ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
[personal profile] ilanarama
[pre-race report]

Cliff notes version: 1:43:54, my worst time on this course and only 23 seconds faster than my spring 2009 half, my first race after getting serious about running, but I'm happy with it as a comeback considering I only started running again after my stress fracture ten weeks ago. (Also, it barely qualifies me for the NY Marathon for the last year before they tighten their standards considerably. I might have to run it next year.) 6th in my AG (out of 123), 30th woman out of 1144, 127th human being out of 1733.

Race morning came way too early; I'd set the hotel alarm for 5:30, but everybody in the 17-room place was running the race, so I was woken by doors, voices, and footsteps around 5:00, and I figured I might as well get up. I made coffee, ate a granola bar, dressed and put sunscreen on, which is always weird to do in the pitch black of early morning. Then I put on my warm-ups, crossed the road, and got on one of the first buses to the start.

Kind of a shame to ride up the canyon not being able to see the gorgeous scenery, but I knew I'd get a chance to look at it soon enough. The first pale pink hint of dawn came just as we were dropped off at the start. Despite the early hour it was relatively warm, but I still grabbed a cup and filled it half with hot chocolate and half with coffee, and staked out a place at one of the fire barrels. Slowly the sky lightened and the start area filled up. My friend Paul from Salt Lake found me and we chatted for a while, then I went off to the porta-potty line and managed to get my business taken care of just as the announcers called out for people to line up.

The Other Half is a slow-runner-friendly race, so I had to make my way through a fairly large crowd to get up to not-quite-the-front. I positioned myself in the relative desert between the 7 and 8 minute pace signs, where I found Karah; she'd come out late that night with other runners from Grand Junction and camped overnight in the canyon not far from the start.

The gun went off, and I did too, tapping my Garmin as we crossed the start line. Normally when I race I turn autolap off and manually hit the lap button at each mile marker, a habit born of necessity when I had the not-very-accurate 301. I replaced it in December with the 305, which has a newer GPS chip, and when I raced Canyonlands in March I noticed that most of my splits were only .01 mile off at most - pretty close. So I experimentally left autolap on this time, which means that my splits are Garmin splits rather than mile-marker splits and therefore slightly slower in terms of the course.

My race plan was to aim for 7:45 pace for the first 6 miles, which roll gently downhill, and then maintain even effort on the hills in the second half of the course. I really had no idea how I would feel heading out the gate, but I was expecting the usual race day magic, and sure enough, I glanced down at my Garmin a couple minutes in and saw an average lap pace so far of 7:19 - oops. I reined myself in and watched people stream by me. That was okay, I told myself. I'd pass them on the hills.
Mile    pace   HRavg (%WHR)    HRmax (%WHR)   total time
1 	7:42	155 (77%)	168 (88%)	0:07:42
2 	7:42	162 (83%)	169 (88%)	0:15:24
3 	7:46	158 (79%)	161 (82%)	0:23:10
4 	7:50	158 (79%)	161 (82%)	0:31:00
5 	7:44	160 (81%)	163 (83%)	0:38:43
6 	7:44	162 (83%)	164 (84%)	0:46:28

HR in the first two miles was spiky as usual. When I saw it settle down I was pretty pleased because it verified my running-by-feel was right on what it's supposed to be in a half.

At mile 6 they were handing out Clif Shots. The first I took was mocha, which didn't appeal to me at the moment, so I stuck it in my bra and grabbed another - this one raspberry - from someone else. I forgot about the one in my bra until I took off my clothes to shower and saw a very unfortunate (and uncomfortable) chafe mark! This was also where I passed Karah, who was feeling nauseous and not having a good day.

