Decided to switch things up this marathon training cycle with a Half tune-up instead of my typical 5K tune-up. This time around was hoping to get a good amount of tempo training in and run it fairly hard since it fell 4 weeks before the goal race.

The training had been going very well. I decided not to race all summer and instead just build base with lots of trail runs and 20+ long runs. I still kept some leg speed by doing speed workouts each week with the track sessions but not all at full intensity, more for maintenance and to work on form.

The key workouts as the marathon training ramped up were tempos and long runs. The tempos pointed to a steady increase in LT fitness.

sep 1st  4miles T:  5:52(147),5:51(159),5:53(163),5:46(169)

sep 7th 4x1mile@10K with 400 fast jog rec:  5:46,5:44,5:38,5:30

sep 13th 5miles T: 5:44(145),5:51(156),5:49(159),5:46(165),5:38(169)

sep 22nd 6miles T: 5.46(144),5.47(158),5.43(165),5.44(157),5.43(167),5.35(173)

sep 29th 7miles T: 5:47(145),5:43(157),5:42(162),5:39(166),5:35(169),5:35(170)

The long runs also went well with the highlights being a 22 w/14@6:10 ave  and a  23w/17@6:03 one week prior to race.

Prior Half PR’s

Truthfully, I haven’t run a lot of Halfs. My first foray into running (late 70′s through mid 80′s) Half marathons were mostly non-existent. I did run some 15K’s but no Halfs. Since ’07 I have run 4 HM’s going 1:29, 1:21, 1:15 and 1:18. The 1:15 was on the Fontana course, a downhill sled ride for 13.1 miles that beat me up, chewed me out and left me with a quick time and a big frickin asterisk next to it. The 1:18 was the most recent, last October on the RnR LA Half course which I ran mainly as a MP training run with a 4 to 5 mile Tempo at the end. So felt that my flat course PR was quite soft and on paper I knew my Tempo paces predicted a HM pace just a couple seconds over that. Had a good discussion with Gio about his training paces prior to his HM races and with his 6 mile Tempos lining up with his HM times.

Race Day

Up early to drink a cup of coffee and take 4 scoops of Glyco-Maize in about 22 oz of water. Drove to find parking on city streets and take a bicycle to the start area .. about two miles of bike riding to help warm up the legs. Then ran a couple wu miles with a friend from Mexico with a conservative goal to run around 72 minutes. Lots of faster folks in the crowd. Had read there were about 20 guys signed up to try to OTQ with a sub 65 time and 10 girls going for same thing with a sub 75 time. I had written down some possible paces the night before to keep them in mind during the race. 5:45=75:30, 5:43=75:00, 5:38=74:00 The plan was to go out close to 5:45 for a few miles and evaluate. I didn’t want to just go out  too fast early on. If I had the legs in the later stages I would drop the pace down but most importantly I didn’t want to turn it into a lot of suffering in the final miles because the goal was to run fast but to recover quickly the next week and prepare for my goal race.

Was able to line up directly behind the elites and was good to see lots of running buddies in the crowd.

Got a clean start and soon heard OTQ girl that I have been doing some training with at my side. I wished her well and then continued to look ahead. Knew she would likely be at least 10 seconds slower than me per mile even though she always steps it up for the races. First mile had some slight down grade at times and the temps were probably around 60. 7:00 am start meant the sun was still very low and I glanced a few times at the garmin to make sure I didn’t take it out too fast.

mile 1- 5:42(149)

during second mile I see Rufus come up next to me. We were pacers for a Half marathon early in the summer. I ask him what he is shooting for and he says ‘don’t know, just running by feel’ Also running with  a early 20′s guy named Sam. He came up to me in the corral after talking to some people in the running club I belong to. Wanted to know if my goal was around 1:16 and I told him yeah, about that.

