A New PR at the Newport Liberty Half Marathon

On a beautiful sunny and cool Sunday morning, I set a new PR of 1:56:35 for my second half marathon, the Newport Liberty Half Marathon. I’m so excited and immensely chuffed about my accomplishment. I ran my first half marathon in May for the Brooklyn Half, which I completed in 2:08. I beat my previous PR by almost 11 1/2 minutes. At the Brooklyn Half, my average pace was 9:46 and now four months later, my average pace was 8:54. That’s almost a minute/mile faster.

Ben’s still recovering from his calf injury, so he decided to take it easy and run with me. Before the race, we hatched a plan that I would run as many 9 minute-miles as I could, so I could get a sub 2-hr half marathon time. We thought that I would get 1:59 something. I would have been estatic with 1:58, but a 1:56:35 was beyond my dreams. Ben’s running club wondered if I could finish the half marathon and he wryly told them that it was going to be his job to prevent me from running too fast. I do have a penchant of starting out too fast. While we were waiting at the starting line just moments before it started, I raised my hands in the air and declared defiantly, “Two hours til victory!” I was feeling good and ready to race.

The course was really nice – fast and flat. It starts in Newport, goes into Jersey City and Liberty State Park for a while, and then heads back to Newport. There were over 2000 runners. It got a bit congested at parts, especially when we were dealing with turns in Liberty State Park. About half of the race took place in Liberty State Park. I really appreciated the view of the Statue of Liberty as we entered the park. It was really cool getting to run where I was familiar with the area, especially when we were at the Newport waterfront. Ben and I often run there, so being in “home territory” was definitely a psychological advantage.

The first mile I set out running what I thought was a nice slow pace. So slow in fact that I worried that I was running behind a 2:00 half marathon time. Ben looked at his Garmin and yelped that we were going too fast. The first mile  was 8:53 and the second mile was 8:40. He strongly urged me to slow down, so I wouldn’t burn out at the end.

I felt so good and strong. The run, even at that pace, didn’t feel hard. The first six miles were completed at about a 8:45 pace. Then I slowed down a bit, but my slowest miles (Miles 11 & 12) were done at 9:07 and 9:06. All of my miles were done faster than the requisite 9:09 pace for the 2-hr half marathon time. I was surprised by how fast I ran because none of my mid to long-distance runs were done at this pace. I figured that with the cool weather, I had a good shot of making it under 2 hours. At worst, I would do 2:04 if the weather suddenly spiked in temperature on Sunday. At several points during the race, Ben pointed out that I built in a very comfortable cushion and I could afford to slow down. He was worried that I would crash around Mile 10, which I’ve done before in the past. I started eating Shot Bloks at Mile 5 (took a chew about every mile for a while, and then starting eating them about every half mile), so I wouldn’t flame out.

Ben was a wonderful running partner. Because this was for him, a much easier run, he entertained me by playing tour guide. He described the various landmarks we passed. He encouraged me and lauded me with compliments. He carried conversations with other runners. He made up a funny song about Kip Litton (“This is Kip Litton’s paradise” to the tune of Eddie Money’s “Two Tickets to Paradise”). At the water stops, he got my water for me. That was really helpful because I didn’t have to slow down my running at all. I cruised by the tables and the congestion. A few feet later, Ben caught up to me and handed me a Dixie cup of water. Just beyond Mile 11, someone was standing passing out bottles of water to runners. I made Ben go fetch us one. Although I didn’t need water at that moment, it’s easier for me to drink water out of a bottle than out of a cup. I also used the bottled water to pour some over my head to cool me off.

The first ten miles went well. It’s the last three miles that take a bit of mental effort on my part. I thought to myself with a slight bit of despair (I was really tired at that point) that I had a 5K left. Then I decided that thought was too depressing, so I concentrated on simply finished each mile one at a time. I was extremely relieved with it was the last mile. With each step I thought, “It’s almost over.” At the last bend, I could see the finish line and I put in as much of a kick as I had in me.

Today’s race was a fantastic experience. I’m so happy with how well my second half marathon well, especially considering that I only started thinking about doing this race about a month ago. I ran a great time, which I think shows that weightlifting should be considered an important component of training for long runs. I generally weight lift  2-3 times a week and do 1-2 runs a week (one speed work and one mid to long run).

Mile splits (times are not exact because of the satellite reception)

  1. 8:53
  2. 8:40
  3. 8:51
  4. 8:48
  5. 8:44
  6. 8:46
  7. 8:55
  8. 8:38
  9. 8:51
  10. 8:57
  11. 9:07
  12. 9:06
  13. 8:55
  14. 8:37 (My last little bit of kick!)
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8 thoughts on “A New PR at the Newport Liberty Half Marathon

  1. Congrats!!! I also PR’d at this race yesterday, getting 1:59 — just making my sub-2:00 goal! I live and work along the course so it was awesome for me to be on familiar territory (I even hung out in my office before the start for the warmth + bathroom!). My training has been rough and I was surprised by how easy this felt from the very first mile. Perfect weather (although the wind was rough in the park) and gorgeous scenery. I liked how the race looped in on itself so much in he park because the swarm of colorful runners looked awesome. It all just felt easy and like you, it started getting really rough for me around mile 10. The volunteers yelling “1 more mile left!” when there were more than that was frustrating too! That last mile was brutal which is a shame since it’s such pretty scenery and I couldn’t appreciate it, but hearing a spectator shout to me that I’ll make it under 2:00 was just the motivation I needed. Great race, hope to do it again next year. Congrats to you on getting so much faster since May!

    • Hey Dori! Congrats on your own PR! I also loved having a race in my “own home turf” so to speak (my bf lives in Hoboken and we’re often in Newport/Jersey City). Sunday was definitely a great race day. Looking forward to reading about your own perspective of the race on your blog.

  2. Congrats! And love that you were able to run with your bf supporting you. That is fantastic.

    I would also like to say – your comment about lifting – spot on in my opinion. When injured in May I started to seriously up my lifting routine and now do 4 times a week on top of running (I do run a lot avg 30-40 miles usually). And I credit the lifting (well, as well as clean eating) to me leaning out, getting stronger and improving my running. Like you I PR’d in a big way and think that was a large part of the equation.

  3. Thanks, Gianna. I love weightlifting. My body doesn’t take too kindly to running hard every day or running a lot, so I rely on weightlifting to give me the conditioning to do these runs. I’m looking forward to reading more about lifting and running from you.

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