Here’s my 2021 Holden Beach Half Marathon Race Recap, Enjoy!
Bottom line up front
Let me be clear about something: I wanted a personal record in the half marathon this Fall. It would be a lovely story to tell you I just stumbled upon the fastest time I’ve earned in over a decade but it was very purposeful.
This is part recap of the race, part what I’m doing differently- the combination of the two secured a personal record for me of over 3 minutes!
The last time I ran this fast was 2 pregnancies and 4 kids ago and I’m blessed to be able to share with you.
Choose the right race
The BAM! Series is a collection of races in Brunswick County along the coast of North Carolina. Anyone who has run at the beach knows the courses are usually flat and these are no exception.
Now, a flat course doesn’t guarantee a great race (see also: Oak Island marathon) but if you can be prepared to peak at the right time the mostly flat course can play to your favor.
At Holden Beach, the only incline was the causeway bridge at the beginning and back over around 5 miles. That’s it.
I’m not saying you can’t PR on a rolling course- in fact, my second fastest ever marathon was on one, but a flat course will put you in the position to go fast.
Outside of a gut check around mile 8 and about a half mile on sand around 10, it was a great day for me.
These races, all located in Brunswick and Horry counties, are an intimate racing experience. This race in particular had about 400 half marathoners and also had a 5K race same day as the event.
BAM stands for big a—medal and they definitely delivered on that, this one in particular being a stingray that opens up locket style to a photo of Holden Beach.
It’s a great race for local folks or people who want a nice destination event to do with friends or running family.
Gotta be the shoes
I have to address this first. I have the fancy carbon plate $300 Alpha Fly shoes from Nike.
I have tested them at almost every distance and I estimate they gave me at least a minute during my half marathon. Maybe even two.
It’s a shame that we are in a place in the sport of running where you’re at a disadvantage if you can’t pay $300 for running shoes- and I’m not poo pooing Nike here because other brands have the same technology and the research and development that goes into the design as well as the materials themselves are expensive.
I just don’t want to go into the next portion of this recap without mentioning these two very obvious elephants in the room. From a course and shoe perspective, I was in a position to win.
Now we can move on to training inputs, right?
I’ve been following the Peloton marathon training schedule and documenting my experience with it on social media for the last 13 weeks.
An 18 week overall program it was a bit long for my taste but my family was in a period of transition with our move and I knew I would need the early weeks of pure consistency the program offers.
I’m gonna say it: the early weeks were not challenging. Like, at all. BUT they got me in the pattern of two speed workouts a week, two strength sessions a week, a fun run, and a key effort. It became a habit.
The consistency I was able to build (in my case, in this extra long program) back in June and July really helped. It was break enough for my mind and body but regular enough to maintain the habit.
Consider a happy medium between time off for your mind and consistent running efforts.
This is a training input. I’ve discussed splitting the difference during race week as a specific strategy, but let’s talk about overall training input. If you aren’t getting at least 7 hours of sleep, you’re performing at a disadvantage. No amount of supplement or $300 pair of running shoes is going to help.
Splitting the difference is where you go to bed 15 minutes earlier and get up 15 minutes later- then, you’ve got 30 extra minutes a day or 3.5 hours per WEEK more.
I’m suggesting you do this even outside of your taper as a strategy in creating a better sleep routine.
I will put a boatload of studies in the show notes- click details or swipe up for that. The science is clear: you need sleep.
Finally, stress- friend, this is also a training input. I didn’t know it at the time and it’s an entire string of conversations to have with a therapist I won’t get into here, but I was very stressed over the last couple of years.
To the point where my work was bleeding into my workouts- so not only was it a pure cortisol and adrenal fatigue issue, I wasn’t even getting the escape of the workout because I was thinking about work! No kidding, I have done so many long runs on a treadmill while also working at the same time because it seemed like a neat opportunity to multi task.
My workouts this training cycle have been focused on the workout because I 86ed the toxic work- for those never in the restaurant industry, that means I cut it OUT completely. My overall stress levels are down, too. Like, day to day.
Now, I know you’re hearing this and you’re like, “well, lady- it’s not like I can just rip all my stress off like a bandaid”
I’m not telling you I don’t have stress now. I’m still working, albeit a different job. I have 4 kids in elementary school. We have unexpected bills just like the next guy. There IS stress, but the difference is I eliminated the unnecessary stress. It translated to my workouts and now my coping technique- running- is more effective.
Simple as that.
And that’s where I think the extra minute or so in my personal record came from.
Let’s hang out on Instagram! It’s where I socialize online when I’m not running, lifting, and momming.