Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Surprise Finish at the iWalk Half Marathon

I came into this one very unsure of myself. I hadn't ran much at all and felt entirely out of shape. Add to that that I have gained 5 pounds in the last month and a half and I had no expectation of doing well at all. In fact, I was in for a gruelling day. The only reason I looked forward to this race was because I knew it would do wonders in a crash course for the 50k coming up in two weeks. What a surprise it was, then, that I ran it well.

iWalk Half Marathon - 1:52:59 (8:37 pace; 23/108)

I didn't get much sleep, but I really didn't care. This race was meant strictly to break the legs back in for the Stevens Creek 50k. A banana and a Gatorade later, I was waiting at the start line on a brisk and windy morning. Perfect weather for running.

I ran this race last year. The start and finish festivities, such as registration and food and drinks, wasn't too well run, but everything else was spot on. A flat out and back that had 9 aid stations and 1 self serve table, so there were plenty of places to hydrate yourself. This was the most I have ever had for aid stations, and one of the reasons I like this race.

So I started out at a conservative sub 8 minute pace. Normally no problem, but I knew it might be a little difficult. The first 3 miles remained sub 8, and the next 3 were at 8 or a little above. So the first half was well on pace, much faster than I had expected. Soon enough I reached mile 9 and I was not only feeling good, but I also was on pace to run a sub 1:50, which has only been done once before during the first half of the Napa Valley Marathon. I was stoked. I couldn't believe how I was feeling. All I had to do was run a little over a 10 minute pace and no problem.

Mile 10 came around and I had slowed a little, having now to run a little under a sub 10 pace. Huh? Didn't feel that slow, but I know this is certainly doable. With 2 miles to go I now had to run a 9:30 pace. Okay, slipping, but still in my grasp. Try as I might I couldn't speed up for some reason and began taking more and more walk breaks. 1 mile to go and a little under a 9 minute pace and I would have it. But then, just as I thought it was in my grasp, I remember there was also another .1 that I didn't account for, which deflated my morale, and I was resigned to not running a 1:50 pace.

All in all, I am very pleased with how I ran. A 1:53 is my 3rd fastest half marathon (out of 7, and not counting any of the marathon halfers) ever, which blew me away. Perhaps I am in better shape than I had imagined, and perhaps I will be better prepared for the 50k in two weeks. Notch another great halfer, one I wasn't prepared to succeed at.

PS My calves are the only thing that is telling me that I was under trained, being extremely sore after the short drive home, and very sore the next morning. I must say, I love being sore, cause it tells me I'm doing something right... not to mention feeling more alive with muscle s that feel used.

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