I set my half-marathon PR by over 2 minutes today at the 2013 Oleksak Half-Marathon in Westfield, MA. My previous best had been at the same race a year ago when I ran 1:36:25 (a 7:21 pace). Today it was 1:34:22 (a 7:13 pace). And I felt good the entire run. As you might imagine, I'm feeling really good about this.
The winds were biting during the warm-up run, but I remembered how much I usually heat up regardless so I stripped down to just shorts and a t-shirt. This ended up being a good move as the sun came out and it warmed right up to the low 40's by mile 2. I did wear gloves most of the way, though.
The first mile is flat and I hit it right on my goal pace of 7:21. Mile two was a little slower, but that was OK since it had some uphill. 7:27. Mile three is almost all ascent and has the steepest hill of the race. That one was a 7:53. Fine. Mile four levels out but still climbs. 7:32. Again, fine. Mile 4-5 is mostly flat, and I began to make up the time. 7:05. Mile 5-6 has the biggest downhill. 7:00. From there it's a very gradual downhill/flat trend (with a couple of short hills) all the way to mile ten. 7:12. 7:09. 7:22. 7:08. Somewhere around mile 8 the effort began to catch up with me and I started to flag a little, but another Gu and some extra water at the next station perked me right back up. Then you get to the flat final three, through neighborhoods. Here I methodically picked off a couple of the guys I'd been behind for a bunch of miles, and I have to admit I felt pretty good doing that. It just all felt right. Nothing hurt, nothing felt tight, and I had the energy to just stride away. Love it when that happens. It's not all that often, but I love it when it does. The final three mile splits were 7:02, 6:52, and 6:30. Hot damn.