Monday, January 20, 2014

3M Half Marathon

Sunday was my fourth straight 3M Half Marathon. While I didn't go as fast as last year, I really had no intention to do so. While my run didn't go exactly according to plan, I did hit my goal time of 1:45. My plan had been to run an even 8-minute mile pace, but I wound up going quicker for the first half than the second, contrary to what I (or certainly my coach) would have liked.

The weather was just about perfect, about 40 degrees, low wind from the north (for a tail wind most of the way). I waited as long as I could to take off my sweatpants and jacket and drop them off. I was a little cold before the start (not nearly as cold as the 30K two weeks prior), but warmed up quickly; I took my cap off about a mile in, my gloves another couple miles after that. At the end my long-sleeve t-shirt was soaked in sweat.

I started pretty close to the 1:45 pacers, but didn't really intend to stick with them. People generally seemed to have seeded themselves appropriately- there weren't too many slower runners to dodge. The adrenaline of a race, especially one with a field this large (5000+), often causes me to start too fast; passing people compounds that effect. I tried hard to rein myself in mentally, and a 7:47 for the first mile seemed reasonable. I'm not sure what caused me to go 7:33 for the second mile, but when I realized it was too fast I tried to throttle back. The next four miles were around 7:50, closer to my target. Mile four actually probably would have been slower except that a fast friend of mine caught me as she was essentially cheering folks on from "the inside." She wasn't going super fast, just a touch quicker than I was looking for; after a brief chat I fell back and she zipped on ahead. Miles 7 through 9 are where I started struggling with the pace. I was feeling my Achilles and was caught between maintaining pace and slowing way down. I never intended for this to be a real race, the main thing was to not hurt myself. A big enough part of my brain wanted to keep a good pace that I kept on. The last four miles was a fight against The Blerch; my pace was 8:10-8:20 but I always felt ready to throw in the towel and walk the rest of the way.

This race may be so large as to be nearly unwieldy, with its long port-o-pottie lines and huge continuous line of runners, but it is an iconic race and I saw numerous friends before, during (running and cheering), and after, notably the announcer calling names at the finish. It is also well-run, which is critical for a point-to-point race, with bag drops and buses back to the start. I just wish I had thought to put a dry t-shirt in my bag; since mine was soaked I took it off and just put on my jacket, but it was a touch warm for the jacket by the time I finished. I was still sweating a little, but at least I wasn't freezing.

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