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I clocked a 1:48 at the Central Park Half Marathon – my last official road half back in January 2010.  A lot has happened between the race I dubbed “The Cold Ass Half” (it was 19 degrees at the starting line) and now: I moved across the country, completed races from 5K to 225K, got a new roommate and co-blogger, and made great strides as a runner.  I knew that I had a realistic chance to set a big PR in Healdsburg, but four business trips in the past five weeks cast a shadow of doubt on my bid to break 1:40 for the first time.

Not quite The Cold Ass Half, but also not quite an acceptable temperature, Taylor and I woke up to 40 degree weather in Healdsburg.  We somehow missed the bag drop memo and pranced around the starting area in shorts (very short shorts in my case – a nod to my time in Denmark) and t-shirts, clutching complimentary Peet’s coffee until the gun went off.

Feeling very strong through mile 10.

Feeling very strong through mile 10.

In the opening minutes, I found myself limping to the point where I seriously considered taking my first DNF.  My left arch and plantar fascia were in knots, and they were impeding my ability to break into full stride.  Nevertheless, I clocked a 7:10 first mile, and decided to push on until the 15 minute mark before making a decision to pull out of the race.

I’m chalking it up to blazing speed, but call it what you will: my shorts were coming undone around the mile 2 mark.  I tried my best to tie them whilst running, but despite a heroic effort, I had to walk to retie my shorts; 7:15 mile 2.

At this point, the adrenaline got the best of me and I really kicked into high gear.  The miles were flying by, and I found myself running at a 7:20 pace with ease through the 10K mark; I approached my PR 10K time of 44:30 by running a 45:20 to start the race.

Despite the lack of water and aid on the course, the miles were flying by, and I thoroughly enjoyed running through the rolling hills of wine country in the glory of peak autumn foliage.  As I approached the final 5K, I had plenty in the tank, and found myself running at a 6:40 pace halfway through my 11th mile; I will never forget how good it felt to run at a 5K pace deep into a half with the morning sun shining down on me.  After throwing down a paper cup of water and half a Gu, I chugged toward the finish line at a 6:30 pace knowing that a comfortable PR had been sealed.  I broke the tape at 1:37:25, which was good for 9th in M25-29, and 51 out of 811 overall.

Next up?  Sub 1:35, which is realistic after spending 20 seconds tying my shorts, not to mention a combined minute walking through aid stations to drink.  I’m not ready to buckle down and focus on the Boston Marathon at this point, but after running a half marathon close to my qualifying pace, I now have the confidence to attempt a BQ one day.

Finish time: 1:37:25

Place: 9 in M25-29, 51 overall

Pace: 7:26* (my garmin read 13.25, which comes out to a 7:19 pace)