Wednesday, September 7, 2011

United Water Half Marathon - Race Report

I only signed up for this race because the half marathon I had planned to do the previous weekend was cancelled due to Hurricane Irene (NYRR Bronx Half Marathon). In talking with the coach, we agreed that I'd run the race, then tack on another 45 minutes afterward to complete the assigned long run for the day.

Arriving at the start, temps were about 72 degrees, and the humidity was 85% plus. I should have given that some thought right away, but instead, set off with the pack. The race was small, around 300 participants in total. The race was partially on roads, partially on trails and pancake flat. This had the makings of a good race.

I ran the first 5 miles at around an 8:30 pace. Surprisingly, the pace felt good, easy, conversational. I was conversing quite a bit with a guy that seemed to be of a similar pace, who was using the half marathon as the first part of a long training run (sound familiar?). We ran, and chatted for around the first 5 miles.

The second five miles were on trail. My pace slowed to a 9:00 min/mi, partially due to the terrain (still pancake flat), and partially due to the rising heat. The water stations were only about every 2 miles, and I skipped one or two at the beginning. I was starting to regret that decision. I stopped at every water stop, took two cups of water to drink, and eventually, a third to pour on my head.

Fortunately, I had banked a lot of time at the beginning of the race, so I wasn't too concerned with my goal of a sub-2 half slipping away from me. By mile 10, I needed to slow down, so I did, and the guy I was running with kept going. Then we hit some hills. Miles 10 - 13 were my slowest, at 9:30, 10:00 and 9:30 respectively. I really pushed with everything I had, but my body was just not giving me what I needed.

For the last half mile of the race, I didn't see anyone ahead of me or behind me. It was a pretty surreal feeling to be this close to the finish line, and have NO RUNNERS in sight. Rounding the last corner, I picked it up, and brought it home with a strong finish. Finished with a 1:58:10 (Gun time - no net time for this race) - which isn't a PR, but was the sub-2hr finish that I was looking for.

Thinking back on the race, I'm most proud of several things:

  • I started with an aggressive pace, and held it for a respectable distance
  • I pushed through the heat better than I expected to
  • When things got tough in miles 10-13, I didn't quit (like I have in the past), but really gave it everything I had
I have been flirting with an aggressive (for me) goal in the New York Marathon this year, but this race really gave me a much needed boost of confidence - maybe everything is falling into place, and maybe I really am capable of hitting my goal this year...

...feels so good to be back.

Overall Place: 133/321
Gender Place: 99/193
Age Group Place: 16/32


Anonymous said...

Congrats! A great effort! The humidity was rough on Sunday morning, so being able to keep it going for 13 miles, and with late hills, is a great sign of things to come as the weather cools down. I'm sure your PR will fall soon...

Samantha said...

So happy for you!! In my limited experience, starting a race aggressively (as long as the pace feels good then) has always brought about good things.