Monday, May 09, 2011

Cap City Half Marathon Race Report

In 2009 I ran my first half marathon. Many people do this in a different order; by the time I ran the Kentucky Derby Festival 1/2, I had already run a 40k trail race and two full marathons. (I remember having to answer the "is this your first 1/2?" question in the affirmative, and I always felt like I had to justify myself with a "but I have run a full..."

I love the 13.1 distance. 26.2 requires a lot more time training; those 20 milers really take a lot of time. When I was training for the Columbus Marathon, I put in back-to-back months of 190+ miles, and that eats a lot of time. Plus the recovery time for running a half is nothing like for a full. And there is no wall in a half marathon.

So on to the report for the race. I met my friend Rob at his house so we could drive out together. We found parking easily (and in a place where we could get out easily after the race) and waited for our friend, Blaine (since I had picked up Blaine and Rob's bibs, it was important that we met up).

I was hoping to meet up with some fellow dailymilers, but I didn't get there in time, so I slid into corral "A" and prepared for the race. I love the corral system; it's broken down by race time (for Cap City, they just asked what time you planned to finish in, while in the Columbus Marathon, they actually asked for some sort of "qualifying time"). Corral A was the first corral; it included the elite runners. It was funny that none of the rest of us wanted to be up at the starting line; we all left a big space for the elites. Everyone was asking each other for goal times and then seeding ourselves based on those times.

After some banter from the stage and the introductions of some celebrities (including Columbus native Buster Douglas and Mayor Mike Coleman), we were "encouraged" to move forward. Some guy who I think I was supposed to have heard of played a meandering rendition of the National Anthem on the saxophone, and we were underway.

My race plan was to go out for the first 10K at a 7:30/mile pace and then turn loose for the second half. I thought this might be a little fast, but it seemed like a safe plan. After all, if 7:30 was too fast, I could just maintain it for the second half. As we started, I really struggled to maintain 7:30. I couldn't get that slow.

The first mile marker came and I was in the low 6 minute range. But thanks to my Garmin, I knew that the mile marker was misplaced (I had it at .88), meaning I was almost 30 seconds faster than my goal pace. This is a great thing about the corral system; you don't have to fight your way through a lot of slower runners in order to get to your pace. The difficult thing is being surrounded by fast runners makes me want to run fast.

In the second mile, I was regretting not stopping again for a second potty break before the race. I really had to go. Shortly before the 2 mile mark was a bank of port-o-johns, which I used. Usually I stop my timer for bio breaks, but not in a race! The clock keeps ticking. So my second mile was a little slower (based on my break and on the fact that the mile marker was at the right place, meaning my "mile 2" was really 1.13 miles), but still under my goal pace.

Miles 3-4 were in 7:22 pace, and mile 5 was in 7:16. Miles 6 and 7 were in 7:31 and 7:30, and then I picked it up a bit. Miles 8,9, and 10-11 were in 7:03, 7:04, and 7:10 pace. Mile 12 was a struggle with the only real hill on the course. I ran it in 7:30, and I was wondering if I had enough gas to finish strong. I picked off several runners going up the hill, but this was a long, straight, lonely stretch of the race. But in the 13th mile, I reminded myself how short the rest of the race was and I managed my first sub-7 pace (6:59). The final .1 was a sprint at 6:07 pace.

I really enjoyed this race. The course was fast and scenic. It was extremely well-organized, and the weather was perfect (low 50s at the start, sunny, no wind). Some people came up with really creative signs (I liked the "we'll give you free tattoos for your medals... shhh, don't tell Tressel!" one) and it's always encouraging to see the "Run Fast, Mommy!" or the "Way to go, Daddy!" signs that families are holding for their loved ones. I also loved the fact that they put our names on our bibs; it's really encouraging to hear people calling your name (I wish I'd asked them to put "Rev. Run" on mine).

What I didn't expect was how lonely the course would be at times. I was running ahead of my friends, so I didn't have them to hang out with, and I'm a pretty chatty runner (hey, I can't help it), but most of the runners around me were wearing headphones. I kind of wish I'd worn mine. The musical entertainment was a bit lacking; they were hyping it pretty much as a 13.1 mile concert, but about half of these were DJs (mostly playing pretty decent music - I liked the one playing Run DMC), but the acoustic-guitar-playing easy-listening music wasn't all that motivating. Don't stop thinkin' about tomorrow? really? Brown-eyed girl? more suitable for sitting in the grass with a cold drink than digging in for a hard second half. I did like the rapper, though, and a couple of the bands (the one playing "Ring of Fire" ala Social Distortion rocked my face off).

The water stations were well done and the finish line food was awesome. Panera? Pizza? That was awesome! I didn't "get" the bubbly (yes, they were serving little plastic goblets of champagne at the finish - no, I didn't drink one; it was just a half.). The medals are high quality as well.

I ended up 29th in my age group (out of 360) and 242nd (out of nearly 6000) overall with a time of 1:36, 16 minutes faster than I ran my first (and only other) official half marathon, and 8 minutes faster than I'd run in training.


Kym Klass said...

You first paragraph made me laugh -- when I ran the Mobile Light Half a few months ago, the question was always phrased like this: are you running the 1/2, or the whole thing? And you can only respond, "Um, the 1/2." I've quit adding in "only" just recently.

Your times have been amazing to watch, Brian. They have come down considerably in the last year, yes? Great run, race, and good luck in this recovery week. Have a great day!

The Thief/Rev. Run said...

@Kym: I loved hearing the "are you running the 1/2 or the full?" question for this race, which is actually a half or a quarter, meaning that the full is a half and the half is a quarter... now I've confused myself.

pam said...

SO great! That sounded like an amazing experience and your time rocked! Congrats!