The race felt great. I feel great. It is a good day. Here are my numbers:
TB and Owen cheered me (and the other 27,000+ runners) along on a cool, overcast Seattle day. I credit Hal Higdon’s training regiment—which I mentioned briefly back in March—for helping me prepare for this race. I stuck to his Novice 1 marathon training guide for 16 weeks, running four days every week. I never missed a day, peaking at 18 miles (Week 13) before tapering for today’s race. I did not feel tired or winded at any point and I never stopped running. My left hamstring tightened up at mile 10 but the muscle fatigue did not destroy my race like in Skagit Valley. Training beyond the half-marathon distance really helped build my endurance and increase my speed.
Besides running faster, I made one other significant change for today’s race. For the first time, I ran without carrying any fluids. No CamelBak (reference). No FuelBelt (reference). Instead, I drank the water and CytoSport Cytomax sports drink at each hydration station spaced ~1.4 miles apart on the course. Doing so forced me to hydrate at regular intervals and allowed me to shed ~4 pounds of weight.
I started my 4th half-marathon promptly at 8 AM, Sunday, September 13, along with 640+ other Skagit Flats marathoners/half-marathoners. It felt great running outdoors soaking in the late-summer, early-autumn beauty of the Pacific Northwest. I ran with an excited bounce right from the start as TB and Owen saw all us runners off and cheered me on. The temperature had reached the upper 50s by the time the gun fired and the bright sun hung over the flat, treeless, farm-draped course painting the asphalt in bright yellow and warming the air with a damp, earthy thickness.
I planned to run mile one at a 9’30” pace then gradually increase my pace the rest of the way to about 8’45” by mile 10. I hoped my training prepared me to finish between 1:55 and 2:00 based on how I ran the other races. Where I ultimately landed in that range would be determined by how I felt at the midpoint and again at mile 10.
Expecting a fairly cool temperature throughout the first half of the race, I ran with less fluid for the first 4 miles than previous races. While my FuelBelt holds 6 bottles, I wanted to minimize the additional weight I carried along each segment (1-4, 5-9, 10-13). I started with a single 8 oz bottle filled with Gatorade Endurance. I swapped the empty bottle with TB for two more 8 oz bottles at mile 4. At that point I was already hotter and thirstier than I expected. My plan called for me to run miles 5-9 with that 16 oz of Gatorade supplemented by water at the water station I would pass just after mile 6. Before reaching mile 6, I had consumed one of the bottles of Gatorade. At the water station at mile 6 I tossed back a 2 oz cup of water. At the 6 1/2-mile turnaround I ate a GU gel and drank half the second bottle of Gatorade. I felt strong and energetic but sensed I was overheating.
I am scheduled to run the Skagit Flats Half-Marathon in just over two weeks—8 AM, Sunday, September 13, to be exact. The course is about an hour north of our home and will be the smallest of the races I have registered, judging by the total number of finishers in 2008—333 half, 189 full—and minimalist Web site.
Update (6/30/2009): The official results are in. I finished 3,584th out of 15,610 half-marathoners (1,751 out of 4,221 males). My chip time was officially 2:01:51. My pride remains somewhat intact since I finished before the fastest full-marathoner who ran twice as far in 2:18:17. :eyeroll:
Judging by the 5K and 10K splits, you can see I learned from my mistake by starting this race more slowly. Doing so left me with more in the tank later in the race and allowed me to run a faster pace overall—9:18 vs. 9:54 per mile. If you break the race into 3-mile quarters, you can see how similarly I ran the first and third vs. the second and fourth. Mentally, I break the race into halves and try to finish each half strong. It appears my little motivational trick worked this time around.
Here is the Nike+ data I collected during the race.
I stopped a few moments at mile 4 to talk to TB and play with Owen. I paused again just after mile 9 to say hey to TB and jettison my CamelBak hydration pack. Other than that, I attacked the hills, up and down, and kept a pretty even cadence.
Next up is an 8K in late July. I haven’t selected my next long-distance race yet but suspect it will be some time in the next 2-3 months.