Tuesday, May 25, 2010

MD Half Marathon Race report

I just ran a new Half Marathon PR!

Countdown Timers with fireworks

Pre-Race: Woke up at 3:20 hearing the rain pouring down, a severe weather warning and around 4h sleep. Thought about bagging the whole thing and going back to sleep but knew if I did that I probably wouldn't get my run in later. Got in the car at ~4:30 rain stopped on the way and the drive was uneventful, if you ignore the part where I started to doze off and had to break into the emergency chocolate covered espresso beans. Packet pickup was extremely fast and easy, although it started raining again just as I parked, I picked up C-'s shirt since she had registered no one gave me a hard time except for making sure that I knew I was picking up a women's shirt. I allowed that I look dashing in a cap sleeve.

The Plan: I have been comfortable doing around 9:45/mi pace on longer runs and decided that since 9:45 would shave about a minute off my last half I would try for something like 9:30 expecting to lose some time on the hills, make up a bit on the decent and hold steady on the flats. I would be running with the Nathan as that is the plan for the NF50k but wearing road shoes instead of trail shoes.

Pre-Race: I had gotten a little wet warming up and felt chilled prior to the start at the last minute I decided to run with my PI mesh back cycling vest, this would turn out to be a mistake. The anthem by 'Maxx Factor' was the best pre-race anthem I have heard at any race this year (with tempo and spirit, not your country singing debut and they knew all the words).

The Race: At the request 'Lets get all the 5:00/mi runners to the front' most people backed way up. Maybe I should have gone further. My first mile was fast at 8:55 and my HR was a bit higher than hoped I checked and saw low 8s a few times and backed off. The first hill I noticed came around 1.5mi when I decided that I was getting hot and walked while I adjusted my clothes.

Then came the dilemma that I faced throughout the rest of the race. WTF do I do with these downhills? I ran them but I kept wondering if I needed to slow down, was I going to burn out my quads? If I slowed down would that burn out my quads? I think that by mile 3 there had been a good .5mi of downhill just in time for the first real climb.

On the first climb 3-3.5 and through the climbs to 4 I took a couple of short walking breaks to control my HR. From this point to next big climb was fairly uneventful. I managed to clip a puddle and splash my right foot, noticed that my HR was remaining higher than I would generally have liked but felt fine in spite of that unexplained data. In retrospect I should have put it together with maintaing a few sub 9:00/mi splits.

The start of the second climb reminds me of Forsythe Ave in DC, took a walk to try and lower my HR but didn't want to slow down too much and kept to a fast walk (10:58/mi split). From here to the end of mile 10 I took a couple more quick walks resulting in two 09:09:04 miles before the real downhill.

Mile 11 to the end the race is advertised as a an easy downhill two miles to the finish, it is downhill. However, I found the 8:12/mi to result in a creeping HR 170-178bpm and while I tried to back off in mile 12 (9:26/mi) even taking a quick walk to lower my HR and combat a bit of rising gorge I felt like I didn't have anything left for the last mile. Apparently I was wrong finishing mi 13 in a slower but still better than target 9:19/mi. The race finishes on the horse track where I almost bit it slipping in some extra wet sand.

Post-Race: Walking around the track to get the race medal was a nice forced cool-down walk. Plenty of helpful and friendly volunteers to remove timing chips, hand out water, snacks, mylar blankets and medals. I had a free muscle milk...yeah I don't like it even in chocolate malt. My recoverite tasted really good (dehydrated, really?) The bacon egg and cheese muffin I had tasted really good as well. The festival looked fine but I wasn't really interested and the music was overly loud for me.

Thoughts: I'm in the middle of my taper for the North Face 50K and I just ran a PR Half Marathon taking about 8 minutes off my previous PR at LAWS on April 18th. I am happy with the results and think that it is a great confidence booster, but I do have some concern about the pacing/effort as related to what I need to do for the 50K.

I spent slightly less than half the race in zone 3 the rest in zone 4 except for a brief foray into zone 5 to the finish. Finishing with a new PR of 2:02:58. I drank about 1L of Perpetuem mixture (of the 1.5 I carried, this is still a problem). I wasn't really feeling dry while running but I was dehydrated at the end and carrying .5L of water and fuel! I don't think I can maintain those effort levels for a 50K, I can't afford to dehydrate and carry effectively useless weight for what I expect to be at least 7 hours on the trail.

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