Frederick Running Festival Half MarathonThis was my fifth half marathon and my third time running Frederick. I love this race! The start line is a short drive from my house and since it is local I know where I am on the entire course. It's also the first half marathon I ever ran although the course has changed considerably since then.Training:I ran a marathon in March so I had a lot of miles under my belt over the winter. After the marathon I took a couple weeks of down time to recover where I didn't run very much. In the weeks after the race I gradually resumed running. My plan was to gradually increase my mileage up to about 35 miles per week for the month of April. The soreness in both of my Achilles that I experienced shortly before the marathon returned. I took some down time the first week of April (my log says I ran 20 miles that week) to let that rest and get some work done around the house. Eventually I managed to get in three solid weeks of training with a few longish runs. Still, I was feeling undertrained for this race so a couple weeks before race day I decided to drop my goal time of 1:45 and just run it for fun. At the same time I decided that after this race I would take a few weeks to focus on getting healthy and then start a dedicated push to BQ before I turn 50 (I'll be 47 in July). Making the decision to run Frederick for fun was a big relief! My runs got more relaxed and enjoyable. My Achilles were slowly feeling better and I was able to hit some good runs at half marathon pace the last couple weeks. The pressure to PR was off my back and I was feeling really good. I felt so good that I let the idea of going for 1:45 slip back into my head.Race Day:I didn't feel nervous at all about this race until the night before. Still, I got to sleep at around 11:00 and then up again at 5:00. That's not much less than a typical night for me so I felt OK. I took care of the usual race morning stuff. Plain bagel and coffee for breakfast. I planned to wear my new "Boston Stands as One" shirt for the race. It's a cotton shirt so I used three coats of New Skin on my nipples to make sure I wasn't "bloody nipple guy" at the finish. That stuff works great for me. I drove the back way to the race and parked in the neighborhood right next to the start line. Pinned on my bib and did some warming up. My legs felt really good with no soreness in the Achilles so I found the 1:45 pacer and introduced myself. There were actually three pacers (two men and a woman) but one of the guys (Jon) seemed to be in charge. He addressed the group and said that the plan was for them to run even 8:00 splits. He encouraged everyone to use them as a guide and to stick with them or go out on their own later in the race depending on how they felt but they would run on pace the entire race. I really liked hearing that so I decided to run with them for as long as I could. I wasn't sure if I had the endurance to hold 8:00 for that long but felt OK with the idea of risking a flame out near the end of the race.The Race:I had never started a race this close to the front before! My watch and the course clock were only 10 seconds off. Splits:01 - 8:0302 - 8:04Unlike other races, right from the start I felt like I was going faster than I was comfortable with. I really had doubts about my ability to hold that pace but decided it was too late to change my mind now!03 - 7:45 04 - 7:48 When we passed the 4 mile mark I looked at my watch and said out loud that we were about 30 seconds fast. A woman in front of me that had a purple shirt with a "4.15.13" bib pinned to her back mentioned that was what she had too. She looked really strong and I got the feeling that she would be a good person to run with.05 - 7:5906 - 8:02This is the neighborhood near baker park. As we ran along other runners started calling out anything that might be a tripping hazard in the road such as a speed bump or pothole. I don't remember this happening in other races but I really liked that we were all looking out for each other this way. 07 - 8:12There was a bit of a long climb in this mile and we slipped off pace a bit. No worries though since we were still around 15 seconds ahead.08 - 8:0509 - 7:52Somewhere in here I suddenly knew that I was going to finish in under 1:45. I don't know why but all doubt just left me.10 - 8:0111 - 8:04I thought about moving out ahead when we hit the 11 mile mark but decided not to push my luck. I would run one more mile with the pacers and then see what I could do the last mile12 - 7:56We hit the 12 mile mark just as the course took a left turn on 5th street so as we rounded the corner, off I went. I didn't know it at the time but Purple Shirt must have gone with me. The first half mile is flat and then a nice down hill before you cross Carroll Creek. On the other side of the bridge is a nice little hill. It's not very long, but pretty steep. As I got to the top of the hill, Purple Shirt passed me on my right. This made me REALLY happy because now I had someone to race! I fell in behind her as we made the right turn into the fairgrounds. She cut a corner into the grass to pass two guys and I followed right behind her. From there it was onto the horse track. Hitting the crushed stone surface was a bit of a shock to the system but Purple Shirt didn't slow down at all so neither did I. She stayed in the middle of the track as we approached the curve. I started to move down near the rail but decided the surface was too uneven and moved back in behind her. We passed several runners going around the curve at the bottom of the track. I looked up and could see the finish at the midway point of the straight away. I moved along side Purple Shirt and started my sprint. I passed her and then managed to pick off one more runner before crossing the finish. I felt fantastic for about a half a second and then got really nauseous. I came really close to throwing up but managed to keep it all down. I can't remember ever running that hard before.13 - 7:38.1 - 0:45
It took me a minute to get my stomach under control. Once I felt like I was OK I looked around for Purple Shirt to congratulate her but couldn't find her. Right then the pacers walked past me so I yelled out "Pacers!" and when they turned around I applauded and thanked all three of them. Jon asked me if I hit my goal and when I said I did he gave me a big high five and congratulated me. I thanked all three of them again and then went off to get my medal. I posed for a picture with the photographer and suddenly spotted Purple Shirt in the crowd. I had to shuffle a little bit to catch her before she left but I did manage to catch her and thank her for a good race.
