Wednesday, February 26, 2014

RACE REPORT: Colchester Half Marathon [2014]

February 22nd, 2014

This race is awesome!  ...enough said.

After last year's race, I knew this amazing local half would make it onto the 2014 calendar without much of a struggle.  There was, however, an approximate 16% increase in the registration fee which emptied my pockets of a whopping $14.  Haha.  Yeah!  $14 for a half marathon with three water/gatorade stops, pre and post-race massage, post-race food, and free showers.  Ok, you don't get a medal, but for $14, you can't complain about that!

Last year, I did this race as a last ditch effort to get SOME type of run in on my birthday since the marathon I had trained for was on the fence due to weather.  This year, the weather was gorgeous!; a nice sunny mid-30s day.  The intermittent breeze would be a bit chilly, but couldn't dampen the day.

As evidenced on Friday, my coach and I had been debating the idea of racing.  The race was by no means an A-race.  It was more like a C/D; just an early season test of where I was at in my running.  The problem was, I had a sore throat all last week and my resting HR was already up 16 bpm.  Do I take the risk of making myself sicker and race or play it safe and leave the test for next month's half?

If you haven't guessed already...
...this is a RACE REPORT.
Of course I ran!

The race starts at 10am, so even the lazy runners have plenty of time to get up, get breakfast, and make it to the start line before the gun goes off.  I went to bed early the night before (10p), so I was up around 6:30a.  After some tea and breakfast, my throat was feeling okay.  It wasn't great, but I felt it could endure a half marathon.  I checked one last time with my coach and we were Green Light Go!

I arrived at the school that served as our race site about 9:15a, got my bib, used the bathroom, and spent 20 minutes debating over my outfit.  I know what to wear below 30.  I know what to wear at 50 or above.  It's the 30-50 range that becomes questionable.  In the end (as you can see below), I was happy with what I chose.

Yes, that is a party hat on top of my running hat, on top of my headband.  Below 50, I keep my ears covered!  The running hat may have been unnecessary, but it all worked in the end.  And you can't run a birthday race without a birthday hat!

A friend of mine came to see the race and was able to snap a few photos.

Thanks Katie for the race photography!

Once I had on my ensemble (that sounds like a Disney race with a costume!), Katie and I made our way up to the road which was the starting line. 

There were a total of 530 finishers.  For a local race, this was a great turn out; thanks in no small part to the great weather I'm sure.  But it goes to show how much locals will support a reasonably priced and very well run race!

Ok, onto the race!

I started maybe ten people deep at the start.  I wasn't looking for a PR and knew my body wouldn't give it to me if I tried, so I kept back where I knew I wouldn't be pulled along.  My goal, which I repeated to myself in that first mile, was to take the first mile out easy and find my groove.  After that, I wanted to stay relaxed through the half way mark.  If I felt good, then I'd try to negatively split it by either A) picking up the pace from the half way point on, B) kick in the final 5k, or C) a mix of both.

Last year, while better trained and holding back, I ran a very even 1:44:24.  Given that I was sick, not as well trained, and that is was still early in my training, I thought a 1:40 (7:38/mile) was reasonable, but a 1:35 (7:15) would be my ideal.  I wasn't too optimistic though and set my goal for a 1:40. 

Just before the start, I had taken everything except Elapsed Time and Distance off my my GPS.  I was sick, so my HR was bound to be high.  And with a higher HR, my pace may be slower to balance out my "intensity."  I didn't want to worry about it; I was going to run on feel.  I did, however, have a notice every mile for the 1.0 mile lap time.  

Mile 1 - 6:38
Ummm...  WHAT?

From training, I had expected a rough 155-165 HR and a 7:00-7:30 pace.  Based on how I felt, I was going to guess 7:15 and 155-160.  Apparently my body had opted for a bit faster than that.  I pulled back a bit on the pace hoping to not blow myself out, but after some time decided to simply sit in this groove as long as it felt comfortable.

Mile 2 - 6:48
Ok, a little better.

