Sunday, December 13, 2015
Race 13.1 Race Report
It had been a while since I "Raced" a half marathon. 2011 to be exact. The 2011 Tobacco Road Half Marathon was my official return to running after a lengthy hiatus and a 3 year infatuation with road cycling. I ran that half marathon in March of 2011, then jumped right into trail and ultra running after that.
So,out of the blue I signed up for the Race 13.1 in Durham. Never known for my strong scheduling abilities, this race came a week after the Epic 24 hour run in which I ran 52.7 miles over 17 hours. Not exactly a taper. Then throw a 12 mile training run with a client in on Wednesday before the half, and you have a recipe for struggle.
These thoughts swirled through my head as I stood with my friend Dene and the 2 hour pace group at the start. My large goal was to run sub 2 hours. My back up goal was to PR, besting my time of 2:05 back in 2011.I really had no idea how this race would go for me. It could either be a huge sucess or utter disaster!
It was unusually warm for December with temps near 50 degrees at the 8am start. After several years of running ultras with maybe 200 people at the start line, this race was a bit of a culture shock with several thousand folks lurking at the starting corral.
Then we took off. It was not the "casual" ultra start I am used to either! These folks were hauling ass from the get go. I stuck with the pacer as we wound our way out of the mall parking lot and into the streets of Durham. By mile two I was in a comfortable spot, right in with the 2 hour group. Dene has snuck ahead of me already and was running strong. I was just hoping this comfortable feeling would last me for 13.1 miles. By mile three I gotten up ahead of the two hour group and was cruising along. I did not wear a watch or have a phone. It was actually nice just listening to my body and not be obsessed with splits. I did not have my hand held with me either, so I made sure to grab a quick drink from each water stop as I went.
Then there was the hills. Lots of them. Not overly steep or long, but relentless nonetheless. And they just kept on coming. And they would slowly start sucking the life from my legs as the race went on. I passed through the 10K mark. In hindsight I would say that I ran a great 10K, only it was a 13.1 mile race. If my body had a check engine light, it probably would have came on around mile 7 or 8.
The struggle was getting real, and the hills were beginning to win. I took some comfort from seeing the vacant, grim look of other runners as we came through out and back sections. I was now soaked with sweat from my head to my toes. While rounding a corner only to see another large hill in front of us, the gentleman alongside me uttered "F*%k me!" More fitting words could not have been spoken.
At mile ten I was smote as the 2 hour pace group caught and passed me. My hope of a sub two hour finish disappeared just like the 2:00 sign as it descended the hill in front of me. I was walking the hills now, panting like a dog with my hands on my hips. I would try to run hard on the flats and downhills and power hike half way up the hills and then run over the top. I began to fear that I would be overtaken by the 2:15 pace group at this rate, and miss my chance of a PR as well.
Finally, the mall loomed in the distance before me! I could hear the faint sound of that finish line music. My pace at this point could only be described as a "rhythmic stagger" as I entered the parking lot toward the finish. Crossing the line I was pleasantly surprised to see I had finished in 2:04, (2:03:43 chip time) grabbing a PR despite blowing up on the second half of the race!
The good: Hats off to the Race 13.1 people. This was a super organized and well run event.
Shout out to my friend Dene, who crushed the half in 1:58!
The Bad: Not being smart enough to stick with the pace group. Okay and maybe all those damn hills and the warm weather!
A song that was stuck in my head during the race from a band I have rediscovered recently. Alter Bridge!