As I mentioned in my last post, I laid everything out the night before so I could get out the door quickly and get to the race on time. One thing I neglected to mention was that I was wearing a new shirt (I know...it's not good to try anything new out on race day) - my Wolverines Run shirt! The Alumni Association of the University of Michigan is sending out free running t-shirts to Alumni Association members who are running marathons. (OK...so this isn't a full marathon, so I kinda cheated the system, but I did run a full marathon last year and didn't know about the program then...) Either way, I got a bunch of "Go BLUE!" and "Go Michigan!" cheers from fellow runners and spectators of the race (and only a few "Go Buckeyes" from obnoxious Ohio State fans) - so that a bit of a pick-me-up during the race.
I woke up before my alarm around 5:45am and got out of the house rather quickly. There were very few cars on the road, so I got out to Leesburg around 7:15am. So, I had 45 minutes to kill before the 8am race start (or so I thought). Luckily, I brought a book, so I read for about 20 minutes and then got out of my car for a 20 minute pre-race routine - warm up jog, hit the porta potty one last time, take my GU 15 minutes before race time, etc. At around 7:55am, I noticed that no one was gathering near the start yet. What's going on??? I asked around and found out that the race start was 8:30am - not 8am! So I had another 30 minutes to wait before the race got started.
I actually bumped into a friend of mine from my teenage years (we were both in BBYO together) who was also running the race. He just got back into running this year and was running his second half marathon (his first was the National Marathon last month where he ran a 1:50 - a full 25 minutes faster than my best...so we would not be running together today!). It was great to catch up with him, but as people finally started lining up for the start, he went towards the front and I hung out in the middle-to-back of the pack.
Finally, the race started a tad after 8:30! The course started at the 4H Fairgrounds and wound down the road for 0.1 mile to hit the W&OD Trail. The race then went west on the W&OD trail for 6.5 miles and then came back. My first thoughts at the start of this race were, "oh no, we're going downhill for the first 0.1 mile - that means the last 0.1 at the end is UPHILL - UGH!!!"
The course was rolling hills, but not too bad. The elevation graph from my Garmin shows an elevation differential of about 200 ft over the course. The first mile was a lot of uphill while the second mile was mostly down (I didn't remember this while I was trying to pick up the pace on mile 12...where did this uphill come from?).
My main concern was keeping my HR relatively low - under 155 - for the first half of the race and then getting faster on the second half. Even if I ran a 2:20 or 2:25 today, if I did it with a negative split, I could have pride in the fact that I ran a smart race.
I kept to the plan pretty well for the first four miles:
- Mile 1: 10:37, avg HR 153
- Mile 2: 9:37, avg HR 152 (downhill, remember?)
- Mile 3: 10:04, avg HR 154
- Mile 4: 10:20, avg HR 155
Miles 5 and 6 started to climb uphill a bit (which I didn't mind so much as I knew that this would be coming downhill very soon). I also started to get into the camaraderie of the race - I ended up speaking to one of the Buckeye runners about Big 10 Football, and I started to cheer for the faster runners who were now making their way back from the turnaround. My heart rate started to climb up a bit, but unfortunately not with any gains in pace due to the hills:
- Mile 5: 10:57, avg HR 158
- Mile 6: 11:11, avg HR 151
- Mile 6 to Turnaround: 5:57 (10:04/mi pace), avg HR 159
After the turnaround, I felt really good. I had run at a pretty relaxed pace, I had fueled and hydrated well (there were 3 water stops on the course - which meant 6 stops in total for the out-and-back - and two of them had GU!!!) and although I knew I had 6.5 more miles to go, I felt confident that I could pick up the pace. I started to turn it up a notch and started to pass many of the runners who had passed me in the opening miles.
Unfortunately, I no longer have the splits at the mile markers. You see, I didn't realize that when I hit the lap button on my Garmin at the turnaround point, that now the Garmin's auto-lap feature would count miles from the last lap. I finally hit the lap button again at the 11 mile marker so I could get my splits for miles 12 and 13.
- Mile 7.55 - 10:17, avg HR 164
- Mile 8.55 - 9:34, avg HR 166
- Mile 9.55 - 9:59, avg HR 168
When I hit the 10 mile marker, I saw that I was at 1:44 and change. I new that if I could finish out with a 30 minute 5k, that I would have myself a new PR! I still felt like I had gas in the tank unlike my experience that the Parks Half Marathon this past September, and my legs did not hurt like they had in previous runnings of Riley's Rumble Half Marathon. Time to turn it up a notch and finish it out strong:
- Mile 10.55 - 10:03 avg HR 174 (can we say uphill??)
- Mile 11 - also 10:03/mi pace, avg HR 178
- Mile 12 - 9:56, avg HR 181 (more uphill...grr)
- Mile 13 - 9:08, avg HR 185 (finally downhill! and pushing it)
- Last 0.1 - 7:42/mi pace (uphill, that is...) avg HR 193 (isn't my max HR 186 or something??)
As I was passing the clock at the finish line, it was reading 1:13:38 (or something like that...results still aren't posted). Garmin time was 1:13:22. Since it took me a good 20 seconds to get to the starting line - and this race is not chip timed - I think I'll take my Garmin time for now :-)
One thing that I'm a bit perplexed about. My Garmin measured the race at 13.19 miles - not 13.1. Also, the Garmin hit mile splits earlier than where the race had the mile markers...starting with mile 2. I'm not sure if this is a race measurement thing or that my Garmin is a tad off (given that a lot of the trail I ran today was wooded, I'll say it was probably a Garmin thing).
So, I'm not sure if I ran 13.1 or 13.2 today, but it was definitely a PR. Even with taking a ten day running break three weeks before race day due to bronchitis.
I'll take it easy again this week. I have nothing else on the race calendar - so I have some work to do!!!