Saturday, July 25, 2015

Her Tern Half-Marathon Recap 2015

It's almost been a week and I'm finally getting around to writing up a race recap for the Her Tern Half-Marathon. It's kind of crazy to me that it's already been that long, and that the whole race weekend went by so fast.

It was my first half-marathon and it's an accomplishment that I'm pretty proud of. During the race I kind of thought about why an official half-marathon race is so special since most people run that distance and even longer sometimes during training, but I couldn't quite figure out an answer, other than that it just is. Ask almost anyone who has run in an event of any distance, and they'll tell you, there's something so exciting, so electrifying about participating in a race. The Her Tern Half took all of this excitement to a whole new level.

The Her Tern Half and Quarter are advertised as 'boutique' races that pamper participants in nearly every way possible, and I've heard from so many people that it's their favorite race of the year. They even offer a training program weeks in advance of the race to help runners of every level prepare, which I think is so cool. I definitely would have signed up if I lived in Anchorage. 

I went camping in Seward (post to come soon!) Friday night and then drove directly to the race 'expotique' in downtown on Saturday after packing up our campsite. It was a beautiful sunny day, which made the outdoor expo even more enjoyable. They had the entire road blocked off between Skinny Raven and Her Tern with tents set up including the most amazing fitting rooms ever. Every staff member we encountered was extremely friendly and helpful, and acted like they were genuinely happy to be there answering any questions and handing out bibs and goodie bags.

I used the amazing coupons included the event packets to purchase a Her Tern Half labeled Nathan water bottle (I love the narrow silicone spout!), a HTH labeled Brooks Running tank (which I LOVE), and some Nuun hydration products. I had both kids with me, which wasn't a problem at all, as it was an extremely kid friendly event. There was even a sign decorating station for kids (and adults) to decorate signs to hold while cheering on their moms. Genius! And Riggs was served popcorn by a very friendly staff-member, which made trying out some of the Moving Comfort sports bras (see my favorite, here) even easier. I was a little bit obsessed with the fitting rooms and kind of wanted to grab some snacks and lounge around in them for a while, haha. 

On race day I got up a little early to eat a little bit of yogurt but didn't end up eating like I should have because my stomach just felt a little off and I was trying to pack the kids up to head in to Anchorage. I met my sister downtown and she stayed with me to cheer me on at the start line, then took my kids to church with her for the morning, which was so nice.

I used the bag drop at the race since I would be alone at the finish, and it went very smoothly (it was my first time using a bag drop and I was a little nervous about it for some reason). I actually didn't do any running warm-ups before the race because of the length of the race. I did do some light stretching and a few dynamic stretches in the five minutes before the start, but that was it. Maybe TMI, but I was able to successfully use the restrooms right before the race, and that was a huge bonus. I never ended up having to use an outhouse at any of the aid stations during the race, which I was a little worried about. And I didn't pee in my shorts, so that's awesome (am I the only one who struggles with this for races? I know I'm not so don't be shocked haha). All good things!

My goals for this race were to have fun and not get injured, and also to finish under 2 hours, which was an easily attainable goal since that was at a pace well below my usually training pace. But I didn't want to give myself any extra pressure, because I really really wanted to enjoy my first half and not be sore the rest of the week from pushing myself too hard. I'm very competitive when it comes to sports and have a hard to forcing myself to slow down, so I knew this was going to be a challenge.  

At the starting line I just felt so at ease and didn't really have the usual pre-race jitters, which I thought was a good sign that I would be able to take it slow and easy like I wanted to. Once the race started I just settled into an easy pace and sort of pretended I was just doing a nice and slow weekend long run. I needed to run around 9 min miles on average for the whole race, and ended up running about 8.15 m/m's for nearly the whole way. 

For me getting passed is really mentally challenging further on in the race and I had a little guilt complex while running because I kept passing the participants who had signed up for the walking version of the race. I was really inspired because a lot of them were running and were putting all their effort into completing the race and I felt that connection, that common bond that comes from suffering/working through something hard together. 

I was feeling great during miles 10-11 and then just sort of started to feel out of it during the last two miles. I kept thinking I just wanted to stop and lay down on the side of the trail, even thought my legs weren't feeling that tired and my breathing was just fine. Also the last half mile was uphill nearly the whole way, and that was really really tough for me. I slowed down A LOT the last mile. 

I did not pack any sort of nutritional supplements and took about two sips of the electrolyte drinks they offered at the turnaround point (about mile 7) which in retrospect I think was a big mistake. In addition to not eating breakfast, I think not fueling during the race really contributed to my feelings of fogginess and fatigue during the last two miles. 

probably the happiest I've been at a finish line
(even happier than at the Twilight 12k)

Despite the slip-up with not fueling and with slowing down the last couple of miles, I'm really happy with how the race went and thoroughly enjoyed myself during most of the run. The 'post-race pamper party' was amazing and I wish I could have stayed longer, but I was also excited to get back to the kids. There were gourmet cupcakes and mimosas and photobooths and more and the atmosphere was just so fun and encouraging, it's definitely a race I recommend doing with a friend or group of friends. 

My next race will be the Skinny Rave Half-Marathon on August 16 in Anchorage, which is a part of the Big Wild Life Runs put on by the city. My sister is doing it too and that makes it even more exciting. I ran three days this week so far, taking it super easy the first two after the race and running very slow and easy then did a typical training day on Wednesday of 5.5 miles at easy pace (8:30) with a tempo mile in the middle (7:30) and some striders at the end. Went camping again Thursday so took that day and Friday off, which actually felt just about right. 

1) post race happy smiles 2) participants received bracelets with coordinates of the finish line instead of a medal 3) My own personal little foam-rolling station on the sidewalk after the race 4) results - you can see how much my pace slowed (to 9:35 for last mile) reflected here.

Anyone have any big races coming up or plans/goals/dreams to do a half or full marathon in the future?


  1. Amazing, good for you! I love all of the race options that Anchorage and the surrounding area offer. I ran in one of the Big Wildlife Runs, but wish I took advantage of more.

  2. Thanks Mar! It really is a great running community. I went to the zoo on Thursday and thought of you! Maybe someday you'll get to come back to Anchorage and stay a little longer! ♥