Late last night, I posted my strategy/plan for this morning's Half Marathon, something I've done before a number of races. In some ways, today was either make or break for me. I really needed a good race and some indication that I'm going to be able to get back on track for Houston. To be honest, a poor race today and I may very well have come home and switched from the full to the half for January. I've never finished a long race strong. Never! I needed to finish strong today.
I arrived right on time and made my way over the marble floored bathrooms at the Doubletree like a wily Houston racing veteran. My buddy, Danny, from the Woodlands was impressed with that tip. Then I made my way over to the machine. I'm referring to the machine that is the Koala/Luke's Houston Half marathon, managed and directed by the Houston Striders This race runs like a clock. Every detail in order. Plenty bathrooms, smooth chip pickup, fun/challenging course, perfectly run water stations, fun, fun, fun post-race party, just a wonderful race experience.
I picked up my chip, tied it on and went to the back of the pack and did some stretching. After a wonderful rendition of our Star Spangled Banner, we were off.
Mile 1 was mile 1. I wanted to get through the first couple of miles with plenty left in the bank, just warming up. Still, I didn't want to borrow too much time and blow it early. Mile 1 was 13:28. Now, that's Garmin pace. I don't know if it was the buildings or what but Garmin arrived at 1 mile about 30 yards short of the first marker. I think there was a problem with the Garmin at the start because I arrived at the mile markers consistently about 10 or so seconds late. No worries, though.
Mile 2 - 13:34. I'm still doing my easy, warmup thing here. At this time I'm thinking I'd like to get to 3 miles feeling really, really fresh. Then it's just a 10-miler after that.
Mile 3 - 13:37. I lost about 20 seconds with a bathroom break at the 2.5 mile water stop. Still, no worries. When I came out of the port-a-potty, I found myself in the middle of a leapfrog with a couple of FBF'ers. They were so cute. "Tag! You're it." I must admit it was annoying. I left them at the 45 underpass and never saw them again.
Mile 4. Ok, it's time to get down around that 13:15/13:20 mark that I wanted to run through the halfway point. I ended up with a 13:11. Just right on the mark.
I'm really starting to feel good at mile 5. I had a Gu at the water stop. Mile 5 split was 13:03
After mile 5, I start to think about easing my way just below 13 for 2 or 3 miles.
Mile 6 - 12:52
Mile 7 - 12:41
Got a great shout out over the loudspeaker from Coach at the halfway point. Oh, and I forgot to mention. This race, I sported sunglasses for the trip(s) eastward and if you ask me, it made all the difference.
Not much commentary from here on out. The splits speak for themselves.
Mile 8 - 12:36
Mile 9 - 12:24
Mile 10 - 12:19 (starting to really crank it up with a little over 5K left).
I'm so zoned out that Steeeve starts running with me and it's well over 100 yards before I even notice him there at my side. I notice a shadow and turn to see coach running there with me. I think I said, "Hi! Bye!" It really was good to see you there Steeeve. Oh, that reminds me. Reuben jumped in around mile 7 or 8 and was going to run with me for a few miles but I think I dissed him too. I feel so bad. It was great to see my hero, Reuben, but I think I just wanted to go by myself. Reuben, you rock!!!
Mile 11 - 12:12
Mile 12 - 12:17
With a little over a mile to go, I had managed to get my average pace down in the 12's and I start to thing that I may just finally finish a race strong.
Mile 13 was tough. I was fading and fading fast. I took a couple of short walk breaks but maintained a 12:20 pace nonetheless. I cruised in for an OFFICIAL 2:48:45. That's right!!! 11 minutes and 14 seconds faster than last year.
Here are the splits again so you can see them all together - 13:27 / 13:34 / 13:37 / 13:11 / 13:03 / 12:52 / 12:41 / 12:36 / 12:24 / 12:19 / 12:12 / 12:17 / 12:20 / 11:33 pace for the final .1 miles. Now, by calculations, that's about a 50 mintute per mile negative split for the second half of the race.
I'm excited about the PR. I'm excited about the 2:48 and change which is the official cutoff time for the race and puts me on track for a sub-6 hour marathon at Houston. But I'm stoked at how I finished this race. I have NEVER finished a race strong. I've always faded and faded hard at the end of these long races. Today, I was picking people off left and right the second half of the race. Now THAT was a totally new experience for me and one I could get used to. :) Per my buddy Danny as well as coach Matt, I just set my sights on the next person and just worked away at her. Then, I'd put another in my sights and pick him off. Lordy, I don't know how many runners I passed that last 6 miles but it was a blast. I ran through all the water stops and Gu breaks. I only walked a little going up the underpass at Studemont and for about 10 seconds at mile 13.
I so needed this race. And to think I almost didn't run it for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that my training has sucked the last few weeks. I just registered for this race on Saturday afternoon. Coach suggested that I should be energized after a race like this and I AM!!!.
Where's the next giant?