Fall Racing Decision :: Will Run for BEER

It might seem a little premature to be talking about the fall racing season as the spring one hasn’t even wrapped up yet. However, the racing scene in Austin pretty much shuts down (with the exception of 5Ks) after April. The Austin 10/20 is coming up this weekend and then I head to NJ the first week of May for the Long Branch Half.

Upcoming Races

And after that, I’ve got nothing on my radar.

SO! It’s time to think about the fall. Every year since I started running I’ve done a fall destination race. 2010 was Disney’s Wine & Dine Half, 2011 was Marine Corps Marathon and 2012 was Philly Marathon.

I had a few half marathons in mind for 2013: Hartford, Wineglass, Mohawk Hudson River Half, OUC, ZOOMA Cape Cod. But after mapping out our travel schedule for the rest of the year {with Nuun Hood to Coast tentatively penciled in *fingers crossed*} we realized a fall destination race probably isn’t in the cards.

The plan for the next 13.1 is to stay semi-local. I’m 90% sure we’ll be heading south in November for the 2013 Shiner Beer Run.


This race combines two of my favorite things: running + Shiner beer. 4 complimentary frosty beers at the finish for each runner? A medal that doubles as a bottle opener? A race that starts and finishes at the Spoetzl Brewery? I’m having a hard time coming up with reasons NOT to run this race.

Shiner Beer Run

My sub-2 goal might get pushed to the beginning of 2014 considering the arch issues I’ve been having lately. Long Branch is not going to be a PR attempt and I’m absolutely okay with that. It’s part of a vacation to New Jersey to see my family and I’ll just be happy to see how far the area has come since I was up there in November post-Sandy.

If I had to guess, I’d say my sub-2 attempt will be at 3M in January 2014. But that’s REALLY far away, so we shall see!

Do you have your fall goal race picked out yet? Is it a destination race?

What’s Next?

I spent July through October training my little heart out for the Marine Corps Marathon.


Now that the race has come and gone, it’s time to look into the future at upcoming goals.

I fell ridiculously short of my sub 2:20 half marathon goal for 2011. I can tell you exactly why: lack of training. The first three races in the beginning of the year should hardly be considered as legitimate attempts. I barely logged any training miles and ran the races solely to finish. I had a few killer speed workouts and tempo runs during marathon training, but for the most part I only trained for distance.

Once San Antonio rolled around, two weeks after Marine Corps, it was clear this wouldn’t be the time to PR. It didn’t keep me from setting a few lofty race goals though. I managed to eek out a PR by one minute – not what I had hoped for. A less than impressive showing on my behalf. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed.


Back to my original point – the sub 2:20 race didn’t happen. The only logical thing to do would be to slash some serious minutes off my current PR early next year.

Enter 3M Half Marathon on January 29, 2012.


This will be my PR race, kicking the year off in a big way. The goal is a 2:15-2:20 finish. Yes, I realize that’s a 20 minute difference from the half two weeks ago, but barring injury {knock on wood} it’s attainable with the correct training.

Therefore, I present to you … the Operation Run Fast training plan.

(click to view full training plan)

I’ve been tweaking it for over a month and aside from the long run paces, it’s finally done.

Three days of running (speed/tempo/long), two days of cross-training (elliptical/spin), and two rest days. While I always run three days a week, cross-training seems to fall by the wayside. It’s just as important as running, so I need to make sure I’m completing those workouts (not counting this past holiday week).

I jumped back onto the running scene this week:

Tuesday:   2 miles @ 9:55 pace (This run kicked my ass and reminded me what taking a few weeks off will do to you)

Thursday:  5 miles @ 11:25 pace (Turkey Trot)

Sunday:     6.5 miles @ 11:04 pace (Supposed to be 6-7 miles at 11:38 pace. I compromised with 6.5 and ran them a bit faster than what the training plan called for. Oops)

I’m ready to buckle down and train hard for the 3M Half. Operation Run Fast starts NOW.

Bring it on.

Post-Marathon Revelations

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It’s officially been one week since marathon day.


Although I promised nearly everyone around me that once the race was over I’d end my incessant marathon talk, I’m still running my mouth about it. I love reading others’ running and spectating recaps and reliving each moment of the course as they describe it perfectly:

















Some runners upon crossing the finish line need a few weeks (or months) to let the memory of those tough miles fade away before they even start thinking about their next marathon.