Mile 3 - 7:05
There we go!

Mile 4 - 6:44
Oh!  Well, I guess that's just today's fate.  Let's go with it!

I'd be lying if I wasn't already starting to wonder how long my body could hold out at this intensity.  I wasn't breathing heavy, I didn't feel like I was overexerting, but I did feel like my legs were a bit sluggish, maybe "not firing on all cylinders" would be the best analysis.  With my lack of running and being sick, I had a doubt in the back of my head how the later miles were going to go.  At this point, I started taking in what nutrition I could.  I had Skratch with me in my handheld and a couple gels with me.  I was going to keep going and stick to the intensity as best I could. 

Mile 5 - 6:50
Still clicking away!

Mile 6 - 6:56
Slowing down a bit

Mile 7 - 7:32
Hello Hill!!  ...and sloshy, sandy, dirt road.

As you well know by now, my favorite running shoes have drain holes in the bottom.  The wet dirt roads were fun as you can imagine!  Either way, I darted around the bigger puddles and slowly made my way up the hill.  There were a couple people - one guy, one girl - that I was playing leap frog with at this point.  I would pass them on flats or downhills and they'd pass me on the uphill.  I am not an uphill runner. 

Mile 8 - 7:30
The hill is done.  Maybe I'm slowing down.

Mile 9 - 7:14
I'm not slowing down THAT much.

Mile 10 - 6:53
Definitely not slowing.

I spent mile 8-10 trying to calculate my finish time.  If I maintained what I thought was my average, what would I have?  But I might be slowing down.  If I slow to 7:15s, what will my time be?  Then I realized that I might really have a shot at 1:35.  So I started trying to figure out what my pace would need to be.  At some point, I realized that I would simply need to hold 7:30s and I'd be golden for a 1:35.  But I kept going under.  Hmmmm...

Oh, and mile 10 was another wet, sandy, mud road.  Yay!!  Once I hit the 10 mile mark, all I had left was a 5k, so I started to push the effort a little more.

Mile 11 - 7:12
Just two to go!  Two to go!

Mile 12 - 7:26
Don't blow up and you will be under 1:35!

Mile 13 - 7:31
My body is going to be sore tomorrow!

Mile 13.1 - 1:28 (7:21 pace)

Katie, the friend who had come to see the race, had not popped up anywhere in the race.  I knew as soon as I hit mile 8 that she had gotten lost or stuck and I wouldn't see her until the finish.  Haha  It made me laugh for a couple miles.  But just as I crested the final hill and saw the turn into the school, I saw her and tried to flash a smile for the camera.

FINISH = 1:33:47
7:10 pace

I was sick.  I had been on rest for 4 days.  I had not done any of the speed work or intervals that I built my running schedule on in 2013.  And I was barely a month into my training season.  Yet, I managed to run within 7 minutes of my PR.  I have two more half marathons before my triathlon season starts and I'm starting to get an itch for an early season PR.  haha

Now, if you're like me, you're curious where my HR ended up being since I didn't have it displayed on my GPS.  My Zone 1 runs are usually around 148-152 & sub-8:00.  The Raffle Run was 7:04/mile and averaged 165 bpm.  I expected a HR between those; maybe 160?  Then I got sick and all guesses aside from "higher" went out the window.  Once I got home and uploaded the data, I was surprised to find an average of 171.  WHAT?!  That's only 1 bpm below my Tradition Run 5k.  I guess THAT is how much being sick affects you. 


1.  Have you ever run a race while sick?
My first Ironman was done on the tail end of a cold.  Seems to be a pattern here.  

2.  When was the last time you were pleasantly surprised by your race results?
This race was a big shock.  The JFK50 in November was my last big surprise. 

3.  Do you run with all your data at hand, or do you "run blind"?
I like the idea of running by feel, but I will be racing with data once I'm better in order to help pace myself and feel out my efforts for longer races.  


1 comment:

Kevin @ HalfTRIing said...

$14 for a 13.1 ?!?!?! Wow, that's awesome.