1 Year Later and a 25 Min PR (Race Report) (Read 162 times)


Slower than I look

    So I had a big day in my short running career and I wanted to get my thoughts down, if for no other reason than to preserve my memories.  I’ve also gotten so much out of reading other’s experiences and I hope to give some of that back.

    I started seriously running in November of 2012, put 1600 miles on the ground, and have run 4 races since then.  My first race was a half marathon that I ran in 2:09:05.  For the full story on that race, check out this post:



    While I was happy with that race, I really had my heart set on putting up a sub 2:00 half after building a solid base.  The truth was that I had jumped into the “I can finish it” mentality before I was really ready.  I learned a lot though in 2013.  I learned that running a lot of easy miles really does make you faster (what a surprise).  I learned that sticking to your training has little to do with motivation, and much more to do with deciding what you want to do and then making it part of your life.  Equally though, I learned the hard way that not taking days off when your body is telling you to is a fast track to injury.  In short, I spent 2013 learning how to be a runner.


    My only race that I had planned was a 10 miler in October 2013 with a goal of finishing under 1:30.  I made it in 1:29+ but it was a terrible hard race because of the conditions (80+ degrees, raining, 100% humidity).  I think I over-heated in the last few miles of this race and just felt terrible.  Every step was a fight not to stop and walk (but I didn’t) and I crashed with a hard positive split.    I only contemplated pussing out on running for a few days before signing up for another half marathon.


    Shortly after that, something changed in my training.  All of the sudden, long runs (even distances I had never covered) felt really easy and I just wasn’t getting sore anymore.  Tempos started to be faster than ever before and feel easier.  Then I ran a 10k turkey trot in a very surprising 47:09.  But then December saw some less than optimal training.   I missed or altered runs for a variety of reasons; old injury flaring up, bad chest infection, and general burnout.  All of that started to degrade my confidence and sapped some of the joy out of running.


    In the days leading up to the race, I really couldn’t figure out my strategy.  The taper had me really questioning things because all of the sudden it seemed hard to maintain a mid-10 min pace on a short jog.  I seriously thought I had just missed one too many runs and was getting out of shape (a bit of the taper madness maybe?).  I got some great advice from a good friend though; “it’s better to be 10% undertrained for a race than even 1% over trained”.  And more importantly, the steadfast support of my wife helped me to man up and resolve to give it my best.  I formulated a strategy to slide in to an 8:30 pace for at least 5 miles, and then speed up or slow down as needed.


    On to the race.  I’ve heard RnR events can be a bit of a circus, and this was no exception.  My wife and daughter came with me, but of course we were running late.  And because parking was a huge pain in the ass, we ended up with a long walk to the starting corrals.  I was a bit stressed and had time to warm up for all of 5 minutes and suck down a Clif gel.  I was in corral 4 and had to fight my way through 20 corrals worth of human traffic.  Seriously, 20 corrals?!?


    I squeezed into the back of my corral just in time for the national anthem and to take in the scene.  I was shortly asked to move aside so that several people holding a giant PF Chang’s dragon could make their way up to the front corrals.  Apparently the gig was that if you beat the dragon to the finish, you get a free desert or some nonsense.  It’s getting pretty close to go-time and they start to play “Eye of the Tiger” on the loud speakers.  I’ve experienced it in the other large races I’ve run, but these few moments were especially surreal.  I was surrounded by hundreds of people in a state of heightened anticipation, and excitement was building with each passing second.  There was an almost tangible thrumming of energy in that crowd, and it seemed to just keep building.


    They let the first few corral’s go and the rest of us had to wait for a train to pass.  It was in these few minutes that made the difference for me mentally that day.  All of the months of training, the long hours, the early mornings, the frustration and joy, all of those experiences had led to this moment.  I shed the lack of confidence and was overcome with an almost preternatural calm.  Sometimes the fire of determination lights at just the right moment.  And then we were off.


    Right out of the gate it’s so packed that I couldn’t settle in to any pace or even move around.  It becomes abundantly clear that there are quite a few people in corrals in front of me that had no business being that far forward.  A line of slow runners had formed and was log jamming everything.  At some point I finally broke through and settled into a better pace.


    Mile 1 – 8:28


    So I’m right on track and mile 1 flies by.  But I quickly realize my effort level is too low and I can do a little better than this.  I start to let my body find its natural rhythm and trust in the months of training.  I’m really starting to feel a flood of energy and exhilaration like I’ve not experienced in any other race.  It’s like my body is telling me what to do and all I have to do is quit fighting it.


