Today on my way to the Fairfield Half Marathon, my iPod turned up a song I had not heard in a while, Pearl Jam's "Yellow Ledbetter." [Video with song below] The lyrics to the song are basically indecipherable, but the one lyric I heard several times was "I don't know if I am the boxer or the bag..."
Today I had no idea if it was going to be a great race or a bad one. I didn't have a very good week of training, and had basically terrible sleep during the week. I did have a phenomenal night of sleep the night before the race, but I have heard it is too late by then -- sleep two or three nights before is really what is important.
My goal was a 1:40. That meant 7:40 miles, basically. The half marathon course was a big loop, starting at the beach and then going inland -- and all uphill -- until mile 6 or so, and then downhill back to the beach. My plan was to run 7:40 up to the half and make up the 20 or so seconds I would need to break 1:40 on the downhill homestretch.
A word about this race: it was a phenomenal race. The people are great, the setting is gorgeous and the set up was tremendous. Running through neighborhoods, with families in their yards cheering you on. Cub scouts at all the water stations. Firemen manning hoses to squirt down the runners. Just great all the way around.
So, back to the race. First thing is that they did not have starting corrals. Ugh. I spent the first mile dodging, bobbing and weaving. I have no idea how I kept pace, because there was no pace, just ducking and weaving. And lots of people with iPods on. A big race day faux pas for me. People just aren't as aware of their settings with earphones in. I had just commented to someone on it, and in mile 1 someone literally jumped into me when they ducked away from someone. They both had iPods on.
So mile 2 was fine too, I was building up some time cushion because I knew miles 4-6 were all uphill. Miles 2-3 were around town and the harbor -- as picturesque as could be. A lovely run. Come to Mile 4 though and that's when it got hard -- all uphill. And boy was it, gaining about net 200 feet, with a climb of 300 feet over 3 miles. Oh wow. At the split at Mile 6, I was 10 seconds behind on Garmy, so not in bad shape, but I needed to make up about 30 second to break 1:40. And my heart rate, while high, had not hit 95% yet (averaged around 90% up the hill actually.)
Ahhh, but now I was on top of the hill. All that elevation gain on the climb up meant that you get the same elevation loss on way down. Mile 8 I picked it up to get back ahead of Garmy. Water, cub scouts and GU were everywhere. What a great race. And now its downhill to home, and I am on pace. By about Mile 11 my right ITB band was hurting bad, but not crippling. Just not feeling good.
Ended up easing some in Miles 11 and 12, which both seemed to last forever. On Garmy, I was ahead by a minute or so. with a projected finish of 1:39:25 or so. But at the end I forgot that the course is longer than 13.1 by the time you run it. I actually ran 13.17 to the finish. I saw the finish clock turn to 1:40 when I was about 50 yards away, and came in gun time of 1:40:14, net time 1:39:38. Very happy, very good run for me. Age Grade of 61.8, and a PR by about eight minutes too.
I guess today I was the boxer, not the bag.
Distance Split Pace vs avg. Elev. chg.
1.00 7:26 -00:07.42 +25
2.00 7:23 -00:11.13 +15
3.00 7:40 00:05.89 +29
4.00 7:39 00:05.23 -42
5.00 8:08 00:33.95 +139
6.00 7:44 00:10.50 -90
7.00 7:49 00:14.91 +108
8.00 7:04 -00:29.65 -122
9.00 7:29 -00:04.88 -20
10.00 7:41 00:07.36 +77
11.00 7:26 -00:08.09 -55
12.00 7:32 -00:02.07 -11
13.00 7:28 -00:06.08 -6
13.17 1:09 -00:43.10 +1