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Governor's Cup Half Marathon

631 Views 16 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Gingerbread
Saturday, 27 October 2007, 8:30 am<br>
Columbia, SC<br><br>
My first half-marathon<br><br>
Primary goal: Finish the race<br>
Secondary time goal: 2:00:00<br><br>
My wife and I went to bed earlier than usual Friday night in anticipation of getting up early for a Saturday. Around 2:00 am I awoke and couldn't go back to sleep. I got up, messed around on the internet, and ate a bowl of cereal. Finally around 4:00 am I was able to fall back asleep in the spare bedroom and get about two more hours of sleep.<br><br>
We arose around 6:00, and I ate a little more cereal and made sure I had everything I needed--race bib, safety pins, body glide, water bottle (with water and nuun) for after the race, power bar for after the race. I dressed in my usual racing outfit--short black race-ready shorts; blue, white, and red mizuno tank top; wright coolmesh socks; mizuno waver rider shoes; and white nike dri-fit cap. I also wore my cold weather tights and running jacket on the drive to the race as it was relatively chilly. The weather was foggy and 60F degrees with near 100% humidity--conditions that remained for the entire race<br><br>
We arrived in downtown Columbia around 7:45 and found a parking space a couple of blocks from the State House where the race started. The next forty-five minutes were spent picking up my chip, using the porta-potties, warming up by jogging a mile, meeting one of my wife's coworkers who was running the race, taking off my pants and jacket, pinning on the bib, posing for a photo, and applying the bodyglide. I also ran into a fellow HVAC engineer who I had seen at my last 10k race. He had never run further than a 10k and I had put a bug in his ear at the 10k that he could run a half-marathon. He showed up raceday and registered.<br><br>
As 8:30 neared I found my wife and received my good luck kisses and then went to stand near the back of the 450 runners. I was talking to my fellow engineer who was also in the back when we heard a airhorn blast and saw the front mass of runners begin to run. Took about 10 to 15 seconds to reach the start line.<br><br>
My running plan was to run around 9:15 miles for the first few miles and then see how I felt halfway through the race. For the first half-mile, I dodged around slower runners, since I'd started so far in the back. Then the road decreased from two lanes to one lane, and I was back in a mass of runners. As we approached the first significant downhill, I moved to the outside since I know I generally run faster than most runners (of my ability) downhill. Passed many runners on the downhill, but several passed me back on the following uphill (as I run uphills slower than many). Reached the first mile mark near the crest of the hill. Around 8:45--way too fast! Why does the first mile always seem so easy even when it's faster than I normally run?<br><br>
I tried to slow down some which was made easier because most of the next mile wass a gradual slope up. I started running with an unofficial 9:00-per-mile pace group. The second mile passed in 9:07. Still a little fast.<br><br>
The next six miles were mostly downhill with some flats and some gentle upslopes. During the third mile we reached the first water stop where I drank a few sips and poured the rest over my head. Mile three went by in 8:50; mile four in 8:56; mile five in 9:00. Reached the second water station and tried to drink some gatorade (slightly strong) and dumped some water over my head. I relearned that I suck at drinking from a cup while running at race speed. The 9:00-per-mile pace group began pulling away from me. The race leader (a local elite runner) passed by us near this water station after his loop around Lake Katherine--he was around mile 9 and I around mile 5 at this point.<br><br>
Around mile 5.5 I ran about a block away from my parents' house, and my wife and mom were waiting to cheer me on. I told my wife as I ran by that I was running too fast and to expect me to slow soon. Ran mile six in 9:05. At a water stop after mile 6, I continued to relearn that I can't drink while running and, after coughing out half my water, determined that I'd have to walk thru the rest of the water stops. The seventh and eighth miles weee flat and at the lowest elevation of the race and should have been relatively easy to run. But my heart and lungs began telling me I'd gone too fast for them and needed to slow down. Mile seven passed in 9:30 and mile eight in 10:06.<br><br>
At the eight mile marker we hit the first long uphill, about a mile and a quarter of steady uphill. Passed my wife and mom again after the steeper portion of the hill around mile 8.5 and told my wife she didn't need to hurry to the finish cause I was only going to get slower. Completed mile nine in 10:41. After the uphill, the course returned to basically flat, and I ran mile ten in 10:01. The next mile contained a half-mile gradual upslope. My heart and lungs continued to complain about my early pace, and I started having thoughts of quitting the race. For the rest of the race, I had to resort to making a goal of running to the next mile marker, next water station, or at times, the next utility pole. The mile eleven slog took 10:33.<br><br>
Mile twelve felt better, although my left ankle began aching. It was mostly flat with some downill. I remember passing by a local farmers market in the parking lot of a restaurant. It was the largest accumulation of people on the race route other than the start and finish, but all the marketgoers were ignoring us other than to avoid walking in front of us. Mile twelve flew by in 9:54.<br><br>
The first half of mile thirteen was downhill, and I was able to pass a few people. But the last half of mile thirteen was the worst hill on the course: a steep uphill with no relief. About halfway up the hill, even my slow running became too much for my lungs, and I could barely breathe. I felt like I had had the wind knocked out of me. I had to slow to a walk, a slow walk. After turning a corner and still walking uphill, the finish line was still not in sight. Finally just before the thirteen mile mark, the hill ended, and I could see the finish about two blocks away. I started running. I tried to "sprint" but had no finishing kick to end the race. No one behind seemed to have anything extra either as no one passed me during the last two blocks. The last mile and block took 12:30. Finished the race in 2:06:58.<br><br>
After finishing the race, I collected my finisher's medal, untied and returned the chip, and got some powerade, water and a banana. Found my wife for my finishing kiss and walked around to cool down. My legs hurt, my heart hurt, my lungs hurt, my stomach was queasy (but not nauseous). Worst I've ever felt after a race (including the marathon I gallowalked last year). After a few minutes of cool down, my wife and I left. Ate a veggie subway sandwich for lunch and then napped for over two hours.<br><br>
My finishing time was disappointing because I thought 2:00 was a reasonable goal and I fell shorter than I expected. I certainly need to learn to pace myself better, particularly in the early miles where faster than normal paces don't feel so fast. At least I now have a time to PR against. Next year should be better.<br><br>
(<i>see pics below in comment #11)</i>
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A few training tweaks ought to get you where you want to be. Nice job.
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