Sunday, September 23, 2012
Equinox Half Marathon
I texted Jen and we met up by the portapotties near the busses. She introduced me to several other runners, including Althea, that's Althea, Jen, and me from left to right in the picture. Jen and I shared the front seat behind the driver of the school bus, both of us trying not to have motion sickness on the way up the curves in the canyon.
When we got to Mishawaka, where the race started, we jumped off the bus into the porta-potty line, which was moving pretty quickly. Must have been a young crowd. Got that done. Then we ran into my friend Morgan and we went inside where it was warmer, inside the bar until it was time to drop off our bags and for me to warm up before the start.
It wasn't cold at 8 am when the race started, I brought layers and my sleeves but ended up not needing anything extra. I also had planned on carrying my pack with one water bottle in it, but decided against it, since there were 3 aid stations along the course, and it didn't seem like it would get very warm.
My plan for the run was two-fold: to use it as a tempo run, in which I was hoping to be able to average 8 minute miles, which would have had me finishing in 1:44-1:45. The other purpose was to give myself an idea of my current fitness level as a guideline for pacing myself in next month's 12 hour race in Oklahoma City.
I had no idea what would happen in 13 miles but I got up fairly close to the front, maybe 8 deep, and when the gun went off I went out at what felt like a relaxed pace, on a slight downhill grade that lasts a good portion of the race, with a few exceptions.
At the one mile mark I was at 7:23. That surprised me because 7:23 usually feels harder than that. It must have been the downhill. I backed off and made it to 2 miles in 15 flat. That felt a little easier, but I felt 7:30 average pace was still too ambitious for me at this point. I decided to walk through each water stop, that would make it feel like a training run and not a race. I didn't want to be totally spent after this run, and I know my fastest paced tempo run of 10 or 11 miles has been about 8:10 average pace recently.
As the run went on, I stayed consistent and comfortable, most of my mile splits falling into the 7:40 to 7:50 range. My slowest mile was 8:02, and nothing else was over 8 minutes. It never got warm enough to be uncomfortable, and the aid stations seemed to have plenty of drinks and volunteers and were well-placed. If it was a warmer day, another aid station would have been a good idea.
As we approached the finish line in the last 2 miles I was able to pick up the pace and I felt strong, definitely still had something left in my legs. I crossed the finish line in 1:42:11 on my watch, and that is a 7:48 average pace per mile. Mission accomplished.
As far as 12 hour race strategy, I'll have to see what pace feels comfortable on my long run next weekend on the flats at altitude but I'm projecting that I'll need to plan a pace that's a good bit slower than my PR at 12 hours. I think I can get within 5 miles of it, though. I still have a few good weeks of training ahead, too.
For a first-time event this was incredibly smooth and well-organized. Lisa Sinclair is the race director, and a local runner, and she did a fantastic job putting it together and getting enough volunteers. I highly recommend this run. The course is overall downhill, with a few little rises and a few flat areas. I can't say whether it's a PR course because I'm almost a minute and a half per mile off my PR pace at this point in my life! But I know quite a few people who did PR today.
I didn't hang out much to socialize after the race, there was beer and food and an awards program but I have had enough of everything this week, all I wanted to do was go home, finish out my 20 miles for the day, and relax.
I went home and did another 7 miles and didn't feel bad at all, and here I am, contemplating a nap. I got 67 miles in this week, with plenty of quality miles, and two 20 mile days. Next week a long run is in order, but no racing. I see a couple more 5Ks on the horizon after that, though!