Final thoughts on the Country Music Half Marathon.. I think.

This post is a continuation of my Country Music Half Marathon recap post from yesterday.  

Here are my stats

I was 17th out of 561 in my age group – top 3%
I was 697th out of 19,057 half marathoners – top 3.7%

Honestly, I think this was my best race to date.  I credit TJ for running with me and being an excellent pacer and my mountain runs for getting me in shape.  Thinking back, I have really only been training for this for about 2 months.  Between injuries and other things that got in the way of my running, that was all I could do to train.  But the mountain gave me strength in my quads and took the pressure off my back and my calves.  It also helped me be able to pick my speed up and be able to handle the hills on this race without slowing down.

RS did well.  He struggled a lot though.  He had honestly not been running much until the last few weeks before the race.  His longest run before the race was 7 miles and he went out and completed a 13.1 mile race.  His time was slow because he had to walk to finish the last few miles, but it is amazing to me that he could complete that distance with so little prep.  This was his longest milage run in over a year.

TJ had been hurt leading up to this race; thus the reason he paced me rather then trying to run a PR himself.  His last half was completed in under 1:30 and he was in coral #1 for this one.  His choice to pace me was huge for me and I hope fun for him, though being a huge competitor, I’m sure he wished he was running his own race.  He is back in the saddle now and talking about another half in the fall and maybe running the Jacksonville marathon with me in December.

I had fun meeting my running friends @BigBigGeek and @David_Topping before the race.  They did well and I think were happy with the result.  This was @David_Topping’s first half marathon.  He has lost a  lot of weight and really been doing the work that made his run possible.

I was really concerned with this race.  I have never run with so many people.  My experience was a great one overall.  Not just the run, but everything from package pickup at the expo to parking at the race went very smoothly.  There was the obvious traffic, but I purchased a reserve parking pass and it put us right at the race with very little waiting.  The police presence was clear, but not over done.  Other then the helicopters flying overhead, there was very little that I noticed outside of the normal presence at any race.

The bands were great.  A few were loud (one was so loud it affected my hearing for a minute), but they helped overall and the crowd was awesome.  Being that we hung with the 3:30 pacer, there were a lot of cheers as we ran by.

Overall I rate this race very high.  Perfect weather, great attendance, plenty of food and drinks after the race.

Top notch.

Tom

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Country Music Half Marathon – PR and Recap!

So, how’d it go?  The race?  My second half marathon?

Let’s get that out of the way first.  Drum roll please…

My official time was…

1:43:03 – a PR by 1:08 minutes.

Honestly, I wouldn’t have made it without TJ pacing me.  The last 1.5 miles were mostly up hill.  That, after a lot of hills in the first 8 miles and trying to keep below an 8:00 pace… Which I did for all but the first mile.

Here is the graph and the splits:

Country Music Half Marathon

Country Music Half Marathon

My phone said I ran 13.33 miles rather then 13.1, so the times are a little off.

On to my recap

Philosophically, I view racing as similar to childbirth (please don’t get offended with me ladies).  The fact is – it hurts while you are in progress, but after it is over, you can barely remember the pain.

It was a beautiful morning.  We got to our reserved parking area in pretty good timing.  We met @BigBigGeek and @David_Topping and talked for a bit.  Then to the porta-potties for an hour wait – that was crazy.  TJ and I rushed off to coral #3 and left RS and the others to finish their business.  By the time we got done with the port-potties, it was just 10 minutes until race time.

We in just a few minutes the corals began moving. When we got to the starting line, somehow we were in coral #4 rather then #3.  I don’t know how that happened, but the 3:30 marathon pacer was also in our coral, which ended up being a very good thing.

I have never run a race with 20,000 people in it.  Actually I think the half marathon had 20,000; I’m not sure about the total with the marathoners.

We heard the horn and began our run.  It was tight.  It was hard to run freely for at least a few miles.  The first mile was our slowest at  just over an 8:00 mile (which really wasn’t bad).  That was mainly due to congestion.  Shortly after mile one, we ended back running past the corals with people standing and waiting to run.  I guess there were near 30 corals.  I thought of RS who was around coral 22.  We were 30 minutes into running before he even began.

