Last week, we talked about what a great, fast course, the Hill Country Halloween Half Marathon in Cedar Park set for Saturday, October 28 at 7:30 a.m. has. So it’s an obvious choice to shoot for a personal record.

There’s no question that a PR can be yours, provided you pace yourself and stay tough.

As I any race, the first several miles can dictate the entire outcome. That means whatever you do, control your pace. If you want to run a 1:30 half marathon, for example, you’re going to be targeting a 6:53 minute per mile pace. You may find that you hit the first mile in 6:30, and that’s OK. Just scale back a bit. Even if you run the next mile at 7:10-, that’s still OK—you’re averaging your goal pace. The idea is to ease into your pace, and dial in to your goal effort by the third mile.

The middle section— miles four through seven are really a fun part of the race. You realize why you love running, why you’re out there racing, and you really get into the moment. Now is the time to focus on form, stay calm and relax. Be mindful of your body and breathing. Talk with other runners, stay steady, and enjoy yourself. All the while you’ll probably have a good idea of how your race is going to unfold by perceiving your effort. If it’s a strain to hold your goal pace at that point, you’ll probably have to adjust your finish time expectations.

Many runners may find miles seven through 10 to be the toughest part. You’ve been out there for a while, you’re starting to feel the effort, and you still have a good ways to go. This is where the mental component comes in to play.  It’s time to think about some of those killer workouts you’ve done. Focus on the fact that your race is on track, and it’s up to you to determine the outcome. Will it be just another race, or will you set a PR.

“When I ran the Halloween half I used it as a test race to see where I was fitness wise,” said former Longhorn runner Rory Tunningley, who set the men’s record of 1:10.16 in the race’s inaugural event in 2014.

“I ran it a few months before I attempted to qualify for the Olympic trials in The marathon. That course to me felt like a cross country race which was my favorite event to race. It felt like a cross country race because the course had lots of rolling hills and various types of asphalt, sidewalks etc. A course like that is good for a runner like me because you don’t settle in to a steady pace and it allowed me to keep pushing not not just get into one pace and get comfortable…”

When you hit the 10-mile mark, you know you only have 5K left to run. No matter how you slice it that’s a distance you can get a handle on. You can gauge your effort to make the PR happen. If you’re that 1:30 runner, you know you’ll need 21:23 to do it. Believe it or not, more than ever, here’s where your mental toughness can over-ride the physical perception of difficulty. It’s been said that the last hardest part of any challenge, whether writing a book, pinning your opponent in a wrestling match, or finishing a race—is the hardest. But that’s where it counts. Make it happen. Set your PR. It’s up to you!

Upcoming races: Saturday, October 21 at 9:00 a.m., the Great Pumpkin Dash 5K at San Marcos Toyota (5101 IH 35 South in San Marcos. Saturday, October 28 at 800 a.m., the Run for the Hills 5K/10K at the Hays Hills Baptist Church (1401 N FM 1626 in Buda.