Tuesday, April 16, 2013


And they're off! The start of the 2013 Corvallis Half Marathon. (photo: Corvallis Gazette Times)
A very successful racing Sunday started at 6:45am when my alarm went off. Groggy, I snoozed until around 7 when I finally hopped out of bed and got ready to go. Libbie came by around 7:15 and we headed down to Corvallis - our fourth time booking it down there in the morning for a race!

Packet pickup was a breeze. I was wearing my short sleeve Rum Run t-shirt but was given the Corvallis tech tee when I picked up my packet. It was long sleeved and it was pretty cold outside (around 44 degrees). Decision time. I switched to the long sleeve t-shirt. Truth be told, I could have gone without this switch as I got pretty hot once I started racing, but I just rolled up the sleeves so no harm.

We timed things pretty well. After packet pickup we headed to the car for about 15 minutes to stay warm and then headed towards the start line. Around 1,500 runners would be racing so I made sure to get pretty close to the starting line, within 15 yards or so. I was not going to be stuck behind hordes of people and have to weave and adjust my pace if I could help it.

Before I knew it the gun went off and the race was on! I settled into a pace pretty quickly that felt challenging yet sustainable. I imagined it was faster than 8:00/mi which is all I needed to have a chance at a PR. Around half a mile in I checked my phone real quick (can be hazardous when running) and saw my average pace to that point was 7:35. Perfect!

Shortly after my phone read out my first mile time of 7:24. Maybe a little fast but it certainly didn't feel like I was struggling to hit that. One thing I did do differently this time around was set my phone to have a "Goal" time. I couldn't set seconds, so I set my goal at 1 hour, 42 minutes. Now at every mile it read out my total time, mile time, and expected total distance. The expected distance was very handy... as long as it stayed above 13.1 miles I knew I was hitting goal.

MILES 1-4: THE HONEYMOON PHASE (7:24, 7:12, 7:21, 7:35)

I already went over the first mile, but needless to say I was feeling good during these first few miles. The course took us east through Oregon State University's campus and then back west through campus along Campus Way. It continued on Campus Way as it turned into a little one lane road, somewhere I had never ventured before.

It was pretty scenic, I think we strolled past the Dairy Center at some point. The highlight was crossing over the old wooden covered bridge that is highlighted in the race's logo. I knew that existed somewhere in Corvallis but when I was in school I never saw it. So that was really cool!

MILES 5-7: MIDGE KRAMER PATH (7:44, 7:25, 7:27)

The next few miles went smoothly as well. These three miles were a repeat of three miles during the Great Pumpkin Run 10k I did last fall. So I was very familiar with the route, the Midge Kramer Path running from the Fairgrounds up toward Bald Hill. The hilly portion of this path was during mile five, and as you can see, my time slipped a little. Once that first little hill was conquered there was some downhill and then just mini-rollers after that. Nothing major.

There were aid stations at the beginning and end of this path and I 'stopped' at both as planned. After nearly choking on my water trying to run through the first aid station, I decided to walk quickly through the rest of them. If you slow to a brisk walk as soon as you grab the cup you can chug the water and get running again in about three seconds. Those 15 total seconds I spent to utilize the aid stations were well worth it and probably resulted in a faster time as I felt hydrated the whole way.

MILES 8-10: THE HILL (8:04, 7:27, 7:36)

Mile eight was the tough part of the course and was the point of reckoning for people who didn't pace themselves enough. The tricky part about this mile is that it was slightly uphill... for a long time. 180 feet gain over an entire mile. While you are running visually it is kind of hard to see the hill, you can tell it is there, but it doesn't look bad. At first your legs don't complain all that much, but eventually the hill starts to add up and it becomes noticeable.

