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or “Plan the race, race the plan.”
Let the 2009 racing season begin internet people! This morning was the first race of the season and my first stand alone half marathon ever. The weather report was sketchy all week and had me checking a half dozen Web sites several times per day. Reports went back and forth from predicting rain or snow (I was rooting for snow because there are few things worse than mid 30’s and raining). This morning the forecast finally turned to rain, but not until the afternoon. With a 10am start time, it would give me just enough time to cross the line safely before the downpours started. WOOT. I couldn’t have asked for anything better.
Sam and I drove down to Cape Cod bright and early. I sucked down a GU about 45 minutes before race time and all lights went green. Game On.
Me walking to the starting line. I look pretty angry, but I guess that is what my “Game Face” looks like.
I’m all bundled up and still shivering, but people are still rocking shorts? Seriously?!?
The all important last minute, err.., adjustments.
Since I had already departed from my faithful “play it by ear” race strategy with a mile-by-mile outline of my goal mile splits, I decided to keep with the trend and tape the mile splits to my arm. I covered it in clear tape just in case it started to rain. Since my running fitness has come a LONG way since the last time that I raced, I didn’t have a clear idea yet of what I’m capable of, and I laid out pretty conservative goals, I only planned on using each split as a general estimate and went on perceived exertion more than actual pace.
The Game Plan
As planned, I took the first 6 miles nice and easy, but every time I looked down at my watch I was about 45 seconds faster per mile than I had planned. Instead of 9:30’s, I was hitting around 8:45’s. I second guessed my pace for a while and thought about slowing down to low 9’s but I decided that listening to my body made a lot more sense than sticking to (relatively) arbitrary numbers that I had laid out days ahead of time. I stuck with it and comfortably hit mile after mile in the high 8 min/mile pace range without working myself too hard.
I’m not in this pic, but I really like the blur of the runners. It looks pretty cool.
Despite being a little cold at the start, I warmed right up once I settled in to a good pace. The course was really nice too. It was SUPER flat and made a few twists and turns through little residential neighborhoods, with only one section along a busy street that was a little sketchy. There were rumors that there were some easy rollers throughout the course, which ended up being all lies, but it was a nice course nonetheless. At a few points we passed by the shore so we got a nice view of the ocean and got a really nice sea breeze to keep us moving on. It is strange how the smell of stinky sea weed and fish can some how make me associate with happy thoughts. I can’t wait until summer comes and I can go hang out on the beach on Cape Cod when it isn’t 30 degrees outside. Again, I digress…
Right after mile 6, I caught up with one of my Wheelworks teammates and chatted it up a bit. At that point I was just starting to pick up the pace and increase my turnover. We traded game plans and while she wasn’t planning to go all out until the last 3.1 miles, she eventually came with me and we traded places with each other throughout the rest of the race. We had never raced together, but it was great to have that carrot dangling in front of me to keep my pace up if I started to slow down.
Right at about mile 10, I passed Team Hoyt and gave a little cheer as I chugged along. If you haven’t read or seen any videos about Dick and Rick Hoyt, check out this one. They have an amazing story and it was a huge inspiration to see them on the same course as me (and 4,000 other runners) letting it all out
The last two miles were pretty brutal. It was rough just to keep my form together, but my pace still held up pretty strong and I was able to knock down runner after runner with no problem at all. Granted, a good chuck of them were probably finishing the first loop of the full marathon, but the plan was definitely working and I was able to really knock out a solid pace while everyone else was struggling just to hang on.
“I crown thee: Half Marathoner”
I’m in there somewhere I think I’m completely covered by that guy in the blue shirt.
Looking like a hot mess just after the finish line, but totally psyched to have rocked the race plan.
According to my watch I clocked in at 1:50:30 (8:26 min/mile avg), safely under my goal for the race. I’d post my mile splits, but I don’t remember them. My avg HR was 159 and maxed at 180.
Overall the commute/warmup/race plan worked pretty well. Looking back, my paces needed some tweaking, but it is always nice to surprise yourself by going faster than expected instead of slower. 2009 is going to be an awesome year. I smell PRs in the air. Stay tuned internet people.