I started thinking about mine a couple hours after I finished.

Marine Corps Marathon was such a learning experience for me. I learned the importance of proper fueling, the power of positive thinking, and the benefits of a successful training cycle. I’ve been thinking of how I’d eat differently (less Gu – more Shot Bloks), run differently (slow down more in the beginning miles) and train differently (add in a 22-23 mile run; focus even more on speedwork).


I am incredibly thankful I had such an amazing first marathon experience, and I’m looking forward to the next one. Here are a few races I have my eye on for 2012:

New Jersey Marathon – Long Branch, NJ – May 6, 2012


Marine Corps Marathon – Washington, DC – October 28, 2012


ING NYC Marathon – New York City, NY – November 4, 2012


Rock n Roll San Antonio Marathon – San Antonio, TX – November 11, 2012


I definitely am interested in running NJ since I’ll be able to visit my family and friends while I’m in town. Not to mention the fact I won’t have to train through the brutal Texas summer heat.

I’m not ruling out a double marathon year either. One spring, one fall? It’s not impossible. I think if I choose to run NJ, I may try San Antonio for the fall marathon since it would be more cost effective than traveling to the other two. Not to mention that the lottery could keep me out of NYC.

But I’d really love to run Marine Corps again. Seriously, I cannot get over how amazing the course, Marines, and spectators were.

Ahh I don’t know! So many choices…

2011 Marine Corps Marathon Race Recap

I think I only slept for an hour total the night before the marathon. I was so nervous and excited and anxious that my mind would not stop racing long enough for me to get some solid shut-eye.

Brad and I discussed his spectating game plan before finally deciding to get our morning started around 4:30am. He went straight to the kitchen to prepare my breakfast and I began getting ready.


The temperature was a brisk 30 degrees so I went with a t-shirt, the longest capris I owned, a throwaway sweatshirt and pair of gloves. I think even if I had added a pair of throwaway sweatpants, it still wouldn’t have been enough to keep me warm. Hello, I came from Texas – it was 82 there!

I ate a bagel and drank a bottle of Nuun while I double and triple-checked to make sure I had everything. We skipped making coffee in the room because they were supposed to have a few carafes set up in the lobby by 6am. Unfortunately, the security guard misinformed us and it wouldn’t be ready until 7. It wasn’t important enough to hang around for, so Brad and I headed out on the cold trek to the starting line.

In the hours leading up to the race, the only thing I was really focused on was how cold I was. Thankfully this helped to keep my mind off the fact I was about to embark on my first marathon. Brad stayed with me for about an hour, heading back to the hotel around 7:30. I strategically placed myself behind the exhaust pipe of an MCM Straggler bus to keep my legs warm.


Also, I bought the whole damn CD of photos from the race so I don’t feel a tiny bit guilty jacking these pics from Marathonfoto until I get the real ones in the mail.

At 7:45 I headed into the 5:30-5:59 corral. My only goal for this race was to cross that finish line in an upright position. This, however, did not stop me from grabbing a 5:30 pace bracelet at the expo on Friday and slapping it on my wrist Sunday morning. It was an attainable pace, and it never hurts to have an ‘A’ goal.

The opening ceremony was incredible:





Yes, that’s Drew Carey with the starting gun. It was his first marathon too!



All photos courtesy of marinemarathon.com

And we were off!


Once I crossed that starting mat, I was overwhelmed with emotion – I am running a marathon! The race was a culmination of all the hard work and dedication I had put in over the past 4 months. A huge smile spread across my face.

The crowd support was phenomenal. I’ve never seen anything like it (firsthand) in a race. Sure, Austin has it’s fair share of spectators, but nothing like this. I fed off the crowds infectious energy for several miles.

The first 7.5 miles included a few hills:


We started in Arlington, then ran through Rosslyn, Clarendon, and across Key Bridge into Georgetown. The beginning miles ticked away like they were nothing. Every time I glanced down at my Garmin it was about to switch over to the next mile. Time was flying by. Every mile split was within 10 seconds of what it should have been for a 5:30 finish, and felt effortless.

At mile 4, I was finally starting to warm up so I tossed my sweatshirt. At mile 8, I tossed the gloves. And at mile 9, I made my first (of many) stop at a portopotty. I didn’t feel like I was hydrating too much, but clearly I had to have been.


