Girlfriends Half 2012: Carissa's Race Report

 By Carissa
Sole Sisters!

On Sunday I raced a half marathon for the first time since the summer of 2011.  When I ran that race, I was dreaming of breaking a time of 1:40 and I did it by one second.  Yesterday I ran Girlfriends Half in 1:32:31 (7:04 pace.)  Setting my sights on a goal like that one year ago would have been too lofty to imagine.

The night before the race my friend Becky called and left the most encouraging message on my voicemail.  She reminded me to run fast, but take time to smile.  She also said, "Remember that you are out there because you get to run.  You don’t have to run.  You get to run."    Becky intended to run this race with Jodi and I but another preexisting commitment made it impossible.  Since she couldn’t be racing with us (and because she’s an all around awesome friend), Becky resolved to pray me through the race. 

Becky asked me what Scripture would be my mantra for the race.  I told her 2 Corinthians 15:7.  “But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”  This verse resonated with me because of the work I put into preparing for the race.  I spent twelve weeks following a challenging training schedule in order to arrive prepared to run as best as I knew how.  The type of results I would get on race day were yet to be seen, but my hope was to be strong and not give up.

Race morning started off with a few bumps.  My ride was late and I arrived at the race forty minutes before the start. I'm used to giving myself more time before a race but I wasn't worried.  Once there I met up with Jodi, got my bib from her, checked my bag and went to use the bathroom.  We waited in line for over fifteen minutes with full bladders and a clock ticking rapidly down to the start of the race.  Five minutes before the start we conceded that we weren’t going to make it in time, so we ditched the bathroom line and headed to the corrals.  I was desperate and scanned my surroundings for bathroom options.  Shaking with adrenaline, I took a chance and rushed into a coffee shop across the street to use the bathroom. Thank God for tender mercies - the race didn't start on time and I made it back with time to spare.  Phew!  
Had we known we didn't have time to use the bathroom
we wouldn't have been snapping photos before the race! 

Jodi and I lined up toward the start of the pack and in the few minutes we had before the gun went off, we chatted with a few ladies.  Little did I know that one woman I met would turn out to be a real encouragement during the last part of my race.  The race started and we were off.  One of my favorite moments of the race was those first few blocks of being part of the lead pack.  How often in a race does one get to be part of the front?    

The first few miles I soaked in the sights, smiled, and tried to remember the blessing of getting to run.   Around mile five, the course looped around and we passed other runners coming from behind.  My heart swelled with encouragement and my legs with new life as Jodi and I passed each other twice.  Normally I would be all business but I kept Becky’s advice in mind and instead chose to smile and shout encouragement to other women in front of me.  The course was beautiful and the weather was perfect.  

By mile seven I was tired.  I ate my Gu and kept plugging along but the miles got harder and harder.  During mile eight I caught up to another runner I had chatted with at the start.  I was so tired that it was a great help to just focus in on following her.  A few times I caught up to her only to be passed again.  I was actually glad when she passed me because following her was just the distraction I needed at the time.

There were a few hills on the last part of the course. They made me feel like I was inching along.  My pace slowed and I couldn’t bear to look at my Garmin.  I knew I wasn’t hitting my goal pace of seven minute miles and I knew there wasn’t anything I could do about it.  I wanted to stop and walk so bad.  I couldn’t wait for the race to be over.

Here are my splits.  The painful miles are pretty self evident.  (My Garmin only recorded 12.95 miles.)

Mile 1- 6:29
Mile 2- 6:57
Mile 3- 7:07
Mile 4- 7:06
Mile 5- 6:59
Mile 6- 6:58
Mile 7- 7:04
Mile 8- 7:06
Mile 9- 7:12
Mile 10- 7:13
Mile- 11 7:36
Mile 12- 7:31
Mile 13- 7:16

Coming into the finish.  I know nothing about running form but
I'm guessing my elbows aren't supposed to be wide like that???

I finally approached the finish and saw my friend’s daughter.  My husband and kids don’t usually come out to spectate at races so it was really special to have my friend Kim and her daughter there to cheer me on.  I sprinted to the finish and completed the race.  It was a big PR for me and right around where my tune-up races had projected my finish time.  I was pleasantly surprised to learn I had finished eighth overall and first in my age division.  Between flowers from Kim and a trophy for placing in my age division I felt like I had won a pageant. 
Celebrating once the hard work was done

It sounds like a pretty great ending right?  The race wasn’t sitting right with me though and this is why.  I really didn’t like the feel of crashing and falling off the pace in my race.  This is not uncommon for me but I’m trying to improve that.  I want to race smart and I want to run even splits.  I don’t know whether there was a pacing problem or a nutrition problem but I felt pretty fatigued.  I pray that the longer I run the smarter I will train and race.

I thought one of the best parts of the race was the Sole Sister vibe it had.  I met several women on Sunday.  Some even live in my neighborhood!  I saw women running and walking together.  Some had matching shirts or outfits.  It was a day for sisterhood and together accomplishing more than what we thought possible.

Jodi has her own story about this race that she will share with us soon.

How about you Sole Sisters?  Have you run Girlfriend’s Half?  I need your help: what advice do you have for running even splits?  


  1. It was such a blast to watch you finish and receive your award. You are simply amazing and inspiring. Love you dearly, sweet friend!!

    1. It was such a blessing to have you there. I've been enjoying the flowers all week. I think a race like this would be a really good next half marathon for you! xoxo

  2. Carissa- I really enjoyed reading along about your race here. I think you did everything right that you could. You trained smart. Hills are just impossible to run a even splits on. You did your best! Your effort on the hills might have been sub 7- but what can else can you do? Maybe come run the EWEB half and PR again on a flat course :)
    What a blessing that Becky prayed you through the race. I am sure her prayers helped see you through to this BIG PR.

    1. Thanks Raina. You are so right about hills! I wasn't really thinking I could race them as fast as the flats but I knew that those last five miles even where it was flat (which was most of the time) I was not on pace. My legs were starting to complain the same way they do at mile twenty of a marathon!
      I haven't heard of EWEB. I'll have to look it up.

  3. I learned my lesson about pacing last year. My goal is constantly to not only negative split, but even shoot for progression (hopefully faster progression, not slower!) ;) That is going to be one of my goals for Boston!

    But, even if you weren't happy with your splits/pacing, what an AMAZING race and accomplishment! So incredible! Congratulations!

    1. Thanks! I'm with you Devon. I'd love to figure out how to negative split. Not sure I'll expect to do it at Boston with the downhill beginning and uphill end but an awesome goal for sure. :)

  4. Congrats again on such a great half marathon!! You have come so far since your last half! I love that quote- "You GET to run." I need to remind myself of that before every race. It might calm my crazy nerves!

    1. Thanks Tia! I am so blessed by the wisdom spoken into my life through my girlfriends. There's nothing like a friend to help put/keep things in perspective. :)

  5. Great job, Carissa! I prayed for you and Jodi during the race. Becky sent me supportive text messages during HTC and it made a huge difference! I love this community of runners you have created and are nurturing. It is such an inspiration. Random, but I found out my old college friend (Jenner) got first in her age group (35-39?) too. You guys must have been running a similar pace. WAY TO GO!

    1. Thanks Niki and thank you for your prayers! That 35-39 age group had some fierce competition in it. If I was one year older I would have been in that group and I wouldn't have placed.