Posts Tagged ‘half marathon’

Race Report: Half Marathon

May 19, 2009

I finished and I ran the whole way, except for the water stations to drink it without sloshing it about.

I did the race in 2:14 and change but with a very huge positive split because of my plan to run it under 2 hours. I had some timing issues because I was expecting to run across a starting matt but instead it was a wire and I missed it in the crowd of people. So I started it about 40 seconds late, but thought I had started it a minute or two late. So I still don’t even know where the official start was.

In the crowd of 618 people I sort of ran even faster than I had planned because they were too and it didn’t really feel like work and it was a little downhill. I hit the first mile mark and hadn’t even felt like I really started yet. This was in around 8:10 as best I can estimate. The next mark I remember glancing at my watch was at 3 miles where I was on a 8:43 pace. I hit the 4 mile mark without knowing my exact time but there is a strong likelihood it was under my best time for running 4 miles which was 35:24. This is slightly faster than I wanted to start out but I just felt so good I had no urge to slow down at this point. But a couple of little uphill sections, and I mean little, had me starting to slow and this is about the point where I started getting passed slowly at first.

It was amazing how fast the miles went by. I got off the section I had never run to the point I ran a few weeks back around 5 miles and it was nice to have the familiar terrain. The third point I remember my time is at mile 7. I got there in about 1:06. I knew I was off my pace, 9:27 miles which was only 2 minutes lost at that point, and the only way I could make it would be to pick it up that minute. So I tried a bit. I had been running and making sure my heart rate never went over 170 or if it did I slowed down. Between mile 5 and 7 I got some pain in my chest. It was likely indegestion or whatever but that made me nervous, so I slowed down till it stopped which coincided with a heart rate more like 160. So that last try at mile 7 to speed back up brought the pain back so I decided to slow down and just finish with no chest pain no matter how slow. It made it hard to push myself to my limit with the worry about was I really ok or not.

Somewhere between mile 7 and 10 I started to get the feeling of lead legs I read about but never experienced. A mile after that I felt my muscles getting real tight and felt like it was constricting my natural form. I was fine to slow down a bit it was a mild pain. If I were out an a morning run and started feeling like that it woud be the point to stop. But in a race I have been looking forward to it wasn’t even an option. I also felt like I was getting a blister but at that point it was mild as well and I knew I would make it before it got too painful so I just ignored that. The first 7 miles I averaged 9:27 and the last 6.1 was 11:09 to get to the overall average of 10:17. I was out fast enough at mile 7 to finish in 2:04 had I held the same pace. So there was a parade of people passing me judging by finish times from 2:04 to 2:14 there were 98 people between those two times. Sure some of them were ahead and slowing down too and so never passed me but it sure felt like I got passed by 100 people.

The last 3 miles were on the trail where I ran all my 4 mile runs at lunch with the group from Sept to April, so I felt good about knowing all the bumps and turns, though it didn’t speed me up any. I was just happy to finish and stop running. My legs were very tight as soon as I stopped and I had to walk slowly to the runner hospitality to gobble down bagels and bananas and oranges and grapes and grilled chicken and soup and HEED and water. I was hoping for a bin of hammer gel to grab a few extra packets but there was none. I had taken one at mile 10 and it didn’t do anything for me except taste good and give my mind a boost for about 1000 feet or so.

My wife and kids were there to cheer me the last 100 feet and the kids had a fun time wearing my finisher’s medal for me. my half marathon distributionHere is the distribution of finishers by minute, I am in the yellow bar. The peak bar was 2:04 with 19 people finishing that minute.

I now have my first half marathon under my belt and can make improvements the next time I do one.  My first thing to improve will be how to not feel like I am walking on a broken foot the next day limping around like an old man. The answer to solving that one is to log more miles and lose more weight.

And if this race report didn’t quench your appetite for race reports, I have been checking out this adventure race that is ongoing from the RacingThePlanet Series. You might be interested in reading about it. I know it sounds like quite the chalenge and in reading some of the blogs on the site it is amazing how many of the people are just normal people looking to challenge themselves. The race is 250 kilometers in stages like they do the big bike tours, except you carry everything including your food for the whole trip the whole way. No I am not doing one any time soon, they are just fun to read about.


