Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Capital City Half Marathon Race Report

I better get this thing written before I forget everything and it just turns into another long run. Originally we were going to run the Athens Half Marathon at Ohio University. We have done this before and have always enjoyed visiting campus. However, this year the sister-in-law, Becky, and her boyfriend, Kyle, signed up for the Capital City Half Marathon. Apparently Kyle’s brothers and sisters were going to run as well so there was a lot of smack talk going around.

Aimee decided that we should go down to Columbus and be part of the fun with a larger group. I’m flexible that way. I can run 13.1 miles just about anywhere. We did the Cap City Half several years ago in some sloppy wet weather. This year the course would be different and the week leading up to the race was awesome.

My workouts leading up to the half were not taper like at all. The weekend prior I did 1:45 long run and a 2:30 Brick. The 30 minute post ride run with Jeff was great. We helped push each other to maintain a solid pace. I had two swims during the week that were not taper like with race pace efforts. The main run for the week involved two sets of 10 x 20 second intervals faster than 5k pace. Not knowing my current 5k pace I pushed hard and had a great workout.

Coach and I talked about the build-up to the race. I was classifying the half marathon as an A-/B+ race. It is definitely not a training race, but more of a see what happens and where training has gotten me so far. We wanted to see how the body would respond to a heavier than normal taper and short strength building workouts. We didn’t lay out the typical race plan where you increase your HR steadily over the course of the race. I’m more of a steady as she goes racer.

I was feeling pretty good heading into the race. My last two visits to acupuncture were breakthroughs as we were finally able to release the tightness in my right hip and hamstring. For the first time I felt well balanced during the runs and especially on the bike.

Being a Saturday race, Aimee and I drove down to Columbus Friday afternoon. We met our friends Dale and Mandie at the hotel then went to dinner at a family run Italian restaurant I had found. It was the perfect pre-race setting; relaxing and good food at a great price. The pizza at the next table looked so good I wanted one, but pre-race eating is best left to pasta.

The rest of the evening was relaxing and we had no worries since the race didn’t start until 9:00AM Saturday morning.

The morning weather was near perfect for the race. The rain that moved through Friday was long gone and left us with partially clear skies and temps in the mid-40’s. The only downside was the 15-20 MPH winds from the southwest. The race course was predominantly north-south so I wasn’t sure how bad the wind would affect my pace. I settled on running in a sleeveless compression shirt, short sleeve SnakeBite Racing shirt and shorts. I also wore gloves to make sure the fingers didn’t get cold. I had two PowerGels with me for the run. I was only anticipating using one but a second wouldn’t hurt.

Everyone lined up pretty good for the start by placing themselves appropriately. I was 3-4 rows from the front. Two Kenyan runners, Robert Letting and George Moisi, were up front and the pre-race favorites. A trio of women from Second Sole/Run Ohio were also on hand in matching uniforms, I wouldn’t see them again…ever.

The first mile was slightly congested as everyone jockeyed for position and found their pace. I was running comfortably moving between groups, passing people and getting passed. After the first mile I settled in on my race pace. The pace felt good, slightly uncomfortable, yet manageable for the entire race.

My intention was to only take splits at the mile markers and not look at my watch. I didn’t want to get into a numbers game and let predictable finish times dictate the race. I didn’t need to look at my watch because there were timing clocks at each mile marker. I was happy that I didn’t let the clocks affect me mentally. I was running solid and didn’t waver.

The first 5 miles headed north onto the Ohio State University campus. I was happy to see groups of students out cheering for us runners. The trickiest part running through campus was the wind direction. Several times the wind would get re-directed by a building and hit you at an unexpected angle. I was drafting behind two guys when the wind came from the side.

At mile 5 the course turned south on High Street. I knew this would be a major wind tunnel. My intention was to have someone to run behind at this point. Going through the aid station and making the turn I was all alone. Hello Wind.

Looking at my splits, the wind didn’t affect me like I thought it would. Sure it felt hard but I’m thinking my strength helped me push through the resistance. There were groups of spectators cheering, clapping and ringing cow bells along the route. I hit mile marker 6 in 39:32. Being sub-40 at that point was a big mental boost. All I can say is, Bolder Boulder 10k look out.

The course has several rollers on it as well. Most “hills” are slight rises in the road where it goes over a highway. On the downside of these rises is where I would feel the wind the most. The wind wouldn’t allow you to take advantage of the downhill. Each time I had a slight downhill I had to RUN down the hill while the wind was blowing. I was hoping for some free speed at those times.

The second half of the course goes through some old Columbus neighborhoods including German Village and the Brewery District. At mile 11 the course turned north on High Street. I was hoping for some help from the wind but it just wasn’t there. During mile 12 is where I got “chicked”. Passing me like I was shuffling along was a girl looking strong. I can’t complain too much that a 23 year old female beat me by 45 seconds.

At the 12 mile marker is where I decided it was now or never. That last mile would be an all out effort to the line. Despite taking water or Gatorade at each aid station I was starting to cramp in the calves. I made sure my stride was perfect to avoid a mis-step that would send my muscles into cramping hell. The wind had been mis-leading about my sweating but I do remember wiping it away from my forehead.

It was awesome running down the final stretch for what would be a personal best at the half marathon distance. Crossing the line I completed my best half marathon in a time of 1:26:18. My average pace was 6:36. My last mile was 6:20.

After I was done I got me clothes from gear check and made my way to the final straight to watch for Aimee and the others. I had just missed Mandie as she got a PR of 1:38, she rocked it. I saw Dale (1:53) and Aimee (1:58) finish strong. I made my way over to the finish to get Aimee and gather with everyone else as they finished.

Overall I am very excited about the race. I was starting to have doubts in my 41 year old body. Most of my training wasn’t “fast” enough for me to think a 6:36 pace would be possible. Boy did the old body prove me wrong. I’m glad to have the strength and speed still around for this season. This race is an excellent starting point for my Ironman training. I just hope I can stay healthy through September. My stats are below for the number geeks, as ugly as they are:

Mile Split Cumulative Ave HR Comments
1 06:32 06:32 153
2 06:43 13:14 160
3 06:27 19:41 163
5 13:18 33:00 162
6 06:32 39:32 164 First mile heading down High Street
7 06:37 46:09 162 Second mile on High Street
8 06:35 52:45 164
9 06:45 59:29 163
10 06:31 1:06:00 163
11 06:39 1:12:39 163
12 06:40 1:19:19 163 North on High St. with roller at Highway
13 06:20 1:25:39 165 Started to feel the cramps in the calves
13.1 00:40 1:26:18 167 6:36 pace overall

Overall Place 43 / 3326
Gender Place 36 / 1509
Division Place 7 / 234
Pace 6:36

1 comment:

Lloyd said...

Congrats on the remarkable breakthrough at the distance!