Saturday, May 14, 2011

Despite My Best Effort at Self-Sabotage, I Still Had a Great Half Marathon!

Flash back to last month.  I had just come off a PR set in a 2 mile race.  I had the Wichita Half Marathon coming up the next weekend.  How do I approach it?  Not my preferred way.  First, I was feeling pretty good Monday of that week, and I wanted to do a test run of 13 miles and kinda gauge my 1/2 marathon fitness.  Well, my training run turned into a bit of a race itself, and I finished 13 miles about 4 minutes faster than my previous half PR.  A bit of a confidence builder, but probably not the smartest thing from an injury perspective to race a 2 miler plus 2 half marathons within a 1 week span.

Someone needs to fix this defective bell.
The next day, my employer, sends me off to Philadelphia to visit the Liberty Bell meet with a customer.  The trip started off badly.  Our connecting flight was cancelled, and the only way to make it to our meeting the next morning was to fly to New York City and drive to Philly.  Long story short, my head hit the pillow the next morning at 4:00am, got 5 hours sleep, and missed my run that morning.  Part of the travel process is that the company picks up the tab on all the food (and adult beverages).  I enjoyed plenty of seafood (hopefully not from Japanese waters), and a fair amount of beer (not too discerning where the beer was from).

Normally, this would be an ideal time to travel since the week of the race doesn't include too many miles.  However, when you mix fewer miles with increased food intake, you get to come home with a little more cushion for the pushing to love.  What I'm getting at is that I came back to Kansas a good 2 to 3 pounds heavier than when I left, and I lacked the self control to turn down plentiful/free food.

My final attempt at sabotaging my race was working outside pretty much the whole day before helping a mason build us a fire pit.  Everybody knows you should take it easy the day before a race, and I tried, but I had the obligation to get this fire pit built, which meant carrying around bags of mortar and cinder blocks.  It also meant being out in the sun.  So even when I wasn't working, I was busy getting a slight sunburn around my neck, and my lips got chapped.

So here's my recap of race week:
Monday - Race pace for 13 miles (over training)
Tuesday - Awake for 23 hours getting to Philly
Wednesday - Miss run, over eat
Thursday - Over eat
Friday - Arrive back home from Philly 2 -3 lbs heavier
Saturday - Spend most of the day outside working or getting sun
Sunday - Race Day

Now it's time to overcome all that and race my first half marathon in almost 2 years.  I honestly wasn't feeling very fit come race morning, and my final couple taper runs felt hard.  I was just hoping to get lucky and run about the same time that I did on Monday when I felt good and logged just under a 1:38:00 for 13 miles, before all that nonsense I put myself through the previous 6 days.

The race conditions were near ideal: mostly flat, 50º weather, little bit of a breeze (in Kansas terms).  My plan was to stay near a 7:30 pace and try to hold it as long as I could.  After 3 or 4 miles into the race, the initial adrenaline had worn off, and I was still questioning if the race would turn out as I wanted it to.

I think the turning point came around mile 7.  I was maintaining a pretty steady pace, but it was starting to feel more effortless, or like I was finally loosening up.  My mile 7 split clocked in at a 7:22.  By this point in the race, the runners were starting to get spread out, and little did I know I was really starting to negative split the rest of the way.

I think there were only 2 runners who passed me from here, meaning they were running the second half faster too.  One of those runners was a girl.  I was getting chicked.  Not a big deal to get passed, she was running her pace, I was running mine.  She slowly pulled away from me while staying in sight over the next couple miles.  She was looking strong, but keeping track of her gave me something to focus on.  All the while I'm thinking to myself, now I can blog about getting chicked, and I started composing a race report in my head.  I thought it kinda funny to be thinking about what to write on my blog as I'm trying to excel in a half marathon.  Then around mile 10 something happened.  Not to me, but to the chick doing the chicking.  She stopped to stretch her leg.  Must be cramping.  She was far enough ahead that I didn't catch up to her by the time she was running again, but for the first time, I felt I could catch her.  To my surprise, she continued to run strong.  If I get to the point where my legs are cramping, then I'm probably to the point where I'm about to walk (or not run strong).  Hats off to her.  If I was running a steady pace, I still might not have caught her, but this was turning out to be my day and my pace was now up to about 7:15 and I passed her at mile 11 being sure to say good job to her as I did.

Also at mile 11, I glanced at my heart rate which was looking good, and I was starting to taste the finish, so I decided it was time to drop the hammer, which in my case is more like a plastic toy hammer and bring on the speed.

In looking back at the splits from my Garmin, I'm really proud of my last 2 miles.  I had hoped to run a sub 7:30 average pace, and in my ideal scenario, maybe some 7:15 splits, but I was ecstatic when I downloaded my race data and discovered mile 12 was a 7:04 while mile 13 was 6:55!  My official race time was 1:36:02 and I PR'd by over 6 minutes.  Not to mention, my best case scenario was to finish in the 1:37 - 1:38 time frame.

