Sunday, March 16, 2008

Long Belated Race Report: Caesar Rodney Half Marathon

Ok, so it's been a week now, but I figured I'd put a few words in about the half marathon Helen and I did last week.

Both of us "PR"ed – which isn't surprising. Helen's previous half marathon PR was the first half of last fall's philly marathon, so it figured she'd be able to improve on that without having a second set of 13 miles to run afterwards. I continued my system of getting PRs at every race by not repeating distances. My only previous half marathons were the run at the end of Devilman, and the Half-Wit. This was a much easier race than Half-Wit, even if the last quarter mile was… well, I'll get to that in a bit.

This was a warm-up race for me, my A-race is in a couple weeks. So I 'trained through' it, no taper, etc. My race plan was to try to stay at around 7 minute miles for the first 10, then see how I felt. Amazingly enough, I pretty much stuck to that. My first couple of miles were faster, but they were also pretty significantly downhill. Helen's plan was to go out faster. She started pulling away from me in the first mile, and by mile 3 I couldn't even see her.

I managed to 'bank' around 30 seconds in the first three miles, then settled in at around 7 minute pace, as planned. I was quite pleased with this, since I'm really not very good at estimating pace while running. But the effort felt around right.

The race itself is nice. I'd never been to Wilmington before, and the race did a good job of showing it off. You're along the river for a while, probably around miles 3-6. Then you leave and start wandering up through a park. At that point, I started to pass a fair number of people. I think that living in a hilly neighborhood really helps when a race has its ups and downs. Somewhere during the long climb through the park I started realizing that I was catching up to Helen. I finally caught up to her sometime after mile 9, and we ran together through mile 11.

At that point, I was feeling pretty strong. I looked at my watch and realized that if I sped up, we'd break 1:30. Turns out I just made it! I sped up and started passing a bunch of people. I tried to get Chris Verry (fellow wanderer) to come with me, but he didn't have it. (Helen, who kept up at her pace, also wound up passing him).

I was probably running around 6:30s for most of miles 11-13. I knew it would be tight, but I also knew, from reading the course map, that the last ¼ mile would be really steep. And it was. But the course maps didn't say that, once tuning into the uphill, there'd be a massive headwind! I hit the bottom of the hill somewhere around 1:28. I could see the top and the finish line, but had no idea whatsoever how long it would take me to get there. I kept looking down at my watch, and kept being ok. My thought was to go all out until I reached the finish or it passed 1:30. I actually felt kind of nauseous at one point, it was like running sprints back in high school soccer practice. But at some point, the wind shifted or something, and I was able to pick up the pace. I crossed the finish line at 1:29:50-something, but with another 10 seconds or so of chip time margin. Mission accomplished!

I'm not sure why I'd picked that particular mission for myself. But sometimes these things get into my head. Helen finished around a minute later. We waited around for the other wanderers to finish up, and then headed home.

All in all, a good race. I'm happy with my time. Helen less so, although she says "it was fine." It's pretty clear to me that we both have faster half-marathon times in us, but we'd have to take the race a bit more seriously for that. Like taper, and stuff like that. Maybe next year. For now, it's all about marathon prep for me. This one I actually am tapering for. Starting now!

1 comment:

Helen said...

Link to Polly's collective Wanderers
race report