Towards the top of the hill. Told you it's not impressive.
This is the first spot on the course where I started to feel worn. Up until that point I had likely beaten my 10k PR and was feeling great. I reached what I thought was the top of the hill only to be detoured into the nearby neighborhoods. I might have let an obscenity fly as I rounded that corner. The great thing about this race was there were LOTS of people cheering along the course. Definitely a group at every mile marker and then just lots of random people everywhere else. So that helped put a pep in my step.

Credit also has to be given to the Corvallis Half Marathon for completely stopping traffic on Walnut to allow the race to cross the road. Traffic was at a standstill for what seemed like miles. That is a major road and they just completely shut it down unless there was a large gap in runners. So good for them. I think a lot of people were late for church and most people just turned their engines off and watched the runners go by.

Anyways, the miles after the hill were a relief. I was scared the hill was going to wear me down, but once I stopped going up in elevation my legs came back pretty well. I was pretty encouraged at this point that I could PR.

MILES 11-13: ARE WE DONE YET? (7:40, 7:54, 7:49)

Eventually the miles and pace caught up to me a little bit. I remember taking a mental note shortly after the hill that my legs started to complain, but honestly they didn't start back up again until after the mile 10 sign. Compared to my last half marathon, the aches and pains weren't even that bad. Last time running those final few miles was one of the hardest things I had ever done, this time my legs were just annoying.

Finisher's medal. I love it!
As you can see, my pace dropped a little. I knew I had a PR pretty much in the bag and if I tried to press and get back to 7:30s I might risk injury. It wasn't worth it, I could coast into the finish at this point and PR. So I just kept pushing it but not straining myself. I skipped the final water table around mile 12. I didn't want to stop for it because I was feeling decent and just wanted to get done.

Those miles were uneventful in terms of scenery. Just down the length of town in a side residential street. Eventually we ended up back on campus and Reser Stadium was in sight just a blocks away. Like I said in my preview though, they needed to dick around with us to get an extra mile so we did part of the same "campus swing" we ran to start the race.

When my phone read out my mile thirteen time it said "Thirteen miles in one hour, thirty eight minutes." Once the total time goes over an hour it no longer tells me the amount of seconds in my overall time, so I knew I had a chance to get under 1:40. That put a little pep in my step as I tried to power it home.


Finally we ran into the stadium parking lot and then down the ramp into Reser Stadium. The spongy turf felt pretty good after thirteen miles of pavement! I rounded the corner and headed toward the finish line at midfield. Wouldn't you know, the clock said 1:39:50. Shit! I sprinted the final thirty yards or so and rolled past the mat around 1:39:58. My energy depleted mind didn't remember chip times, so my official time ended up being 1:39:49.

Gross pic of me shortly after finishing.
Under an hour forty! HOLY CRAP! I absolutely killed it. I honestly I had no idea I had that in me. I felt like I was slower than last summer and with the more challenging course I didn't think I was going to PR. To then PR by over two and a half minutes is HUGE! I was so happy.

I sat on a bench for a second to recover and then stood up and wandered towards food. After eating some bread and soup I went to my car and grabbed my sweatshirt and then walked back towards the stadium to see Libbie finish. She beat her goal of 2:15 by about 45 seconds. So a super successful day all around. I was so happy to see her round that corner with time to spare!

Afterwards my legs were definitely a bit used and sore but nothing like after my first half marathon. All the long runs I have done have really helped out! I was even able to run the next night at run group, five miles at a 9:00 pace. I am excited that I am able to recover so much faster... after my last half I didn't run for four whole days.

Anyways, there you have it. Totally smashed this race and feel super accomplished! Once the company that took photos uploads them online I'll post a few of mine if they are any good.

Official Chip Time: 1:39:49, 7:38/mile. 147/1489 overall, 20/67 M2529, 120/562 overall male.

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on the awesome PR!! It sounds like you had a great race all around.

    It's funny, I've run a LOT of races, and every single time, I forget about the chip time when I'm crossing the finish line. I see the clock, and mentally think, "Shit!" or "Awesome!" but forget that it's not my actual time ;)