Wednesday, December 13, 2017


Lined up with about a minute to go until the race. Beautiful weather!
My alarm went off at 6:30am Sunday for my own personal "Breaking2" attempt. I was out of the house by 7:00 and parked near the event at 7:30. I met up with Sunstone to take some pre-race photos. I wasn't really nervous at all this time around as I knew I was trained and I knew I could finish. While I really wanted a time below two hours it wasn't critical. Just the fact I would be out there running around two was a victory.

The weather when the race started was sunny and clear and 30 degrees. I wasn't too cold before the race as there were enough people to block the wind. My outfit was pretty warm too; I wore a beanie, warm gloves, a short sleeve tech shirt on top of a long sleeve tech shirt, long basketball shorts, and high black compression socks. It ended up being just about perfect... I took the beanie off about two miles in and then was comfortable the rest of the race. Not too hot, not too cold.

THE FIRST FIVE (8:45, 8:31, 8:50, 8:59, 8:51)

Before the race with Sunstone.
My goal pace going into the race was 8:55/mile. I was preparing for running a long course (which was good, as my watch clocked 13.2 miles) and the desire for a bit of a cushion at the end. To run a sub two half marathon you technically need a 9:09/mile pace, but you should always shave 5 seconds or so a mile for a long course. I then shaved another 10 seconds to have a two minute cushion to finish in 1:58 if I managed to hold pace.

Anyways, as you can see, I didn't pace myself too great. It partially wasn't my fault though! After starting, the roads were very packed and it was hard to move. I wasn't quite able to get to the "under 9" corral so I was running with people who were going a little slower than I wanted. I ended up popping up onto a sidewalk and slowly passing a lot of people. Every time I looked at my watch I was going to fast. I'd slow to correct myself, but by the next time I checked my watch I was going too fast again. Probably letting the energy of the race get to me. My splits weren't tragically fast though so I wasn't too worried.

After those first miles that were too fast, I settled into the appropriate pace. It felt good - like an appropriate half marathon pace. I was able to enjoy the sights and sounds of the race. Lots of people dressed in wacky costumers, carolers along the course, residents with bluetooth speakers blasting Christmas music. It was good times! Like I mentioned, I had to take the beanie off, but otherwise my outfit was perfect for the cold but clear conditions. The sun was shining and it was just the perfect day for a race. This was a moment when I was so glad to be back running!

THE MIDDLE SPRINT (8:38, 8:34, 8:40, 8:45)

So, as you can see, I started to pick up my pace again? What happened? Well, I was feeling good. My body seemed to naturally keep going a little faster than the target. I didn't want to spend the whole race staring at my watch either, so I only checked it every so often. The pace felt perfect, like a half marathon should, so I wasn't too worried. I figured I might slow down a little at the end, but with the way I was feeling I knew I wouldn't blow up and now had a decent cushion on my two hour goal.

Another factor was some very gradual downhill. I figured I should take advantage of it a little bit, so when my times kept coming in under the 8:55 target I wasn't too upset. The course was very flat, much more so than I expected, so none of this was very significant. There were even some slight uphills portions here. I think even at times it might have looked downhill but was flat, or vice versa. Anyways, I was trucking along and felt good. I could tell my legs were tiring somewhat but with just four miles to go I knew I could survive.

HELLO NINE, MY OLD FRIEND (9:04, 9:11, 9:08, 9:18)

The only significant hill of the race was contained in that 9:04 mile ten. It was probably only about a city block in length and I didn't want to tucker myself out on it, so I took it easy. When I hit the top I resumed my 8:55 pace. When my watch beeped with a 9:04 mile I thought "Dang, that sucks. Would have been cool to have all my miles below nine." Ha. Little did I know, my miles would only get slower from that point.

I was working just as hard, but my pace seemed to naturally be 9:10ish now. I had experienced this before, especially in marathons. You feel like you are going just as fast, you are certainly working just as hard, but your pace drops. It sucks! It's because your legs are tiring and you aren't quite springing the same distance forward as before. Anyways, I knew at this point to speed up to try and chase a certain number would be a bad idea, so I just kept my effort consistent and knew the finish line wasn't too far away.

As you can see, my mile thirteen was the slowest. Oops. The too fast start was catching up with me. I wasn't in shape to run a half marathon at 8:40, which I apparently was attempting to do. Luckily, with a half, you can get away with it for the most part. Marathon would be a different story. But with a half, you just need to hang on for a few miles. I knew I had built up quite the cushion and that even 10:00/mile at this point would likely get me into the finish under two.


A "flattering" shot of me right after finishing.
When we were just under a half mile away a woman saw me look at my watch and asked "How much further?" Haha. I feel you. I told her it was only fourth tenths more. We both agreed that was nothing and we would finish no problem. And it wasn't! In fact, I ran the final quarter mile at a 7:40 pace. So I wasn't completely clobbered. Felt good to sprint strong through the finish line. I knew I had gotten my goal but the 1:56 on my watch was a surprise. Didn't expect it to be quite that fast! Awesome!

After finishing I wandered around and got my food and beer. My legs were tired but not tragically so. I was still able to slowly climb stairs without too much effort. Unfortunately, the finish line was a crowded mess and I didn't spot any one I knew. So I chowed down on my free soup and beer and then headed home. A warm bath and day reclining and watching football was calling anyways.

Shaved another 25 minutes off my half time! Wohoo! Unfortunately, I am now at a pace were gains will be much harder to come by. But the journey of rapid improvement from 12s to 9s certainly was fun!

Official Chip Results: 1:56:34, 8:53/mile. 585/1846 overall, 324/674 male, 53/92 M30-34.

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