Race Recap: Geist Half-Marathon

21 May


Another medal! She’s a beauty!

This weekend I ran the Geist “Race Around the Reservoir” Half-Marathon.  It was my second half marathon in two weeks, and I had an awesome time (truly I mean it)!  I went into this race a little apprehensive: my motivation was down, and I was really concerned about my knees.  I ended up running the half with a friend I work with, and it was a lot of fun.  We went quite a bit slower than I had planned, but in the long run (no pun intended) it was great for both my spirits and my knees.

The Prep

4:50 am: In the morning I woke up about an hour and a half before we needed to leave and had plenty of time to get ready.  I did this with the Indy mini, and I love the calm that having extra time provides.  After eating half of my bagel (I have to leave something to run back to!), strawberries, and banana, I tried a new race activity.  I drank coffee!  I’ve read online that caffeine can actually improve performance (especially if you’re not used to using it on a regular basis).  Check out articles here or here.  Because I gave up caffeine on January 7th (I’ve had it a handful of times since), I now qualify as a “non-regular user”  WOOT!  I’m thrilled.  I had a big addiction to it.  Anyways – because of this, I thought it would be a great race routine to drink a cup of coffee or caffeinated tea the morning of a race.  In my last half I did caffeinated tea and it was great.  This time I was staying at a friend’s house and went with the coffee.  I was a little nervous about trying something new on race day – but because I wasn’t going for a PR I thought this would be a great opportunity.  It was delicious, warm, and a fun little treat.  It also had the added benefit of getting things moving gastrointestinal-ly (if you know what I mean.).  This is a trick I will continue to incorporate into future races.


Delicious and effective!

6:20 am: After dressing, taping my knees, and going to the bathroom 6 times, I was ready to go!  Adam was a doll and dropped me off at the start.  This was fantastic because there was no parking at the start – I would’ve had to wake up earlier for a shuttle (yeah – I love sleep, thanks Adam!).  I knew my co-worker, Katherine, was running the race and we planned to at least start together.  I’m a bit faster than she is, but thought it would be nice to run a couple miles with her.  Or at very least have someone to stand next to at the start.  We found each other and after one last stop at the porta-potties, made our way to the corrals. Because this race was so small you could self-select your start time.  We stood near the 2:00 mark.  After chatting with Katherine a bit more I realized that I really wanted to help her achieve a PR of 1:58.  I knew that I could get that time and I also thought it would be a smart thing for me to not go for the moon and cause too much damage to the poor knees.  My PT would be proud of that decision!  I had my PR, I wanted to get Katherine hers.  A bit of foreshadowing here: Katherine ran her first full marathon 3 weeks ago (for you non-runners, it typically takes about a month to recover from fulls, especially for non-professional/new-to-marathons runners.)  I told Katherine my plan: run negative splits starting out at 9:00 min/miles and slowly increase the pace after mile 8.  She said it sounded great – though I didn’t have to stick with her, “You’re faster than me, so no pressure to stick together!”  I thought about it and said, “Well, let’s start out together and see what happens.”  I have confidence in Katherine as a runner – I truly believe she’s faster than she thinks she is!


Excited and ready to go at the start!


You can sort of see the lake and bridge – it was lovely!

7:00 am: Soon the gun sounded and we were off!  The race started on a bridge over the reservoir (aka lake) and it was truly a gorgeous scene!  The excitement really started flowing through me: I was feeling great.  I was so happy to be out running – my energy really surprised me given my apprehension earlier in the week.  Katherine and I easily stuck together and nailed our first mile coming in a little under 8:30.


In our spot ready to go!

The Race

Mile 1 (8:25): Okay, doing good.  Yikes – a little fast.  But I always start out a little faster than I plan.  This is good.  Crowds are good but under control.  Plenty of space…feeling good!  Decent weather.  I need to pee.

Mile 2 (8:50): Hmm, I really need to back-off.  I don’t want Katherine to start out too strong.  She’s usually over 9 minutes, I need to stick more to her.  I think I’m going to do this whole thing with her.  At this point I feel I could go even faster…but…is that really the smart thing to do?  My PR is going to happen in the fall.  This race is about fun.  Stick with Katherine and let’s make some magic for her!