    Mile 2- 8:13

    Mile 3 – 8:05

    Mile 4 – 8:09


    The ground was sloping gently uphill but I’ve run so many hills that it just feels flat and I’m eating it up.  I’m pacing faster than my corral indicated time of 1:55:00 and so I’m really just doing nothing but passing people at this point.  This is fun because, well, it’s fun to pass people, but it sucks because it was a constant effort of weaving and surging to make my way through.  Somewhere in here I blew past the PF Chang’s dragon so I knew the day wouldn’t be a total loss (free dessert!).  Most of the bands were playing generic stuff or their equipment wasn’t working but one band I passed right when the lead guitarist was going in to a sweet riff.  It pumped me up for the few minutes or so it took me to run past.  Around mile 5, I really hit my stride and just started rolling.


    Mile 5 – 7:49

    Mile 6 – 7:50

    Mile 7 – 7:51


    I had brought another Clif gel with me and consumed it around mile 7.  There must be some art to eating stuff while running at race pace because I probably looked like a clown trying to get the package open and breathe through my nose long enough to swallow the gel.  I think it helped though because I felt a new surge of energy 10 minutes later.


    Mile 8 – 7:57

    Mile 9 – 7:55

    Mile 10 – 7:35


    According to the elevation profile, this race only had 1 big hill.  I was trying to preserve some energy, expecting a big fight to get to the top of this thing.  We round a corner and start heading toward a park with 2 large rock formations.  Seeing their elevation and not knowing what to expect was a bit disconcerting.  And then the climb begins.  Since I’d been conserving some energy, I went ahead and increased my effort to try and maintain pace, holding some back for when it got really steep.  My speed differential to those around me seemed to increase and I was passing quite a few people.  It seemed only a very brief period before I looked up and saw the turnaround that would take us back down the hill.  I thought that there was no way the climb was over, but the truth was right there, plain to see.   It’s net downhill from here and I’m feeling great.


    Mile 11 – 7:31

    Mile 12 – 7:31

    Mile 13 – 7:29


    Right before the turn to the finish sprint, I see me wife and daughter waving and taking pictures.  I’m finally starting to get tired but not so much that I can’t smile and yell back.  My wife had told me that I would do well and hell if she wasn’t right.  I almost can’t believe when I see the finish line after turning the last corner, and I give it everything I have left.


    Last 0.11 – 6:40 pace

    Official Chip Time – 1:43:53


    I crossed the finish line and absolutely couldn’t believe how great the race went.  The finish sprint gassed me a bit but I felt good almost the entire race.  I couldn’t wait to find my wife and daughter; they’re pretty much the reason I get out of bed in the morning.  Then I sought out the second most important thing after a well-run race; a cold beer.


    So Marathon training is up next, but I’m going to take it easy for a while first and do some easy base building.  Looking at running one at the beginning of next year – when I feel like I’ll be ready to really take it on.  Right now I’ll just enjoy the PR.

    Latent Runner

      First off, congratulations on a huge PR, sounds like you earned it. 


      I learned that running a lot of easy miles really does make you faster (what a surprise).  I learned that sticking to your training has little to do with motivation, and much more to do with deciding what you want to do and then making it part of your life.  Equally though, I learned the hard way that not taking days off when your body is telling you to is a fast track to injury.  In short, I spent 2013 learning how to be a runner.



      Hmmm, someone must have forgotten to tell that to my body; I'm 56 and run lots and lots of easy miles, day after day after day, and rarely take a day off.  Even still, I am able to muster almost identical times to what you're posting.  I guess I'm doing it wrong.  Smile

      Fat old man PRs:

      • 1-mile (point to point, gravity assist): 5:50
      • 2-mile: 13:49
      • 5K (gravity assist last mile): 21:31
      • 5-Mile: 37:24
      • 10K (first 10K of my Half Marathon): 48:16
      • 10-Mile (first 10 miles of my Half Marathon): 1:17:40
      • Half Marathon: 1:42:13

      Half Fanatic #846

        Great report - thanks for posting!!

        "I don't always roll a joint, but when I do, it's usually my ankle" - unk.                          Run like the winded

         I ran half my last race on my left foot!                   "Frankly autocorrect, I'm getting a bit tired of your shirt"

          Great race!  I love it when a plan (and months of hard work) come together!

          2016 Goals

          2000 miles

          Get ready for my 2nd Boston Marathon

          No race goals, just stay healthy and work on flexibility and strength. 


          Bad Ass

            Great job!



            "The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire."

            It's always fucking hot in Miami!

              loved your race report   & congrats   well done