3:29 - bittersweet. I made my sub-3:30 goal by about 45 seconds, meaning I can follow through with my plan to train for and set a 13.1 PR (then 10k, 5k, etc...) but... still bittersweet... the second half was slow.
After settling in for two miles I noticed I was running right next to the 3:15 pace group, how convenient. Long story short, I essentially flipped the plan I had (a.k.a. going out slow) and ran with them. But I never have been good at going out slow, or following race plans for that matter, and the 7:15 pace felt entirely too nice, so I was content when we went through the half in 1:35, less than a minute off what I ran the actual half-marathon in last year on this course (this is significant and makes me excited about running a fast half). I stopped at mile 16 for 30 seconds, and ultimately couldn't make up that gap with the pacers.
-Begin Downward Spiral-
The next four miles actually weren't that bad, but this is technically where it started. Throughout the whole course there were a TON of hokie fans, and this was kind of nice considering it was during the first part of the race where I was running by myself (or still with the pacer group, just 2 minutes behind -_- ). Over this past summer I really got used to races where you don't see another human being for miles or even hours at a time, so this was a nice change. Anyway, miles 20-23 were the worst for me, mostly due to a very weak/damaged feeling left calf. Not sure what was up with that.. but after coming up a little hill out of 24, I saw the 3:30 pacer, and decided I really had to go for it. About 100 meters after picking up the pace (and feeling much better), sure enough my left calf cramped up, or more locked up like it did in my 50 miler, and I had to stop to work it out. This persisted after two failed attempts at running with the cramp. Finally I got it going again and was moving along at a good clip, when all of a sudden my right toes all locked up. This feels remarkably like trying to hold a nail with your toes while sprinting. I did not stop to work this out like I did with the cramp, I just slowed down a little and tried unflexing my toes. Eventually they unlocked and I was able to go pretty hard for the last mile and a half. Both of those things happened in the last 50 miler at around 2 miles to the finish as well and it bothers me... I think the only way to fix it through training is simply to log more miles (which has been hard due to 16 credits of engineering classes and 3 credits of elective classes I am taking this semester).
I came up with a plan a few races ago, to attempt to PR at every long distance I could. I have decided this to be from the 100 mile to 800 meters (I consider 800 meters the "bridge" from short distance running to distance running). I can always come back to visit a PR at the marathon distance (perhaps this summer at North Face), so a 3:29 will have to do. But now I need to work on the half, and I would like to run around 1:15. Next semester should have a lighter workload, so I will be able to up the mpw and do a few extra speed workouts. It's going to be a good winter.