Long distance runner? Yes, I am.

Update (10/3/2008): The official race results were posted yesterday. Even more surprising is the time below of 1:58:30 was my “gun time” not my finish time. Gun time is the time from the point the gun fires to start the race until I cross the finish. I am a rookie. Veteran runners know what matters is “chip time” or the amount of time from the point I cross the start until I cross the finish. Gun time and chip time are the same for those runners who start the race at the very front of the pack. I was near the back. This is a long-winded way of saying, as incredible as it seems, I ran faster than 1:58:30. My chip time was 1:56:56! That means I ran a sub nine minute mile pace. Sweet!

A picture is worth a thousand words and, in this instance, 13.1 miles.

Keith's first half-marathon time

I had 3 goals when I set out to run my first half-marathon. In priority order they were:

  1. Have fun
  2. Finish
  3. Finish under 2 hours

Goals one and two were required. Why subject myself to the hours of training, a $55 entry fee and pricey running supplies if I wasn’t going to have fun or finish once I started? I didn’t take finishing for granted. In fact, goal three was a pipe dream as far as I was concerned since I planned to run the first six miles at 10’00” per to warm up and average 9’30” per for the last seven and change to make sure I could finish. That would put me at one hour for the first six miles and 1:07:27 for the remainder, meaning I would finish in 2:07:27—perfectly respectable for my first race.

So, what happened? I received a package from BALCO on Friday. Just playing. 😀

Actually, I felt great, the weather was great, I was surrounded by faster runners and I had TB there cheering me along at the start, 7.5 mile mark, 9.5 mile mark and finish. Everything came together better than I imagined and I surprised myself with how fast I ran both halves of the race.

I ran the first four miles at 10’00” per mile, as planned, but demolished miles 5 through 7 which were either downhill or flat and in the shade. Just before the 7.5 mile mark there was a brutally steep hill, but once I made it to the top I saw my girl cheering which made everything better. Miles 7 through 10 I ran like a man on fire compared to my normal pace. There were hills but nothing terrible. I think all the runners around me kicked it up a notch and I felt good enough to stay with them. Miles 10-12 were tough, I can’t lie. One thing that saved me was jettisoning my CamelBak at the 9.5 mile mark by passing it to TB. That probably cut 2 pounds (including the liquid inside) which is very noticeable when you’ve been running 90 minutes.

The mile points weren’t posted clearly over the course and my Nike+ sensor was way off (for example, it thinks I only ran 11.22 miles instead of 13.2) and I started regretting my “man on fire” moment when I began sucking wind somewhere around the 11.5 mile point. I knew I had enough in the tank to finish but I wondered if I could push myself to finish under 2 hours. There was a guy about 15 feet in front of me who seemed to be running a flat 2:00:00 pace so I figured I would just make sure he didn’t get too far ahead and rely on my Lagat-esque kick at the end. (Ha!)

Then something magical happened. I saw a sign that indicated we had reached the 12 mile mark. What!? For real? It was on.

I turned on the afterburners and began pumping my arms hell-bent on finishing strong. I quickly overtook my unofficial pacesetter thinking to myself, “You’re almost there. You’re almost there.” I turned a corner and saw the finish about 1/4 mile in the distance. I was running hard but not in an all-out sprint…maybe I was sprinting since it’s doubtful I could have run much faster. I saw TB there cheering as I approached the finish chute and almost passed out when I saw the time posted on the official clock flashed 1:58:30. I had done it.

It’s always fun to see different perspectives of the same event. So, as a special treat, I convinced TB to write about her experience as a first-time spectator for my first-time race. Continue reading below.

Continue reading “Long distance runner? Yes, I am.”

Yikes, my first race is tomorrow!

Bellingham Bay Half Marathon Well damas y caballeros, the time is near. In about 18 hours I will start my very first official, long-distance race by running the Bellingham Bay Half-Marathon. I started training back in June and put in a ton of miles despite taking two weeks off in the middle after injuring my hamstring. These last two weeks I have been tapering down my mileage ending with a short and fast 3 mile run yesterday morning. I’ve trained hard, I feel great and now it’s game time.

TB, our resident long-distance runner par excellence, has helped get my gear and game plan together since she’s done all this several times before. I’ve been in charge of the spectator plan based on my start/end paces so she can cheer me on at different points and still have time to get to the finish—I’ve done it several times before in preparation for her races. It’s funny how the responsibilities are the same although our roles are different.

Bellingham is a 90 minute drive from our home. We’re driving up tomorrow, the day of the race, for the 7:30 AM start. I am supposed to finish breakfast 2 hours before I start running. I also need to pick up my race packet by 6:30 which means we will leave at the insane hour of 4:30 and eat breakfast in the car about an hour into the trip. This is starting to sound a lot like my Nike+ Human Race 10K experience. Here is how I see the day going:

  • For breakfast I will have a serving of Kashi cereal with soy milk and 12 ounces of sports drink. I use Accelerade before and during the race because it has protein and other brands do not.
  • Fifteen minutes before the race starts I will eat a GU energy gel to give my body a quick shot of glucose that it can put to immediate use. Remember, I will finish breakfast 2 hours before the race.
  • During the race I will suck down a GU energy gel every 45 minutes and consume 30 ounces of Accelerade over the first 10 miles from my CamelBak.
  • TB will meet me between miles 10 and 11 to swap my hat for a visor and take the empty CamelBak. For the last 3.1 miles I will drink water provided on the course.
  • Immediately after the race I will consume 12 ounces of Endurox R4, a recovery drink with both electrolytes and protein. I will also eat an apple and a bagel.
  • I will ice my knees, calves and ankles to prevent swelling.
  • With all that done and the race behind me I will change into dry clothes and head back home with TB as a new inductee into the long-distance runners club.

The weather is supposed to be great for running with a high of 70 and no rain (yes!)

Wish me luck…

Running the Bellingham Bay Half-Marathon

I have selected a race for my first half-marathon. I did not want to venture too far away from home and needed something in the late-September/early-October timeframe. A group of TB’s running buddies recommended the Bellingham Bay Marathon, scheduled for Sunday, September 28. Both the marathon (1,000 runners max) and half-marathon (3,000 runners max) begin at 7:30 AM.


I started training 7 weeks ago and I am now very excited now that I am registered for an actual race that is only 6 weeks away. That’s the good news.

The bad news is I strained a ligament and lower hamstring in my right leg during my long run 10 days ago. Soreness has prevented me from running since the injury and it’s likely another round of physical therapy is in my future. I don’t think the strain is severe but I still have to take it easy for a few more days. In the interim, this means my exercising consists of stationary bike and elliptical only. Yay! Not.