I ran a half on May 17, 2014, for Corporate Challenge, in 1:32:31, which I am very happy about. First, I had a lot of fun. (Screaming out the chorus to “Teen Spirit” at about mile 9: “I feel stupid and contagious. Here we are now. Entertain us. An albino! A mosquito! My libido! Yeah!”) Second, I didn’t hurt myself. (I kept it under my “injury inducing” pace.) And third, it is close to the “race prediction time” for a half given my current 10K fitness. It is a very good result, which gives me some hope of knocking a little more time off that for the KC Half in the fall. I don’t think this is a year for breaking 1:30 again. But, as Jurek would say, “Sometimes you just do things.”
I’m caveating the 1:32:31. The leaders cut an early corner, probably shaving 0.1 miles off the course. Instead of taking a hard left out of the parking lot, somebody must have seen the first set of cones in the street, headed straight for them, and ran over the berm around the parking lot. I had no idea where I was going, but pretty soon we were all running on grass and people were joking, saying, “I didn’t know this was a cross country course.” I took my 13th mile split (my fastest at 6:42) and gave myself another 10th of a mile at that pace to come up with my total time.
I executed my pre-race plan, running the first mile at 7:30 (I walked to 7:45 after passing the mile marker), the 2nd in 7:02 (a 50’ net downhill) then walking to 15:15, and the 3rd in 7:09 (+30’/-30’). Then I dropped the pace and ran with whoever looked strong. My final 10 miles were at an average 7:02/mile with my heart rate at 159 and touching 160. (Half marathon race effort is 162 bpm.) So I was close, but not red-lining.
Run Less / Run Faster says my predicted half with a flat 41:30 10K is 1:32:56. How ‘bout THAT!?! So… I think this is more evidence that the half is my distance. That, or my recent training has been better for the half than the 10K. Now if I could just live up to their expectations for me in the full: a mind-bending, soul-searching, fitness-adapting, BQ’ing 3:13:00.
The night before (Friday), I realized I had lost my “last” water bottle. Earlier this month, I had dropped a water bottle, and the lid cracked, which triggered an order to Amazon, which had not arrived. (So I was without a back-up.) I had run with my only remaining bottle earlier in the morning, and didn’t drink it all, and wound up drinking the rest as I was mowing. So I went out in the yard, but still couldn’t find it. Then, I realized I had left it on the back of my corolla, which M had driven to pick up the kids from school. My water bottle was in a gutter somewhere! I drove around a little looking for it, but counted it lost when I reached the stoplight without finding it. Huge bummer! I scrounged a cheap, give-away water bottle that would work. Of course, the next day (after the race) the new one arrived.
Race Day, I had a Goldilocks (“just right”) morning. I was up at 4:00. Not nervous. Just awake. I ate my first bowl of Quaker Oats instant Apple & Cinnamon Oatmeal with 1 Tbsp of whey, some soy nut butter, and drank a cup of coffee. I had my second at about 5:45 as I was getting hungry again. Just before 6:00, I started my rocket fuel: 12 oz of coffee fortified with 1 Tbsp of instant Folgers, 2 Tbsp of Sugar in the Raw, and a pinch of salt. The rocket fuel was timed for 1 hour before the race because I’ve heard that caffeine reaches its maximum potency at 1 hour.
I left the house around 6:00 and arrived on site about 6:15, well ahead of the crush. As I was standing around in the parking lot, talking with friends, I saw two guys throwing a Frisbee. I thought, “What a perfect, fun warm-up!” About then, I realized I had lost my elastic arm band that holds my music player (a sansa) in place. I had left the car with it, but now it was not on my wrist. The second lost thing of this race! After a fruitless search, I wound up rolling the sleeves of my shirt up, and clipping my sansa to that. It worked fine, but it would have been better to have my band. I was wearing long sleeves, cotton gloves, and tights, because it was about 42°. A beautiful, freakishly cool day for May.
The course has an initial 3 mile loop, and then is a 5 mile out and 5 mile back. That means you get to see everyone in front of you by the time you hit mile 8 (the turn-around). Just before mile 7 or so, the leaders were coming back and I started numbering them off. To let them know what place they were in, and to find out what place I was in. At the turn I was 61. Then I counted runners up to 100. The counting was fun, and I think some of the runners enjoyed knowing what place they were in. I got a few “thank yous” and several smiles.
Early, I was running with these two guys who were just chatting away. And it was lovely for me, because they were at my pace and I felt like I was in a pack. I could go to “sleep.” Then they slowed a bit, and I went around them. Then one of them came buzzing past me about a mile up the course, and I said, “I *knew* you were sand bagging.” He laughed.
The mantras running through my head were (1) You are a well-trained runner. (2) Run this mile. (3) You are a target. You are the prey. [This one is from Meb Keflezighi’s recap of Boston. He talked about how as the leader he felt like a target, and it spurred him to run faster. I felt the same way. For miles 10-13, there was only one guy way in front of me, and no one behind me. But I didn’t want to slack the pace and have someone reel me in.] (4) Downhill mechanics. [Another one from Meb’s remarks about Boston.] (5) Be water. (One of my favorites.) I also played some mind games with myself. (1) I imagined that the guy in front of me was in first and I was going to get the silver unless I caught him. (Well. I didn’t catch him. We were both flying to the finish line. I figured the silver was good enough.) (2) I imagined it was the LA marathon (next spring). And once I thought that, I told myself I had more left in the tank. And when that was gone, I started (the final mantra) “running on fumes.”
I think I ran under my injury threshold. Afterwards, in the car, my glute really hurt! But once I got home, rolled, and walked a little on it, it seemed much better. I tried to run under injury pace, but I did cut loose on some of the downhills. After a Sunday morning, 2 mile shake out run, my glute feels really good. The first mile was a little tough, but it loosened up and came around.