Saturday, March 26, 2011

National Half-Marathon Race Round-Up

Race weekends are always exciting!

After picking up my bib, goodie bag, and doing a little bit of shopping at the Fitness Expo, I spent Friday afternoon getting everything that I needed for the race in one location. I’m usually very functional and organized in the early morning hours, but I can also be a total space cadet who forgets important things. After a quick load of laundry, I dug out my winter running gear – Damn you, Punxsutawney Phil – and pulled two energy gels and a pack of sport beans from my cabinet. Once I was sure that I had everything that I needed, I started dinner -- which I very quickly ruined thanks to my lack of focus.

I'll spare you the tale of my stupidity, but this cooking disaster seemed very similar to the Great Blender Explosion of Aught-Ten. So, I moved onto Plan B: a bowl of spaghetti with tomato sauce.

After dinner, I settled down on my couch to watch Yale play the Air Force Academy in the first round of the Division I Hockey Tournament, going through my favorite hockey cheers and being on edge until Yale scored the winning goal in OT.

Then, bedtime.

Waking up at 5 AM was a little disorienting, but I felt good once I was out of bed and moving around. I had plans to meet Caitlin at 5:45 and cab down to RFK Stadium -- which should have been plenty of time to drop off my bag, stretch, warm-up, and hop into my starting corral. (I decided to cab instead of taking public transportation because Metro opened at 6 this morning, which wouldn't have been enough time to do all of the above.)

Our original plan was set to work out wonderfully -- except for the massive transportation fail which resulted in no cab arriving despite calling ahead of time and desperately trying to check the status of our request. In a last attempt to get to the start on time, Caitlin and I ran to catch the next trains to RFK, the first of which arrived at 6:30 AM. We were in great company, with hundreds of other runners trying to make it to the start as well.

We arrived at the Stadium-Armory stop at 6:55 AM for the 7:00 AM start, sprinted to the bag check, the bathroom, and the starting area. (Warm-up, check!) I hopped in when I saw a crowd of people in my corral walk by and made it across the starting line.

As I planned, I took the first mile slower than my goal pace. By the third mile, I found a great rhythm and cruised along the course.

I tried not to look at my Garmin during the race, but I knew that I my pace wasn't as consistent as I hoped. When I made it to Mile 10, my timer was somewhere around 1:38:00. There was a chance that I could run the last 3.1 fast enough to finish under two hours, so I decided to go for it and promised myself that I would be happy with my time no matter what happened; it had been a great race. And, considering that my 13.1 split from the Baltimore Marathon was 2:33:35, I knew that I was well on my way to absolutely crushing my record.

The last three miles were fantastic, and I felt incredible when I crossed the finish line.

Gun Time: 2:25:05
Net Time: 2:09:33
Average Pace: 9:47

Even though my average pace was a minute slower than I hoped, I feel great about my performance. My previous PR has been sufficiently destroyed, and I have a new medal for my collection.

Next up, The Cherry Blossom 10-Miler on April 3rd!

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