Sunday, May 4, 2014

Lincoln Half Marathon

"The Sower" - The statue on top of the Nebraska State Capital building in Lincoln

My writing on this blog has been pretty heavy on Philosophy recently.  Well, today I'm going to write a good old fashioned race report.

I signed up for Lincoln around New Years.  I didn't quite know how much time I'd have to train at that point.  Unfortunately it's been more than I expected.  So I decided to make the most of it.

The Half Marathon has always been a good distance for me.  My PR is right around 1:10 - which is a little more solid than my marathon PR of 2:32.  Half marathons are great events - they are long enough that you feel like you've really accomplished something - but they generally don't leave you crippled like a marathon can.

Having not run an all-out half for close to four years - I didn't really know what I was capable of.  I just kind of picked a number out of a hat for my goal.  I decided on 1:15.  I also decided to get under 1:15 I needed to focus more on my running (rather than cycling and swimming) - and do some proper half marathon workouts.

The key workout for me in the past has been two mile repeats with two minutes rest.  I build up from two to four repeats over 6-8 weeks.  I also made sure to get in a "proper" long run each week - which for me is 17 miles.

My last 4X2 mile workout went 11:20, 11:01, 10:58, 10:50.  So basically I started off at 5:40 per mile pace and ended in 5:25 per mile pace.  In general, it's good to keep an even pace in workout or maybe get 5-10 seconds per mile faster - but my last one was so much faster than my first - it was hard for me to judge exactly what that meant.  I decided that a pace in the high 5:30's was possible - but part of me wasn't sure - because my best 5 miler of the winter was at 5:38 pace - and it was a pretty hard effort.

The weather this morning was pretty much perfect.  Temps in the low 50's.  There was some wind - but nothing much worse than what we typically have in Nebraska.

I don't care who you are - that first mile is always a mystery.  The excitement of the race can easily make you go out too hard - but you want to get in a good rhythm as well.  I missed the first mile split - so it really was a mystery.  But I felt pretty strong.

I ended up going through two miles at 11:06 - so, I was going slightly faster than planned.  I have to say that the support on the course was awesome.   They had our names printed on our bibs - which I used to think was kind of cheesy - but it does help to hear people yelling out my name.

The course is relatively flat - but it does have some rollers.  It was also just windy enough that I felt like I was fighting through it in a few places.  But overall the conditions were great.

I somehow missed the next two mile splits - so, I was stuck doing some mental arithmetic at mile 5.  I had slowed down a little bit averaging ~5:40 those three miles.  Then there were two welcome downhill, wind at my back miles.  I actually went 5:20 for both of those miles.  The last 4-5 miles were tough.  I was really struggling up some of the hills - my 10th mile was my slowest mile at 5:54.  I was starting to wonder whether I could break 1:14 or not.  I also got passed by three guys in this section.  Getting passed is always a little demoralizing - but instead of feeling defeated you have to try to hang on a bit as they pass and then focus on their rhythm and try to match it.

Unfortunately the third guy who passed me put me into 11th place - there was prize money through 10th place.  I was able to get back to low 5:40 miles in the last two miles and came through in 1:13:35 - over a minute better than my original goal. 

Even though I just missed out on some prize money I can't complain.  The weather was great - the support and organization of the race was great - and I ran faster than I expected.  Thanks to the Lincoln Track Club for putting on such a great race!

The reason I will probably always run is that there is something completely satisfying about a day like today.  I made a plan several months out - I executed the plan - and I reaped the benefits.  That doesn't always happen in life - or in running - but it sure is sweet when it does.

1 comment:

outsiderunner said...

I have enjoyed your philosophical reflections, but a good old fashioned race report is interesting and worthwhile, too. Being able to execute a plan is one of the great rewards in running. We blame ourselves for our mistakes and failures, and so it is nice to be able to feel good about our decisions and efforts. Great job, Ben, and may the pace give you peace.