Saturday, November 12, 2011

Mission 2:15 Accomplished - Iron Horse Half Recap

Gee whiz, I have been swamped. Finally going to get this race recap done ... only THREE WEEKS after the fact.

Ahhhh, the SID's life!

ANYWHO ... here's the recap

On Sunday, Oct. 23, I ran the Iron Horse Half Marathon in Midway, Ky., and I loved it! And not because I kicked my PR in the butt!

Heading into this half marathon, my goal was to complete the course in 2 hours, 15 minutes - 16 minutes better than my previous PR. Training was going well until late September when life interrupted and complicated things. Travel for work and dealing with some other life issues, getting my training runs in became difficult. 

All of those was going on with less than a month away from the Iron Horse. At this point, I made a decision. I was confident in my training in that I knew I would PR. I've become stronger and my endurance had built up to a good point that I knew I would be able to break my previous PR of 2:31:01. So, I decided to just enjoy the run. 

I had become so consumed with posting a sub-2:15 time I had lost some of the joy of running. 

My medal, bib, poster and a cool handmade
coaster from the Iron Horse Half
So I chose to trust my training and just enjoy the experience of running the half marathon.

And I am so glad I did.

The Iron Horse Half is a picturesque race which runs through horse farm after horse farm in the heart of Bluegrass country. Here's a link to some of the course photos, but they don't do it justice for a couple of reasons. First, the rolling hills don't appear, and secondly, there's photos were taken during the summer and not during the fall with the gorgeous autumn colors.

The course is a couple of out-and-backs. Starting in town, the race heads east on Weisenburger Road for 3-plus miles before turning and heading back to town. Staying on the same road, everyone runs through town and on out what becomes Spring Station Road for 3-plus more miles before making the way back to town and the finish line.

Both sides of the course has rolling hills, but the second half is definitely hillier. Knowing this, I set out with the plan of trying to maintain a 10-minute mile pace for as long as I could, striving to hit the 9-mile mark in by the 90-minute mark because the toughest climbs were from miles 9-11.

Still, I didn't want to fall into the trap of racing out too fast. You know, the trap of we fall into as we try to keep up with EVERYONE around us as the race gets underway.

At the starting line
The weather was perfect. It was a crisp 38-39 degrees at the start of the race. I wore my gloves but they came off by mile 2. The first half of the course was gorgeous as we headed out east through some horse farms with the sun still rising. BEAUTIFUL!

I just got into a good groove during the first half. The hills were not too bad, so finding a good cruising speed was easy. I knew I was on a great clip when I hit the halfway mark and the time on the clock was at 1:02 and several seconds!

While I knew that was well ahead of my goal pace, I had been down this road before. When I ran the Go! St. Louis Half, my time at the halfway mark was 1:04:55 and I ended up with a time of 2:31:01 as I hit the proverbial wall during the second half.

Unlike St. Louis, I didn't have the heat and humidity to deal with. My legs were feeling great and I kept chugging along. Not only did I hit my goal of getting to mile 9 in 90 minutes, I was hit mile 10 in 95 minutes.

I was cruising!

The hills on the second half of the course were tougher, but fortunately, since it was an out-and-back loop, the inclines were going out with the road going downhill for much of the way back into town to the finish line.

As I headed back into town, I knew a PR was in the bag but I still was unsure about hitting my goal time of 2:15. Plus, there was one little hill to climb.

The course turned off Stephens Street and onto Turner Street as the race moved back toward town. There was a slight incline going up Turner. Nothing too difficult, if I hadn't already ran 13 miles. But I knew I had 0.1 left so I picked up my pace, rounded the corner and headed on Main Street. And what appeared before me was a such a gorgeous sight: THE FINISH LINE!

Live music and FREE MASSAGES!!!
The time atop the had just clicked past 2:10:00! Mission 2:15 was in the bag!

I sprinted down Main Street, with hands raised in victory, I crossed the finish line with an official time of 2:09:42!!!

Overall, my time at the Iron Horse Half was the best race-day experiences that I've had, and the fact I PR'ed and crushed my goal time. The town was picturesque, the course with the fall foliage was amazing, and the atmosphere was simply awesome. At the post-race party, there was a local band playing a wide range of upbeat, fun music, the post-race food fare included BURGERS OFF THE GRILL (YUM!!!) and, the best part of it all, there were FREE MASSAGES!!!

After kicking 13.1 miles in the butt, it was a great way to unwind before heading home.

Not that I got one - in large part because my age group was FAST!!!!, but the age group awards were unique: handmade bowls with the IHHM logo on them. They were made by Kentucky Mudworks.

The Iron Horse Half has a year-to-year agreement with the town of Midway, Kentucky, and I really hope the race returns for 2012. This is one race I would really like to make a yearly occurrence, and I highly recommend it to anyone who can make the trip to the heart of the Bluegrass. You will not be disappointed.  

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