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Columbia Iron Girl Half Race Recap and a few revelations

This past Sunday I ran the Athleta Columbia Iron Girl Half Marathon.  This is the the first of the back to back half marathons I decided to run.  I am a sucker for challenges and the races had the "Titanium Girl" challenge.  So, I registered for both.

The week before the race, I had limited expectations.  Months ago, I had grand plans of a sub-two hour half.  But that quickly changed.  A week before the race, I decided I just wanted to run well.  And that changed even the week of.

Wednesday morning I woke and my throat was scratchy and my body ached.  I hoped it was just allergies.  I pushed through the day and after a full day of activities, I realized I was sick.  No more workouts would happen the rest of the week.  In place of runs, I took naps.  By Friday morning, I was just hoping I would finish the race on Sunday.  And to be honest, if it were not for the Titanium Girl challenge, I would have DNS.

But, Sunday morning, I woke up early and headed to Columbia.  I got there with no trouble and did not even hit traffic entering the parking lot!  The race started at 7 AM.  My plan was to stay around a 10:00 min/mile pace.  There was no way I was going to push myself that morning.  The course was hilly and I was still feeling sick, so I just wanted to get through the race and allow my body to rest for the Frederick Half Marathon the following weekend.  I lined up near the 10 min/mile pacer and figured I would stay near him the whole time.

About a mile into the race, I was in a comfortable pace.  The pacer was going about 30 sec/mile faster, but that was fine. It was at this point that I noticed a women running next to me.  The race course was still pretty thick, so I did not think anything of it.  But, by mile two we were still together.  It was strange, but we stayed stride for stride for a while.  I figured that, at some point, one of us would speed up, and we would no longer be running with each other. Yet,  three miles into the race, we were still side by side.  It seemed as if we were running together.  And when you are running next to someone for several miles, it is really hard not to acknowledged it.  So, I started talking to her.  We talked on and off for the next several miles.  And the miles that we talked, we also ran faster.  Strange.  I would think I would slow down while talking, but we just naturally sped up and it felt comfortable.  I would look at my Garmin and say I was going too fast and we would both slow down.  We often said to the other that if the other wanted to run ahead, go ahead.  We stayed together for miles.  10 miles to be exact.  And I loved it.  She kept me moving at a good pace and I think I did the same for her.  The first 10 miles of the race went by quickly and easily.
Toward the end of the race. No more running buddy :(

Then she left me.  She told me that she really needed to slow down and for me to run ahead of her.  I was still feeling good and wanted to try to maintain the 9:30/9:40 pace we had been keeping (except for the mile with THAT HILL), so we parted ways.  And you know what?  The last 3 miles of that race were TORTURE.  When I was left with myself and my own thoughts, the miles got longer and I got progressively slower.  I finished the race in 2:07:21 (9:43 pace).

Things I loved about this race:
- It really was all women.  With the exception of our pacer and about 3 other men (according to the results), this was, truly, a women's race.  Loved that.
- Although I did not get to see her, Joan Benoit Samuelson spoke at the expo and ran the race.  Oh, I wish I would have seen her!

- The shirt and medal are cute
- The after party was nice, with yummy food provided by Wegmans and Muscle Milk Shakes!
- The finishers bracelet and charm.  I do not have a Pandora bracelet, but I think the charm was a great idea! It is something you can wear everyday.

Lessons learned:
- I am a solo runner.  Have been ever since I started.  For me, it was my alone time.  But, even though that woman I ran with was a stranger, I enjoyed running with her.  I loved chatting through the miles.  It made me a faster, better runner.  And I hope I did the same for her.  I came home from that race and promptly told my husband, "I need a running buddy.Anyone want to be my running buddy?

-  I can run faster than I think I can.  Being sick, I did not think I could run as fast as I did.  Especially, with all the hills.  But I did.  I ran faster than expected.  I realized, once again, I need to get out of my own head and just start pushing myself to go faster.  I am certainly capable of running faster.  I need to just do it.


  1. Awesome, Katie! Good luck on your second half!

  2. Oh my goodness, I would love to be your running buddy! I am also a solo runner except on any chance I can run with Phil. I love those runs. Pacing is so hard for me on long runs, I always want to conserve energy and don't trust my body to get me through. I actually run faster when I am not trying to pace myself!

  3. Congratulations on this half and good luck on the second half this weekend. You are a machine!!!

    Make it a great day!

  4. Congratulations on a great race!!! Hope you are feeling better by now. I found my running buddy through the local running club. In the meantime we are a group of 5 ladies running every Saturday morning and then get coffee afterwards :)


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