Race Weekend Coming Up

May 16, 2009

Half Marathon

I am looking to getting this half marathon over tomorrow. I can’t believe I have been so worried about it. I do not like training shorter than the full run, I wish I had gone on a long run longer than the race so I have an idea what to expect. Oh, well, this is a new experience I get to have and I can decide how to do my next one after this. I plan to start out with a 9 minute mile and see how I am feeling. I hope my worst case is slowing down to 10 minute miles but again, who knows. I don’t know if they mark every mile and the start is a bit murky on the map, so I will gauge this by the first water station which is listed at 1.8 miles. So I should hit it at 16:12 if on a 9 minute pace. They have marked the miles on the map as 4/17, 6/19 etc as the full marathon joins the course in the middle. Since I don’t know and didn’t ask, although I may at the expo, I have to assume that any number is up to a tenth of a mile off (the half should meet the full at the 13.1 mark and the miles would be off by .1, since its officially a boston qualifier I have to assume the miles are marked for the full more accurately so when I hit mile 13/26 I actually have .2 left not .1 cause I am probably at 12.9 really), meaning should reach mile markers 1 minute earlier than of than my planned pace. I didn’t have much kick at the end of the 10k, so I doubt I will be able to pull out an 8 minute mile at the end to make up time. Either I am steady and can keep the pace or I will slow down the longer it goes and drop off my goal. We shall see tomorrow.


I found out that there are 800 people entered in the half marathon so far, and they said that a lot are signing up as the day goes by. So I found another nearby half marathon one week later and looked at the results from last year. It took a bit of work but I graphed the distribution of the finishers by minute. The biggest spike is minute 121, 32 finishers of 1006 entrants. This is quite a spike for a group of people that likely tried to push to beat the 2 hour mark but couldn’t quite do it. (Or at least I envision they would have tried to.) Assuming they pick up another 200 entries today and get to 1000 as well, I can expect a finisher every 2-3 seconds at the peak of the bell curve where I am hoping to be. At a 9 minute per mile pace, that is 30 people spread over 1/9th of a mile or roughly someone every 20 feet. There should always be a person to try and keep up with or catch for extra motivation.

 half marathon distribution
Last Nights Swim:

At swimming last night I broke my best time for 500, 8:14, which is 49 seconds and change per lap. My original goal was to get down to 52 seconds and maintain the pace for triple the distance. So I need to do another 1650 to see if I can break the half hour mark. I suspect I will without difficulty now. Considering I have 9 weeks to go before my first olympic triathlon I can probably decrease my swimming and hit the bike harder.

I had a strange experience during my swim. I started out my first 100 at 1:30, which was too fast (I thought it was 2:00 though). I always try and create a gap so the person behind me isn’t nipping at my feet. But I started to feel like I couldn’t breathe well. I was weird as I felt like I was able to breathe in as often and as much as I needed but that my body wasn’t getting enough. Its like I could breathe the air in fast enough but I felt oxygen deprived like it wasn’t getting into the blood stream fast enough. Sort of the same feeling you get if while sitting there reading a computer screen you start breathing fast and deep even though you don’t need to. Hey you are sitting there reading a computer screen. You should try it, take 10 fast deep breaths and feel your heart start to speed up and you might even get a funny light headed feeling. This has to be a kin to having your mouth water just thinking about a fresh lemon being sliced on a cutting board and popped into your mouth. Now this is different in that I didn’t have enough oxygen and doing this makes too much, but the feeling of not needing to breathe as fast as you are is certainly the same. I have no explanation as to what happened other than I have been freaking out about this half and this workout in the pool was my last before I run and I was concerned with if I was going to hard or not hard enough and yada yada. I am going to do this same thing on purpose one of these weekends to see if I can get the same feeling and try to figure out why. I just need to to a set of 500 and start out way too fast and then speed up more. I could do several one Saturday and see if I can fix it. The reason I am so concerned is I lost my focus completely. I wasn’t watching the line on the bottom of the pool and seeing my arm pulls go by, I was worried if I was getting caught, I was worried why I was having so much trouble while going so slow. I was almost in a panic and thought pretty seriously about pulling up at the end to breathe some. This is just not me and I don’t like that feeling. I need to stay focussed on the task. The main thing that will help me in a real triathlon is that if someone catches me its not a problem, they can just go around and I won’t care.  I actually thought my time was going to be worse, we started at the bottom of the clock and after 100 yards I peeked and saw it at exactly the top. I thought we had started on the top cause I was already freaking out then and realized I was on a super slow pace of 60 seconds a lap. So I tried to speed up a bit. I had actually just swam two 45 seconds laps and was now trying to go faster. This didn’t last long and I eventually slowed and got caught by the person behind me with 75 to go.