TJ helped me make an unofficial goal to keep the 3:30 marathon pacer in sight as we never saw the 1:45 half pacer after the start.  This was hard for the first 3 or 4 miles.  He would get a bit ahead and we would slowly catch up.  The crowds were just too deep to get around.  I would see an open area and do a quick sprint to get ahead (the one thing TJ said was a mistake after it was done – he said we should have saved that energy and been patient to get around people… good point).

Finally after several miles we caught up with the pacer.  We hung with him until mile 10 or so.  This was huge for me.  Let me digress a bit and say the hills on this route were crazy.  The first 8 miles or so seemed to be one hill after another.  I could feel my mountain runs kicking in after a while.  I have done quite a few mountain runs in the past few months, but never at an 8:00 pace.  Though when I was running this race and I was getting tired, my legs seemed to keep their strength.  I needed that!  As we went up and up and up and up, my legs were good.  I was tired, breathing hard and wondering why I was doing this at times, but my legs kept me going.

Mile 3 TJ gave me my first GU. Mile 7 I had my second and mile 11, the course provided one.  Perfect.  Each time I was fading a bit, the GU kept me going.  I was so glad for them.

Finally the day got warm.  It started in the 50’s, but by mile 8 or so, it was warming up a bit too much.  This is where I first hit a small wall.  I was thinking, “I don’t know that I’ll make it the next 5 miles”.   This was when I had a neat experience.  Generally I tune out during a race.  I honestly didn’t notice much.  I just concentrate on running the race.  At this small wall experience, I ran past a person holding a sign that said, “The joy of the Lord is your strength”.  I prayed, “Lord, that is true, so please give me some strength”.  A moment later we ran past a large church with a praise band playing “Mighty to Save” by Hillsong.  I love that song and after a moment listening to it as we went by, I felt rejuvenated and had run past the wall.  Pretty cool.

Finally at mile 9 TJ said it looked like the marathon was splitting between the full and the half.  I panicked.  I had kept a perfect pace with the 3:30 pacer for 9 miles and I wasn’t ready to go it without his lead.  Fortunately I didn’t have to.  We didn’t split.  We kept following him.  Then a good thing happened.  At mile 10, we somehow got ahead of the pacer.  I looked around because I didn’t see him and he was behind us.  We never saw him again.  We just kept with our pace and at mile 11 the route split and I was fine.  Very cool.

Finally the last two miles.  I can do this.  Little did I know that they would be mostly up hill.  Seriously?  I just ran up and down tons of hills, and now, after keeping below an 8 minute pace for 11 miles I am going to have to finish with nearly 2 miles of hills.

At mile 12.5 I told TJ that I couldn’t continue.  I felt like it was too much.  He encouraged me saying we only have a little left to go and to try to keep my pace up so I’d beat my 1:44:11 PR.  Honestly, I don’t know how I did, but I did.  Without TJ there, I would have slowed down.  I doubt I would have walked, but I know I would have not kept up my pace.

We finally began going down a hill.  A runner who had finished was walking up the hill we were running down and saying, “It’s all down hill from here”.  I pushed as hard as I could.  A couple guys ran hard past us at the very end and TJ took off and passed them with just a few hundred of feet to go.  I had nothing left.  I just put everything in my body to get to the finish.  Everything.

I finished.

1:43:03

Personal Record.

Hills.

3:30 pacer.

TJ

Gu

RS

Bands

Runners

You (for reading this far)

Thank you all.  It was well a done race.  I hated the hills, but my mountain prepared me for them.  Once again, without TJ I would not have come close to the time I had.  Thank you TJ.  Thank you to my family for letting me spend a weekend away to run this race.  Thank you to everyone who liked my “results” post.  Blogging makes running so much more fun.

Tom

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Country Music Half Marathon… Away we go!

And away we go!

I’m a bit nervous.

13.1 miles.  I’ve run that distance many times before, but this is just the third time in a race (one half marathon and one marathon).

I am looking forward to the race.  TJ and I will run together.  We talked about pace last night.  From what I understand the course has a lot of uphills the first half and a lot of downhills the last quarter.  RS will run also, but he will be in a different coral.  Too bad as it would be great for us all to run together.  However I’ve trained quite a bit for this race and RS is just starting to get back into running.  He will be at the 2:20 time and TJ and I will be at the 1:45 (as that was my last time in a half).