Mile 3 (9:03): Man alive – I need to pee!  What is going on here.   We’re doing great!  Perfection pacing.  Wow is it humid?  Does it seem humid to you?

Mile 4 (9:29): Hmm.. we’ll need to pick it up a bit more.  It’s okay – I’ll correct for the next one.  There was a water stop in there (Katherine walks through stops, I typically grab and run). Should I run ahead?  I feel really strong – I know I could go faster.  Hmm.  Katherine doesn’t seem to be particularly enjoying herself or looking amazingly strong – I’ll stay.  We can do it!

Mile 5 (9:50):  GAH!  No.  Okay well – there is still time to recover.  Not all is lost.  We are having fun.  Let’s see if I can slowly push Katherine a bit faster without her noticing.  She’s not feeling as strong now – increase motivational thoughts!!  Mission build up Katherine!

Mile 6 (10:06):  NO!  Another water stop.  Gah – losing so much time on the stops.  Hmm.  You know.  I’m thinking 1:58 is no longer a possibility.  I don’t think PR pace will be possible.  Katherine’s allergies are really giving her trouble and it is clear her legs aren’t recovered (I wouldn’t expect them to be).  Motivate motivate motivate!  Random runner tells me I need a microphone to share my motivation with everyone.  Pass huge hill.  Keep circling back to Katherine and running backwards to keep moving/continue to cheer her (I didn’t want my knees to freak out by stopping).  Probably annoying other runners with my obvious energy and enthusiasm.  Dang – I’m that girl.

Mile 7 (9:23):  Much better.  We can do this.  She’s got this.  Keep encouraging, keep encouraging her!   Still need to pee.  Lordy is it humid!  Hmm.. did I even take a gu?  Oops.

Mile 8 (10:00): Yeah.. so let’s just have fun with this one!  At this point let’s throw time out the window.  Kelly you don’t care about time, you don’t care about time.  But seriously time doesn’t matter at this point.  Let’s get Katherine the fastest time she can get and stick by her!  She isn’t feeling great and now is not the time to leave her.  Let’s tell Katherine the story of how I met Adam. :) New technique: distraction.

Mile 9 (10:31): If I sprint now I could still squeak in under 2:00.  NO.  Must. Not. Leave. Katherine.  Continue telling the story of how Adam and I met.  Random runner says they want to stay near us to hear the story.  Man – we’re going a little slower than expected, but I’m thoroughly enjoying my role as “motivator.”

Mile 10 (10:33):  Wow – I didn’t realize how fast I’ve gotten, because I’m actually, dare I say, bored with this speed!  (Silent cheer to self!!  Don’t say aloud – focus on building up Katherine.  But seriously – I can’t believe I just had that thought!  I’m becoming a better runner!  Yay! ).  Solidify 1:49:59 as goal for fall half in head.  Continue building up Katherine.  Pass Adam!!  Hello!!  Adam – cheer for Katherine!!!

Mile 11 (9:52):  Are we seriously still out here?  I’m kind of over this.  Start telling the story of wedding plans to Katherine.  Both of us perk up.

Mile 12 (11:00):  So close we can taste it!!  Starts drizzling. I guess this is better than just pure humidity.  Keep pushing her – she’s doing great!!  A little bit of walking at this point but that’s okay!  Just encourage her to keep moving forward.  Almost time for breakfast.  Mylanta I’m starving.

Mile 13 (9:15):  Boo yah grandma!  Katherine- we saved some in the tank for this… you ready?  “Yeah!”  Sprint to the finish!

13.1 (8:45):  Victorious!!  We did it!!

Finish: 2:08:07!

After our finish we walked to collect water, our medals, and food.  Major sadness: they were out of food!  They only had cookies left over.  Serious bummer.  This race had a corresponding 5K and I’m guessing all the 5K-ers ate it all up!  Little stinkers.


They ran out of food – but I still found some free chocolate milk!

I grabbed what I could and we made our way out of the finisher’s area.  We ran into Katherine’s Mom and I told her how proud she should be of her daughter.  I’m still incredibly impressed with a 2:08 half only 3 weeks after completing her first full – it’s pretty amazing!  We didn’t get Katherine’s PR, which I’m very sad about – but we did have a good time (at least I did – Katherine might say otherwise ;)) .  And I’m very glad I stuck with Katherine.  It was a great experience for me to try my hand at pacing (turns out I’m not that great) and motivating (turns out I may have a hidden talent at this).