Fixing the whole panic problem is probably going to be as simple as making sure I don’t start too fast and build a giant oxygen defecit right off the bat. This is easier said than done with pre-race adrenaline and all, but I will work on it.

The looming half marathon

May 5, 2009

OK, so is it time to freak out yet?

I am going to get out there and run half of a marathon in 11 days. I don’t know if I’m ready. I don’t know if there is anything else I can do. I want to get out and train a lot more but it is nearly too late.

I did the 12k race with my wife this Sunday, we ran 11:25 miles and it was pretty easy for me, she put in a great effort to reach that pace and finish up strong even though her legs were tiring. I was more sore than I thought I would be though as the day progressed. But the next day felt like nothing happened, so that is good I suppose. It should be my cardio abilities that stop me from reaching my goal not that I can’t complete the 13.1 miles, although who knows what forces will conspire against me that day.

I think I am going to do some hard interval type workouts in the next 3-4 days, hopefully spring those lungs to gasp a little bit more than they would otherwise and then take it easy next week and I recover from those hard workouts. My goal is to get to the burning feeling that I will feel as I run so far in the race but in a much quicker fashion so that I am not actually stressing my knees and joints this close to my taper. I will also try and get in 3 runs this week, probably I will do a longer one like 8 miles slower on the weekend and try to hit it twice during the week for 5 miles. I just can’ up the mileage now even though I fell behind on the training plan. It is too late to do more. 18 miles is a strong  showing for me in a week so I am not feeling bad about that.

My goal, the one in my minds eye that I really want whether reasonable or not, is to do my first half marathon under 2 hours. This is a 9:09 minute per mile pace which is a bit of a stretch for me. The course is perfect for it though and if I feel good it may be possible. The website doesn’t say for sure but it looks like 600 people are signed up 400 for the half and 200 for the full marathon. So if 400 people get spread out over 6 miles (that would be the slowest finishing in double the time of the fastest which seems reasonable) then the average distance between them would be 80 feet, and I should be close to the bell shaped clump in the middle so even near the end I should never be more than 80 feet from the person in front of me. This will be some good motivation to try and catch a few of them.

I will try and start out at a 9 minute pace and see how far I can go before I feel like it is too fast. I should make the 4 mile mark and from there is a downhill section that should keep me on pace for another 2 miles. So at 6 miles I will be running a flat race and should know by then if my pace is going to have a shot at holding up. I will have an extra minute to give back at this point and will likely do so on a couple of little baby hills. I am going to push through any psycological pain as best I can as long as it isn’t injury pain. I get to feeling too bad and I will just focus on the few people in front of me to pull me along as though we are attached by a giant strechy rubber band.

If everything falls apart on the goal pace front, my fallback plan is to not walk at all, unless injured of course. Even if I drop to a 10, 11, or 12 minute mile I will still be able to say I have done a half marathon and that will be ahuge accomplishment. It will give me a record that I can beat. I will also have a little push at the end if I am getting close to a 2:20 time because I have the thought in my head that I should be able to beat the pace set by Tara on the Biggest Loser when she did her half marathon challenge in about that time. That was a special episode for me. After my wife saw it she decided that it was possible that she could run the 12k race we just did if they could do a half marathon. It also gave me some peace of mind that I could really do a half marathon and that it is not nearly as much as it sounds like when the word marathon comes rolling off the tongue.

And my final plan if the wheels do come off, I am going to have a bunch of people there I know wondering where the hell I am if I come rolling up 30 minutes late. So if it comes to this I will fake a limp and if I can find one I will roll around in a mud puddle a bit to make it look like something drastic happened. It will be a good story for dinner parties if nothing else.

I have been reading a lot of blogs lately and have thought about how cool it would be to qualify for the Boston marathon. I need a time of 3:20, which is a pace of 7:38 per mile. I am currently reading a book by Matt Fitzgerald called Brain Training For Runners. It is an awesome book and he has a great blog too. I plan to come up with a plan for how I can get to the point where I am now, that is to run one mile at 7:20, and add distance until I can run 26 of them at that pace. Sounds easy enough. I think I am going to go out and run a fast mile this week to see what my best is. I did the 7:20 a while back and on my treadmill, so I think I have a shot at getting in under 7 minutes. We’ll see. If I can hit 6:52 I will be at the magical point of improving my time from when I started by cutting it in half. A real feat that can only be accomplished by a beginner and only once.