After the stop, I was about 1:20 minutes off of my pace. I didn’t stress over it though – that’s not what this race was about. Just after mile 9 they were handing out orange slices. Somehow I managed to grab one from the Marine, peel it with one hand, and devour it mid-run.


Based on the plan Brad and I had discussed, the first place I would come across him and my family would be between mile 10 and 11. Sure enough, just around the corner there they were!


My sister was in charge of being paparazzi for the race, and she did an awesome job! Now if only I could hire her for all of my races…


And there I go!


I continued on to Hains Point. I recalled countless race recaps and training runs on DC natives’ blogs which referenced this out and back trek. None were positive, and I mentally prepared myself for it.

Honestly? It wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be. This probably had a lot to do with how gorgeous the weather was. I took in the sights and enjoyed the beautiful views. Just past the 20k mark was the second food stop, and I grabbed a chocolate Clif Shot.

When I hit the timing mat at the halfway point, the “oh my god I’m running a marathon” feeling hit me again. And I felt great.


The members of my awesome spectating family planned on setting up camp at mile 15, so I kept my eyes peeled for them.

Apparently I flew by too quickly!


As I came up on Tidal Basin bridge, I came across the most memorable sign I saw during the race:


I laughed out loud when I saw it, and when I ran by someone yelled “Go Melissa!” (By the way, putting my name on my shirt was a great idea – I definitely recommend it!) Every time someone encouraged me along the way during the race, I made sure to wave and thank them. When I turned to thank her, I realized it was Megan from MegaNerdRuns! Thank you Megan and Jess for coming out to support the runnersspectators make all the difference!

Around mile 16 I made another bathroom stop, and this one cost me nearly nine minutes. There were only three portopotties, and the lines were a mix of runners and spectators. Again, I wasn’t worried about the time so it didn’t make me too anxious to have to wait.

My cheering brigade was now stationed at mile 17 waiting for me. I don’t know what I would have done without them; they gave me something to look forward to every few miles!

Mile 17 – still going strong:


And still smiling!



My family headed to hang out near mile 20 to wait for me, and I made my way down Madison towards the Capitol building.

I started taking frequent walk breaks after mile 18. I tried to tell myself it would hurt just as bad to run as it would to walk, and if I ran I would be done quicker. But the only thing my brain could process was that I was less than two miles away from that damn bridge and I was going to beat it.


There were so many photographers lined up down this stretch. They positioned themselves on the ground in the center of the road about 6-7 feet from each other. I was so paranoid I was going to end up tripping over one of them!

Somewhere around the 19 mile marker I grabbed a packet of Sports Beans from the third food station. I don’t think I would have been able to choke down another Gu if I tried, so I was thankful for something different.

Once I made the left onto 14th Street, I spotted my family! Brad had been holding onto a pack of Shot Bloks for me so I slowed to a halt to grab them and tuck them into my handheld.


Nice face. I must have just remembered I still had more than a 10k to go:


Stretching out my back before I take on the bridge


Ah. So let’s talk about that bridge, shall we? Once I crossed the 20 mile marker, my mind registered that point as the finish line. Before I knew what was happening, I was walking. I tried to pick up the pace but I felt I was running slower than I had been walking.

The 14th Street bridge took FOR-EV-ER. I had heard for many months about how I needed to “Beat the Bridge” but I had never realized how long the damn thing was. Long, as in, we passed the mile 21 marker while STILL ON THE BRIDGE. I graciously accepted a package of Skittles from a spectator and inhaled them. The spectators on this stretch were few and far between but I appreciated each and every one of them.

I flipped through my playlist and finally came to a song that got my legs moving faster than a snails pace. I powerwalked the uphills and ran the downhills. After what seemed like thirty minutes (and it very well could have been), I arrived in Crystal City. The homestretch! Ha – not quite.



I grabbed a chocolate munchkin at the fourth and final food stop. It tasted like a little piece of heaven.

Brad jumped in with me as I came up on mile 22.


I had heard a lot of good things about Crystal City, but I wasn’t that impressed. Having to watch the runners coming back in the other direction KILLED me. Out-and-backs like that mess with my head. All I kept thinking was “where is the turnaround?!” I knew Morgan would be in Crystal City with her sparkly silver pants but unfortunately I never saw her. I think I was in my own little world at that point.

