Sunday, July 15, 2018

2018 INDEPENDENCE DAY HALF MARATHON RACE RECAP

Post race celebration. Was I really happy? Find out below!
I woke up around 7:00 on the 4th of July, a Wednesday this year. I had picked up my race packet the day before at Portland Running Company, so I wasn't too stressed about the time. I was able to drive to Champoeg Park and wander to the start line by about 7:40am or so for the 8:00 start. Easy peasy!

The only thing I was worried about was the slight feeling of having "to go #2." I got in the line for a port-a-potty but with the limited number of potties I didn't think I was going to be able to go in time. Someone got some "inside info" about a pod of potties down a hill that didn't have a line. By the time I heard this and wandered down there, the line was just as long! Oh well, after a bit I gave up and just lined up to start. Hopefully it could wait!

THE FIRST LOOP (8:07, 8:17, 8:11, 8:06, 8:53*, 8:22)

After the national anthem and some final instructions, the race went off right at 8 o'clock. It was a little congested at first, as most races are, so there was a bit of weaving and holding back at the beginning, but as you can see, I still ran a pretty fast first mile. With my goal of beating Corvallis, I knew I had to run 8:30 miles or below. I decided I would try to run somewhere between 8:15 and 8:20s and see how far that could take me. All told the first few miles were a little fast, but nothing too tragic. I was feeling pretty good all told despite the lack of a proper taper for this race.

That 8:53 mile is not accurate. So we get to the turnaround for the first loop (which would total 10k) sometime during the 8:06 mile preceding it. On the way back to the start line somewhere in the forest paths my watch lost the GPS signal. I didn't realize it until I looked down at my watch to check my pace and saw it as "--:--." Great! Not. Anyways, I was in a rhythm so keeping up the appropriate pace wasn't too hard. I knew at some point my watch would kick back in and I could use it again, the mileage would just be off. It wasn't too long before the signal was acquired again. My watch, which was hitting the mile markers dead on, was now .25 miles behind at the next marker. Annoying, as my overall pace was now jacked, but whatever, my race was unaffected.

For those of you not familiar with Champoeg Park, the race is along paved trails through lush forest along the river. It's very pretty and great scenery for the race. The paths weren't too wide, but wide enough for two way traffic to proceed without issue for a race this size. There was one foot bridge that was under construction that had room for only one person going either way. Luckily, whenever I hit this bridge I didn't have an issue with oncoming traffic. The course itself was pretty flat, although there were definitely some hills toward the turnaround point.

A flavor of the trails I ran through in Champoeg Park. Screencap of this video, credit YouTube user NatureCyclist.

THE FINAL LOOP (8:10, 8:36, 8:16, 8:40, 8:19, 8:36, 8:24)

The finish line was up a small hill for about a block. Someone was shouting instructions out, if you were running the 10k you were done, if you were running the half, cross the mat and then turn around and go back out for another loop. Honestly, it felt kind of good to not be finishing, I made the turn around with maybe 33% of the other runners around me. Let's get this done! I was still feeling good, so far it was the perfect half marathon pace; my lungs were burning a little, the pace was challenging, but my legs felt good and I was confident I could go the distance without a major breakdown.

This loop was a lot lonelier, mostly it was just me and my thoughts running through the streets and trails of the park. I was in a rhythm and just plodding along. This loop would be slightly longer than the last one, as they added some distance past the first 10k turnaround to make sure we hit our 13.11 miles. Unfortunately, this extra distance was not flat and required a big hill climb on the way back. As a result, you can see the 8:40 mile. I knew I had a lot of extra time to play with at this point so I wasn't worried and just kept plodding along. I was doing the math in my head and now that my watch was off, I knew the pace reflected on there was about 10 seconds a mile too high. Considering my watch pace was still below my goal pace, I was in great shape.

On the way back to the finish I definitely starting to feel the subtle uphills that I didn't feel on the way back on the first loop. My legs were definitely tiring now, about mile 11 they started to complain a bit, but that's normal for a half marathon. I was able to keep going without issue although I was definitely ready to be done. I had also spent the whole race with that slight urge "to go" still there, so I was looking forward to taking care of that. Luckily, it did not require my attention during the race, which was quite the relief! Anyways, I rolled up that final uphill and through the finish.

