Let's cut to the chase, here's the lowdown on yesterday's race. Whoa! Don King got a hold of my keyboard for a second.
It was a really cool morning, right around 60 out in the Western Suburbs. I got down to the course at abour 7:25 for the 8:00 race. I went and grabbed my bib and talked to my former boss (from a previous job) for a few minutes. His running club puts on this race every year. The race is really well run, the course is nice and they have the best post-race food I have ever had. Fresh fruit, bagels, pizza, and a restaurant also provides some finer foods like brie cheese, roasted duck, roasted chicken breast and some fresh salmon. It's really amazing.
So, I had some time after I went back to my car and pinned on the bib and changed into my shoes. Then I took down a nice vanilla Gu, did an easy warm up mile and was running by the start line area when I heard that the race was going to start 10 minutes late. No problem, I thought, it'd give me enough time to get another easy mile in. So I finished my second mile and headed over to the start line.
I was chatting with a couple guys at the start line as we were waiting for the race to start. The younger of the two was wearing some nice, tight, blue shorts and a running club singlet. Pretty serious stuff. The other guy was a bit older, but was a nice guy. As we were chatting, the younger mentioned that he blew up in the last six miles at Grandma's Marathon and ran a 3:0X. I suppose blow-ups are all relative. The other guy said he was trying to hit a 1:19 half the following weekend. I decided at that point to make sure I did not run with those two out of the gate. Just before the race started, I asked the younger guy if he was going to win this race. He replied, " Don't know, that guy (nodded to his left to some other guy) is pretty fast." The results are not officially posted yet so I don't know his time, but the younger guy did finish first overall.
With that, the horn sounded and we were off. The first and last 75-100 yards of the race are in grass. It was a very wet at the beginning, so I was trying to make sure I didn't lose my footing. After the grass ends, there's a sharp left turn. As we're coming out of the turn, a group of guys pull away. I am being very cognizant of not going out to fast. I look down at my Garmin and see 6:0Xs, so I back it down a touch. I wanted to hit a 6:25 first mile. This allows a decent group of guys to pass me. Before the passing stopped, I think I counted about 22 guys in front of me. As I get to the half mile mark, I see I hit it at 3:05. Whoa, slow down! So I am reigning it in at this point. I feel like I am holding myself back the rest of mile 1, running very easy and hit the 1st mile marker at 6:24. Nice. Right where I wanted to be.
Somewhere near the end of that mile, I started running in a group of two others. One was about 40 and the other was 12 or so. No lie. This little dude was motoring. I made a mental note to myself that I will not lose to him. I think this is probably the equivalent to losing to someone dressed as a superhero in the marathon. I ran with these two for all of mile two. Again, it felt nice and easy and my breathing was very under control. I have found that's the key for me in these shorter races. I hit the 2nd mile marker at 6:27. I was thinking I'd try to be in the 6:20-6:25 range for miles 2 and 3. There are definitely some turns and slightly narrower parts in this section of the race. There was a lot of single file running as guys were trying to run tangentially as much as possible. I was feeling good and my breathing was still very solid.
Somwhere during mile three, I picked off a couple runners from the pack and my little friend fell off the pace too. I felt I was holding this 6:25ish pace. As I hit the 3rd mile marker, my Garmin (manual lap) read 6:30. Hmmm. I wasn't disappointed, just wondering a little bit as I felt my effort level hadn't changed. Maybe it was turns and curves on the course. At that point, I decide it's time to pick up the pace a bit. Not a ton, but I need to start putting up some 6:20 miles here. I basically have a 5K left at this point, so I am feeling good.
So I start passing guys, without really using too much effort to go around them. I'd sneak inside when I could or just follow the natural flow of the course. I think I passed 5 or 6 guys in this mile and hit mile marker 4 with a 6:21.
Okay, that's more like it. Still feeling pretty strong, although I am focusing more on my breathing. The last thing I need at this point is a cramp or my breathing to get out of control and I fall off of my pace. There's a guy in front of me that is hugging the inside of every turn and I am breathing down his neck. He won't give me an inch. So after about a quarter mile of these shenanigans, I bite the bullet and pass him on the outside. Still focusing on my breathing as it's becoming slightly more labored. I made it a point not to look at my HR throughout the race. There's nothing I can do about it, so why even bother?
Somewhere around mile 4.5, the course turned and I was running into the wind. I was starting to feel it a little bit as I saw my Garmin go back up from the 6:1Xs to the 6:2Xs. I hunkered down and decided that there was only about 1.75 miles left, so any pain I was feeling was only temporary. I hit the 5 mile marker with a 6:11. Nice!
Just about a mile and a quarter to go and there's no one anywhere close behind me and a shirtless guy off in the distance in front of me. I decided to see what I have left in the tank and run it as hard as I can. As if I would have considered anything else. My breathing is becoming very labored by the 5.75 mark. I hit the 6th mile marker with an even 6:00 on my watch. Awesome.
Just .2 to go and I have made up considerable ground on the shirtless guy. As we make the final turn into the grass, I am giving it all I have. So is this guy, so I never do catch him. I think I finished a second or two behind him. I ran the final .21 (Garmin measured) in 1:11 (a 5:36ish pace) and hit the finish line with a 39:07!
What a great feeling. I remembering struggling my way to the finish line last year in a 43:54. Yep. That's not a typo. I beat my time on this course from last year by 4:47. And beat my November PR of 41:48 by 2:41. I am pretty sure my days of 10K 2 minute PRs are over now, but it was fun while it lasted. I finished 2nd in my age group and received a nice fancy medal for my efforts. I am not sure where I finished overall and I did lose track of how many guys I passed. I am guessing somewhere in the 10-15 range. I think I may have left a few seconds (10-15?) on the course in miles 2 and 3. Not positive though. No regrets here at all.
I also learned my max Heart Rate is 200, not 195. I hit that in the last .2. Here are the splits and AHR for the race:
6- 6:00 (194)
.2- 1:11 (197)
The 39:07 translates into a 6:17 overall pace . Average HR for the race was 186, or 93% of my new max. I'll make another post over the next day or two chronicling last week and previewing this upcoming week.
Thanks for reading,
Magic City Half RR
1 day ago