Mile 2 turns out to be my slowest. I think it was a little lack of focus from talking and falling into the pace of the others around me. Also there was slight uphill grade including the first part of the bridge to contend with.

mile 2- 5:47(158)

mile 3 started during the climb up and over a good sized bridge.  About .30 mile climb and took about 90 seconds. Felt the pace slow 20 or 30 seconds but it was over pretty quick and then had a nearly equal downhill on the other side. I lost Rufus and Sam on the bridge or soon after but still had plenty of other runners around to work with.

mile 3- 5:42(162)

remember talking to a tall shirtless runner wearing sandals. He was running the full and Rufus had been talking to him earlier. Asked him his goal for the marathon today and he said 2:50 or so. He was planning to bank some time while it was cooler and then take it easy on the second half. He asked if I was going to run sub 1:15 and I responded, “kind of doubt it. I’m o.k. now but not sure if I can keep this up for the final miles”.  About that time I pulled away from him and hooked up with two other guys ahead.
mile 4- 5:43(161)

Was pleased to see the HR stay close to my MP range (158-160) at this point. This was a very good sign that I was under LT and the stride mechanics were clicking along.
mile 5- 5:43(161)

This mile included lots of gentle curves through the boardwalk seashore zone. The surface was small tiles that looked like concrete. I tried to get in one run per week on concrete, especially downhill concrete to get the legs used to the vibration that concrete subjects your legs to.  It’s a very hard surface so very fast from a return of energy perspective but wanted to be conditioned for it. At least that’s my theory.
mile 6- 5:41(161)

At the beginning of mile 6 they had a timing mat and apparently were updating 10K splits from this mat. There was no way I was running 5:31 pace at this point as they reported on the website. We started on the long bike path stretch along the water.  This would continue for 4 mile before turning back towards the finish. The Queen Mary was off to the right and they had a fire fighting boat spraying plumes of water in the air. Nice touch!

mile 7- 5:39(164)

This was the most boring part of the course. No turns. Hardly any other runners. One of the guys I had been running with surged ahead and another fell off pace so I was pretty much on my own. I just kept clicking off the miles and was now in the unknown zone beyond the distance of my tempo runs. True I had tapered some this week and true it was a race but still there was the little red guy sitting on my shoulder whispering, “slow down you fool or your legs will lock up!!” Fortunately, there was this angelic girl in white on my other shoulder saying, “remember what Gio told you .. tempo pace = HMP so just keep moving!!”
mile 8- 5:40(163)

Right before mile 9 I had done a good job of almost catching up with a runner, Jace, on my race team. I had been closing the gap over the last mile and was within 10 feet when he passed the mile 9 marker. But then he surged ahead. After the race I asked him about it and he said that his plan was to drop it down at 9. :-/
mile 9- 5:44(163)

I continued to chase Jace for the next mile. His surge had faded and he was just ‘up there’ about 100 meters. At the mile 10 mark we turned off the beach area  and headed back to surface streets.
mile 10- 5:41(164)

At least here there were more people lining the streets and cheering us on. I looked ahead for the final uphill. About 3/4 of a mile in the road angled up for a 1/4 mile. Probably only 50 elevation change but it did make the HR go up to hold the same pace. I ran very steady up the hill trying not to lose much time but also not pop myself.
mile 11- 5:44(167)

Once the hill was out of the way  noticed I was again close to Jace. Pulled up next to him and said something about how well he was doing (he had told me a few days earlier that he thought he would run around 1:17). He took one look at me and surged again! I maintained my pace because felt I needed to recover a bit more from the hill section.

mile 12- 5:42(166)

Once I hit mile 12 and still on pace knew I was in good shape for the finish. The legs still felt very good, maybe a slight tightening in the belly of the left hamstring but nothing to slow me down. I picked it up looking ahead for the final turn towards the finish. Man it takes a long time for this turn to come but eventually saw one of my runners cheering me from the side and she was telling me to pour it on!!
mile 13- 5:27(167)

The final stretch to the finish is really great on this course. Slightly downhill and wide. I could see Jace up ahead but knew I couldn’t catch him. Instead just tried to run as fast as I could. Saw the clock with 1:14:20 something in the distance.  20 some seconds later I was across the line.
mile .1- 4:41(168) (.20 on garmin)

Gun time 1:14:53

Chip time 1:14:51 (5:43 pace) (162ave, 171max)

22nd place out of 10675

2nd place M50-54 (Master winner and in my AG ran a 1:12:31!)

4th place Master

post script:

Really pleased with how this one turned out. A big PR and can finally mothball my downhill PR.  This was a big confidence boost for where my fitness is and didn’t beat myself up by suffering through the final miles. In fact the runner who saw me just before mile 13 said I didn’t look like I was suffering like everyone else. I’ve been able to get right back into the training without much recovery time needed and hopefull the race will help give a little more edge going into NYCM.