I ran the Rocktoberfest Half Marathon in Charlotte yesterday and it was the best half marathon experience I have ever had. My great race had nothing to do with PRs or the course but rather about how I felt during and after the race…which was very strong and extremely grateful.
As I shared in my Fall Race Calendar post, I had a series of fall races lined up as part of my ambassadorship with the Charlotte Marathon. I originally registered to run the Rocktoberfest 5-Miler because I was going to save my half marathon race for the Novant Health Charlotte Half Marathon on November 12. I switched my registration to the Rocktoberfest Half Marathon last week since I’m now considering the Kiawah full and testing some longer runs.
Let’s dive into my race recap!
I was able to sleep until around 6:15 a.m. since it was a local race that started just a few miles from my house at 7:40. I was not hungry and my stomach was a little off when I woke up but I made myself eat some toast with cashew butter, honey and banana and drank a cup of coffee.
I hopped in my car around 7:15 and drove to the race where I easily found a parking spot not even a quarter of a mile from the start. I arrived just in time to line up with some of my fellow ambassadors for a pre-race photo.
There were around 755 runners for the half and 340 for the 5 mile but we had separate start times. I lined up for the start of the half with a view of the Charlotte skyline behind me and then we were off!
As I crossed the starting line, I turned on my RunKeeper app and put the half marathon playlist I’d made the night before on shuffle. The playlist was awesome so here it is if you need some new running music in your life!
After that, I didn’t open my phone once until I reached mile 10. Miles 1-10 ticked by so quickly and I felt totally in the zone. I couldn’t believe how great I felt with just a 5K left to run. My goal going into the race was to run a pace that felt easy and sustainable if I were to run a full marathon. So I didn’t want to go as slow as a long run but I didn’t want to do a half marathon race effort. I definitely feel like I settled into a really comfortable in between spot with my pace.
I took water at every stop. I tried to run and drink for the first two but even with cup pinching, there was way too much water going up my nose so for the last four I grabbed water, stopped and chugged it before I took off again. I brought a Gu with me because I usually eat one around mile 8 during halfs but I just couldn’t do it yesterday. My stomach was still feeling kind of blah.
Okay, let’s take a moment to talk about the course. It was brutal! First, it was extremely hilly. And not just short, quick hills but long, seemingly endless climbs. Miles 8, 11 and 12 were especially tough. Second, the course scenery left a lot to be desired. While we did go in and out of some neighborhoods, we spent a lot of time on roads like the one in the photo above.
The course conditions, on the other hand, were perfect. It was 55 at the start and stayed overcast and cool for the duration of the race.
Despite the hills, I was able to pick up my pace a bit for the last few miles of the race. My last mile was actually my fastest of the race. When the finish line came into my line of site, I had a big smile on my face and pushed hard until I crossed it.
Just after crossing the finish and collecting my medal, I caught up with ambassadors Theoden and Meredith to talk about the race. They both agreed the hills were insane. (Fun fact: Theoden paced the 1:45 group at my last half marathon in 2014 and I ran with him for a long time during that race!)
I stopped by the Greenapple Sports & Wellness tent after the race to check in with Dr. Bradberry and to tell him how good my race felt and how good I was feeling after. They treated me twice last week leading up to the race with things like active release, adjustments, Graston, VooDoo flossing and KT tape and I definitely feel like it made a difference on race day. I’ll have another post with more detail on how and why I’m working with Greenapple next week.
My official finish time was 1:51:53 with an average pace of 8:33. While this is 7 minutes off my current PR, it was the best and smartest half I’ve ever run in my opinion. It was the first time I’ve ever run 100% based on feel and I didn’t look at my GPS or pace one single time during the race. I felt really great during and after the run and I’m feeling good this morning as well with no soreness or anything that’s talking to me.
Here are my splits:
Mile 1: 8:35
Mile 2: 8:33
Mile 3: 8:30
Mile 4: 8:23
Mile 5: 8:28
Mile 6: 8:35
Mile 7: 8:27
Mile 8: 8:33
Mile 9: 8:33
Mile 10: 8:23
Mile 11: 8:20
Mile 12: 8:25
Mile 13: 8:13
Mile 0.1: 7:40
And here is the pace/elevation/cadence chart. As you can see…THOSE HILLS! They definitely made me reconsider my hesitation on running a flat road at Kiawah.
Next up…a few weeks of regular long runs and trying to get distance up to around 15-16 before I run the Novant Health Charlotte Half Marathon on November 12. It’s not too late to join me for the race! It’s my favorite Charlotte race and while it is also hilly, the course is beautiful and the crowd is fun.
Please use code JENDEC at registration. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER. I’m asking you to use my code because the ambassador with the most sign ups gets $1,000 donated to the charity of their choice. If I win, my donation choice will be One-Breath.org. They are a local Charlotte organization that offers homeless and incarcerated men 8 yoga classes weekly in 5 different settings.
What was your favorite half marathon experience? Was it a PR or did it just feel really good?
Did you long run or race this weekend? Tell me how it went!