TITLE: Another Half Marathon in the Books AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: June 27, 2005 2:11 PM DESC: Things didn't go as expected, but I still had a good race at Sturgis Falls 2005. ----- BODY: Sturgis Falls Half Marathon logo No race ever seems to go quite the way I expect it to. This year's Sturgis Falls Half Marathon was no different. I went to sleep Saturday night to rain. Little did I know that the rain would continue all night, or that a major thunderstorm would roll in at about 2:00 PM and continue for five hours. With the race scheduled to start at 7:00 AM, runners and organizers alike were left to wait and wonder when the race would start. The thunderstorm ended right around 7:00 AM, though the rain continued for another 50 minutes or so. But once the storm had past, the organizers and course volunteers did a marvelous job setting things up for a 7:45 AM start. Like the race details, my run did not go as planned. Last year, I ran a personal-best 1:40, which over 13.1 miles averages to 7:37 minutes per mile. This year, I was aiming for a 7:00 minute pace. With the rain delay, I didn't do a very good job of warming up. But the biggest effect of the rain was, well, the water. With water on the course, we all have to run differently. I also made the tactical decision to wear an older pair of shoes, because I didn't want to ruin a new relatively new pair with an hour and a half of pounding through puddles. (That's the surest way to end the useful life of running shoes: run for a long time in them the soaking wet.) You can see the effects of my legs tiring in my mile splits. Here are the first eight:
6:56 - 6:49 - 7:02 - 7:02 -
7:03 - 7:08 - 7:08 - 7:13
I'm slowing down a bit... I noticed that my last three miles had fallen off pace, so I tried to pick up the pace to get back on target. Here are my next four miles:
7:10 - 7:40 - 7:22 - 7:40
Ouch -- and I'm not talking about my legs. "Picking up the pace" only got me a 7:10, and then I really slowed down. I hadn't anticipated running any miles as slow as 7:40, and I became a little dispirited when I realized that I didn't have what I needed for the day. With 1.1 miles left, I gave it all I had left and ran a 7:07 mile. With the crowd cheering all finishers on in the home stretch I sprinted the last 1/10 of a mile in 0:40. The final result: 1:34:11, which was six minutes faster than my old PR. Once the race was over, my dispiritedness turned to cheerfulness. My time was good, given the conditions. The last half of the run was difficult, but I stuck with it and finished strong. Life is good. Just because it doesn't always follow the script in my mind doesn't make it otherwise. I can still do a better job of preparing for my long races during the last week. I didn't eat properly this time; too much "stressful" food in the last 72 hours. Worse, I ran too fast for a few miles each on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, which I know is a recipe for tired legs. I didn't think I was running too fast at the time, but next time I'll know to run slower, or at least not so far. The other place I can improve is to slow down at the beginning of the race. Somehow, I let myself go way too fast for the first two miles, especially the second one. I'd be better off running the first two miles in 7:03 and saving some energy and leg strength for later in the race. Now that I'm able to run faster, it's even more important to pace myself early. While visiting with friends and cheering other runners on after the race, one of my friends gave me one last bit of good race news -- I finished 5th in the 40-44 age group! This is my first medal in a race longer than 5K. Check me out in the unofficial race results. I'm 32nd among the men, which is a big improvement over even last year, when I came in 73rd. Progress past, progress future. A good place to be: today. -----