ETA: I found this pic on the website for our local paper! Crossing the finish line. Purple Shirt looks happy. :-)
Thanks for reading and I'm sorry for writing such a long report!
Official Finish time was 1:44:18. A PR by about 6 and half minutes.
Awesome stuff! It's so interesting how the mental framing of a race can play such a big role. Had you not decided to back off a little and do this for fun, you likely would have pushed your training too hard and ended up at the race with a sore achilles. Instead, you came in healthy and had a great race. Obviously the fitness was there already, regardless of what you would have done the last week or two. I guess that's where the consistent training that all of us do really pays off, and also what's very different between us and the people that just kinda show up at race.
Those were some really good splits, and it must have been a big help to have a lot of others to race with (especially the girl that you caught at the end). It's funny you mentioned that about calling things out on the course like holes and the like - I had never heard that in a race before until my last one either. Your last two miles were fantastic. You can tell by the margin between those and the early splits that you had already race hard, but it's apparent that you dug in and gave exactly what you had left.
Congratulations on your huge PR and on meeting a goal that you had given up on. Enjoy some relaxed time before making a BQ push, and then go get it!
Trying to find some more hay to restock the barn
AND DOWN THE STRETCH THEY COME!!!
Scott--Thanks for the RR. Awesome job and I really enjoyed reading the RR, especially the last couple of miles.
Great job, Scott. You ran such a smart race. You're really developing a good sense for pacing, too. I think you mentioned a while back that you've struggled with that but I wouldn't have guessed that. And nice sportsmanship looking for the purple singlet. I'm finding myself being nicer to runners AFTRT the race. (It is a race )
“What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight – it’s the fight in the dog. – Dwight D. Eisenhower
My blog is JT Running DC. It's awesome.
Great job, Scott! Congrats!
Damaris, Marathon Maniac, Ultra Runner, INKnBURN Ambassador
"The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire."
It's always fucking hot in Miami!
Awesome race, Scott! Like SIAR said, I think it is pretty awesome how it seemed like you more relaxed and fun approach to this race really seemed to help your race. I sort of had a feeling you would be able to really smash your PR. Great job really pushing it especially at the end, and it was a good RR too!
PRs: 5K: 22:09, 10K:44:55, 15K: 1:10:35, HM: 1:42:49, M: 3:32:09
SIAR - I think you are right about the relaxed attitude making a difference. I think running with a good group of people helped too.
Marco - It's funny that you said that because I do remember that phrase crossed my mind at one point on the track!
Julia - Thanks! Being able to feel my pace is definitely a challenge for me. I've gotten much better at it during the early parts of a race but it's still a struggle when I get tired. The pacers were really good at this race.
Damaris - Thanks!
NTS - Thank you! I was pretty sure I would be able to PR for this one too. I'm really happy with the way it turned out.
Scott I commented originally on your other thread.
Just wanted to say that photo is extremely awesome!! I think it shows what all of us feel
at the end of a hard run and successful race. One of those "the photos speaks a thousand
the sweat soaked torso
the look of relief combined with the raised arm of triumph
and even better you were wearing a very cool shirt
That's a great finish photo and congrats for making it to the local paper. You ran a really smart race and your strategy at the end was perfect. Nice work on passing purple shirt and kudos on looking her up afterwards.
Train smart ... race smarter.