Aww!! Sweetest card on my desk Monday morning!

Katherine also saved me from myself.  For that I’m so grateful to her!  Sunday I woke up with some stiffness, but knees only in minor pain!  The slower pace kept me injury free and smart.  If I had been on my own I probably would’ve pushed and pushed and ended up doing something stupid… like trying to beat 1:51.  Now I’m barely sore and totally happy.  After the mini it took 3-4 days to feel human again!  After the Geist finish I actually ended up jogging back to meet up with Adam and friends…I couldn’t have imagined doing this at the mini.

Key Lessons

  • I enjoyed drinking coffee before the race.  It got things moving and didn’t upset my stomach.  I’ll keep this habit.
  • I liked acting as pacer/motivator.  In the future I would make sure the time we’re going for is reasonable given conditions, training, and tapering. Also important to know what motivates your pacee.
  • Running back-to-back half marathons is totally doable as long as one is an easier “fun run.”  I’d definitely do this again, but only if one of the halfs was with someone else and that someone else was considerably slower than me.  Racing two half-marathons in such close proximity would’ve been difficult on my body.
  • Racing is fun.  Running is fun.  Sometimes focusing on someone else allows you to think about how amazing running and racing is.  Corny but true.  I didn’t really have time to think about how much this hurt or that, focusing on Katherine kept me distracted and I just soaked it all in!
  • I can’t wait to start working on speed more.  I’m ready for my 2 weeks off of running to be up and use the summer to get stronger and faster!

The rest of the weekend was amazing with a friend’s graduation party and more wedding planning (looked at wedding bands, got closer with ceremony stuff, and looking at hotels/group blocks, analyzed photographers more).  Let me just say – I was so thankful I didn’t sprint the race… I wasn’t out for the count and got to enjoy time with friends.  All’s well that ends well!  This race was fun, exciting, motivating, and really has whet my appetite for a new PR.  I couldn’t believe how “slow” my old usual time felt.  My previous two halfs were 2:06 and suddenly 2:08 felt like I was crawling?  This was an incredibly inspiring experience.  It really is possible to get faster with training and this experience was proof.  This week I’ve already started scoping my race for the fall.  I had an awesome run this weekend and can’t wait for the opportunity to do it again!

Happy running!


19 Responses to “Race Recap: Geist Half-Marathon”

  1. jojo922 May 21, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

    Woohoo! Congrats on your finish!!! At least they had free chocolare milk left :)

  2. turtlepacerunner May 21, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

    Congrats! And very cool of you to run with your coworker. Random question, why do runners have to use the bathroom so much before a race? I do only because I have tummy issues but it seems to be a common thing for runners to use the bathroom Iike 10 times before a race. :)

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings May 21, 2013 at 4:55 pm #

      Thanks!! It was a great run! :) Yeah… great question. Why do runners need the bathroom so much?? My reason – I tend to get nervous and over hydrate in the morning. Or the day before. Or I just get nervous and think I need to go. Or I get nervous and get my stomach upset. Haha – I’m not really sure what it is! But it seems like we’re all in it together.

  3. Lucy @ Lucy On The Lookout May 22, 2013 at 1:58 am #

    Ooh thanks for writing this up, I enjoyed reading it (especially as I’m tempted by a half at some point!). I too am now a ‘non-regular coffee user’ (once an addict, always an addict ;) ) and decided to break my ban and drink pre-race this weekend – I actually thought it did the job pretty well (extra adrenaline, and getting things moving..!) Hope your knees feel better soon :) Also wanted to ask are you going to do anything in specific to get your speed up? I realised at my race that I could run a lot faster than ever when training so would like to work on it, but not quite sure how (except trying to push myself to go a bit faster when running – but I like to dawdle ;) )

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings May 22, 2013 at 10:56 am #

