Beginners and Beyond


Chickamauga Half RR (Read 65 times)


    Chickamauga Half Report

    Goals going in:

    A - Goal Sub 1:45

    B - Goal 1:45:47 (just 60 seconds faster gets me a Peachtree Wave A time)

    C - Goal - PR (1:46:46 or better)

    Had a very light week running up to the race, dealing with some sore legs from doing a little too much on the weekend, but by the end of the week they were feeling much better.


    Travelled up the Friday night, to stay with relatives (DW has an Aunt who lives locally). We had planned on going to packet pickup the night before, but got a late start due to work, and DD was getting a little cranky so we headed straight to the house.

    On the Friday work catered a big lunch, so I took the opportunity to eat lots of mashed potatoes and squash casserole to carbo load. I much prefer a bigger lunch, the day before a race, rather than a large evening meal.


    Got to bed fairly early (about 9pm), and had the alarm set nice and early to give me time to eat a little and do any business that might arise. (House plumbing beats portapotties hands down). Outfit was running tights, a black underarmour T shirt, and my Half Fanatic vest.  Had some toast with Jam, for the mix of simple/complex carbs, and drove off to the start. Being the 3rd year in a row doing this race, I was well familiar with getting to the start, parking etc. Got there in good time, grabbed my bib, shirt and hat, then it being freezing (literally 32F) I retired back to the car to stay warm. Once race time was closer went to the portapotties to pee, then hung round in the registration tent. Got to meet a couple of Fanatics/Maniacs. One Fanatic was doing her first full, so wished her luck.


    As gun time approached Lined up on the road. There was a presentation of colours, a moment of silence (it is a race that is always near veteran’s day) and the national anthem. Then it was gun time.


    Gun pic (2012 taken from the race page. Photo credit to Vanessa Hills's husband)


    That’s a starting gun. You can always tell the first timers and they leap up a little. They may be expecting it, but it is louder than think it will be. Crossed the line about 10 secs after the gun, and found my stride and a little space. One thing I have noticed as I have got faster, space opens up a whole lot earlier on the course. I settled into my A goal pace (8 min miles), found my breathing to be about right. My hands were cold and I should have worn gloves for the first couple of miles. I brought them (and a belt to place them in mid race), but decided I didn’t want the hassle.


    The race runs round a mileish loop, then off into the park proper by a rough track. Then its good quality roads all the way round the park, until its time to hit the track back to the start area. Its not hilly per se, but it is fairly constant in its rolling, so I aimed for fairly even splits no matter the terrain within a mile. The route is partially through woods, and some clear terrain, a very mixed bag. There are plenty of views on the various monuments in the park, and some very well attended cheer areas.


    Not a whole lot to tell for the first half or so, even splits, running well and keeping at goal pace nicely. By halfway I was having to fight to keep pace a little harder. It was in the 9th mile that my legs all of a sudden stopped turning over as fast, and try as I might I just couldn’t keep that pace. The last four miles were pretty miserable. By mile 10 I had eaten away the little leeway I had over my goal, and Mile 11 I was well behind goal pace. Mile 12 I was being passed by several runners, a couple of whom kept trying to encourage me to finish strong and try as I might, I just couldn’t keep pace with them. Dropped over 20 secs/mile in the last 3 miles.

    Did find the energy to sprint for the line, but both my A and B goals had passed. I did hold on for a PR, moving that mark ahead by a whole 24 seconds from the Silver Comet a couple of weeks before.


    In that prior race, I was getting sub 1:47 by accelerating in the back half, and passing people feeling great. Its a much different feeling to slowing down and being passed.


    Splits really aren’t too bad when you get down to it.

    1 mi


    1 mi


    1 mi


    1 mi


    1 mi


    1 mi


    1 mi


    1 mi


    1 mi


    1 mi


    1 mi


    1 mi


    1 mi


    0.17 mi



    Let me first say, that ‘the legs coming off’ in this race was very different to what happened in my first half. Keeping running sub 8:30’s is much less of an implosion than being forced to walk. I am keeping a perspective about this, and know I can do better on a different day.


    What went wrong boils down to two things. Firstly my training this year (all year) has been sub-par. I had two months basically off in the Spring with a persistent sinus infection, and I have been behind since then. I simply didn’t have the miles in my legs this year, and paid for it in the last four miles.


    Secondly I wasn’t properly recovered from the Silver Comet. I have been the previous years, I just did a little too much in the week after that race. Something I will not repeat next year.


    Three years attending this pace, and its three PR’s: Marathon, half and half, so I guess for balance I need to plan on the marathon here next year. I have two more races this year. A 12 hour race in a week, with the goal of setting a new distance PR (currently 36 miles, so that’s a fairly soft target), and the Thanksgiving day half in Atlanta, where I’m going to be taking it much easier. (just looking for a sub-2 finish)

    Going to plan on a speed focus for the Spring races, then build towards the marathon in a years time. I’ll be doing Jack Daniels (again), and looking for a 50 mpw average over the 24 weeks. That’s a whole lot of early morning running on tap.

