Saturday, July 30, 2011

Half


This morning around 6AM I left home for my race destination. It was a 50 minutes drive. I got there by 6:50AM. The half marathon race would start around 8AM. I had to sign the waiver and pick up my timing chip and bib number as my goodies bag. My warm up started at 7:30AM with an easy trot followed by some strides and stretch. I had to work the afternoon before the race but I had enough days off this week to save my legs. Well, that was what I expected going into this race.

After the race announcer gave us some instructions about the course, we took off. I did not see any familiar faces in the starting line. My goal in this race was to run fast than my previous race in the same course a couple months ago. You can see the report about that race here.


I started in the middle the pack and quickly moved to the front with a small group of runners, maybe four or five. The first three miles of this race are on the pavement. It is most rolling hills. After the first mile I was in third place, right behind this kid. I ran with him for about another mile and eventually I passed him. We passed the two miles mark in 12:12. 

The next two miles I was running by myself keeping on eye on the runner ahead. I did not expect to be running by myself by mile three and did not want to go up the big hill by myself either. I passed the four miles mark in 28:17 thinking that was the slowest four miles that I had ever run but this is a very hilly course.

It was hard going up the long steep hill.  From 230 ft to 800 ft of elevation change. I was quite tired when I hit the top but I knew the race was just beginning. By mile five in 35:30. I was able to keep a seven minute pace going.

The hills kept coming. I hit the mile six in 41:49. That was when something weird happened. I think I stepped at a stick in the side of trail that had some animal crap on it. All the crap ended up stuck to my right thigh. At first I thought it was horse manure. But when I tried to clean it with my hand, I found out it was dog crap. Well, I could not do anything to clean it up well. I just rubbed my hand against some bushes. The smell did not go away as the dog crapped stuck on my leg.


I was going hard on the downhills trying to make up time. My legs were feeling good and no cramps. I passed the mile 7 in 48:17. By now I was running on my on trying to not look back and staying focus. The runner ahead just vanished. Not a surprise because there is so many short hills that you can not see ahead for more than 200 yards.

My strategy was working well. I was trying to get my fluids in every aid station. Mile 8 came in 54:52. It meant I was averaging just under seven minutes pace. This was the last time I registered my splits. It seems like I missed the other miles marks. Somehow I was not curious to look at my watch but just keep pushing the pace.

The most difficult part was by mile 8-9 where there was a 3/4 of a mile hill. It was not very steep but I was running hard on the downhills. My legs were aching on the uphills. I was feeling exhausted going up this section. After I reached the top I knew all the other hills were steep but short. In this race you would never have a break from the hills.


By mile 11, my old enemy tried to slow me down. I had some mild cramps in my leg calf. My solution was to bite my upper lip, take a sodium tablet and some gel. It slowed me down a little but it did not have any significant impact in my racing time.

When I saw the marina and the boats, I knew the finish line was near, half mile away. I kept my eyes away form my watch and had no idea how fast I was running. The paved bike path was crowded, specially with Asians. Don't know why they like this area so much.  But back to the race report: I made the last left turn followed by a sharp right turn to cross the finish line in 1:26:01. A personal best for over 11 minutes compared to my race in the same course a couple months ago. The first place was 1:49 ahead of me. I finished second overall and first in my age group.


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