At mile 23, I said goodbye to Brad. And to my water bottle. I knew there would be two more water stops and really didn’t feel like carrying it anymore. Honestly I’m surprised I didn’t ditch it sooner.

Stretching my quads before heading out to tackle the final three:


More stretching…


Then I hit the road again to finish up the race! To give you an idea of how much I had slowed down, it took me 20 minutes longer to finish the last 5k than it did the first. Those miles were ROUGH.

I do NOT look happy


But I managed to slap on a weak smile for this photographer:


I spent most of the last miles reflecting on how far I had come in just over a year as a runner. It’s hard to believe that I finished my first half marathon last October, and I was in the midst of finishing a marathon. My thoughts were nothing but positive, and not once during the race did I think I wouldn’t finish. My legs were going to fight me until the end, but my heart was in it 100%.

Once I passed the mile 26 marker, I kicked it into high gear and headed towards the finish. The uphill finish. I contemplating slowing to a walk, at least until the top of the hill where it turned towards the finisher’s chute, but the Marines lining both sides of the hill were yelling to stay strong and keep moving.

So I did.


As I neared the finish line at the Iwo Jima Memorial, a huge smile appeared on my face and I threw both arms up in the air


And as I crossed the finish line of my first marathon, I received high fives from two Marines at once. Amazing.


I finished in 6:16:07. I know, it’s not the fastest time. Could I have pushed myself harder? Yes. But I didn’t want to hate my first marathon and swear them off forever. I enjoyed every single moment (even those last 6.2 miles) of that race, and I wouldn’t have changed a thing.





I am a marathoner!

Marine Corps Marathon Expo

IMG_0777After a quick and painless trip from Austin to DC, we headed to the Marine Corps Marathon expo at the DC Armory.


The expo was run very efficiently. You first picked up your bib in a large white tent out front, and then continued into the armory to retrieve your bag and race shirt. You were then released out into a sea of vendors, all ready to help you empty your bank account as fast as possible.







The only item I purchased that was branded with a race logo was a black Brooks 1/4 zip long sleeved shirt. I loved the jacket they had for sale, but living in Texas I just couldn’t justify the purchase. In hindsight, I’m disappointed I didn’t splurge on it. Maybe when the remaining MCM gear goes on sale in mid-November I’ll be able to pick one up.

The USAA booth was giving out commemorative coins for the race, which I thought was pretty cool. I had heard about it prior to the expo, so I made sure to stop by to pick mine up.


Jocelyn blogged about working the Nuun booth this weekend. I stopped by to pick up two new flavors (Tri-Berry & Lemon-Lime) and received a free water bottle with my purchase.

Right next to the Nuun booth was a vendor I had visited at the Austin Marathon expo back in February. I grabbed the last 26.2 keychain on the table and mentally knocked on wood that this wouldn’t inflict bad luck on Sunday’s race.


The race shirt was the traditional long sleeved cotton mock turtleneck shirt. I’m not sure if I’ll ever wear it, but one thing is for sure – this one will certainly not ever be donated to Goodwill.



After I was done at the expo, we waited out front for the shuttle to the Hyatt Regency for the First Timer’s Pep Rally.


Even after waiting nearly 30 minutes for the shuttle, we still arrived at the hotel with an hour to kill. We decided to do some sightseeing. The Capitol building was just around the corner from the Hyatt.







Just before 7pm we headed back to the ballroom where the Pep Rally was being held.


The event was open to all race participants running their first marathon. The price of admission was $5 per person, and for an additional $5 runners were allowed to bring their non-running counterpart.



A spread of food was provided, which included crudite, beef & chicken dishes, tortilla chips with queso & salsa, and pretzels. I was under the impression we would be having more of a substantial dinner, but the food was good nonetheless.




After about an hour, we made our way to the Metro to head back to the hotel. Our early morning of traveling combined with a ton of walking made for a long, exhausting day!






Next up … the race recap!

Marine Corps Marathon Playlist


Sorry Jenn, I know these countdowns freak you out!

Could this week BE any slower?


The past two days have seriously inched by and I find myself staring at the clock wishing desperately the time would move faster. Why am I so anxious?

Because it is finally MARATHON WEEK! I can’t believe it’s been eight months since that day I finally took the plunge and registered for my first 26.2.


