ORRRC Half Marathon Race Report

The ORRRC Half Marathon went very well for me today.  I was able to come away with three things I coveted:

  1. Proof that I’ve been making progress in the training I’ve been doing.
  2. Build confidence for the Glass City Marathon in April.
  3. A new half marathon PR by 2:44.

I was pretty relaxed going into the race since this isn’t really the race I’m training for, but I still wanted to do well.  After you’ve put in a lot of hours in training, even if it isn’t the ultimate prize you’re shooting for, you want to have a good showing. When I got to the race at about 7:30 AM, it was so humid, there was dense fog everywhere, so that got me a bit worried but the temperatures were only in the low 60s, so it wasn’t too bad. Together with my coach Luke Humphrey, I had set a goal to finish in the low 1:40s.  In my head I thought I was capable of a 1:40:00 half marathon, but I knew I wasn’t as rested as I would be for a goal race, so anything better than a 1:44:00 should be considered a victory.

My plan was straightforward: start conservatively and then ratchet it up little by little.  I planned to get into a groove in the first two miles by going out at 8:05, then run miles 3-6 at 7:45, kick it up to 7:35 for 7-10, then see what I had left in the tank to finish things off.  My actual splits went like this:  7:47, 7:48, 7:40, 7:48, 7:43, 7:40, 7:35, 7:45, 7:36, 7:31, 7:27, 7:21, 7:22, then 7:21 for the final 0.1.

So, clearly, I did not do a good job of going out under control! That’s been a bad habit of mine at a number of races, so I need to find a way to take it easy at the start line.  Damn competitiveness.  I did seem to settle in and hit my stride by about mile 3, though, then did a much better job of following the plan from there. When I got to about 6 miles in, I was already starting to “feel” the work I was doing, and honestly, that got me a bit worried.  In the midst of the race, I thought it was too early, but I managed to shake that thought and just kept pushing. The turn around (it was an out and back race) was just before mile 8 and that was really my low point, a point where I doubted that I could keep pushing. When I look at the Garmin data (which is down below), I can see that it was also the peak of the climbing, so maybe it’s not so surprising. Again, I pushed through the feeling, and the more I saw that I was keeping to the plan, the more confident I got. During miles 10  and 11, I must have looked down at my watch about 20 times because I felt like I was really slowing down, yet my watch assured me I was staying right around a 7:30 pace, so I used that confidence to keep pushing hard.  I knew I could stand any amount struggle for two more miles. The last two were pretty much a blur as I just kept focussing on maintaining pace and ticking off half miles to the end. When I stopped my watch at the finish line and looked down to see 1:39:59, a big smile crossed my face. If my watch was right (and it turned out to be an exact match to my chip time), I had just PRed by 2:44.  I came in 89th out of 675 runners.

A good day for sure. Quite a shot in the arm with a little less than a month to go until the Glass City Marathon.

Here’s the Garmin data.

Tune-up race week

This Sunday, March 22, I’ve got a tune-up race in preparation for the marathon I’m running in April.  It’s the ORRRC (Ohio River Road Runners Club) Half Marathon in a suburb of Dayton, OH.  The goal for this race is to see what gains I’ve made fitness-wise during this training cycle and to level set for the marathon in April.  While there are no guarantees, half marathon times are pretty good predictors of marathon capabilities.

The tough part on my ego is that you don’t go into a race like this as well rested as you would a goal race.  Tapering for a goal race is typically a two week process to make sure you you enter the race on fresh legs.  This won’t be the case for this half marathon.  I am easing back just a bit this week, but will by no means be rested.

I think I’m capable of running a 1:40:00 half marathon, so that’s the goal I’ve set for myself.  My personal record for the half is a 1:42:43 set at the Heart Mini Half Marathon last March, so shaving nearly three minutes from a half marathon time is a pretty tall order.  If the weather cooperates and I have a good morning running, I think I can do it.

I do need to keep in mind that this is not my goal race and that doing something stupid that sets back marathon training would be a mistake.  The plan I’ve put together has me going out kind of conservatively for the first two miles (8:05 pace), picking it up a bit for miles 3-10 (7:40 pace), then see what I’ve got left for the final 5K. If I’ve still got something in the tank and can crank it down to 7:20s, I’ll make my goal time.  If I don’t have it, I don’t have it.