Monday, January 19, 2009

1/18 - Aramco Houston Half-Marathon, 1:17:18-PR

Half-Marathon - 1:17:18
5:54 avg pace
Overall - 91 (11th
Overall Male - 65
Age Group - 7th (1st Non-Elite)
12th Texan (I'll take that)

6:02, 5:41, 5:40, 5:58 - 23:21
5:55, 5:47, 5:52, 5:48 - 23:22
5:56, 5:58, 5:54, 6:04 - 23:52

When training began, I wanted to run 1:15 for this race. I knew it would take a ton of work. Having not done all the work necessary, I modified my goal a couple of weeks ago, and just saved my legs. I wanted to run in the 1:16s, and thought I had that fully in my grasp. In order to do 1:15, I'd need a 5:43-5:45 pace. I thought I'd give it a shot at 5:45 if could get there and hold it.

As the gun sounded, and a whole host of elites in front of us, I was a little unsure of where to "settle" in to get my pace right. I got a comfortable stride going and got into a rhythm right away, as I ran past a few folks. As we hit Elysian, I got in right beside a few folks, and just thought I'd sit right there... then we came upon the first mile marker, and as we approached, I knew I was going way too slow. So, I picked it up right away... and it felt good too. No strain, didn't feel too hard. At this point, I felt very encouraged.

As we cruised through miles 2 and 3, I was amazed at how quickly the race was going by. As we wound towards Montrose, this was the part of the race that I thought would be the most important, as it's a long stretch down one road, no turns (curves, but no turns) to the turn around @ about 8.5 miles. At this point in the course, I felt fast and strong...faster and stronger than I did in the first 4 miles, even though they came out just about even. I knew at this point that 1:15 was out of the question, but I wasn't worried about that, cause the pace was just what I wanted.

The best part was passing people all along this part of the race... from Studewood to Studemont to Montrose, turning around @ 8 and heading back towards Allen Parkway. All along here, I was passing people...not because I was accelerating, but because I was running my race and holding a steady pace.

Once we hit Allen Parkway and turned towards downtown, I knew the race was on. Here is where my faltering in training hurt me. I was able to get about half of this part running hard. But as we neared downtown, each time I called on a little more, I became quite well aware that the tank was done. In the final 1.5 miles, I was overtaken by 4 runners... all elite females, and all finished within 2 seconds of eachother and about 6-7 seconds in front of me. One other guy who I ran side-by-side with from about mile 9 through 12 also put on a strong closing mile, and he finished a good 16 seconds ahead of me.

Despite the finish, I felt proud of my effort. When I tried to close on these folks, I made up ground, but just couldn't get to them, so I had something for the finish but not much. I really do feel like I left it all on the course today. When I saw the time clicking as I approached the finish line, I was extremely happy at the huge PR. One of the other exciting things was the PR @ 10-miles. I've never run under 1-hour for 10-miles, but today I did....58:40, by my watch. No mats there, so nothing electronic, so technically it's unofficial, and it will remain unchaged on my PR section of my blog, but I felt amazing @ 10-miles for having run almost a minute and a half under the best 10-miles I'd done to date.

Some notes about things along the run. Friends cheering me on... awesome. I loved seeing those that came out just to cheer, and it's especially appreciated when you're on the list of specific people that someone is looking for. That was awesome. Hearing your name called out as you run by is a great feeling.

I made an effort to rely on my legs and not go to my arms till the going got tough late in the race. Until that point, it was all a leg race. Not sure if I'm conveying that correctly, but I believe it's been a problem for me in distance races. When the time called for it, I went to them, but I made every effort not to do that a second sooner than necessary.

I'm definitely needing to experiment with Gels for racing. I didn't take one today, but I can't help but wonder if that would have made a difference for me, either mental or physical, in the last 2 miles. I've only taken Gels in one race... last year's Houston Marathon, and I believe it helped me hold off the effects of having had the flu full force 6-7 days prior.

Okay... it's late, and I need to get my butt out of work. I worked late, then thought I'd get this done before heading out... now it just got later, darn it. Gotta scoot!


Wonderduck said...

Nice race. There are few feelings better than having those mile markers come and go quickly and while you are still feeling strong.

Now it is back to the grind for Boston...Good luck!

Minken said...

Excellent Job Sam!! That is an amazing run! Looking forward to the next couple months 'til Boston!

Bill Blancett said...


Great run. Even though you said you didn't get all of your work in, it seems you have more strength and stamina than in past long races. Keep it up, that 1:15 is close by!