August 26, 2006 – 8 AM
weather: foggy, humid, low 60s
I’ve wanted to run this race the last 2 years but injuries/lack of fitness kept me from entering. I hadn’t run an actual, officially measured half-marathon since 2002; my PR of 2:01 was set in 2001. I’ve broken that mark not only in training, but in my last 2 marathons (1:51, 1:48) and during a mis-marked marathon relay last year (1:42). So my official PR was going to get broken – the question was just by how much.
I didn’t have a very good idea going into the race as to what was a realistic goal. I thought 7:30/mi was probably reasonable and would be a sufficient indicator of my ability to meet my tentative marathon goals. But using calculators for some of my recent races indicated I was maybe aiming too low. I normally wouldn’t trust a prediction off of a 5K time, especially since I’m not in good 5K shape, but Ryan‘s recent race where his 1/2 marathon and 5K times met up encouraged me to not completely dismiss the possibility. My 5K predicted a 7:19/mi, so I decided 7:20-7:30 sounded
like a good range.
I actually convinced the Engineer to come with me – too bad I forgot to tell him I wanted to bring the camera and I forgot to grab it myself. The course was almost an out-and-back, except that it didn’t start and end in the same place. We parked closer to the end, and then cut through some alleys to get to the start area. I decided to take advantage of the lack of lines for the portapotties before going out on a short (1/2 mi) warm-up, which turned out to be very smart since the line was pretty large by the time I got back. After stretching, I debated what to wear – singlet or no? It wasn’t very warm out, and it didn’t look like the cloud cover was going to lift. But it was really humid, so I decided I’d probably rather not have a wet/damp singlet on. I stuck my sunglasses on top of my head since I wasn’t completely convinced that it would stay cloudy and I didn’t want to get stuck without them. Once you get used to wearing sunglasses, it’s kind of a pain not to have them. The nice thing is that mine are snug enough that I can run with them on top of my head and they don’t move; I sometimes forget that I’ve pushed them up there.
I spotted DD (who the Engineer hadn’t seen in a really long time) and we all chatted for a few minutes before DD and I decided to go join the start line. I really hate how people line up for races here. Based on last year’s results, I knew I shouldn’t be right at the start, but maybe a few rows back. But in the same row as me I spotted some people I recognized from previous races that should’ve been much farther back. And sure enough, after the gun went off I had to dodge people that had lined up too far forward.
I have a very bad sense of pace. I started out at what felt like a decent pace, but wasn’t sure what it was going to translate to for time. Since we started downtown, my GPS pace display was probably more inaccurate than usual. I hit the first mile faster than I wanted (7:08) but decided to not slow down by much since it didn’t feel too hard.
Not much of interest happened for awhile. We ran into the woods, which is not one of my favorite places to race. I did manage to spill water all over my hand at the 2nd water stop, around 5 miles. The water stop wasn’t very far after the mile mark, and it was supposed to be my gel point. So in a short time, I had to get my gel out, hit the lap button, open the gel, eat the gel, grab water and swallow. Somehow in all that, I dumped half the water on myself instead.
About 6 miles, we left the roads and started running on a dirt road. Ugh, this part sucked. I felt myself slowing because I wasn’t getting good traction. But maybe 1/2 way down the dirt road I decided to suck it up and started running harder. This was a race, after all. Since we were approaching the turnaround, we started seeing people on the way back. DD and I slapped hands as we ran past each other. Hitting the turnaround was awesome. I’d already been pleasantly surprised to see how close I was to some of the regular racers, but even better was seeing how far ahead I was of some of the regulars. I was especially pleased to see the distance between me and TCP; I’ve never had such a large gap between us unless it’s her ahead of me.
The next couple of miles flew by … I had been running with a guy in grey shorts for awhile and we picked up a guy in blue shorts at some point. I actually started using some “racing techniques” – when I wanted to pass, I made it count by passing hard. I threw in surges. Blue shorts and grey shorts met my “challenges” though, which helped me keep pushing. I felt pretty great, especially when I hit the 10 mile mark in 73 minutes and my mid-race math said I could maybe beat 1:35.
But then we headed back into the woods. I knew the water stop was somewhere in there, and I was starting to really look forward to that. Normally I wouldn’t bother stopping for water so close to the end, but I was really sweating. (And with the humidity, it was just sitting on my skin which was nasty. I’d brushed against my stomach earlier and just yuck. So glad I’d left my shirt behind). The water station was not much after 11 miles, and I slowed (but not stopped) so that I could get 2 gulps of water. I’ve been just running through the stops, and the downside to
that is I only get a gulp of water which was really not enough. I’m not sure if this was smart or not, because my legs almost immediately turned to lead. My buddies took off, and I was unable to match their pickup. I felt like I was running through quicksand or mud or something.
I was able to move a little faster over the last mile, but not much. Apparently I need to work more on running fast when tired. I saw a photographer on one of the overpasses, and I tried to not do anything weird so I might get a decent picture. I don’t have very good luck with that usually.
Here I am. I look focused or something.
I wasn’t sure exactly where the finish was, but I knew it was somewhere after the bridge between the pavilion and civic center so I was very pleased to approach the pavilion. I was able to pick it up over the bridge, and rounding the corner I saw the Engineer with RC, one of his
friends. “This sucks!” I said as I ran past, which cracked them both up. (I was surprised to see RC, since I didn’t know he ran … but apparently he just started again last week and yet finished 4th in the 5K).
The finish kind of sucks for running hard, as you round a corner coming off of the bridge and then run straight for a bit before rounding another corner. I saw the clock approaching 1:36 and I tried to run in hard. I think I might’ve passed someone towards the end, but I don’t remember. I hit my watch as I crossed the mat … 1:36:12, which I was pretty pleased with. I bent to remove my chip myself, since I doubted the volunteer wanted to unravel almost my entire shoelace. I DO NOT trust those plastic ties they want you to use, so I lace chips pretty securely into my
shoelaces. (I’ve seen chips on the ground at almost every chip race I’ve run). Then I hit up the food tent before meeting up with the Engineer.
As I was putting on my long sleeve shirt, I saw KR and went to go talk with her. She was there cheering for her husband with their 3 week old son – so cute! I started feeling kind of weak, and had to sit down for a bit. I then decided I should probably run a cooldown of some kind, especially since I hadn’t met my mileage for the day 😉 After stretching, I added pants because I was feeling kind of chilly. At some point, I found the “Moo Machine” (an ice cream truck) and got an ice cream sandwich. But I was starting to feel pretty bad, and only ate half. We hung around for awhile, until they started posting preliminary results. Despite running a time that would’ve won my AG last year, I was 5th this year (13th OA female, and 90th OA). We decided to skip the awards, especially since they weren’t going to be for another half hour or something and I was cold.
1 | 7:08
2 | 7:16 | 14:25
3 | 7:16 | 21:41
4 | 7:22 | 29:03
5 | 7:24 | 36:27
6 | 7:31 | 43:59
7 | 7:14 | 51:13
8 | 7:16 | 58:29
9 | 7:14 | 1:05:43
10 | 7:18 | 1:13:02
11 | 7:20 | 1:20:23
12 | 7:43 | 1:28:06
13 | 7:36 | 1:35:42
13.1 miles | 1:36:12 | 7:21/mi.