was volunteering in a slow spot so we enjoyed chatting for a while. Farron came out in the cold to cheer around mile 4.5 and made a sign for us too. Thank you girl, that made me so happy!

Meeting Farron.

Swag. The shirts and medals are cute, and I specifically like the Cardinal detail on the medal. Shirts are women's or men's specific Brooks tech shirts with print on both the front and back. One thing that irritates me with RnR is that they don't do separate shirts for the full vs. half marathon. It seems like they should, especially for the cost of the race. I've done many smaller, cheaper races that make specific shirts for each race.



Course. I'm a big fan of this course. It's not flat, but it doesn't have any steep hills either. It has a few longer grades but I always felt rewarded with downhill after. I love races with variation, so I found this perfect. We ran through downtown St. Louis with views of the Arch and saw a few pretty neighborhoods along the way. 

Support. Aid stations were often and well-stocked with both water and Gatorade. The length of each aid station was awesome, making it easy to get water without it being as crowded if you went past the first people. They handed out Gu although I didn't take it, and I'm not sure what mile that was. I found there to be plenty of porta-potties at the start area right by the corrals and it looked like a lot on the course too. Gear check was organized and super easy; they had a big, fenced in area where volunteers lined up bags by first letter of the last name and then race number. 

Finish Line. They gave out the normal RnR food at the finish: fruit, Power Bars, Jamba Juice smoothies, chocolate milk, Gatorade, water, pretzels. I find it to be sufficient, but I also don't take a lot of it so I could be a bad person to ask. I'm never ready to eat solid food that soon. The smoothies on the other hand, yes please! We didn't stay for the concert and instead headed back to cheer with Jill until our friend Rob finished his race. After that, we celebrated Rob's first half marathon ever with, as Kev says, 'obligatory terrible but free beer.' Yay!

Rob, me, and Kev. Cheers!

So what's next? I'm running the half marathon events in Malibu and Berkeley for fun, but my real focus right now is California International Marathon on December 7. I'm feeling good about CIM after St. Louis!

And one last awesome photo just because - fountain dyed red for the World Series.

Comments

  1. Congrats again, Paulette! So glad you had that perfect day!

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  2. Congrats!! Sub-2 is my goal for my half in Dec. so hopefully the positive thoughts from your race will inspire me!!

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    1. Thank you - good luck with your goal too!

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  3. Congratulations on a sub-2 PR! That's an awesome barrier to break through; it'll set you up nicely for a great marathon in December!
    And wow- gorgeous photo by the arch!

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    1. Thanks Abby - I am obsessed with the arch now. :)

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  4. Oh that's so great! Congrats to you breaking 2:00!

    You know the more years you race, even with the same conditioning, the mental thing and the ephemeral stuff
    gets easier and easier.

    You will be even faster! I predict in you will be sub 1:50 in less than 5 years! 8)

    Cheers!
    paul

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    1. Thanks so much, I'm amazed at how great it felt. Here's hoping for that 1:50. :)

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  5. So so so excited for you! Awesome job.

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  6. Congrats!! So exciting to get your sub-2 goal!! I love when a race just goes super smoothly, and it all just clicks. Great work,

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    1. Thank you - still on a runner's high this week. :)

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  7. Fantastic! Great job on the PR! I had a half like this back in September: beat my 10K PR on both halves of the race and started pushing myself after 10 mi by celebrating it a little. I love races where the stars align and the run is perfect! I'm also running CIM again too! Hopefully it doesn't rain on us like last year!

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    1. Thanks - and that's awesome about your race! It felt so amazing. Fingers crossed for good CIM weather...

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  8. Congrats on breaking 2 hours! Looks like it was a great and gorgeous race!! Best of luck with the rest of your marathon training!

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    1. Thanks Tess - I really loved the course and the fall colors. :)

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  9. Congrats and awesome job! I'm so jealous of your race pic! I never look that good or happy!

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    1. Haha, there were plenty of terrible ones where that came from. :) Thanks!

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  10. I'm so happy for you, Paulette :) I can't imagine how amazing that race felt. Way to go!!

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    1. Thank you! It was really cool, still excited. :)

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  11. CONGRATS Paulette!! What an accomplishment!

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  12. Congrats on your big sub-2! I am so happy for you!

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  13. Yay!!! This was fun to read, and you definitely deserved that PR. You didn't just break 2 hours -- you blasted that goal out of the ballpark! I think this was key: "And no matter what, I knew I'd be glad I took the chance." Now you're not left thinking, "What if," because instead you went for it. Here's to more chance-taking!

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    1. Thank you! Yes, I need to learn to take more chances! Such a difference, and a way better mental state too. :)

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  14. You didn't just get your sub 2, you crushed it! AWesome!!

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  15. Congrats on your PR! Sounds like you ran a great race. Lol on the mechanical shoe!

    And I think I predicted that Ohio State would go undefeated when the year started, and I still stand by that lol. Though bummer if Alabama, Oregon and/or Florida State keep winning, you likely can't play for the national title. Though you might end up playing my team (Stanford) in Rose Bowl - that would be fun! Side note, I've been watching some Ohio State band videos online, your band is out of control - the best band I've ever seen. The video game and Michael Jackson one's were amazing.

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    1. Thanks! I would LOVE it if we went to the Rose Bowl, I'd try to go for sure! I haven't been to a bowl game in ages. And yes the band is doing amazing things, we weren't quite so famous when I was in band. :)

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  16. Congratulations! That was so fun to read. I'm always delighted for runners when they meet their big goals :) I'm also working on a sub-2 half (in hot HOT HOT tropical weather, unfortunately)... next weekend.

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    1. Ooooo good luck! Hope the weather isn't as hot as expected. :) Thanks for the comment!

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  17. Congrats! Oh, man - those days when things "just align" are freakin' amazing, aren't they? Even after 15 years as a runner, it's amazing to me how some days I can toe the line and every mile is a struggle, while some days...I fly. Glad you got to fly!! Ride the high (and confidence) straight your final weeks of marathon prep!!!

    PS Double congrats on not only the PR, but being gutsy enough to GO for it - way to face your fears!!! [And trust me, once you have a "fall apart" race, you'll realize that it isn't fun, but you still live. :)]

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  18. Congrats!! Sounds like a *perfect* race all around - great job!

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  19. So happy for you, it's such a great moment when you first go sub-two :)

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  20. Congrats on the huge PR and the sub 2! Truly does sound like the stars aligned and everything fell into place. :) All smiles throughout. Awesome! You are totally going to rock CIM!!

    Sub 2:10 is a 1/2 goal now. slowly but surely I will chip away at the time and eventually get to that sub 2.

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  21. Congrats!! It's so awesome when things fall into place on race day - way to make yourself go for it!

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  22. Well done! You didn't just go Sub-2, you went sub 1:58! Bad Ass!

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