Breaking the 2:14 barrier at the St. Michaels Running Festival Half Marathon

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Here I am after finishing the St. Michaels Running Festival Half Marathon. (Veronica James photo).

Disclaimer: I am an ambassador for the St. Michaels Running Festival. 

Prior to Saturday, the last three half marathons I had run on my own, not pacing, had been 2:14-something. I wanted to see a different — and lower — number after that 2.

On Saturday, May 19, at the St. Michaels Running Festival, I was able to do that, running my fastest half marathon since December 2016. At first, I was a little disappointed, as I had made a mental goal to try to go for under a 10-minute pace, and I ended up with an average pace of 10:01 on my watch. However, I was able to break my recent 2:14 barrier, and I can try for the sub-10 pace for the next half marathon I race.

This was my second year serving as an ambassador for this race. Hopefully, if you’ve been following my social media accounts, you saw me post about my $10 discount code for this race (stay tuned for 2019 — I haven’t gotten my code yet, but I will be sharing it when I do!). This year, we were also provided with postcards with our discount code on them, which I thought was a helpful way to spread the word.

Saturday started out early when some friends and I carpooled to St. Michaels from Salisbury. Unfortunately, the parking at the start area was full when we arrived, so we had to park in a neighborhood, which was a bit of a walk from the start. I would certainly advise getting there early — and the race recommends arriving early on the website.

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Here I am with my friends after we all finished the St. Michaels Running Festival Half Marathon.

Since I was assigned to Wave 3 based on my predicted finish time, I volunteered to take everyone’s things back to the car — race shirts and extra gear that wouldn’t be needed for the race. When I was almost at the car, a friend from Twitter recognized me and we ended up walking and talking on the way back to the start. I love it when people recognize me from social media or my blog, and this seems to be happening more lately.

I arrived back to the start after the first wave had begun the race, but since the waves were spaced seven minutes apart, I still had a chance to use a portable toilet and start with the third wave.

I wanted to stay just under a 10 minute pace, but I also wanted to not look at my watch aside from when it buzzed at each mile. Although I did look at it some other times, I did a pretty good job of not focusing on it too much.

There were a lot of water stops on the course, and I stopped at pretty much all of them — I think I only skipped the last one. Even though it felt like a lot, I know my body and that I need to stay hydrated. I would rather have stopped when I didn’t really need to rather than end up dehydrated and find myself struggling later.

At the first water stop, I had a little water and got a second cup to try to wash my hands a little bit at the trash can. I know that is unusual to do during a race, but I just hate not washing my hands after going to the bathroom (doesn’t everyone?) and there was no hand sanitizer in the portable toilet. I apologize if that was TMI. Even with that, my first mile was 9:49 and my second mile was 10:12 (I know that water stop was around Mile 1, but I can’t remember which mile it would have been logged under).

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Here are this year’s race shirt and finisher medal. (Vanessa Junkin photo)

There are some turnarounds on the course, and I got to see some of my friends at different points of the race. I also enjoyed seeing some water views near the beginning. Much of the course goes through residential areas.

A little after reaching Mile 6, I took the UnTapped syrup packet I had brought with me as fuel, and that would be my slowest mile of the race, at 10:28.

While talking to my boyfriend the previous day, he mentioned maybe speeding up at Mile 9-10. I did try to do this, but I guess my perceived effort was different, as my miles were relatively consistent the entire time.

However, I was able to finish with my fastest mile of the day, a 9:37. I was also happy to see, similar to what I noted in my post on the eRace the Stigma 5K, that the last little part was run at a fast pace as well. My watch logged the last part of this race as 0.19 miles, and had that I ran that at an 8:12/mile pace.

My final time was 2:12:05, which was a 10:01/mile pace on my watch and a 10:05/mile pace on the results, since my watch logged 13.19 miles.

I do feel like I probably didn’t need to stop at so many water stops — it’s partially a mental thing, because I’ve had dehydration issues before — but better safe than sorry, and I am glad they were there.

It was raining on Saturday, but I actually prefer rain to heat. Until earlier this year at the RRCA 10 Mile Club Challenge, I am not even sure if I had run a race in the rain before, just because that is the way the weather happened to be (I wouldn’t avoid a race because of rain). The heat is my least favorite type of weather to run in — and particularly race in, since I’m trying to go fast.

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Here I am finishing the St. Michaels Running Festival Half Marathon. (Veronica James photo)

The rain was very light for the first 3.7-ish miles (I looked at my watch to see when it started raining a little more), and I thought the weather was about perfect at the beginning. The rain never really bothered me. It did seem to get a little humid toward the end of the race, but this race was much hotter last year.

There was a puddle stretching the width of the road that I think was between miles 8 and 9, and there was nowhere to go but through it, so I — and everyone else — ended up soaking my shoes as I went through it. This was also a spot that we had to pass again on the way back.

As the race says on the website, it really is flat. I did not notice a single hill, and living in a flat area, sometimes I can feel a hill even if it is barely there. My watch only logged 52 feet of elevation gain during the entire 13.1 miles.

After finishing the race, I got water and some of the post-race food — a banana, a granola bar and a piece of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich — and met up with my friends. I also had a beer.

My friends and I ended up staying at the after-party until the band stopped playing — which was noon — and the race had started at 7 a.m. The band, Saved by Zero, which played ’80s hits, was great and interacted with the audience. The band was able to get a whole group of runners dancing, and I even joined in — which is not something I normally do after a race, but it was fun.

Afterward, we went out for lunch at Carpenter Street Saloon, which gave us a discount because we participated in the race.

I am looking forward to 2019! I hope you will join me — stay tuned for my discount code.

Splits

Mile 1: 9:49

Mile 2: 10:12

Mile 3: 9:58

Mile 4: 10:03

Mile 5: 9:59

Mile 6: 9:53

Mile 7: 10:28

Mile 8: 10:15

Mile 9: 10:05

Mile 10: 9:50

Mile 11: 10:08

Mile 12: 10:06

Mile 13: 9:37

Last part (watch had 0.19): 1:35 (8:12 pace)

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9 thoughts on “Breaking the 2:14 barrier at the St. Michaels Running Festival Half Marathon

  1. My race re-cap from that weekend is very similar to yours. Rainy day, stopping at all water stops except the last one, same goal pace, its nice to know that others have similar race plans. Congrats!

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  2. Congratulations om your race!! I am usually around the 2:14 zone for the half distance, thats awesome you were able to break the barrier! I’d never heard of this race but the course looks nice and I love the swag, I’ll have to keep this one on my radar!

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