There were a lot of runners that day setting personal bests, and that caused a lot of excitement at the finish line during the post race festivities.  I got to see and talk to a lot of runner friends who showed up, some who didn't even participate in the race.  Also, this event was about the first chance for everyone who is not 2Slow4Boston (aka those who ran in the 2011 Boston Marathon) to make an appearance back on the local scene, and you could tell who they all were cause they had their nice new Boston Marathon jackets on.  I'd bet it could have been 95º out, and they would still be representing with their jackets.  I would be, they looked cool.

Here are my splits:

About the only thing I can think of that went wrong for my race is it took me 20 seconds after I finished to stop my watch.

2Slow4Boston's Wichita Half Marathon Stats
Chip Time1:36:02
Overall Place87/1068
Age Group12/72
Average Pace7:20
Average Heart Rate182
Max Heart Rate202


Jim ... 50after40 said...

Awesome race Jon! That's FAST! Sound like even though training wasn't what you had hoped, you were still more than ready! Great job my friend!

Xaarlin said...

Great race! You were more prepared than you thought. Congrats!

Paul said...

Holly crap that's amazing!

What is your % HR you are running at at 182 bpm do you think? It must be 85-87%, no? Impressive to hold that for a half.

I wonder how much faster you would eek out with proper build-up to the race and dead even pacing? Something to look forward to!

Anywho, congrats! Try not to walk around with a big dumb grin on your face for the WHOLE week...8)

Christi said...

Congratulations on a fantastic race!

Char said...

Great run! You obviously didn't do a good enough job on the self-sabotage. I'd suggest running your next one with a raging hangover and that might do the trick.

Teamarcia said...

Nice job! You did great!

Julie said...

Wowzy!! Maybe you need to not rest for more of your races. Your time was amazing:)


misszippy said...

Very, very nice!! I think you have found your new pre-race routine! And yeah, sometimes those jackets get a bit annoying, along with IM logo things too. Gotta keep it in check.

Michael said...

Wow, sounds like you did great! Maybe this combination of working out and eating is something you should consider again :)

ajh said...

Outstanding job. Negative splitting is not easy (For me) to do. I only did it this week because it was up and down. Just think what you would have done if you had rested the day before!

Nelly said...

Wow, what a race! Congrats!

Your fire pit looks great! If I'm in the Wichita area we should have a bonfire, haha

Sounds like you really were dialed in this race, running your fastest mile of the race at mile 13 is awesome!

That is great that you had someone to try to reel in out on the racecourse, I think that really helps with trying to chase someone down out there.

I love your heartrate data, it is like just the same as mine for the last half marathon that I ran, haha You do seem to have the highest heartrate data that I've seen among any bloggers that I follow. A max heartrate of 210 is pretty nuts. And you seem to be able to maintain a high average heartrate on most runs. My max is about 205 I think, and I can maintain about a 180 heartrate on half marathons it seems like.

The Slow One said...

Great race! Wow! Congrats on the PR.

(Was she a girl or a woman? Ha!)

Cara @ EAT. PRAY. RUN. said...

Okay you are SPEEDY! Awesome recap, glad it was one for the books ;)

Jill said...

Well, it appears that a good 2-3 pound weight increase with a sunburn is PR material! Congrats on a great race, woohoo!

Being Robinson said...

congrats again on your huge PR. it was indeed a good day for PRs!

Anonymous said...

Those are some great splits! Great job!!(aka was mamarunsbarefoot)

XLMIC said...

All that eating was "fueling" and the lack of running was "tapering"…getting you in the perfect physical space for excelling in the race. The awesome fire pit construction provided the meditative zen-state to properly concentrate your energies where they needed to go. You ROCKED that race!!! Congrats :)

Katie said...

Wow super awesome!! Congrats on a GREAT time and on negative spliting!

Anonymous said...

Very nicely done. Great job.

RunFitMama said...

Love your recap. Congrats on the great race!

Alisa said...

I just found your blog and I have to agree. I would have run in my Boston jacket. Maybe get my calves tattooed with Boston Marathon as well. I would be the jerk who would constantly say, "Wellllll, at Boston..." and "Boston was sooooo much better than this." But then again, I will never qualify for Boston until I'm around 80, so I can just pretend.

Cory Reese said...

Amazing! Loved the race recap and the pictures. Way to go!

Nelly said...

Thanks for the comment on my runners knee post, I might look into a knee strap, I'll ask my physical therapist what she thinks about it. Good luck with your knee too!

Anonymous said...

Super great race, and I heard it was hot as hell there! The extra weight and work seemed to agree with you!