    5K  23:21*  (Vdot 41.53)   10/13/12

    10K  51:48 (Vdot 38.39)  7/15/12

    HM 1:46:23 (Vdot 41.95) 11/9/13

    FM 4:28:33 (Vdot 33.01) 11/12/11

    *Gun time, all others are chip time

      Cat, what I really like about your report is that you take the lessons from your performance and think about how you apply them in your training going forward.  I have, on more than one occasion, analyzed a race but not applied those lessons.  And hey, we sometimes learn more from races that don't go as well as we'd like than we do from those when everything clicks.  The other thing I like is that your goals were fairly tight.  I sometimes see things like "my A goal was 1:45 with a B goal of 2:00 and a C goal of 2:30" and I'm thinking WTF?  I might buy something like that for a brand new runner but more experienced runners should have a fairly good notion about how they are going to perform on race day.

      Short term goal: 17:59 5K

      Mid term goal:  2:54:59 marathon

      Long term goal: To say I've been a runner half my life.  (I started running at age 45).


      Smaller By The Day

        Hell of a job.  I hate that feeling when you just can't maintain.  It's fairly frustrating at the time, but you still got a solid PR.  Your race schedule looks daunting.  It's good to hear that you're going to take one of those kind of easy...haha  Best of luck.  Recover well, and keep us updated.


        Weight 100 pounds lost

        5K 31:02 Sept. 2012 / 23:36 Sept. 2013 (Same Course)

        10K 48:59 April 2013

        HM 2:03:56 Nov. 2012 / 1:46:50 March 2013

        MARATHON 3:57:33 Nov. 2013


        St. Jude's Hero Profile


        Wickedly Average

          Nice race, Richard!


          Your "slow" last few miles are still faster than my fastest HM pace. You did very well.


          I'm glad that you've enjoyed the course. I hope to be back out there next year. My knee kept me from racing this year, though I did sacrifice it for a PR 3 or 4 weeks ago!

          Tom (formerly known as PhotogTom)

          5K - 25:16, 10K - 55:31,  15K - 1:20:55,   HM - 1:55:21

            Congrats on a good race! This one is fairly close to me, so have my eye on it.

            Bad Ass

              Congrats on the PR!  I have been following your improvements this last year and I love it!

              Damaris, Marathon Maniac, Ultra Runner

              Next:  RnR Country Music Half Marathon


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


                You still Pr'ed.  Congratulations.  It isn't easy to continue making progress.   Rested legs certainly would have helped in this race, but it is what it is now.  Good luck in the Thanksgiving half and the 12 hour races coming up.  Hopefully you'll take a good taper before your 12 hour race.


                        Don’t work harder than you can breathe,
                and you’ll never get out of breath.-- Johnny Nuguyen


                  Great job out there!   It really does come down to a matter of seconds sometimes - 4 miles just off pace and that's the difference.  The good thing is with your tweaks, there's no way you don't nail it next time you attempt the sub 1:45!

                   Want a discount code for the San Francisco marathon?  Message me :)


                  Fun Size

                    Congrats on your PR! I was there too. I'll have to look for you if I'm able to go next year. I absolutely loved the course.



                      50 MPW over a 24 week period is a tall order when you are unaccustomed to it, take care that you are mentally prepared for that and recognize when you need a break.


                      As far as your half, I think you ran a great race and despite the slight fade at the end, you managed to keep the wheels from falling completely off.


                      You are heading towards 1:43 territory or better, just gotta keep at it!

                      "Training is not always fun, but it should always be rewarding."


                        50 MPW over a 24 week period is a tall order when you are unaccustomed to it, take care that you are mentally prepared for that and recognize when you need a break.



                        Its been a while, but I did close to that in 2011, the last time I did the marathon here. So its not like I am totally unaccustomed to it


                        I'm planning on doing the exact repeat program, just a little faster, and I have several months or so to build up to that level.

                        5K  23:21*  (Vdot 41.53)   10/13/12

                        10K  51:48 (Vdot 38.39)  7/15/12

                        HM 1:46:23 (Vdot 41.95) 11/9/13

                        FM 4:28:33 (Vdot 33.01) 11/12/11

                        *Gun time, all others are chip time


                        Barking Mad To Run

                          Congrats on your race and the PR.

                          "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." Theodore Roosevelt


                            Good job. I was there for the half in 2010 and the full in 2011 & 2012.


                            I wanted to to go out as a spectator this year but had another commitment to make. You're right about the cannon making most folks jump. Last year they hit it too soon and the announcer had to yell out for everybody to wait a minute.