Saturday, March 14, 2009

Half Marathon Race

Today's half-marathon, the Tom King Classic, was absolutely A-W-F-U-L in terms of weather. It's been raining since Thursday, and today was no different. When we started (8:30 am), it was 43*; when we finished, it was still 43*. Rain doesn't bother me too much, and neither does cold. But the two of them together do not make for pleasant racing.

But I'm not complaining about the race itself. I had a few things I was aiming for:
  1. Run a PR (my previous best was 1:52:11 on this same course 2 years ago).
  2. Do one of the following:
    • A. Run whatever speed (i.e. as fast as) I could (I thought this would be somewhere around 7:50-8:10 min/mile) OR
    • B. Run at the prescribed pace for the day (8:43) OR
    • C. Run at marathon pace (8:23).
I hoped to do A and finish with a pace somewhere around C's pace that I would be able to sustain for a full marathon. So, based on that, I succeeded!
  • My final time was 1:49:19; that's a PR of nearly 3 minutes, or 15 seconds per mile.
  • My pace was 8:21.
  • I think that, in the right pace group, I can double that effort and sustain it for a marathon and a total finish time of 3:40 (perhaps not on this particular course, though).
  • I finished 20th of 94 in my age group and 385th of 1,074 overall (evidence that I was at the back of the front, not at the front of the back!
My feet didn't warm up until almost 3 miles in. I had done a little warmup prior to the start, but then we stood around for about 10 minutes (that's normal or even less time than normal for most run-only races) while everyone queued up and while they played the national anthem (oh, how different not to hear an opening prayer like I was used to in high school and college). My hands never really warmed up, but the gloves got all wet and I took them off about 3 miles it. Then after mile 7, I stopped to take off my thermal shirt and lost the pacers that I was using. Sad day, but I was roasting!

Overall, it felt like a good run. I think I nailed the first 10 miles, did OK on the 11th, and then was close to spent for the last 2. It was only 5K, but I just felt like I was slowing and slowing and slowing; not a fun feeling. So I just kept following the people in front of me and tried to catch them one by one. I split every 2 miles and then the last three.
  • 15:59.89
  • 16:17.09
  • 16:06.86
  • 16:59.58 (stop to take off sweatshirt)
  • 15:49.88
  • 9:07.08
  • 9:58.00 (stop at aid station)
  • 9:00.09
  • Total: 1:49:59
OK, so the pacers I was with were so consistent. I thanked them for that! The organizers do a good job putting on this race; not only do you get to finish by running around the field at Titans Stadium, you get breakfast (eggs, muffins, biscuits, potatoes, donuts, bananas, and everyone's favorite today, coffee) during the awards ceremony.

I ended up 21st in my age group, around 320 overall. The positives about this race are that I was about as close to an even split (4 minutes or so) as I think I've ever been, and I ran really consistently for the first 10 miles. Plus I gave it my best effort. And I was not just at the back of the front, which is normal. Usually I start out at the back of the front and end up at the front of the back. Today I started out in the middle of the front and ended up toward the back of the front. So this was a good pace, at least for the first 10 miles. I guess I still have some work to do to complete those last 3 and then double that in a decent time.

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