Sunday, February 03, 2008

Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon, 1:11:00, 4th place - 17 Miles

Splits: 5:33, 10:59 (5:26), 16:43 (5:43), 22:13 (5:30), 27:37 (5:23), 32:46 (5:08), 38:03 (5:17), 43:16 (5:13), 48:28 (5:11), 53:48 (5:19), 1:05:05 (11:16), 1:11:00 (5:55 for the last 1.1 which is 5:22 pace)

Today's race was scheduled to start at 8AM so I got up at 4 to eat something then went back to bed for another hour before waking up for good. I barely got any sleep as I was tossing and turning in bed last night for quite a while. I was at the course by 6:30 and had plenty of time to take the shuttle to the start, pickup my bib number and do the usual preparations before going for a warm-up. With 15 minutes to the start I switched to my flats and jogged towards the start for some strides. I opted to run the race with my Zoom Streak XC flats, which in retrospect wasn't the best idea. I've only wore these shoes up to 10K and I kind of knew they would be too lightweight to wear for a half but I still decided to give them a shot instead of running in my trainers. I didn't really have too much trouble in the race but my feet were a bit sore at the end. I think I should invest on another racing shoe, though, if I want to keep running these longer races. I managed to get myself to the front of the starting line and got a clean start to the race. After seeing last year's results I was expecting a decent sized group to be up front but after the first few hundred meters it seemed like the field wasn't as competitive this year. I was in 8th place, running by myself and looking to start out at 5:30 pace, a couple of guys up front started at around 5:00 pace and everyone else was spread around in between. I was fairly confident that I could hold on to 5:30 pace the whole way, which would give me a time just over 1:12, but didn't want to go out any faster. My more ambitious goal was to run faster than 1:10:55, which is what Alexandros Kalogerogiannis ran last week to win the Cyprus Half Marathon National Championship. I was just off my goal pace at the mile and picked it up a bit to move up to the guy in 7th place. I got up to him by mile 2 and we ran together for less than a mile before I broke away. I moved up another place in the next mile, despite the slow 3rd mile, which I can attribute to having to run into a strong headwind for a big part of it. After I moved into 6th place I could see a group of 3 guys about 40 seconds ahead of me but it seemed like I was closing the gap. It was a big gap, though, so I was in no mans land for quite a while. Eventually I passed one of the guys who had fallen off, just as we turned onto Great Highway around mile 7. We had to do almost a 3 mile out-and-back along this long stretch, which at least meant I could see the other guys ahead of me, giving me a target to work on. We had the wind on our back on the way out, which helped me get rolling. I found a good rhythm and felt like I was turning the legs over very smoothly. I moved into 4th place shortly after the 9 mile mark, just before the turning point. With a little over 3 miles to go I had my eyes on 3rd place, who still had a decent lead but definitely not out of reach. We had to run into a 20 mph headwind on the way back, though, and my legs were starting to feel tired so I didn't really make up any ground between miles 10-12. I started digging deeper and working harder in the last mile and finally started closing in. I had my ugly face in full display and finished strong but I still came up short and finished a couple of seconds behind. It would sound better if I had shaved off another second and dipped under 1:11 but I was definitely happy with this race. The half marathon is ways different than anything else I've raced in the past and I'm still approaching it somewhat conservatively and trying to learn how to race it. I must say, though, that I'm getting increasingly more confident about my capabilities in the longer distances. I haven't done any specific preparation for this race, haven't cut back mileage at all and the weather was far from ideal so there's definitely a lot more room for improvement.


Zipuni said...

Oh no, the "ugly face" link doesn't work!

Fivos said...

It was a while ago :). Not sure if this was the exact photo but probably along the same lines: