Chasing the Sub 2 Hour Half Marathon at Heartbreak Hill

Chasing the sub 2 hour half marathon

1:58 is my goal time! (Photo: morgueFile)

In two weeks from today I’ll be at the start of the Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Half in Newton, Mass. The race will be my third half marathon in 2014, but my first attempt at a sub 2 hour half marathon this year. My current half marathon personal best stands at 2:00:30 from the 2012 Staten Island Half. Breaking “2” is the one running goal that has eluded me time and time again. It has become my Everest.

Chasing the sub 2 hour half marathon

I’ve got “2” on the brain. (Photo: morgueFile)

Last Long Run

On Saturday, I finished my last long run before the big race. I ran 12.15 miles total, with 10 of them in Central Park’s rolling hills at a 9:40 pace overall. My goal half marathon pace is 9:00, which would bring me in at 1:58. A sub 2 hour half marathon pace is 9:10. I’m absolutely within striking distance.

My splits were:


I don’t like that I had two 10:13 miles as I climbed one of Central Park’s steepest hills twice during miles one and five. But I like that I was at least consistent over said hill. And I love that my last mile was my fastest.

Race Goals

My goals for the race are:

A) Run a sub 2 hour half marathon
B) Run a personal record, which means besting 2:00:30
C) Run as hard as I can, whatever time that means

Chasing the sub 2 hour half marathon

My “A” goal is a sub 2 hour finish! (Photo: morgueFile)

I know I have the speed in me to finally break 2 hours. I’m much faster than when I set my current half-marathon PR. My long runs have been consistently 30 to 40 seconds faster per mile than they were in fall 2012. And I’ve since lowered my 5K and 10 PRs by two minutes and three minutes, respectively.

But I’m just not sure I have the endurance I’d like to have at this point in the season. Going into the Staten Island Half, my longest run was a 16-miler since I was in the middle of marathon training. Going into this race, my longest run was yesterday’s 12.15-miler, with just 10 of them at speed. The other 2.15 miles were an easy warm-up and cool down. Do I have 13.1 fast miles in me? That remains to be seen.

Come race day, I think I’ll head out with the 2:00 pace group and just try to hang on.

Having good weather and getting to the starting line healthy are going to be the two most important factors for me at this point. If the weather calls for 80 degrees and 90 percent humidity, I may rethink the attempt. And if I get sick, like I did for my fall marathon, I may back off as well. But if I’m healthy and we’ve got a nice cool June morning, all systems will be GO.

Ready for Sub 2 Hour Half Marathon?

Overall, I feel good going into the Heartbreak Hill Half. This last long run was a morale booster. It’s exactly how I needed to finish out the training cycle before going into my taper.

Chasing the sub 2 hour half marathon

Rolling the dice with the weather in June. (Photo: morgueFile)

But I’d feel better about my chances of going sub-2 if the race didn’t have the words “Heartbreak” and “Hill” in the name. For some strange reason, I seem to gravitate toward half-marathons with healthy climbs—Yonkers Half Marathon, Kauai Half Marathon, Jerusalem Half Marathon, the list goes on. The difference, though, is that I used all those races as training runs. I didn’t actually try to run a personal best at them. Hmmm…

Maybe one of these days I’ll choose a race that has a gentle downhill slope from start to finish. If you’re the race director of one of those events, let’s chat. Readers, if you’ve run one of those mythical courses, I’d love to hear about it and break my hilly half habit.

For now, I’m going to concentrate on the next race on my schedule, the SHAPE Diva Dash 5K obstacle run in Minnesota’s Twin Cities on May 31. I think it will feel good to go out and race a 5K with some challenges thrown in. It will remind my legs what it feels like to run hard. Then a week later, and after some rest days, I’ll be toeing the line in Massachusetts on June 8.

Chasing the sub 2 hour half marathon. (Photo:

Peace? No, 2! (Photo:

If you want to join me at the Heartbreak Hill Half & Festival, be sure to use codes blogrunkarlarunHalf, blogrunkarlarun5&10, blogrunkarlarunHat at to receive 10 percent off registration for the half-marathon, 5K and 10K, or Hat Trick of all three races.

I’m part of the official Heartbreak Hill Half & Festival blogging crew (they’re covering my race entries, accommodations and some meals). I’ll also be speaking at one of the expo seminars, How to Build a Running Brand.

How to run a sub 2 hour half marathon? I’m hoping this is the race where I finally figure it out.

Karla Bruning


Karla Bruning is a regular contributor to, the host of NYRR's On The Run web + TV show, and a race announcer at events like the TCS New York City Marathon. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now she freelances as a running reporter. She's run 7 marathons, 20 halves, 6 triathlons, sings in an '80s cover band, spoils her dog + travels compulsively.

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05 2014

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