      I’m so glad you enjoyed reading it! It was a really fun race – and you should DEFINITELY do a half at some point. It’s an awesome distance, it really might be my favorite distance. And I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who liked the coffee before race only thing – I just have to remind myself it’s only races and not let myself get too carried away (addicts can easily be swayed! ;)). As far as speed I haven’t quite decided exactly what my strategy will be. In the next couple weeks I’m planning to make my “Summer of Speed” training plan to get a better idea. Honestly I’ve never worked on it consciously before so I’m going to have to do some research. At this point I’ve heard tempo running and Yasso 800s are good methods. I’ll be sure to post about my research and plan once I’ve got it. :) But you’re right – unfortunately getting faster involves training faster (boo), which I’ve always avoided. I too like to dawdle! *Sigh* If I want speed I guess I better learn to not like dawdling so much! I think I’ve decided I like the experience of getting faster more than I like the experience of dawdling – trying to convince myself it’s a good trade-off :)

  4. megbek May 22, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

    Congrats on getting through this with such a graceful attitude, too! I’m glad coffee helped you – I usually feel the same way about it too! That’s a great finishing time, for sure. You did great lady! :) I love reading about your races because I feel like I am there with you – your recaps are awesome. Come to GA and do all the races here and give me all the recaps. Can I commission you for that work? Haha! :) Happy Wednesday!

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings May 22, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

      Aww thanks lady!! Yeah the coffee thing was a great discovery! :) I’m so glad you enjoy reading the recaps – they are my favorite to write!! I’m so sad I won’t have one for awhile. My hope is to find some shorter races over the summer to hold me over until I do a couple halfs in the fall. I’d be very happy to come do your recaps – only a small fee: the thin crust pizza from that fabulous place in Atlanta. I can’t remember the name – but lordy I’ll do it for that. Actually let me know if any good races pop up in ATL – my bro lives there so I’m always looking for an excuse to get down there. Enjoy your wednesday as well! :)

      • megbek May 22, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

        Oh really?!?!??! Oh you shouldn’t have told me! We’ll have to plan to do a race together! There’s a half in October in the city and a half in Savannah in November…. ;) ;)

        • kelly @ racesrepsramblings May 22, 2013 at 4:03 pm #

          Oh my the wheels are turning! What are the dates on those? Oct/Nov might be a tricky time for me to travel with the wedding coming up (settled on January and trying to save money like crazy). But.. I know I’ll be in ATL in late summer for my soon-to-be sister’s bridal shower, etc. I’ll have to keep ATL in mind for a 10 or 15K. That would be amazingness to meet up!!

          • megbek May 22, 2013 at 4:05 pm #

            Please do stay in touch about dates! I’ll pick out an amazing race for us to do while you’re here! :) I believe the Nov is Nov 1 in Savannah and the ATL one is Oct 6. YAY! <3 <3

            • kelly @ racesrepsramblings May 22, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

              Hmm.. that ATL one could work.. It’s the weekend before my bro’s wedding so I might be able to finagle that one. Nov 1 is out – I’m doing one in Indy on the 2nd. I adore Savannah though so sadness :( Will keep you posted. In crazy wedding planning mode until Adam moves in June (trying to get as much done before he leaves!). Then I’ll start really planning out my races. :) I love it!

              • megbek May 22, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

                I can imagine tons to do! Please do keep me posted! Here’s my personal email meghandondero1@gmail.com so you can let me know! :) If you tell me when you’re here I’ll do the rest of the planning, I promise! :)

                • kelly @ racesrepsramblings May 22, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

                  Sounds like perfection!! Will keep you posted. If I don’t mention anything about anything by July feel free to openly harass me. I might’ve gone into a wedding planning coma.

                  • megbek May 22, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

                    Hahaha I can do that!! :) I hope you share some about it on the blog!!

  5. atwostoreyhome May 23, 2013 at 8:37 am #

    You did it!! Congratulations! 3 weeks after her full marathon and 2 weeks after your half? I am wildly impressed with the 2:08! You guys rocked it. I’m so glad you were able to enjoy it… and also appreciate how far you’ve come!

    • kelly @ racesrepsramblings May 23, 2013 at 8:45 am #

      Thank you so much!! We were both pretty excited – a great race for sure :) And you’re right – I think my favorite part was getting to see how far I’ve come as a runner. That’s always a neat and humbling experience. I know that I’ve gotten faster, but this experience was kind of a “now there’s no denying it!” thing. It sounds like you had a great college reunion weekend – glad you had fun :) Hope all is well!


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