Post-Jerusalem, I set my sights on this race because I knew it was flat, and I needed all the help I could get if I was going to achieve my all-too-ambitious goal of a 1:45 half marathon. I had a couple of decent tempo runs a few weeks back that made me think it might not be so unrealistic, but the closer I got to the race, the more I began to doubt myself. Because, of course, that’s my specialty. And what is a race without a few panic attacks beforehand?
So, my goals — without having to say “finish unbroken,” since that’s obvious:
A. 1:45 (8:01/mi)
B. 1:47 (8:10/mi)
C. 1:50 (8:24/mi)
I think I would have been satisfied with anything between A and B, since I ran the Central Park 10 Miler in January at an 8:09 pace, so it didn’t seem so outlandish. But to finish in 1:45, I’d have to average a sub-8:00 pace by my watch, since it’s all but impossible for me to run exactly 13.1 miles… running the tangents is harder when you have no idea where you’re going! Note, I said 1:45, not 1:44:59… so technically, 1:45:59 would have counted, I guess. The C goal was really just to scrape by with a PR, but I would have been sad if I couldn’t run this course significantly faster than Jerusalem’s crazy hills.
Short version of the recap: I never said it was impossible, but I did say it was highly improbable… 1:44:49.
There was no race-day pickup, so I had to go get my packet on Friday. I got stuck in horrible traffic, and it took an hour and fifteen minutes. It only took fifty minutes for me to get back, but in my eternal paranoia, I decided I’d have to leave insanely early on Sunday. (And I’m so happy that we didn’t get yet another T shirt… it’s a tech hoodie. With thumb holes!)
I was awake before 4:30 AM on race day, because of course I can’t sleep. I was in the car by 5:30. My GPS informed me that I’d arrive at my destination by 6:40 AM… at 6:03, when I was already sitting in the parking lot. So I had some time to meander about and find my way to the finish line instead of the start line. My sense of direction is so nonexistent, it’s sad.
The security was insane, but I do think they did a very good job. The baggage check was handled the same way as it was at the Tunnel to Towers 5K, with UPS trucking the bags from the start to the finish. I must say, this time it went a lot more smoothly than my last experience!
In my everlasting optimism (ha, ha), I lined up at the 8:00/mi placard. (To be fair, it was either that or 9:00/mi, so it’s not like I was really being optimistic, but whatever.) At Jerusalem, I took a gel at mile 5 and mile 10, but after reading The New Rules of Marathon and Half Marathon Nutrition a couple of weeks back, I decided to try one of his suggestions and take a gel a few minutes before the start. No way to know whether that helped or didn’t, but it apparently did me no harm, so I think I’ll probably keep doing it in the future.
I know I usually do a mile-by-mile replay, but I’m not going to do that this time, because there are only so many ways to say the same thing. My plan was to go out around an 8:00/mi pace and hang on for dear life. So there were a few things that kept running through my head over and over and over again, because I decided to try the mantra route… just hold on, don’t let go, you’ve got this (but only later in the race), and believe (just because that’s what my new medal hanger says, and I like it). Among others that I would normally dismiss as fluff, but whatever works. I did post the most even splits I’ve ever run in my entire life, and negative splits, too!
There were timing mats at the 10K and 10 mile marks, so I might be able to say that I set a PR in both of those distances, too… my 10K PR is 50:35, and I hit the 10K mark in 50:06; my 10 mile PR is 1:21:32, and I hit the 10 mile mark in 1:20:24.
What I can do is tell you exactly how much this race hurt. I mean, I expected it to hurt, but there were some things I did not expect. My calves were tight right from the start, but I’m used to that, and they loosened up eventually. Between the mummification taping job I did on my shins the night before and my Pro Compression calf sleeves, my shins actually didn’t bother me much at all. My right hip tightened up on me around mile four, which did not make me happy given its proximity to the pelvis, but it didn’t feel like a SFX type of pain, so I ignored it as best I could.
Around mile 8, I looked down at my watch and freaked out because I was running a sub-7:00/mi pace, which is obviously too fast… and then I remembered the elevation map, and that it was pretty much all downhill coasting from there on, so I tried to slow down instead of letting gravity get the best of me. A mile later, we hit one of the only two noticeable hills in the race — it wasn’t at all steep, or very long, but since my right shoulder decided to cramp, it wasn’t a fun time. And my right Achilles wasn’t so happy, either. Okay, the shoulder cramping is random and annoying, but it’s happened to me before. My Achilles has always behaved so far — and I’d like for that to continue, thank you very much.
The last couple of miles hurt the most — not because they were last, but because my knee started to squawk. Not exactly new — my knees have bugged me before — but it’s been a while. I couldn’t figure out whether it was the inside or the outside, and I decided that for the moment it didn’t matter, because I was so damn close to my 1:45 finish I could practically taste it.
I scraped by, just barely. 1:44:49, 8:01/mi. I’m still not sure that really happened. But, just to stress myself out completely, let’s play the McMillan Prediction game! So, for a 1:44:49 half, he predicts…
22:38 5K (7:17/mi)
29:25 4mi (7:21/mi)
37:32 5mi (7:30/mi)
47:01 10K (7:34/mi)
1:18:35 10mi (7:52/mi)
3:40:35 marathon (8:25/mi)
I am laughing hysterically at all of these… except, oddly enough, maybe the marathon. It’s a good thing I don’t run by HR, because my average HR is no different in a half marathon than in a 5K. If I exceed that to run faster in a shorter distance, my heart just might explode.
But once my body forgives me for today’s assault, I want to run a mile time trial, which is something I’ve been wanting to do for months.
Have mercy on my soul. (Or body, really.)