I am finally back at the computer after stopping off in San Francisco last night to celebrate my birthday (and my race!), so here is the race report from yesterday.
I was running the first 2 legs of a 4 person relay as part of the California International Marathon. This gave me just over 13.1 miles and they had a timing mat at the half marathon stage. My relay partner was injured so it was just me, so I was just planning to race to the 13.1 mat and then take the bus home. Most other people were running the full marathon.
Slept really badly - hotel was nosiy and we had a bunch of partiers near the room. Buzzer went off at 5:15am when I had just fallen asleep. Ate, drank, took care of "other" business, showered and headed to the bus about 5:45 (I stayed at the finish so had a 26 mile bus ride to the start). It was chilly out, high 30's and the wind was blowing. Forecast was to get to about 15 mph but not get much warmer. Good running weather if the wind doesn't get up too much. Bus got us to the start about 6:35, and by the time I'd pee'd, dropped off my sweats (I decided to run in shorts/singlet despite the cold, but did wear gloves) and got to the startline (I went way up front), it was 6:57! Got my Garmin GPS locked onto the satellites with about 30 seconds to spare. Jumped up and down to pretend to warmup and we were off at 7:00:30!
First 5 Miles
My plan was 1:32 (7:01 pace) but I was feeling gung-ho so decided to run with the 3:00 marathon pace group to start (6:52 pace). I figured if it was too tough I could always drop back a little. Plus, it's a rolling course and I wasn't sure how agressively to run down or up so wanted the experience of the pacer to guide me. Start was good, most people up the front were running pretty well so I wasn't dodging people, and I hooked up with the 3:00 pacer within the first 1/2 mile and settled down right on his heels. Thru mile 5 we rolled up/down and dropped about 125' overall. Splits were 6:54, 6:44, 6:46, 6:45, 6:47 - 33:56 at the 5 mile marker. Felt pretty good but knew I was on the edge at this pace.
About mile 5 I ask the pacer what his plan for the half is and he tells me that he's going to run 1:29!. So instead of being 2 minutes faster than I planned, it was 3 - Not a big difference but when you are at your limit it doesn't take much to make a good day turn bad. This means an average of 6:47 - which is only 4 seconds slower than my 10k pace. I figured that I was going to be in a lot of trouble trying to do that for 13.1 miles and considered easing off. Instead I decided to hang with the group thru 8 miles and then decide what to do. Splits 6, 7 & 8 were 6:48, 6:49, 6:49 - to get thru 8 miles at 54:29. On the way I finished the first 10k in 42:06 which is only 23 seconds slower than my 10k race a few weeks back. This was obviously not going to last.....
Miles 9 & 10
OK, by now it's hurting and I know I am not hanging with these guys thru the half. The pacer was relentless and I was way out of my depth. However, I know from Honolulu that it is very lonely once you lose the pacegroup so just decided to hang as long as I could and then gut it home on my own, hoping to get under 1:32. Dropped off a little in mile 9 but kicked to catch up, did that once more in mile 10 but by the 10 mile mark they were about 30' ahead. Splits for 9 & 10 were 6:54 and 6:55 to get thru 10 at 1:08:18. But I knew the pace group was gone and all of a sudden I was running in no-man's land, and 3.1 miles seemed like an awful long way.
Miles 11 & 12
This was now painful, I had run way faster than I had planned and it was now payback time. Mile 11 was ugly at 7:08 and then mile 12 started with an uphill - not much, just about 75' over 1/2 mile but it was bad - I focused on catching people ahead. I dragged myself up that hill to do 12 at 7:10 pace. Time at 12 was 1:22:36.
Final 1.1 mile
I was tired and my ability to do math was impaired but I figured that I was easily under 1:32 but that 1:30:00 was going to require something I didn't have left inside. Knew it was 7:24 for the 1.1 but struggled to work out what that meant exactly for pace. About half mile to go I could see the 13 mile marker and the balloon banner for the halfway point (my finish line!). I sprinted, which got a great response from the crowd (Since this is a full marathon there aren't too many people sprinting for the halfway point). I crossed 13 miles at 1:29:19 and had worked out roughly that the final .11 was about 50 seconds. Shit - not gonna break 1:30 but I found a kick somewhere and covered the final stretch in 37 seconds (5:38 pace) to cross the line at 1:29:56. I couldn't believe it! A PR by over 4 minutes and I'd met all of my goals, including the "aint-gonna-happen" stretch goal.
I quickly stumbled off the course to avoid being run over, much to the confusion of the crowd since the relay exchange was still 1/2 mile up the road and the finish was 13.1 miles away, but I was too exhausted to explain. Fortunately, an aid station was 100' up the road and I drank 4 gatorades and 3 waters then jogged slowly down to the relay exchange to get the bus back to the finish line.
I got back to the finish about 2:50 race time so went to the line just as my pace 3:00 pace group was coming over - Pacer crossed at 2:59:46 - awesome. Group was smaller than when I last saw it about 16 miles back. Shook his hand and thanked him for getting me thru the first half. I also promised that next year I'd do all 26.2 with him.
But boy, am I feeling it today! Those fast downhill miles trashed my quads and I have been forced to take an unplanned day off running. Hopefully I can stretch it all out tonight and get some easy miles in tomorrow.
Next up - New Year's Day 10k and the only natural goal is to go for sub 40, or 6:26 pace (which is about the equivalent of a 1:28:30-1:29:00 half). Another big stretch goal, but I seem to be hitting them right now.