I've spent spring and summer chasing my half marathon PR. Came close in Indy back in May and completely failed in July when I thought for sure I'd get it.
But now, two weeks away from a planned marathon on Oct 16th, was I willing to run PR hard this close to the fall's real goal? I decided two weeks was enough time...and would go for it.
Race morning dawned a clear, crisp fall day New England...a slight breeze from the northwest, temps in the mid 40s (F)..heading to the lower 50s for the race. Oh wait, that's some alternate universe. Reality was a steady heavy rain; temps around 52F; and a steady north wind with a course that for the first 7 (half) or 12 (full) runs directly north. Yuck.
I considered not heading down to the race, but my training plan called for 12 mile run, so I was going to have run in the wet either way. Banished thoughts of bagging it and headed out for the race.
Made my first mistake early on and decided to skip any sort of warm-up jog in order to stay dry. Stay dry...that reads funny. That wasn't going to happen. Walked the short distance from parking to the start with an umbrella and huddled with some other wimps in the entrance of an office building near the start. Straining to hear the announcements from the start, just around the corner, we huddled there with all the usual nervous chit-chat, mostly about heat people had run in recently and about the race bibs on sideways.
Waited as long as I dared, then stripped off warmup pants and jacket, stuffed them in drop sack and headed into the deluge for baggage check. Baggage check was not in its usual place because there's like 2 feet of standing water where it usually is...uh oh...panic starting...where is baggage check? Crowds, rain, crowds, people huddled under every tent...where is baggage check? Crap. Oh...oh...there it is. Line...geez what a line. A not moving at all line. Finally...front of line and step forward to hand in my drop bag and sploosh...I'm standing in 4 inches of water. So much for dry feet for a while.
Boom!!! What? Was that?
Yes...that was the START CANNON! I'm at baggage check. Ru..roh.
I haven't stretched, I haven't really tied my shoes, I haven't jogged a little in place. I have to pee.
This race places on GUN time. You can't just take off late and let your placement be the chip time. I gotta go. The running 'go', in addition to the other 'go'.
I leap from baggage check, shove my way through spectators into the starting line which is shuffling to the start mats. Ok...I'm in the race.
Photo of the wet start..note the mix of short sleeves, garbage bags, people with gloves, hands stuffed into sleeves. And...the bibs on sideways:
(I'm in orange with white cap, next to white tank top lady...)
First 5 miles:
Plan is to start out about 10 - 15 sec/mile slower than goal pace (7:30) for the first two miles then make this time up in the second segment. Right from the start, I'm stiff and can't settle into any rythm. I'm slow due to crowd and the nasty headwind. Oh...no splits because I forgot set my Garmin to auto-lap. I figured this out at at mile 4 and started hitting manual laps.
Time through this segment is 38:11, above (slower) target pace by almost 10 seconds. Not looking good.
Second 5 miles:
I know I need to make up time, but this section has the hills. Long, steady climbs, a quick downhill and then uphill to the turn-around cone. I decide that victory will be not loosing any more pace until the turnaround puts the wind at our back, and we hit the steady slight downhill section from mile 8 to 10.
Time through this segment is better: 37:40 and now average race pace is better, but still above goal race pace by 2 seconds.
I'm soaked, I'm cold, my shoes feel like 10 pounds. My quads are tight and sore. Holding on and not fading seems like it could happen. Speeding up doesn't. First step...first...don't loose any pace. There are two uphills in this segment, then flat to the finish. I pound it up the first one extra hard -- this seems to help the legs loosen up. I feel a glimmer of hope. On the downhill I push for more turnover and chant to just hold onto it...hold onto it...turnover....push.
It works....the mile 10 - 11 split is faster, then onto the flat section from 11 to 12 which is 10 sec/mile faster than the average. I'm hurting and in a dark place. For some reason the soaked sleeves on my shirt are driving me nuts and I start futzing with them. Stop that. Stop it. Focus.
I can't run any faster.
You have to, or all that work for the PR is wasted.
I can hold it.
Nope, just pick it up...each step a bit faster
Don't look up...just look at your feet.
With every glance at my Garmin, the average pace is creeping down.
Mile 12 - 13 feels like it takes a day. It never ends. Running the tangents is brutal, up and down the heavily cambered road and the running water on each side. Uggh.
I quit. PR or not, this is all the speed I have today and I struggle to the finish. What's done is done.
Final time comes in at 1:39:02. A 15 second half marathon PR. That was close. Those 15 seconds came from the last two miles which were my fastest splits for the race, without those splits...I would have missed it a PR time by about 10 seconds..whew, got lucky.
I would run down the lane and into the night; Run so fast I swear my feet would fly; But the smell of the world came into my lungs; The sound of the gravel when my legs went numb; And my heart nearly burst right out of my chest...
Climbing Mt Ruapehu
man i really hope i get a fine day for my marathon. i ran in torrential rain last night and wind and 5km only...it was tough
brave run mate, and awesome time for the conditions especially!!
Personal Race Records:
M 3:52:48 (Auckland 2011), HM 1:38:16 (Taupo 2010), 10km 45:05 (Sir Barry 2010), 5km 20:21 (How Pak 5km 2010)
2012 Goals:Run the 75km Hillary Trail in a day (done 10/3/2012)
Great report. Thanks.
And gutsy run in some craptacular conditions.
With that seemingly never ending low pressure system almost outta here, here's hoping for much better stuff on the 16th, and that half has got to give you a nice confidence boost going in. Good luck.
Come all you no-hopers, you jokers and roguesWe're on the road to nowhere, let's find out where it goes
Way to tough it out, Milktruck!
A fine effort on a day when not much went right.
PBs since age 60: 5k- 24:36, 10k - 47:17. Half Marathon- 1:42:41.
10 miles (unofficial) 1:16:44.
A PR is a PR, especially one you worked hard for and it sounds like that day definitely had to be a tough grind mentally too. Nicely done!
"Don't feel like running today...suck it up and run ...you're an athlete." (John Stanton, founder & owner of The Running Room)
"The person who starts the race is not the same person who finishes the race."
Had to re-read before posting my own report.... great run in less than stellar conditions.
... and I don't think you got lucky. With your training, you made your own luck!
2013 Goals1) Break 1:50 in a HM (PR 1:52:19)2) Break 4:00 in a Marathon (PR 4:20:39)
Congratulations on your PR, MilkTruck! The soppy wet weather sounds awful, but you pulled it off and we're proud of you!
Use your momentum...keep going. You know you can make it.
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