Sunday, March 21, 2010

March Madness Half Marathon Race Report

This one may get a little long winded so if you just want the results, scroll down to the Results section J

I was a little nervous about this race. It is the hilliest race in Illinois that I know of and March weather can be pretty unpredictable. Plus it sells out in only a few hours and I was on bed rest and cortisone when registration started. I figured I would sign up anyway and it would at least be a good long run.

My foot healed faster than I expected and although the first few weeks back running were pretty tough my run fitness seemed to come back after about a month. Then I decided to try and join a local running club (Fast Tracks Racing) and see if doing some track workouts with them would help. I did a track workout one week and did 5 mile repeats all at or under my tempo pace and even set a mile PR on the last one. The next week I did a 22 mile long run with them including 8 miles at close to TP. I'm definitely planning on joining them some more.

The combination of a few great workouts and the weather had me excited to race this half marathon. My goal was just to beat my time at this race last year 1:20:06 as I have only been running hard for about 6 weeks now. Thanks to Jake at Zoot, I also had a few new pairs of shoes to choose from. I decided to race in the TT as have been training in them for a little while and they are nice and light but still have a bit of cushioning.

Yesterday Theresa and I had a wedding to go to and this was the first time we left Abigail (our 6 week old daughter) with anyone. My parents did a great job watching her, but by the time we picked he up and got home Theresa and I just wanted to go to sleep. Abigail on the other hand was ready to get up for the day and decided she wanted to be up most of the night. Theresa tried her hardest to comfort Abigail and let me sleep (and did a great job), but when 6 AM came around we were all exhausted. Considering it was windy, 30 and there were light snow flurries in the air, Theresa and Abigail decided to stay home and try to get some sleep instead of going to watch a race.

Fortunately, I had friends from Endurance Nation and Get A Grip that were also racing so I had people to hang out with, but it wasn't quite the same not having Theresa there. Plus since she wasn't there I don't have any pictures to post.

The Race

Luckily at race time the weather was great. Maybe mid 30s, a little windy but not bad, and no rain or snow, just wet pavement. As usual, the first mile flew by, felt way too easy and was faster than it should have been. I forced myself to hold back and try to stick to my target paces. With the first 3 miles being downhill it was tough, but I think I limited the damage. Unfortunately I found myself in no man's land during mile 4. The lead pack and chase pack were pulling away and I wasn't confident I could hang with them (or close the gap) and there wasn't really anyone close to me. So I decided just to chill and take it easy with mile 4 being my slowest of the day. Two guys caught me during mile 5 and we had turned into a headwind. I was tucked behind the guys but they were going a little faster than I wanted to. I felt good though and decided it was time to hang with them and see what I could do. The next few miles were not to exciting until mile 8 when I decided I was going to go hard and see what I could do. I tried to catch at least one person every mile and I did. Mile 12 came around and I could see two guys about half way through but I couldn't catch the next two that were about 200 yards in front of me. I'm happy though because I finished strong.

The Results

I ended up coming in at 1:17:43 which is a 5:56 pace. Not bad at all considering how hilly this course is. Last year I went 1:20:06 on this course and then ran a 1:17:34 on a flat course a few weeks later.
Today's 1:17:43 was good enough to get me 7th overall and 4th in my Age Group. Considering how competitive this race is I'm pretty excited with that result.

Up Next

Now I just have to figure out what to do in Boston. Two months ago I was planning to just go and take it easy, but now that I feel I'm in good enough shape to set a PR, I might have to run a little harder. I'm thinking I will try and set a small PR, but not all out race, so that I can get right back into training that week as I have bigger goals on my mind.

But first, I have the opportunity to go to a Zoot Camp in Oceanside next week. Let me know if you are racing Oceanside 70.3 as I will be there watching.