Monday, October 26, 2009

10/25 - Houston Half Marathon - 1:15:33 PR

Time - 1:15:33
4th Place OA, 2nd in AG
5:46 pace
1 - 5:46
2 - 5:44
3 - 5:49
4 - 5:49
5 - 5:52
6 - 5:46
7 - 5:49
8 - 5:44
9 - 5:50
10 - 5:42
11 - 5:42
12 - 5:43
13 - 5:39
13.1 - 0:38

Overall, this has to be the best race I think I've run since PR-ing at 800m in 1:59 probably 3 or 4 years ago now. It was a complete race from start to finish, finishing stronger than at any point during the race.

I went into this feeling as confident as I had at any point in my racing career. With a Tuesday workout under my belt, in which Sean had driven into my head the importance and benefits of following someone else and staying relaxed, I committed myself to finding the 5:45 opening pacers and latching on there.

I found that from the start in Gerardo Mora, as he went out like a machine...5:46, 5:44. There was little to contend with as far as crowds of "sprinters" from the gun. A few hung on for a while, but I just kept my eyes focused on Gerardo's back. Rudy Rocha was up there, as well as Tom King, so I just tucked behind them. As the early miles clicked off, and we headed towards the end of the first loop, it was Gerardo, myself and Rudy all together. I knew Tom wasn't far behind, as I kept hearing folks cheer for him as we went by. I believe at this point, we were 7th, 8th and 9th.

Early in loop # 2, I decided to get the lead of this group from Gerardo, fully expecting him to stay with me, however upon reaching the turnaround just past the halfway point, I realized that there was a significant gap. During that time, I was wondering if I was making a mistake. I came through 10k less than a minute off of my 10k PR from last year's Bayou City Classic. I was no longer following someone, but working all on my own, with my eyes on a guy in a green racing top. Turned out to be alright, as my miles through 6, 7 and 8 were good. During this time, I also heard some cheers from folks I knew... runners going the other direction, folks on the sidelines...all music to the ears.

Wrapping up loop 2, heading back towards downtown, I caught the guy in green, and together he and I passed by Luis Armenteros, who had slowed to a jog along the course. I knew that he and Sean had probably toasted their legs over the week and prior weeks of racing and hard workouts, so I wasn't totally surprised, but a little nonetheless. At this point, I didn't realize my position in the race. I repeated aloud to myself to stay relaxed and stay smooth. Focus on form, don't worry about the time, just stay relaxed. It worked, cause I was closing in on the next guy as well. On the first half of loop # 3, I saw Sean on the side. He yelled at me to Keep digging. Keep digging... that I was in 4th place. Another couple of guys ahead shouted at me that 3rd place was right in front of me. As we made our way through people, lapping the field, I couldn't see anyone that seemed to be placing in front of me. As I got ready to hit the turnaround for the final time, I got some encouragement from some friends out there, and I was on my way back for the final 2 miles.

After the turn around, after coming past the "hills" of Allen Parkway for the final time, I caught sight of the 3rd place guy, and I was surprised how quickly I felt like I was closing on him. The smart thing to do would have been to have caught and then sat off his shoulder anticipating that final push. Instead, after sitting for just about 10-20 seconds, I surged past him, hoping I'd be able to hold that push to the finish line, but it wasn't to be. I did a couple of things wrong there that I'm learning how to do... one I went too early, and 2nd I changed gears too quickly with no transition period. I gassed myself pretty quickly, and he caught back up and sat off my shoulder until about half a mile to go, maybe less. When he went I tried to match his move, but had nothing. Nonetheless, I ran my fastest mile to close the race, and ended up 5 seconds behind 3rd place.

What I'm most proud of is that in the final 4 miles, essentially the last loop, I ran 5:41 pace, which was faster than any other 4-mile stretch in the race for me. I ran a faster 2nd half than 2nd or 3rd place, and for that matter, other than the overall winner, a faster 2nd half than anyone else in the race.

Now, the week is for recovery and getting the soreness out, then it's back to hitting the workouts, as there's still a long way to go before I'm ready for the marathon.


No Longer HLRG said...

I am EXTREMELY proud of you.

That's all.

Carry on.

Bill Blancett said...


Get ready to transition to another level. Don't let up.

By the way, impressive, very impressive.


Anonymous said...

congratulations! awesome race, great time. take care.

geoff said...

Great job Sam. I think that's the best race I think I've ever seen you run. You'd better not slow down because I'll be gunning for you next time.