I’ve had marathon on the brain practically every waking minute lately. Just when I thought there couldn’t possibly be anything left to ponder, I find myself debating GU vs Shotbloks, wondering if I will run with my camera, or how I’ll avoid hitting that dreaded wall.

My GU Sampler finally arrived today. The box was a lot smaller than I expected:


But the contents did not disappoint


That’s a lot of freakin’ GU.

I also received our metro cards:


And now I’m working on something VERY important: my marathon playlist. I don’t anticipate using my iPod until the later miles, but I need a great motivating collection of songs to help me power through.

Here’s a glimpse at part of it:


What are some of your favorites that you think I should include?

12 miles & 13 days

Uh yeah, so about that taper


Up until this morning I logged zero miles this week. Oops.

I decided to take Monday off to recover from my 20 miler, then Tuesday because I still hadn’t caught up on sleep from my awkward wake-up time over the weekend, etc. Before I knew it, Friday rolled around and I hadn’t set foot in Gold’s or on a running trail all week.

I wish I could say I felt guilty about it. But honestly? It was refreshing. I covered 75 miles in July, 103 in August, 100 in September, and I’m well on my way (62) to another 100+ month. I’ve clearly been putting in the work, and a few days off isn’t going to kill me in the long run.

My alarm went off at 5:20 this morning but I didn’t manage to drag myself out of bed until 6:30. I seriously considered getting the miles in on the treadmill later or bagging the run altogether. However, I’ve only missed one long during this training cycle and I had no desire to make it two.


My ultimate goal was to run 12 at MGP, and finish at 2:30.


Miles 1-3 were a struggle as usual. It takes me a few miles to regulate my breathing and find my stride. At the beginning of a run I leave the music off so I can really focus on settling in at a comfortable pace.

After that, the miles ticked away fairly easily. I aimed to run each mile between a 12:00-12:30 pace. With the exception of miles 7 & 12, I nailed my pace goals. I was able to turn out a few sub-12 minute miles, which helped offset the other longer ones.

FUEL: I started my morning with a glass of fruit punch Nuun and a biscuit with some blackberry jam. Throughout the run I consumed 20oz of strawberry lemonade Nuun, 20 oz of Gatorade, and 10oz of water. I also ate 5 black cherry Clif ShotBloks.


Final stats: 12 miles in 2:26, 12:12 pace

I’m thrilled my final double digit run of marathon training is DONE. I plan on actually tapering properly this week, followed by an eight mile run on Saturday morning and volunteering at Ironman 70.3 Austin on Sunday.

Less than two weeks left!


Taper Time

My last official “long” run was this weekend. I had planned my 20 for 10/9, which fell on the same day as See Jane Run. I hit 24 Hour Fitness on Friday on my way home from work to sign up for a 3-day guest pass. Running at 4am by myself outside was not happening, not to mention the fact it would be 4am, super dark, and in the rain. My alarm went off at the ungodly time of 2:10am on Sunday. I drank a glass of Nuun, ate a Larabar, packed up everything I needed for the race and headed down to the gym.

It was raining pretty steadily when I arrived at the gym around 3:45, so I was happy I made the decision to run 7 on the treadmill. Yes, you read that correctly, I was happy to run on the treadmill. I had the entire gym to myself, which was nice. When I was finished, I puddle hopped my way back to the car and made my way to the race site. I knew parking for See Jane Run was unfortunately in a field, so I immediately racked my brain for somewhere other than flooded Mueller Park to leave my car. I used to work right around the corner, so I knew of a couple parking lots I could leave my car in for a few hours. However, it wasn’t long before I realized parking would be the least of my worries.If you read any of Carly’s posts from the past few days, you know the race ended up being cancelled due to inclement weather. The runners’ response has been overwhelmingly negative, and some of them who commented on See Jane Run’s Facebook page were downright rude. It gets me so fired up to hear people ream out the race director for cancelling the race (thunder? lightning? hello?), not refunding their money (standard procedure for road races), not giving them a medal (you don’t get a finisher’s medal because .. you didn’t finish), and not rescheduling the race (what about the out-of-town runners? They’re expected to be able to just come back to Austin again on a whim? Not everyone can afford that.) I thought this post from Words from a Wellness Warrior was a refreshing take on the situation, reminding everyone what running is all about.

