Monday, April 14, 2014

2014 Carmel Half Marathon: Race Report

I originally signed up for the full marathon way back last May for half price. I knew at the time that there was a very good chance that I would switch to the half because if I got into the Boston marathon I would be running that 10 days later. That is exactly how it played out. Little did I know back in May that I would be battling a pulled groin muscle. But I was/am and this was the hardest I have run in over 6 weeks.

Picked up my packet Friday over a long lunch and headed back to work. On the way home my wife was looking though and saw that my bib had the name "Brittney" printed on it. I contacted the RD and arranged to pick up a blank bib in the morning before the race. Got up Saturday morning and headed to the race. By the time we got there, picked up my new bib and stoped at the port-a-pots it was about 5 minutes to race time. As such I couldn't get up past corral C. I met an older guy, probably late 50's, who was running his 25th full here and his 26th next weekend. Inspiring to say the least.

Normally I don't get to worked up for half marathons but given my current situation and my goal race only 10 days away I was pretty nervous leading up to this race. With the lack of quality running I knew anything resembling a decent time was going to be uncomfortable. Normally, I am OK with that. That's part of racing, whether it's a 5k, half, or full marathon being uncomfortable is part of the process. I can accept that when a PR or age group win  is on the line. It's a little harder to take when you know you won't even get 5th in your age group and a PR isn't even in the discussion. But this is where I am at so, fine, it is what it is.

The race started right on time, I love that! I hit the start mat and was off.  I wanted to run under 1:30 but went into it knowing I would let my injury and legs determine the final outcome. Again, this was not a goal race and more so my goal race was only 10 days out. This was not the time to try and prove anything.

You've got to love a race that starts on time.

I used the first mile to kind of work my way up the pack which was a challenge given that I had started back in corral C. In the first few miles I was judging my pace by how I was doing in regards to various pace groups, making my way past the 2:00 half, the 3:45 full, the 1:40 half. By about mile 3 I had caught the 3:10 full pace group so I know I was settling into a good pace and there was no real trouble from the groin yet.

It was a lonely race for the most part as I was working my way up through various packs of runners. Catching 1 and targeting another was a good way to keep my mind occupied. I wasn't really noticing the groin injury which was a very good thing. I just kept working the pace down. I could tell I was running hard but no where near max effort and it didn't feel as bad as I was worried it would.

Around mile 8 I took some water from a water stop. I never drink during a half but I am taking lots of ibuprofen right now due to the injury and the doctor told me to be sure not to dehydrate as this would concentrate the medicine and be hard on my kidneys. This was a terrible mistake. I swallowed wrong and fought the next 1/4 of a mile to maintain a run without the luxury of actually breathing. Once I could breath again I was able to get my pace back on track.

At mile 9 my wife and youngest daughter were waiting to cheer me on. They can pick me out a long way off because they know my gait so well. I swear I could hear Hannah cheering nearly a 1/4 mile away. This always breathes new life into my run. I really hope she doesn't get drowned out in Boston but if I'm going to hear her there she's really gonna have to bring her A game.

Mile 9 ready to high-five my loudest supporter, Hannah!

Mile 10 I saw a guy in front of me start to walk. I got my best drill Sargent voice out in an effort to spur him on. I do this to help others along but it is also a big help to me. How can I slow down when I have just ordered someone else not to? He picked it back up but no doubt he was suffering and I passed him pretty quickly. At this point there were no packs of runners left just loners and I began passing several of them. I was continuing to work my pace down as the finish drew nearer and I felt more and more confident that I was not doing any harm to my pulled muscle and that I could keep up the effort to the end.

Between mile 11 and mile 12 I passed a guy waring the shirt from this years Sam Costa Half. The Sam Costa shirts list last years AG winners and top 3 over all and masters division. I took 3rd in masters and this was the first time I saw the shirt in person. Pretty cool and gave me a little extra pep.

With about a mile to go you hit a nice long 2.5 or 3% incline. I dug in knowing that 1:30 was closing in on me. It felt good to work hard and I was running the hardest pace of the day at around 6:30. I saw the "1/2 mile to go sign" and made the final turn and turned it on. Finishing the final 1/4 of a mile at near puke threshold and under my mile PR pace at around 5:44. I crossed the finish line in 1:30:17 42nd/1431 overall 6th/105 in my age group. For an injured guy, I'll take it.
Best sign I saw all morning

Digging in trying to secure a sub 1:30 half. I missed by 17 seconds but I was giving it all I had here

It's been a disappointing season to say the least. I worked hard over a very harsh winter and was on track to smash PR's in the half here or in an earlier race that I had to skip because of the injury and full at Boston. For the last 6 weeks I have been flailing trying to maintain enough fitness just to finish Boston. I was happy to get this race under my belt. It was a little bit of a confidence boost and while I won't be able to hit my initial goal of 2:49:59 at Boston, I think I can mange a sub 3:00 hour effort and based on this race that will be my goal.

Onward to Boston!

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