Dry Martini: A Sub 2:30 Half Marathon At Last

For five years, I’ve had one major running goal: to run a sub 2:30 half marathon.

Sure, I’ve had smaller running goals, too. I wanted to run the zippiest 10K I could. I’ve had a few races where I simply wanted to finish upright and with a smile on my face. Even with those mini-goals, that 2:30 half has always remained hovering, like the lingering smell of a coworker reheating fish in the office microwave.

The closest I’ve come was last year’s Wineglass Half in Corning, New York. I crossed the finish in 2:32 and felt pretty damn happy with the effort. It is a course that suits me. There are rolling hills and the late-september weather feels like fall. Corning is only two hours from my house, which means I haven’t spent hours curled up like a pill bug in the car or in the air. I know the race logistics by heart, since I’ve run it so often.

Plus, there’s a Wegman’s. (I swear by the turkey subs. YMMV.*)|
*Your mileage/results may vary (explanation inserted by Dimity, who isn't cool enough to know such phrases).

Sub 2:30 Half Marathon
BRF Lisa and I at the Expo. For the first time in years, I got to leave before closing time. It was weird.

So was Wineglass 2018 finally the year I harpooned my 2:30 whale? This five point list will answer that question:

How I (Finally) Beat 2:30 (!)

1. I ran hard on the hard days; ran easy on the easy days; and had the wisdom to know the difference.

While the processes of aging and parenting has taken most of the edge off of my need to overachieve, I find it hard to not go above and beyond requirements on my training plans. If the plan calls for speed work, I want to go faster than it says just to show off how compliant I am. I want easy runs to be at faster-than-easy paces because a mile time with a “13” at the front makes me feel like a big fat slacker.

With Coach Christine’s help, I’ve really worked on running the pace that’s called for, instead of the one my ego wants it to be. Which made for a good summer of training.

2. I rested and rested a little more.

For the past two (maybe three?) years, Another Mother Runner had a booth at the Wineglass Expo. And for the past two (maybe three) years, I spent incredible amounts of time on my feet before the race in said booth. I regret nothing, mind, because I got to meet so many amazing BAMRs. But my dogs were always barking by the start of the race. By mile ten, my legs were done.

This year, I ran Saturday’s 5K at “mosey” pace, then had some lunch, and lounged around the hotel room like a might thing that lounges. I read for hours (which I never get to do). I hydrated. I wandered to the lobby and met a few BAMRs just to chat, then went back into lounge mode. It was my dream Saturday, frankly.

Sub 2:30 Half Marathon
I did just a little shopping on Saturday at Card Carrying Books and found this pin. It will now live on my racing hat, since I cannot pin Beyonce herself there.

3. I started slow.

One of my biggest running mistakes is that I start every race too durn fast. Despite ample evidence that you can’t bank time, my body still seems to think it can bank time. This was the year when I didn’t let my starting line excitement get the best of me. Plus: rather than rock out to music, I listened to an interesting-but-not-too-interesting podcast for the first five miles, which made a surprising difference in my pace. I turned the tunes on when it started to get hard.

4. I didn’t take the deal.

And when it got hard, I didn’t take the deal, as Coach Amanda says. I didn’t stop and walk “just for a minute." I didn’t convince myself that I could make up a 12-minute mile with a 10:30 mile later on (which, for the record, I could never run after having already run ten miles).

No matter how much like a used car salesman my brain behaved, my inner BAMR reminded me that a) the temperature in the upper-40s was perfect for me, b) the course was ideal, c) I would never be better rested, and d) I can do hard things. The only deal I took during the last two miles was a promise that I would never run this fast for this long again. We'll see if that holds.

What also helped was a dude who was a little older than me who was also running at the same pace I was. I tucked in behind him when my focus started to wane and just let him pull me along.

Thanks, random dude.

Sub 2:30 Half Marathon
Reader: I rang it.

5. I emptied the tank.

The finish line at Wineglass is deceptive. You round the last corner, see the big banner, and sprint for it — but it never gets any closer, not even after you cross it. I swear there’s an inter-dimensional portal somewhere in those three blocks. Regardless, I channeled my inner Sarah and ran as hard as I could at the end. I didn’t pull down a Meb-like pace but finished respectably. And knew I’d given it all I had.

Sub 2:30 Half Marathon
A PR deserves Dunkin’.

I’m still riding my PR high days later. I’m also stiff and sore and emotionally depleted. Last night, I nearly burst into tears when I came up one potato short (not a metaphor) while cooking dinner. Totally worth it.

If you've recently PR'ed, what contributing factors would you add to the list? 

46 responses to “Dry Martini: A Sub 2:30 Half Marathon At Last

  1. That’s so awesome! Congrats on finally crushing that goal! I need to channel some of this advice for myself 😉

  2. Congratulations! And as a former upstate New York-er, I can attest to the greatness of Wegman’s subs. You absolutely earned that one!

