The FT Flat half marathon is one I've done every year since I started this distance. I've usually set a PR; the course does live up to its name, albeit partially mitigated by the typically hot weather for July 4th. This year in particular - in the middle of a heat wave with temps in the 90s, I wasn't sure how well it would go.
In addition to the heat, I haven't felt super confident in my training. My dedication to long runs wavered in the past few weeks, and I haven't been holding anywhere near the long run pace that had come easily in the spring when training for my last half. I really wanted to beat 2:30 (with PR from April sitting at 2:34:42 - a bit of a jump, but not totally unfeasible), but wasn't sure how probable that was.
The Flat takes place on Sauvie Island, NE of Portland. Some years I've carpooled and some I've taken the race-provided shuttle but had someone pick me up after. Traffic can get iffy - it is an island, so the one bridge is the only way to get there - but especially after this long of a race I like to have a car there to have anything I want readily accessible immediately after. So I drove pretty early, expecting to be parked over an hour before race time; after crossing the bridge I was part of a line of traffic sent the long way around the island, adding at least 10 or 15 minutes (supposedly because traffic was too slowed down the main direction), but I was still able to park fairly close, use a porta potty, put on sunscreen, etc., with plenty of time to spare.
The temperature was reasonably cool at the start, all things considered - my garmin says 63. I'd guess it was approaching 80 by the time I finished, but fortunately the second half of the course has some nice pockets of shade.
I didn't set a pacing goal per se, but figured sticking as close to goal pace (11:26) as possible for the first 10, dropping slightly after 5 if possible, and then going as fast as possible (maybe close to 11:00) for the last 5k.
Things started out pretty well. On the slower side of goal pace, but basically there. I carried a water bottle, to save time versus actually grabbing a cup at the aid stations, though I did take a few brief walking breaks to drink from my bottle.
Miles 1 - 5: 11:28, 11:27, 11:34, 11:24, 11:22
At mile 6, I figured I'd see how speeding up by 5 - 10 seconds felt, and it was a little challenging, especially as it was starting to get warmer, so I mostly just stuck with trying to maintain the 11:30-ish that I had been earlier. I ate a shot blok around miles 6, 8, and I think 10. Around mile 8 or 9 I was starting to empty my water bottle, so I paused to get it refilled at an aid station.
Miles 6 - 10: 11:20, 11:33, 11:23, 11:33, 12:10
Yeah, mile 10 wasn't pretty. I think that probably included the water stop, but also lots of walking breaks. I had some shorter walking around 8 - 9, but had enough energy to pick it up enough in between to compensate. Now, that was getting harder.
Ideally I wanted to push it close to 11:00 for the last few miles, knowing that I had just barely enough time to hit my goal if I did so. Spent a lot of time doing race math in my head, telling myself I couldn't walk or it'd totally fall apart. I walked anyway, tried to make up for it, sort of did, and then kept walking more and more often. Within the last couple miles I knew I wasn't going to make 2:30, but it was clear that I'd have to basically crawl the rest to not PR, so that kept me from slowing down too much.
Miles 11 - 13.1: 11:00, 11:32, 11:51, 9:31 (2:31 time for 0.21)
Nothing was really hurting (besides pounding on my feet), which was a pleasant change from the usual race, but the heat and overall fatigue was getting to me by the end. Still good for a new PR of 2:31:39!!
I'm honestly not sure if I was/should have been capable of more or not. A couple miles paces that got higher than I liked, but overall I felt fairly strong. Definitely a drastic improvement from previous years!
This might be my last pre-kids half; if so, I think I'm content with that. I want to continue trying this summer for a sub-30 5k, but I don't think shaving another 2 minutes off my half to meet the sub-2:30 goal is worth another 2.5 hours of racing. This time is still good enough to give me in confidence in a 5:15 - 5:30 marathon goal, and that's going to be the priority for the rest of the season.