Sunday, September 23, 2018


Typical scene along the course. Nice long path and runners going both ways. Yellow mile marker sign in the distance.
Last Sunday I left my house at 5:45am and headed east to the town of Boring. Like last year, I made a pit stop at McDonald's; however, this year I only got a small coffee. Last year I got a medium and ended up peeing multiple times during the race. Arriving just after the marathon went off at 6:30, I went to the start line, got my packet, then headed back to the car to pin my bib on and leave my race goodie bag.

I got to the starting line with about 15 minutes to spare and stood in line for the bathroom. Even though I didn't really have to pee, it was more of a preventative measure due to the experience last year. After a couple minutes in that line it was obvious there was no way I was going to make it in time for the start. Since I didn't really have to pee, I decided to just ditch it and go for a light warm up. My warm up led me to a path in the woods which lacked any people and had plenty of cover. So it ended up all working out in that fashion and I didn't have to pee during the race either.

FIRST HALF FLYING (7:36, 7:29, 7:34, 7:39, 7:41, 7:42)

I made my way toward the front of the corral with plenty of time to spare. After some last minute announcements, including a recognition of the dry weather despite a 90% chance of rain, the race was off! With my "A" goal being under 1:45, I knew I had to run under 8:00/mile, so the goal was to pace around 7:50-7:55. However, I also knew the first couple of miles were slightly downhill, so I wanted to take advantage of that on fresh legs. So I ended up running the first few miles averaging low 7:30s. Maybe a little quicker than I wanted, but not tragically fast.

The skies after the rain stopped.
This pace felt so easy. It was crazy! I was almost in a state of disbelief about how easy it felt. I couldn't quite believe my watch. My legs felt great and my breathing wasn't even labored. I've had runs over 9:00/mile where my cardio has been more tested. It was really odd! I could tell I was going fast, it felt like a mid 7s pace based on my gait and everything, but lung and leg wise it felt super easy. It was really weird. Even when the course flattened out, I kept up a quicker pace than initially planned. Miles 4 to 6 were all almost exactly 7:40. Even though I likely couldn't keep this pace up, I was banking some time for the second half of the race.

Remember them commenting at the start line about the lack of rain? Well, almost immediately after the race started, literally within a minute, the skies opened up and it POURED rain. Big drops. Not quite as bad as Corvallis earlier this year, but close. It rained for probably close to an hour, the first half of the race or so. Eventually it piddled out and from then on the weather was absolutely perfect for a race. High 50s and overcast skies. I think this may be one reason why the pace was feeling so easy. I've been used to training in the summer heat, so this weather was like a luxury vacation to my body.

SECOND HALF SLOWDOWN (7:47, 7:57, 8:10, 8:13, 8:10, 8:24, 8:03)

The turnaround was right at mile 6.5, which confused me. Later on I found out why, there was a small out and back section along a street on the way back. It was the same thing last year, I had just forgotten about it. When I made the turn, I looked at my watch and noticed I was averaging 7:36 a mile. This meant I could average 8:16 on the way back and still end up under 8 minutes a mile. This was very encouraging. That felt so slow. I could do this. I tried to keep up my speed but the pace was now starting to wear on me. Mile eight would be my last below the eight minute mark.

All together I still felt pretty good. The legs felt fine, my breathing was still easy, the same effort was just not getting me the same speed now. I took comfort in the fact that I had built up quite the cushion and just pushed to run it in as fast as I could. While 8:16 sounded so slow earlier in the race, it was now a time I was fighting to stay under. Managed to do that except for an ugly mile 12. Although I had slowed way down, I wasn't struggling at all. I was just keeping up the same effort level and not worrying about trying to hit a certain time.

Those last few miles weren't that much of a struggle. I was trying to save a little bit for the uphill portion, but I never really saw it. Second year in a row where coming back I didn't even notice the uphill despite noticing the downhill on the way out. I think because it is so gradual, and the path is just through the woods, it's really hard to see visually. I think the 8:24 mile might tell the story though. By then I was tired and ready to be done but I knew the finish line was near. I had to grind a little bit in that last mile to keep up the pace. The race was really catching up with me now. Eventually I could hear the finish line and finally had a visual as I rounded a corner.


The final sprint was done at sub 7 pace, so my legs had a little something still left in them. When I crossed the finish line and looked at my watch, I couldn't quite believe it. 1:42:32?! No way! Not only did I beat the 1:45 goal I thought might have been a little too ambitious, I smashed it! Funny enough, that is the exact time, to the second, of my first half marathon. I guess I'm truly back! Feels like July 2012 all over again, haha.

I was absolutely wiped after the race. While my legs and cardio felt great, for the first ten miles or so at least, this was a balls to the wall race performance that took everything out of me. I left it all on that course. I stumbled my way to the food area and scarfed down some bagels and M&Ms. I was still kind of in a state of disbelief on my time. It was way better than I could have imagined.  After coming to my senses, I cheered a few people onto the finish and then headed back to the car. I had an intense day of napping and watching football ahead.

The next couple of days I was quite sore. I still got my three weekday runs in, but my legs were feeling the effects of the race without question. Even my sixteen mile long run today, my legs were still gently screaming because of the half. That was a 100% effort, no doubt. It gave me a really good idea of where I stand with this whole running thing. Turns out, a little better than I thought!

Official Chip Time: 1:42:32, 7:49/mile. 16/165 overall, 13/57 male, 2/2 M30-34.

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