I completed my third half marathon Sunday March 30 finishing with a time of 1:29:11.
This became my spring goal race the morning of the Detroit Free Press Marathon, where I was at home eating a big fat juicy DNS loaded with sauerkraut, arsenic sauce on rye toast with Limburger cheese.
My training for this race was essentially an offshoot of my 5k training save for two runs, one on February 25, and the other on March 4. The 10 week plan was a plan I wrote myself but is based on Daniels principles.
I suppose it would be considered conservative by all accounts and probably rightfully so, I am okay with that though as I feel focusing on speed development and maintenance is better for me at this point than high mileage or super long runs.
That being said I was always fresh for my quality workouts and fatigue was not a factor once during this cycle.
Strategically placed in the plan were two races; a 5k four weeks out and a 10k two weeks out that were to make Sunday's pace seem not so bad. Unfortunately due to the crap weather we have had both races were unremarkable with the 10k being a complete abomination.
No matter, I woke up 5 hours before the race feeling confident and positive. I immediately ate a light breakfast then took the 50 minute drive over arriving an hour and forty-five minutes prior to the gun and just chilled out.
The main parking lot was to close at 6:45 (race start was at 8:15) and I did not want to be bothered with shuttles so I went early. Better safe and there than sorry and running late.
At about T-minus 45, I hopped out of the cozy confines of my truck and into the cold morning breeze (27, wind chill of 18, winds steady at 12 MPH) and began my dynamic stretching routine, a routine that was born out of my last stint on the injury bench.
I then took a 3 mile warmup trot, ditched my long pants and jacket and headed to the start line where I did a series of running drills (butt kicks, high knees, and quick feet).
The race began about five minutes later than advertised but that was not really an issue. I lined up front dressed in shorts, arm sleeves, light gloves and a singlet. I got some weird looks and comments on the way there but there were about a dozen of us dressed that way and besides, I dress for how it is going to feel at mile 6, not 1.
Half marathon pace is not a Daniels training pace so I did not run it once during my training. I did run a crap load of faster miles though and never really thought anything of it.
My goals were A: 1:28:30, B: 1:28, and my pie in the sky C goal was a sub-1:28.
A 1:28:30 half marathon is a 6:45 pace so my plan was to go no faster than that under any circumstances the first 3 miles then assess how I felt. The race began on a slight down slope, something I noticed during my warmup so I took extra care to basically jog the first 400 meters.
Something else I noticed during my warmup was we would be running directly into the wind for at least the first 2 or 3 miles, but it turns out that we were never really not running into it, save for a mile or 2 here and there.
As it is I was able to pretty much stay within a 5 second window of my goal pace for the early portion of the race. At some point late in mile 5 two runners dropped back to me, one a heavy breather and another a foot slapper. Both were annoying as heck but they did not keep slowing, instead they kind of righted themselves and we ran in a bunch for about a half mile before I had enough of listening to all of that crap.
I surged to a 6:39 pace for about a half mile to pass them and wouldn't you know it they sped right up and caught me again! lol In my head I was like why don't you just keep going!
But alas, the gentleman did pull away and it turns out the young lady was running the first leg of the relay and her destination I believe was mile 7.5. I regained my pace and briefly wondered if the surge would affect me before ultimately concluding that I was trained for that.
Mile 8 was on a slight hill and I made a business decision to maintain my pace as I climbed it but was unable to sustain it without a drastic increase in effort. Indeed, when the split ticked off at 6:47 I saw that I was running at a 6:21 pace, oops! Unlike events passed though I did not panic and just kind of eased down.
That was now two surges in the last 2 miles running into the wind however, a fact that was not lost on me.
Mile 10 also was on a slight uptick although you could not really see it, this is where the struggle began and where my A goal began to slip away from me.
The last 2 miles were run directly into a strong headwind which finally took its toll on me. Mentally it was disheartening to see my pace drop after such a strong race, and after seeing my mile 11 split, I did not look at my Garmin again until I crossed the finish line. I just put my head down, leaned forward, and gave it all that I had for 2 miles, which at that point was not much.
My splits according to Garmin:
01 - 6:48
02 - 6:49
03 - 6:45
04 - 6:44
05 - 6:45
06 - 6:45
07 - 6:44
08 - 6:47
09 - 6:48
10 - 6:51
11 - 6:51
12 - 6:59
13 - 6:59
It turns out though that the wind affected everyone similarly as that was all anyone was talking about post race.
I did well enough though to score 3rd in my age group which is something I am really proud of with such a large field. I am unsure of the final tally but there were 2000 participants for the half marathon, half marathon relay and 5k.
In the end I would say it all came together, my training, nutrition, and the 12 weeks I abstained from my beloved Cabernet Sauvignon while training for this race, so overall I am happy with the result.
I am still peeved about my late race fade but I am unsure if I should be or not. Was it the wind that did me in or those two surges? Or perhaps the lack of mileage or long runs? I am open to critique.
Keeping the big picture in mind however this race was not necessarily the Superbowl for me. The purpose of it was to establish a half marathon time based on my current fitness, using what Daniels considered my actual race pace as my goal. To that I will say mission accomplished as I came in only 41 seconds short of my A goal.
I will now use Sunday's performance as my guide to train for a 1:25:00 half marathon and hopefully someday punch my ticket to the NYC marathon.
Whether that is attainable or not remains to be seen, for now though it is back to the lab to digest what I have learned from racing my first half marathon since November 2011.
Some side notes:
I took only water from the aid stations until mile 10 where I took something called Nuun. At the mile 12 aid station I took a cup of water but spilled it all over my shorts without taking a single drink.
I had my only gel of the day (peanut butter no caffeine) when I got to my truck after the race. I figured I carried it for 13.1 miles inside of my glove there was no way it was going home. Damn it was good!
Despite running a total of 16 miles (my longest since August), I am no worse for the wear. I must be doing something right.
And we're off!
Post race compliments of Joe Burns. Thanks Joe!
Custom tile coasters from Pewabic Pottery for placing 3rd in my age group.
Thank you for reading!
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