Oct 16, 2006

Hartford 1/2 Marathon Race Report

My last big challenge for the year was the Hartford 1/2 Marathon on Saturday the 14th. It would be my first attempt at the distance, and part of the progression of my run focus for the last month and 1/2. I've been running between 4 and 5 times a week in an attempt to strengthen and stretch out my running. Prior to this race, the longest distance I've competed in was 10k, although I've done a few 10k's as part of a triathlon.

Training had been going well, I did 2 runs of 11 miles, and had been fairly consistent at just over 10 minute pace for the long runs. I had a great run on Monday where I did 8 miles at race pace, just under 10 minute miles and kept my heart rate pretty consistent in Zone 3. My goal for the 1/2 marathon was 2:15, figuring that I could handle that pace pretty consistently. A stretch goal would be to come in under 2:11, and break the 10 minute mile barrier. As a comparison, my 10k P.R. was 58:41 for a 9:28 pace.

It was a relatively flat course, and turned out to be both well attended by spectators and runners, so there was always a lot of other folks on the course with me. I started a decent ways back with Jon, a friend from work who was also running his first 1/2 marathon. It took a minute or two to get over the mats after the gun went off, but I started my watch and off we went. Right away, I wasn't feeling too great and rethinking my decision to go for a 30 mile bike ride the day before. I quickly told myself that this was just part of my training for Lake Placid 2007 and that I didn't need to run really fast for it to be successful. We went through the 1rst mile in 10:02 though, so it was reassuring to be right on pace. The second mile was a bit uphill, but familiar since it is the course that I ride on the way into work although this time going over the river we got to go on the highway bridge instead of the attached footpath area that I have to usually take on my bike. The second mile was 10:46, and my legs were still a bit leaden. Things improved a bit as I hit the first water stop and grabbed some Gatorade, well at least that's what they claimed it was. There wasn't a whole lot of mix in the water I suspect, but you did get a tinge of flavor. Third mile was 9:24, and I thought "Whoa, better back off a bit". Fourth and fifth were 10:21 and 10:22, but my legs started to feel really good, so I stretched it out a little bit.

As the miles continued to tick past and my legs continued to feel good I kept a good pace and began to have thoughts of negative splitting, middle miles were 9:47, 9:38, 9:33, 9:20 and 9:31. At this point, I was over 10 miles and feeling great. I could feel my goal was within my grasp and felt better than I could have imagined feeling. Every time I hit the lap button and saw 9 something I would shake my head in disbelief, and say "I can't believe I feel this good". While not real fast, I felt like I was racing instead of just trying to finish the run. I've never really considered myself much of a runner, so this was just a great, great feeling. The excitement picked me up and pushed me forward hard, mile 11 was 8:59! Yep, you knew it was coming, I got a bit too excited and suddenly it hurt, mile 12 was a bit of a struggle both mentally and physically. At this point I knew I would finish, and probably exceed expectations as long as I didn't totally fall apart, so I told myself to try to recover a bit and then go hard the last mile. Coincidently, we also hit a steep but short hill. Mile 12 was 10:40, but I got my wind back a bit and started to pick it up to come home. I wasn't really familiar with the finish, so I kept waiting for the course to end however I was able to stay really strong. I managed to pass a ton of people, as it seemed like many were slowing down at this point and I really picked it up. The final 1.1 miles went by in 9:21 and I was thrilled to start running down the chute with 2:07:xx still showing on my watch! What a great feeling to finish, knowing I had exceeded my goals!

After cooling down, grabbing some food and getting a free massage, I was still on a high feeling like I can do this! It's been a great season, and I still have a few short runs to do this fall for fun. I'm going to try to bring my daughter on 1 or 2 since I don't need to race any of them any more to have had a successful year.


Jon,  6:14 AM  

Thanks for getting me interested in doing this race. I only 4 weeks to train and had only gotten up to 5 miles before that. It was a lot of fun and was a great day, in terms of weather. Sorry for leaving you at mile 2 :) ... Next year perhaps we can do the full marathon!

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