Spearmint’s USATF Half Marathon Championship Race Report

137136-034-003hAs most of you probably know, a bunch of us Salties headed to Columbus, Ohio for the Cap City Half Marathon, host of the US half marathon champs, but only one of us was there to race it!

This half was a key race for me, but it fell mid-segment so I went in with very little confidence that I would knock it out of the park. My legs felt really tired in all the workouts leading up to it and I was getting a ton of solid miles in every week, but I just didn’t feel sharp. The Wednesday before the race, my coach and I agreed on a race plan.

It was simple: make a bold and uncharacteristic move once in the first half of the race and again in the second half. I had nothing to lose so that seemed like a fun challenge! It was really refreshing to go into a race with zero pressure, unlike my last half in Jacksonville when I was going for the OTQ. In JAX my only goal was to hit a 1:15:00 or faster, so time was EVERYTHING and 100% of my focus was on hitting exact splits with no wiggle room for mistakes.

The day before the race I felt super relaxed and calm. With my roomie, Rachel Sorna, I did a seven mile pre-race run with strides and it was great to have someone to chat with during the run which was another difference between Columbus and Jax. I spent my Jax pre-race all alone, completely freaking out about whether or not my legs felt tired, if the tiny twinge in my hip would slow me down and on and on. It’s an understatement to say having a relaxed run with a cool running buddy was awesome. The rest of the day was spent meeting other Salties(!), laying in bed drinking Powerade, eating trail mix and watching Fixer-upper on Netflix. Oh and I found out I am officially becoming a homeowner as well! (Eeeeeeeeeeekkk!!!) It was a great day.

Our own Spearmint, squeaky clean and ready for a great race
I picked up my bib in my sweats after some quality lounging time the day before the race.

The morning of the race I woke up at 5am so I had time to hang out for a relaxed breakfast in the athlete lounge. The amazing volunteers fed us awesome distance runner food; there was not a hash brown or sausage to be found in said breakfast….can I get a hallelujah!

Soon I met my parents downstairs and we walked to the start line together. I cannot say enough how amazing it was to have them there for support. They drove all the way from Virginia to be my cheerleaders and I am so grateful! Once we made it to the start my dad said a pre-race prayer and it was time to warm-up! I was still feeling really calm and just genuinely happy to race. That was a refreshing feeling since I was expecting to be completely terrified like I was before Jax.

At 7:54 I was in the small elite corral, ready to go, and after a minute the air horn sounded and we were off! The first two miles were around 5:30, a little quicker than I planned. I thought about backing off but decided to stay in my little pack and count that as my bold move for the first half of the race. The pace evened out in mile three and then an uphill fourth mile slowed it down even more. Miles five through seven were back on pace and I had a great time running with my roomie Rachel! We powered through each mile together and it felt like I had a teammate, which was awesome!

image-6I saw my dad at mile seven and gave him a thumbs up. He cheered me on and that gave me the momentum I needed to move ahead by myself. I was hesitant at first and wondered if I was speeding up too soon but once again, I chalked it up as my second bold move and put the doubt out of my mind.

Miles eight to ten were what cost me an Olympic trials qualifier at JAX, so as soon as I got to mile eight at Columbus I began setting little mental goals for myself of making it to 8.5 without panicking, then nine, 9.5, and ten! I kept waiting for the hammer to fall and hit me with a wave of fatigue but it never did! My legs remained fresh and my breathing was calm. I was cautiously celebrating in my head, and once I made it to mile eleven I peeked at my watch and that celebration turned into a full-blown rager! I was home-free and was going to run a decent time too!

As I rounded the corner toward the finish I saw my dad and instead of hyperventilating or crying the last 200 meters like I had three months earlier I could NOT stop smiling! I crossed the finish line in 1:15:56 and eleventh place which smashed my goal of being top twenty (read: 19th or 20th).

The Cap City Half was amazing, and I’m so glad USATF held the championship there. The volunteers were WAY more than awesome and the race staff treated us athletes like absolute royalty. I want to come back next year!

Oh yeah, and I swiped this baby out of the elevator:

Guess what’s going to be the first thing on my wall in my new place? a 3-foot sticker to remind me of what a great race I had. #priorities

Tell us about a rebound race of yours!

I'm an aspiring elite runner from the DC/Northern VA area. I love road racing and am currently training for a half marathon in April. I write about attempting to balance a career with running and enjoying the process of training and improving!

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  1. Great advice on setting small goals to get through a rough patch in the same spot in a previous race! I will definitely use that in my next half marathon. And AWESOME race!

  2. Congratulations on your race! Wow, 11th place at your first national championships- that’s impressive! Interesting race plan.. to make a bold move in each half of the race. Sounds like it worked out for you, and kept it mentally interesting. I’ll have to try that in my next 1/2!

  3. I’m so happy you enjoyed your Columbus race. We are EXTREMELY proud of our Capital City Half Marathon and to have the USATF Half Marathon National Championships here this year and next is just awesome! Hope you can spend a few more days here next year!!!

  4. Congratulations! I also ran in the mens race. I am from MD also and currently train in MD. I met some of you all from Salty Running at Columbus and have your website on my blog list. I also ran in the Jacksonville race and was going for the OT standard. Similar to you, I was just a bit off pace running 1:06. You were close!! Keep at it we can qualify for 2020! If you’re interested, you can follow my blog http://www.chrissloanestraininglog.blogspot.com