Race Recap: Iron Girl Columbia Half Marathon

The starting and finish line

One of my goals for 2012 was to run a sub-2 hour half marathon.  The Iron Girl Columbia Half Marathon was the race where I had hoped to do just that.  As race day approached, I didn’t know if it was going to happen.  I was doubting my abilities and if I really had it it me for this race.  Even when I was waiting at the starting line chatting with my hubby, I actually asked him what I should do.  Do I try to run my hardest and reach for my goal? Or, should I just take it easy and enjoy the race? It took me until halfway through the race to finally make up my mind.

Still contemplating my race plan

When we arrived at the starting line, I did what every other woman there did – get in line for the porta-pots.  This was an all women’s race with 2,000 runners and there were a mere 20 porta-pots.  I think they needed closer to 200 of them.  I ended up having to skip the bathroom break and going straight to the starting line.

At the starting line, Zain kept saying "yay, yay, YAY!"

Off I go! Waving to my little running buddy on the sideline

For nearly the whole first 2 miles, we headed uphill.  I’m familiar with those hills though as I’ve run them many times in training and also part of them for the Clyde’s 10K.  I did my best to tackle them while my legs warmed up.  I tried not to let the excitement of the race start force me into going out to fast.

Mile 1 – 9:38

Mile 2 – 9:27

Mile 3 – 9:19

Mile 4 -9:23

Mile 5 -9:14

Mile 6 – 9:08

The hills weren’t the only thing that kept my pace slower in the beginning – I had to pee! It’s really distracting and uncomfortable to have to pee during a race, especially when there are no bathrooms to be found.  Finally, at mile 6, I stopped and asked a volunteer if any porta-pots were coming up.  She told me there were some at the next water stop in half a mile.

What she didn’t mention was that for over half a mile, we would be climbing a freaking mountain to get to that water stop.  I’ve run a lot of hills, but this particular hill was the biggest beast I’ve met.  It was a little over half a mile long and it was steep.  Nearly everyone around me slowed to a walk.  I kept running, but I wasn’t going much faster than those walking.  At the top, we headed across the halfway point timing mats and I spied the glorious porta-pots!

Mile 7 – 10:38

Mile 7 was my slowest thanks to the epic hill and bathroom break.  Once I hit the pavement again, I was really to roll! I sped up quite a bit and made up for my lost time.  That was the point where I seemed to finally make up my mind that I was going to go for my goal.

Mile 8 – 8:46

Mile 9 – 9:15

Mile 10 – 9:05

I kept trying to do mental math to see if I was going to be able to make my time goal.  I have a 10 minute mile mentality.  I was automatically calculating my time in my head estimating 10 minute miles.  Trying to calculate with the pace I was actually going was too much for my long distance race brain.

Mile 11 – 8:50

Mile 12 – 8:27

I kept feeling discouraged that I wasn’t going to make it.  I knew I could at least beat my previous half PR of 2:08 from the ZOOMA race last year, but I still needed to dig deeper.

Mile 13 – 7:26

This is the third time in my whole life that I’ve run a mile in the 7 minute range.  I gave it all I had in that last mile.  Thank God there was a good bit of downhill to the finish.  When I saw hubby and Zain cheering for me, I started to feel tears coming to my eyes.  Races make me so emotional.  I pushed as hard as I could to the finish and saw the clock time was 1:59 and ticking.  I knew my chip time was a little less than that.  My official time was 1:58:32, an average pace of 9:03.  I just barely made it.  My pace obviously fluctuated quite a bit throughout the race thanks to all the wonderful hills.

I see my loves!

My form isn't as bad as I thought it would be at this point!

Zain's thinking, "Wow, mommy is running fast! Why can't we run that fast when she's pushing me?"

Crossing the finish line and meeting my goal of a sub-2 hour half marathon was – hands down – the best race experience I’ve ever had.  I felt proud of myself.  I worked hard for this and I did it.  My runner’s high was in full effect and I was somewhere floating in the clouds with joy.

Another pretty medal for my collection

And a bracelet!

I started out this race having no idea if I was even capable of reaching my goal.  I took 10 minutes off my previous PR.  I won’t lie and say I felt amazing during every mile of the race because I definitely didn’t.  I had my moments where I questioned everything.  I fought for my PR, but I felt strong until the end.  When I ran the ZOOMA half last summer, the last 3 miles were grueling.  I didn’t feel that this time.  I know I’m a stronger runner now than I was then and that’s encouraging.

My race results usually peg me as a middle of the pack runner.  I’m finally moving up in my placement.  I came in at number 357 out of 1,617 finishers and number 62 out of 208 for my age group.

Now, onto the next one! I’ll be running the Maryland Half Marathon on Sunday with hubby.  I won’t be shooting for a PR this time, just enjoying the miles with my love!


  1. says

    you rocked it!!!! CONGRATS!!! that hill is Harriet Tubman Drive.. lawd that was the worst hill I ever ran in my life!!! I swear we are running all of the same races.. we must connect even if it’s before you fly ahead of me!! LOL  Great Job.. I PR’d and shaved 9 mins off my time.. now I just need to do my recap of the race!

  2. Carissa says

    Congrats on the PR for such a hilly race! Under 2 is my dream PR. I missed it by 34 seconds this season.

  3. Melissa (Adventure Tykes) says

    I totally try and calculate my time while running a race and this race reminds me of my half in Oct. where I got my PR and sub 2hrs. It is emotional and exciting. Awesome job! Congrats!

  4. Lisa (Mom to Marathon) says

    Congratulations!!!  Wow…a 10 minute PR.  I know exactly the feeling you are describing–I had the same one after my first sub-two half.  I hope that high lasted a while for you!

    I am very impressed with your incredible negative splits.  7:26 in your last mile???  That is awesome.  You can continue to set aggressive goals for your next races.

  5. Marshall Oram says

    That is just awesome! Congratulations on making your goal and getting a new PR!! To top it all off you did negative splits for the last 5 miles, simply awesome!

  6. Kathleen D says

    Great job!  Whats the waist pouch you use?  I’m looking for a less bulky one – I like the size of yours!

    • says

      It’s made by Nathan. I believe it’s called their Speed 2 belt.  I LOVE
      it.  I won’t race without it anymore.  It’s very comfortable and holds a
      lot in the pouch.  I also have an Amphipod extra pouch that I attach
      for longer races to hold extra stuff.

  7. alma says

    Congrats on the PR! Great course.  I thought that hill killed my time, but I got a PR too! 

    BTW.. that’s me and the hubby in your first pic – me in the blue tank and him in the black hoodie. He ran the 5k and placed for his division :) 

    Good luck in your race next weekend!  We will be running the Cox Providence half on Sunday.

  8. PhroYo says

    YAY! Congratulations!!!! Your description of that hill matched mine perfectly. It was somethin! I heard about the porta-potty nightmare and I know exactly how you feel… when you have to pee, it’s literally all you can think about. Great job though!


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