Albuquerque Half Marathon Recap

Sometimes, I should probably read my own blog.

Like, when I say that I haven’t been training, so I’m just going to enjoy the half marathon ride instead of trying to PR.

But first….


The Albuquerque Half Marathon is a small, local race with just over 600 runners.  No expo, no race photos, no race swag. It took place on Saturday and got off to a late morning start at about 8:10 on what turned out to be a very warm day.  Not quite Boston warm, but still in the mid-80’s.

The race course took us through Albuquerque’s Los Ranchos and North Valley neighborhood which is a little bit of country in the middle of the city.  It smells like farm.

As the gun went off and I felt the surge of energy, I decided at that moment that I could keep a 7:50 minute mile pace (11 seconds per mile faster than my last half marathon in January), PR, and have a nice day. Nevermind that I had no evidence that I could hold this pace for 13.1 miles, and nevermind that I hadn’t trained to run at this pace.  And those running experts who say not to start off fast? What do they know?

After my initial 6:45 start, I slowed down a bit to 7:45 and I was able to keep it for awhile, never getting above 8:00.   I was feeling awesome! At a looping point, I saw that there weren’t very many people ahead of me (Aaron of course was one of them). I was the cockiest little running skirt girl on the course.

I ran my fastest 10-K ever at just under 48 minutes.

At around mile 6.5, a whole mass of people passed me.  Something was wrong.

I looked down at my Garmin and realized that my 7:50 pace had become an 8:20 pace without me even realizing.  I tried picking it up a bit.

About this time, it was 9:oo am, the sun was getting hotter.

It was also about this time that I could feel a bunch of yuck phlegm start to build up in my lungs thanks to the pollen in the air.  This is the first time I’ve ever felt like I was going to suffocate while running.  I will  have  to start taking Musinex before runs, because coughing up phlegm balls while running is not cute.

I was starting to get to the point where every little thing was driving me nuts.  I was convinced that the bike rider people along the course (race marshalls?) were making me run slower.

I took my GU at mile 7.5. Typically my GU makes for a nice mid-race treat that I look forward to.  This time, I was having to squeeze tiny little squirts in my mouth, trying hard not to have them come back up.  I also didn’t time it very well, so I had to run half a mile before reaching a water station.  Phlegmmy lungs plus sticky GU and no water was just a little more than I wanted to deal with.

And then I started getting cold chills.  On a warm day, I didn’t take this as a good sign.

But I ran on.

I had decided before the race that if I finished 10 miles in 1:20 or less, I would push it hard and attempt a PR.  All I’d have to do was run 7:55 miles, and glory would be mine.

I hit the 10 mile mark at 1:20:35, and I decided to go for it.  Finally, I started passing people again!

This is about when those 7:45 miles started catching up to me.

My pace dropped back down to 8:20.  I decided to wait until mile 11 to start picking up the pace.  I hit mile 11, and figured picking up the pace could wait until mile 12.  I came to a water station, and for the first time ever, I came to a complete stop to drink in the shade.  My knees started to collapse under me.  I had to keep moving. More cold chills.

I started playing with the idea of walking the last mile.  No shame in that right?  Mile 12 came.  I didn’t pick up the pace.   In fact, I did mile 12 in 8:39, which is the slowest I’ve ever run a mile during a race including the Shamrock Shuffle when I actually tripped, fell, and limped in agony for several feet.

Even as we turned the corner, and the finish line was in sight, I had a hard time mustering up the energy.  I finished strong, sprinting to the finish line thanks to all of the nice cheering people.

I crossed in 1:47:31, 6 seconds slower than my slowest half marathon time.  I finished 102/641 overall, 27th female overall, and 6th in  my age group.

Right after crossing the finish line.

The difference between my best and worst times is less than 3 minutes.  I can at least say that I’m pretty consistent?

My last few races haven’t been wonderful in either time or overall disposition since February, so I’m hoping that this will be the peak of race suckiness.

Aaron finished 30th overall, 4th in his age group.

We toasted our water bottles to what will hopefully be our worst half marathon ever.  This race was really not fun at all for either of us between allergies and the heat.

After finishing, we made a beeline for our car (parking was another 3/4 mile walk, which was not fun), rushed home, and I got ready very fast in order to help host a baby shower across town less than 2 hours after crossing the finish line.

And had to apologize for coughing up yuck stuff the entire party.