My one and only issue with Sunday was that Rogue Running & Red Licorice tweeted about the race cancellation before we heard about it from See Jane Run. Oh, and the fact that I was awake at 2am when I didn’t have to be, but that is no one’s fault but my own…End rant.

Shortly after 7am I had a 20oz cup of steaming java in my hand and all was right in the world again. Thank you, Carly! Despite the caffeine I was consuming, fatigue was setting in. Hmm, I wonder why… maybe that early wakeup call? The race may have been cancelled, but I had been planning for months to be running 13.1 (+ 7) on October 9th. The rain was still coming down and the thunder/lightning still were making their presence known. Running at Brushy Creek was not an option. As much as I wanted to avoid it, I knew I only had one choice: run my half marathon on a treadmill at Gold’s.So off to the gym I went. Ugh. You want to build mental endurance? Run 20 miles for the day on a treadmill.

I would recommend watching The Departed on TV while running this distance. The movie + commercials killed three hours.

I would not recommend chugging a venti Starbucks coffee before 13.1 miles.
But finally, my last long run is DONE!
I am less than three weeks out from race day. I can’t believe it.Congratulations to Angie, Randee, and Cely who all finished their first marathon in Chicago this past weekend! Great job ladies!

Race Pace

While I’ve been following a fairly structured training plan for Marine Corps, my projected marathon pace has still yet to be determined. Yes, this is something I probably should have nailed down a couple months ago, but I wanted to see how my favorite injury (shin splints) responded to the training.


My training plan was developed as a mix of FIRST, for the number of days running, and Higdon, for the actual mileage. Small tweaks were made here and there for traveling, upcoming races, and the like. For example, my 20-miler didn’t seem to want to be wedged into the plan AT ALL. The week I had scheduled it on was the day of the See Jane Run 1/2.


Initially I had planned on sneaking in 7 miles pre-race, but the more I thought about it, the more I hated the idea. So I moved it a month out from marathon day, rather than three weeks out. No problem.

That is, until Carly & I started planning for our upcoming race season. The IBM Uptown Classic 10k falls on the same day as the 20-miler.


Of course. I shouldn’t have been surprised. I had been anticipating this race for quite some time now, eager to beat my time from last year. After much debating, I moved the long run back to the See Jane Run day. Overall, I think this is the best option for me because I will be motivated to finish the last 13 of 20 miles if I am in a race atmosphere. Especially with the promise of champagne, chocolate, and a race medal at the finish.


So back to the marathon pace situation. I’ve been doing my speed & tempo runs during the week at an average pace of 10:45-11:10.



The longer runs consist of 3:1 intervals, which average out to about a 13:15 pace. (With the exception of a 7 mile run done on the treadmill at 11:25 pace, which hardly counts as a “long” run)



Do I anticipate using those intervals during the marathon? I’m not sure. For now, this is what works best when we’re dealing with 86 degrees at 5am for the START of our run. Our goal on Sundays is NOT TO DIE.


Do I think I could maintain a faster pace in October temps in the Northeast? Why yes, yes I do. With my half PR at 2:38, this would be an approximate (ambitious?) 5:16 finish for a full (12:03 pace). The McMillan calculator predicts a 5:33 finish (12:42 pace). Do I think I can I maintain either of these paces? Yes and no. The only reason I say no is because, obviously, I’ve never done the distance before. And since I haven’t been running my LRs at goal pace, it’s really hard to say. However, this is the first time I have been properly training for a race. Ever.

Yes, I have completed five half marathons in a less than a year. But for my first, my longest training run was 9 miles and I didn’t run for nearly two months prior to race day. For my second (one month after the first), the only time I ran was a 10k two weeks out. And to achieve half-fanatic status, I got in a few 3-milers and 6-milers, but there was no training. I’m surprised I even PRed in Dallas after being absent from the running scene.

I’ve been religiously nailing my speedwork on Tuesdays, tempo runs on Thursdays, and long runs on Sundays. I am finally training for a race the way I am supposed to be, which is why I say that I have the ability to maintain those paces 26.2 miles.

Ideally, the only goal for your first marathon should be simply to finish. But I want to have a ballpark time of when I will finish. I think I should start conservatively at a 12:30 pace, to keep some gas in the tank for the second half, and kick it up later in the race if possible. Negative splits? Yes please. But what do I know? I’m new to 26.2.

Do you know what your (half) marathon goal pace is? How did you determine it? Do you run that pace on your long runs?