What do I want from this race?  I’m glad you asked. 🙂

I want to beat 1:44, which is my only half marathon so far.  To be honest, that was an awesome race for me.  To this day, I don’t know how I pulled out a 7:58 pace.  I’m not going to cry if I miss my PR, but I would like one after all my mountain runs and my training to get back into running.  It was a long and hard climb back from my marathon.  I think I went about 4 or 5 months in the 30 -40 mile range because of injuries.  Yesterday I broke 100 miles for this month which makes me feel a bit better.

So here we go.  We leave today at 12:00.  We will go directly to the expo and hope to be there around 3:00ish.  After that, we will check out the course, and then check into our hotel, about 8 miles from the starting line.

Our race starts at 7:00… It is supposed to be 50 degrees at race time and get into the mid 60s by 9:00.  All in a all, it should be a great day for a race.  Cool, low humidity.  No clouds.  Just fun.

@BigBigGeek and @David_topping will be running also.  TJ mentioned that there will be a place to meet up with family and friends and the sections are done by the alphabet.  Maybe we can all met under the letter Q?  I figure that will be the least crowded – of course maybe everyone will think that way.

Have an awesome weekend and I’ll try and post my time as soon as I can after the race!

Off to eat some bagels.

Tom

100 mile month… Finally!

Last week was a BUSY week for me.  I missed 2 days running because I was out of town on business.  Then when I got back to running, I felt I lost all my speed.  I ran about a minute a mile slower than I have been running on both Friday and Saturday.  Honestly, I think it was a combination of two things…

First, I drove much of the time I was away.  Just sitting in a car for days on end, I am sure didn’t help my legs at all.

Second, I eat junk food for 3 days.  It was like I could feel the food weighting down my stomach as I ran.  It was horrible.

Sunday I had a great run!  I did my mountain run which is normally 8 miles.  Being that I am running the Country Music Half Marathon at the end of April, I figured it was time to begin upping my mileage a bit.  So I parked at the same place for my run, but rather than running left to the mountain road, I ran right. This took me up and down a large hill.  At the bottom of the hill I turned left and ran up to a parking lot that @BigBigGeek and I used to park at last year while running together.  I then turned around and headed back.  By the time I got to where I started I had 3 miles under my belt.  So from there I kept going and ran the mountain.

I felt great by the way.  My legs felt good, my speed was good, my strength was good.  By the time I got to the top of the mountain, I could feel my legs were noticing the extra 3 miles.  When I finished I had 11 miles completed and I was ready to stop.  I was shot.  Even this morning, just walking up the step I could feel the burn in my legs.  What a great workout.

Also, I made it to 100 miles this month.  This was the first 100 mile month since my marathon in September.  Neill and David and I are on Nike+ together.  Over the past year I have had the higher mileage of the three of us – of course, I have been running longer.  Here is the breakdown as of yesterday:

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Looks like I’m the looser this month.  Neill asked me yesterday if I was going to run today (being the last day of the month).  I texted back, “That is for me to know and you to find out”.  🙂

Honestly I am amazed at Neill and David.  They were nowhere near 100 miles just a couple of months ago, and now I can’t keep up.  Impressive.

So running is going good – and I forgot to say that I ran my mountain run just over a 9:00 pace, which is one of the fastest paces I’ve had doing the mountain.

I guess all that junk food is finally out of my system. 🙂

Tom

I’m being taunted by RunKeeper

I use 3 running apps to track my progress.  I like both Nike (with whom I share workouts with @bigBigGeek and @David_Topping) and RunKeeper.  I really like features about both and so I track my runs in both.  The way I track my runs in 2 apps is by using a 3rd; iSmoothRun.

The iSmoothRun app lets me use it to track my run and then upload to both Nike and RunKeeper. On top of that, I send a backup to my DropBox just in case it is needed (which I have needed once in the past).

So how is RunKeeper taunting me?  I got this nice reminder on my phone a few minutes ago:

Exactly 7 days go, you were working out. Lets make that happen again!

Seriously RunKeeper?!?  I have a hard enough time NOT running while trying to recover from falling UP the stairs.  Now you taunt me with this?

Okay, I am just kidding… sort of.   However, for me, that reminder was honestly not appreciated. 🙂

Tomorrow is a new beginning.  Nashville, here I come!