Saturday, December 29, 2018


Finish line! Only picture they took. :(
First of all, let me give you a little update on my training. I'll admit, it's been a grind since the Marine Corp Marathon. Just hard to stay motivated with nothing major on the horizon and the days being dark, cold, and often wet. The good news is my second week off did bring my legs back. I am no longer feeling the marathon anymore. My legs are recovered and are ready to rock whatever training I want to do. Unfortunately, I'm not all that motivated.

However, this was always a problem in the winter before. I've been here. You do the fall marathon, you work so hard to achieve that, and then there is a let down. You want a break and with the weather turning it's just very hard to have that same focus and motivation as the time leading up to your goal marathon. If it turns out like most other years, which I expect it to, I'll kind of slog through the winter and then pick it up again come March for the Shamrock Run. That always seems to be a kick start to the racing season.

For the Holiday Half, they were at a new location this year. Instead of starting at the Adidas North American headquarters, we started at the Daimler Trucks North American Headquarters. They are pretty close together but it did introduce a whole new element. That element? 200 feet up in the first mile. Yikes! However, that also meant 200 feet down in the last mile. Better to be going up when you are fresh and you could also run the race to poop out at 12 because the last mile you could just use gravity.

With the new location, I was unsure about the parking situation, so I did a very un-Thomaslike thing... I got there pretty early. The race started at 8am and I was rolling into the parking lot at 7am. I know, I know! Who am I? However, I am glad I did so, as people arriving not too much later got stuck in a GIANT traffic jam due to the traffic lights not being optimized/overridden for the flow of cars coming into the area.

I ended up just hanging out in my car until 7:45 or so and then headed toward the start line. It was cold, maybe 42 degrees, and pretty windy. There was rain threatening but thankfully none yet. I spotted Vincent at the start line so we chatted a little while we waited for the race to start. His goal for a while has been to go under 8:00/mile for a half (under 1:45), which I figured would be a good pace for me to start out at. I was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to maintain it but I would give it a go.

THE WAY OUT (8:15, 7:43, 7:50, 8:05, 8:08, 7:54, 8:10)

Vincent and I started off together and within a few blocks we were climbing up that hill. So while we were targeting under 8, we knew that first mile would be slower. Almost instantly I had a pretty good feeling this pace was going to be too much for me. I really hadn't done any speedwork during marathon training, or after, so the fact I wasn't quite as fast as before wasn't a surprise. I decided to wait it out and see how it felt once we were on flatter ground though.

Once up the hill, which wasn't too bad in all honesty, we locked into our pace. I hung on for a couple miles, but by mile four I decided I needed to let off the gas if I was going to finish the race without blowing up. I bid adieu to Vincent and then tried to lock into what I thought a half marathon pace was. I'm usually pretty good at determining my race speeds, so I ended up doing about an 8:10 pace. Not too far off the initial target. I still wanted to finish at my fastest just to give a baseline for my training going forward.

That 7:54 mile was a period of gentle downhill, so it wasn't like I got a second wind or anything. The course after the first mile was the same as last year, just tracing along the bluff past the University of Portland and into St. Johns. Whenever I run this stretch of road I always think about the Portland Marathon and some of the memories associated with it at this location - never good considering it was miles 21-24 or so. Anyways, at this point I was just clicking along at current half marathon pace. At exactly 6.555 miles we turned around a cone and headed back. I had high fived Vincent a few minutes back - he was having a good race.

THE WAY BACK (8:25, 8:31, 8:37, 8:42, 9:15, 8:15)

As you can see, my pace fell off. Mile seven isn't really fair because that is the uphill part of the downhill I had talked about earlier, but once I was up that hill, my legs just didn't have it. I couldn't get back to my previous speed. This just wasn't good to be my race. So while I was still giving it a good effort, I wasn't going to kill myself. So I just settled into a comfortably hard pace and ground my way back to the finish. At this point the question was if I would be able to get under 1:50. As long as I got back at one forty something I would be happy enough.

Really not all that much to say about the way back. I was ready to be done as my legs just didn't have it in them this day. So it was just a matter of grinding back to the finish line. I went between periods of feeling okay and feeling pretty rough., I just wanted the damn thing over. Mentally I knew I just had to get to mile twelve because that last mile would be all downhill. Just keep grinding... this bluff is going on forever!

Finally I got to mile twelve and started the downhill. As you can see I sped up some, but I didn't have the legs to really attack it. Funny enough, I was the exact same speed going down it at the end than I was going up it at the beginning, haha. Oh well. The last few blocks to the finish line were flat but those weren't an issue. With the line in sight, I perked up enough to do that final tenth of a mile at 7:25 pace. So I guess the legs weren't completely gone! I rolled through the finish line and stopped my watch at 1:48:59. Whew! Later on I would learn my official time was four seconds faster.


After the race I chugged a couple cups of water. Since it was cold outside I didn't feel the need to hydrate at all during the race. I just wanted to move past the water stations and get the race done. Not smart to do in the summer, but you can totally get away with it during a winter race. I was pretty thirsty at the end though, so it felt good to chug some fluid. After that I went over and got the free food, a mini grilled cheese sandwich and some vegetable chili. Both were super delicious. I didn't see the free beer tent and with the weather starting to sprinkle, I didn't really care. I couldn't spot Vincent (he ended up getting 1:37!) so I just headed back to my car.

By the time I was driving away with runners coming in on the other side of the road it was POURING. And it would stay pouring. Anybody finishing over two hours got dumped on. Remember, it was in the low 40s, so this was pretty miserable for them. I'm glad I was at least fast enough to avoid the rain. At times driving home it was coming down so hard it was difficult to see. Once I got home I took a big, fat, hot bath and it was amazing. I might not be in the greatest shape right now, but I tried my best. Now to survive the rest of the winter season and wait for the springtime thaw!

Official time: 1:48:55, 8:18/mile. 327/1444 overall, 223 of 581 male, 36 of 79 M30-34.