  3. Congratulations Adrienne!!! I am so so so so happy for you. And I am so with you on #1 – it’s something I need to work on too. 🙂

  4. Excellent!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE the story, and all its lessons. Adrianne, you (and all the BAMRs with all their damn fine support!) are amazing and such an inspiration. My hardest laugh, though, came from this “…when I came up one potato short (not a metaphor) ” LOVE you, and your way with words – you have a gift!

  5. Yay! Well-deserved, so fun to read about, and kudos to you for your diligence. I love reading your articles for many reasons, but I always admire how you are out there getting the work done. I think this PR has been coming for you since you finished Pittsburgh without realizing you had a course PR!

  6. My current half PR is 2:32:12…I still have sub 2:30 as a goal, though this will not be the year. Congratulations on yours!!!

  7. Congrats! I recently set a six minute Half marathon PR-5 weeks after i completed my first half Ironman and 7 years after my first half marathon. I contribute “running maturity” and huge strength gains from half Ironman training for getting me there. I’ve learned to run my own race, start slow, run by feel, no music, and just keep telling myself that there is a definitive end! I’ve taken a little something from all of the TLAM programs I’ve participated in and put it together for a pretty gratifying race finish.

  8. I love reading your stuff! And I love the pictures, too. You had me before the shot of the donut at the end, but it was definitely the frosting . . . period. I also love that you write with such an honest positivity, even as you cover the negative, which you don’t leave out. Keep writing!

  9. Congrats on your PR! I think it’s totally badass to still be setting PRs as we age. Makes it that much sweeter! And nothing is better than executing a race plan!

  10. Congrats! I love reading your posts! I really look forward to them. Congratulations on meeting a time goal, but more importantly, for putting in all the work that got you there!

  11. Congrats on your PR!!! And congrats on sticking w/ your training. I am so happy for you!

    I ran Wineglass once and it is on my list of races to repeat…maybe the full next time. Beautiful area and nice course, well organized and great volunteers.

    Wegmans is a bonus 🙂 Always a stop for us on any trip to CNY and WNY.

    Resting the day before is key. My sister and I ran the WDW marathon in Jan, not quite as fast as we wanted. Two days of theme parks the days prior, logging 11 miles and 8 miles of walking, was probably not the best idea. We are going to try again, with a rest day the day before.

  12. Thanks for the inspiration! Sounds like you were tuned in the whole way….my mind tends to wander. You played it like the BAMR you are!!!!

  13. Congraulations! I also have a someday sub-2:30 half goal and have also come very close at Wineglass. I haven’t run it the last two years but I’m thinking maybe 2019 will be my year. I’m sure I’ll be referring back to this post when I make up my mind to go for it.

  14. Thank you for the temp tattoo I am going to use for my next race “Don’t take the deal” and “I can do hard things”

  15. I ran into Adrienne at the finish line and, since I religiously read her posts, I knew this was her goal and she’d achieved it!! I, too, PR’d and ran my first sub 2:30 half (it’s my fourth half). In fact, I busted my previous PR by 12 minutes. I credit two things. First, the heart rate Train Like a Mother training plan. No injuries and I used the TLAM strategy to run first 1/3 of race easy, second 1/3 of race medium, and last 1/3 hard. I used my HR as my guide. Second, I lost 10 lbs the month before the race for my son’s wedding. 😎 I am SURE that had a big impact. (NB, I have read weight loss during training is not recommended, but seemed to be OK for me ) At any rate, I was shocked and surprised, and elated when I realized at about mile 10 that I could do it! I actually felt perfectly normal the day after the race and beyond. Thank you AMR and TLAM. I never imagined I would be a “real” runner,” starting 2 years ago at 56 years of age. You are all the best!!!

  16. Adrienne your writing is a panacea, a balm, to this older (51) native of the Finger Lakes. Now in Vermont, you are inspiring me to return to my roots and perhaps Wineglass next year

  17. Yeah!!!! So well deserved. That’s also a goal of mine. I LOVE your columns……they make me laugh and are so relatable for those of us who aren’t chasing Boston qualifying Times (but good on you for those that are!) but still love to get out there with our BAMR people.♥️♥️♥️

  18. Yeah!!!! So well deserved. That’s also a goal of mine. I LOVE your columns……they make me laugh and are so relatable for those of us who aren’t chasing Boston qualifying Times (but good on you for those that are!) but still love to get out there with our BAMR people.♥️♥️♥️

  19. Congratulations Adrienne!! Yay you! Wineglass is one I’d like to run someday. Shooting for my sub-2:30 in 10 days. Fingers crossed. And I hear ya about Wegmans…grew up in western NY.

  20. Congratulations! I was there also chasing the sub 2:30. I came in at 2:30:45 and I’m thrilled. But now to chase that 45+ seconds.

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