Training for my first half marathon

I just finished my first half marathon, starting from no running base at all.

When I registered for the half, I had to guesstimate my projected running pace.
I had no idea what to put in, so I registered in the 12 minute corral and hoped that I would be able to hit that time.

I googled around to find the answer to my question- how quickly can I realistically and comfortably expect my running pace to improve during my training?

I couldn’t find anything about pace for beginner runners- most half marathon training references for beginners focus only on the goal of finishing. So I thought I would post here the exact run schedule that I actually followed and also a plot of my pace over time to show results for an average person (no running base) following a half marathon training schedule.

Below is the schedule of what I actually ran. I followed the Nike+ Running coach beginner half marathon program for a little while, but moved long runs to Saturdays and backed off a little more on the running than the Nike+ coach suggested because I started to get burnt out in the last month. For cross-training I did 30-45 minute workouts from the Nike+ Training coach app. Sundays, I frequently did 45 minutes of yoga. I also did additional short 15 min yoga sessions pretty regularly (3 or 4 times per week).

Run Schedule

Week Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
1 (14.1 miles) 3 miles 4 miles X-train Rest 3.1 miles Rest 4 miles
2 (16.3 miles) 3.1 miles 5 miles X-train Rest 3.1 miles Rest 4 miles
3 (19.5 miles) 3.1 miles 5 miles X-train Rest 3.1 miles 2 miles 6.3 miles
4 (22.3 miles) Rest 5 miles 3.1 miles X-train 3.1 miles 3.1 miles 8 miles
5 (23.9 miles) Rest 6.1 miles 3.1 miles X-train 3.3 miles 3.4 miles 8 miles
6 (27.2 miles) Rest 4 miles 7.1 miles X-train 4 miles 3.1 miles 9 miles
7 (25.1 miles) Rest 3.9 miles 7.2 miles X-train 4 miles X-train 10 miles
8 (27.95 miles) Rest 8.1 miles 4.25 miles X-train 4.5 miles X-train 11.1 miles
9 (32 miles) Rest 5 miles 9.5 miles X-train 5.2 miles X-train 12.2 miles
10 (30.7 miles) Rest 5.1 miles X-train 3.6 miles 6 miles 3 miles 13 miles
11 (11.9 miles) Rest 6.6 miles X-train 5.3 miles Rest Rest Rest
12 (27.56 miles) 5 mile (race) Rest 5.35 miles 4 miles Rest Rest Half Marathon!

Running pace improvement

Here’s a plot of my running pace. I started really slowly at 14’ pace (my excuse is that I also ran in the snow), but I was able to get down to a 10:30’ pace in the last week or so before the half. My official pace for the half marathon was 10:38’ for a 2:19:26 finish time.

Running pace in minutes/mile over time, following the schedule above. "Long" runs are long easy Saturday runs.