21 thoughts on “Albuquerque Half Marathon Recap

  1. Well done Amy ! Sorry it wasn’t the most pleasant running experience… but no matter what 21.1km is always such a massive achievement. I ran my first half last yr in 2hr 31min and this year I ran the same race in 2hr 52 mins (partly due to torrential rain in the last 10km and a new route which included more hills). Despite the 21 min time difference though I had lots more fun and finished the race much stronger. In 2011, I was in no rush to do another half for at least another year but this time round I am doing another half 3 weeks after 🙂 Running is a strange thing sometimes, just keep at it – My running coach says that when training for your first marathon its all about getting mileage into your legs so don’t worry too much about speed. Well done again and keep up the raining,

    If your interested – here is my post on the my last half.

    • Thank you! And I agree, running is so strange! And I feel like every half I do, I learn something about myself or how to run smarter. I’ve never had to worry too much about starting out fast, and I learned this time around that it doesn’t benefit in the end, so regardless, something was gained from this race!

      I will check out your post!

  2. Congrats on finishing strong and pushing yourself through! I’m lucky not to have allergies or get too effected by pollen, but I can imagine that it would be a pretty horrible thing to deal with while running.

    Your pace times seem so fast to run for that long, I need to get to work!

    • I only started developing allergies a couple of years ago, so I’m still getting used to handling them. It just makes breathing a lot harder.

      And I always debate if I should complain about how “slow” I’m running, because people are in such different places. One of my friends from high school ran this race as her first half, and she was mad because she finished in 1:42 and thought she’d do better. I kind of wanted to punch her, but everyone, regardless of pace fights the same battle. But yes, I fully believe that if I could get myself up to that pace, that you and Ellie can definitely do it too!

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  4. Wow, you had quite the race experience! You have some tremendous mental strength to finish so strong with the heat, pollen, chills, etc. Congrats on a great time! Have you experimented with negative splits? Going out the first hafl a bit slower than you think you can, and then picking it up until you hit race pace? It sounds like you might have gone out a bit fast and then burnt out. But you definitely have a faster race in you. Great recap!

    • I definitely think I started too fast and burned out. I’ve never done a formal negative split race, but I’m usually better about not being so overconfident in my abilities! I have another half the first weekend of May, so at least I can hopefully not have another “worst!”

  5. This is a race that I put in my calendar, but couldn’t find a website for it. There’s the registration page but no other link to details (though my only real question is, do they give out medals?). Anyway, as I read on I couldn’t help but wince at your breakdown. But a 1:47 is a damn good time, so I can’t imagine you were THAT disappointed.

    And a 3-minute buffer between fastest and slowest is pretty impressive. Mine is over an hour (1:32 vs. 2:34)!

    • They DO give medals, but not very fancy ones. I just added a picture to the post. The race itself is one of about 10 put on by a company called Run Fit ( It is very much a grassroots organization without a lot of bells and whistles. If you are traveling all the way here to do a race, I’d recommend Duke City in October (medals for the full, but not for the half, though a lot of runners are really pushing for Half medals) or Buffalo Thunder in September in Santa Fe (medals for everyone!). I’m running Run for the Zoo next weekend which just started providing a half last year. Supposedly they have medals, but I’m not positive about it. Run for the Zoo is the largest race we have. I would say any one of those 3 are a better bang for your buck if you need a New Mexico race.

      I think the biggest disappointment was knowing that I didn’t run a smart race and that I threw in the towel mentally around mile 10.5. But, lesson learned!

  6. Yay! One down, right?! Doesn’t sound like your favorite one though. I’m sorry!! There’s always something to learn when you’re out on a course, whether it’s a good run or not, I guess. Still, your times are wonderful and to muster the strength to run hard at the end is awesome!! Good job Amy! You’re going to kill your next race!! And btw, running in the heat is extremely difficult!!! My phone said the heat at Ragnar felt like 93 degree weather. Even running 4 miles in that was one of the hardest runs I’ve ever had!! You’re awesome!!

    • Um, no. YOU are awesome. 93 degrees (and you know, running from Orange County to Coronado) is pretty ridiculous. This wasn’t my favorite at all, but yes, I learned a lot! So, not a complete waste.

    • I’m *hoping* that a lot of the pollen will be gone by then because we are supposed to have a slight chance of rain later this week. We will still have a ton of little cottonwood cotton balls in that part of town (I inhaled a few this race), so if you have allergies at all, I would definitely bring meds.

    • Haha. Thanks. I think for me, the worst part was knowing that I started too fast (I know better), and knowing that I was pretty much ready to give up. Finish time wasn’t too bad, but it wasn’t a good effort at all on my part.

    • Thanks! I think my first few races were so good, that I thought it would just get better. Mostly, I’m just mad at myself for the way that I raced (starting out too fast, wanting to quit at mile 10.5). After reading the race reviews, just about everyone said that it started too late. I guess they also ran out of water at water stations, and cups at other ones (so volunteers were pouring water into the mouths of runners). It looks like a lot of people were having problems with allergies. At least I wasn’t the only one who had a hard race!

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