POST RACE


Photo credit: www.runoregonblog.com
Holy shit! 1:47:33! Not only did I get my goal, I SMASHED it! Awesome! Good to know that my dedicated training was paying off. The marathon training definitely helped in those final miles too. Now that I was doing runs up to 16 miles, those final few felt so much better than Corvallis. I did have a secret goal of sub 1:50 but I never thought I would be in the 1:47s. Awesome! In my head, anything below a 1:45 half marathon is "fast," so hopefully I can get there by the end of the year. That used to be my baseline, as long as I got sub 1:45 I could live with it.

The post race part included a burger and a beer, both delicious. I checked the results and unfortunately I placed 4th in my division (out of 5 - ha!) so no awards ceremony for me. I was 15th out of 125 though, so that was cool. Once I was done eating I didn't really have any reason to stick around, so I drove home and took a warm bath. I then crawled into my bed and took a 3 hour nap. Oops.

Overall, a very successful race! I'm glad I signed up as it was fun to test my progress and come out feeling pretty good about how my training was going. I think I'm going to sign up for the Crawfish Crawl 5k in August - that will be my next official race. Will be good to get a baseline 5k time to work off of, although I won't taper or anything for that so it could be painful. After that, my next race will likely be the Boring Half Marathon followed by the big daddy... the Marine Corp Marathon!

Official Chip Time: 1:47:33, 8:12/mile. 15/125 overall, 13/61 male, 4/5 M30-34.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

INDEPENDENCE DAY HALF MARATHON RACE PREVIEW

Pretty good reason to miss my only run so far (midweek 6
miler. Beavers 2018 baseball champs!
Has it really been almost a month since my last blog post? Oh my word! A quick update before I get into the race tomorrow... everything is going well with the marathon training! Still sticking to my training schedule and hitting all the long runs. Body feels good, no complaints there. Really an optimal training cycle so far! A long ways to go yet, but I am feeling pretty positive. Long runs have ventured into the "actually long" territory, I've now ran 16 twice and will run 18 next week, but they are going easily enough except for the "holy crap it's been forever are we done yet?" mental challenge. Physically they feel fine!

And with that, let's get into the race tomorrow. I signed up for this one a while back when I was looking to sprinkle in some races throughout the training cycle to keep things interesting and keep me on my toes. Now, a race always sounds better in theory (like a 5:30am plane flight), and then when it's actually race day you're like "why am I doing this?" Well, why I voluntarily chose to wake up at 7am on a holiday I'll never know! At least all the hot dogs and beer afterward will be guilt free. I think I'll enjoy the race as it should have some nice scenery and a good atmosphere. Just not all that excited about running it at race pace!

However, I do want to run it to the best of my abilities just to see how I stack up. I could always just 9:30/mile it and enjoy it, but that wouldn't really tell me anything. Now, I'm not going to enter this race 100% just because I didn't taper properly before it. I ran 16 on Saturday and then 4 miles last night. Not too bad and I did cut back on the Monday miles, but ideally I would give my legs a couple days rest before really attacking a race. So while I might not be able to achieve my best possible time given my current fitness, I think I should be able to get relatively close.

When I was in Omaha last week I did what ended up being a half race pace tempo run for five miles. It was mostly motivated by the traffic whizzing by me on the highway at 55mph and a fear for my life (pedestrian infrastructure over there is garbage), but I was able to hit 8:15-8:20s pretty easily. For being 82 degrees and humid outside the run was surprisingly easy. I just hope it feels that easy come tomorrow morning! On Monday I went out for an easy four miles as part of a mini taper and 9:45s were kicking my ass. So it's hard to predict how I am going to feel on race day!

Course map for tomorrow. Let's get loopy!
The weather looks a bit warm, 68 when the race starts and around 76 when I'll finish. It should be overcast though, so that will help. Not the ideal temperature, but nothing too tragic either. It can be a lot worse in the summer. If the sun does break through I'm also fairly certain a lot of the course has shade, so that shouldn't be an issue. The course itself is two loops, the first loop being a 10k, and then the second loop being that same loop plus an extended out and back to hit our mileage.  It's also pretty dang flat. So overall, while my legs aren't super fresh and the temperature is a bit warm, it should be a pretty quick race for me assuming I can find a groove.

Overall, I'm not going to do the usual A, B, and C goals, as this isn't a "target" race, more of just a "check up." I will tell you that I hope to beat my Corvallis time. Now, that race went amazing... one of those runs where everything clicked and you are certain you performed to the best of your abilities. I'm not sure how this one will go, so we'll see. I'm not going to be disappointed if I don't beat Corvallis as long as I give it my best try. However, it would be pretty sweet to beat that time given how well that race went! I'll need to go sub 8:30 to do that, so I'll probably target 8:20s and hope I can hold on.