Now the course started to get hilly, and I slowed down as both I and my HR started climbing. I tried to stay smooth, but these are killers, especially the mile 8 hill. Despite my much slower times, I passed a lot of people on the hills, both uphill and down.
Mile    pace   HRavg (%WHR)    HRmax (%WHR)   total time
7 	7:58	164 (84%)	166 (86%)	0:54:26
8 	8:44	169 (89%)	173 (91%)	1:03:09
9 	7:43	167 (87%)	173 (92%)	1:10:52
10	8:13	169 (88%)	173 (92%)	1:19:05

After the top of the mile 8 hill I began doing my finish-time calculations. If I kept under an 8 mile pace, would I break 1:45, 1:44, 1:43? My auto-lapping Garmin was by now beeping noticeably before the mile markers, so I noted the readout distance at the actual marker (e.g. 9.04) and then ran until it was one-tenth more (e.g. 9.14) and then multiplied the remaining miles by 8 to estimate my finish. Of course, when you are running hard, your math skills tend to suffer, so for a while I was convinced I might even hit 1:40, until I remembered that 8x4 does not, actually, equal 28.

The eleventh mile rolls toward the beginning of the last hill, atop which the Moab Taiko Dan drum for all they're worth. I could start hearing snatches of their rhythm from quite far away and tried to let the sound pull me up, but I think my heart rate was pounding louder than the drummers. After cresting the hill and applauding the drummers, I pushed hard down the other side and made the right turn into the unfairly long driveway of the Sorrel River Ranch.

The runners' lane was marked off with cones, but that didn't stop a man on a bike and his two small children on tricycles from weaving in and out of our path. I was getting ready to hurdle one when fortunately Dad looked back and pulled his offspring to safety. I could hear someone breathing hard behind me, and I was determined not to let him (or worse, HER) pass me. One more right turn, and through the wooden entryway tunnel, and finally I could see the finish clock waaaaay down the LONGEST FRIGGIN' FINISHING CHUTE IN THE WORLD, 1:43:xx, the seconds counting up, and could I make it before those seconds ticked over one more minute?

I did, barely. I passed under the clock at 1:43:59, knowing that my chip time would be a few seconds less.
11	7:52	167 (87%)	170 (89%)	1:26:56
12	8:14	169 (88%)	172 (91%)	1:35:10
13	7:36	169 (88%)	173 (92%)	1:42:46
.18	6:43	173 (92%)	174 (93%)	1:43:58 (Garmin; 1:43:54 chip)


This was my third Other Half, my sixth race put on by the Moab Half Marathon organization, and the first in which I did not take home a trophy or medal[*]. And I'm okay with that. Comparing my run this year with the previous two years, I don't see anything I could have done differently. I paced reasonably. I worked at an appropriate effort level. I raced with what I had on the day, and that is all I could do.

Of course I like to think that my fitness is improving, and by some measures, it has. My easy pace is back to about what it was this time last year. In fact it's quite a bit faster than it was two years ago - so why did I race slower?

The answer, of course, is endurance. Two years ago, in the 12 weeks before the race, I averaged 47.6mpw - and I ran more than 50 miles in 7 of those weeks (with a peak of 61!). Last year my average was brought down to about 33 by taper for and recovery from the St. George marathon two weeks earlier, but I still ran 40-50 miles most weeks. In addition, I was running regular tempo runs (near half marathon pace) both years.

This year, 12 weeks before the race, I ran eight miles - that is, if you count the walking as well, as I started my return to running by alternating five minutes of running with 5 minutes walking. Although I managed around 40 mpw the last 3 weeks plus the week of the race, my average over the last 12 weeks was only 21.3mpw. Which includes two weeks of no running at all while I was on vacation. And the only fast running I've done has been strides, one short tempo experiment, and a set of half miles the Monday before the race.

So I know that this year's racing season is a work in progress, and it's barely begun. The Winter Sun 10K is in seven weeks. We'll see what happens.

[*] Well, actually, I did get a medal, as The Other Half gives finisher's medals to everyone who runs. This year's medal is not only attractive but useful, as it's a combination race medal/bottle opener! (Photo courtesy of my friend Paul, [livejournal.com profile] paulbe.)

Took me a while to realize that The Other Half finisher's medal has a built-in bottle opener.

And that reminds me that in fact I DID get a PR this year. One reason I love this race is because the Moab Brewery supplies free beer (in souvenir pint glasses) at the end. I learned last year that all Utah beer is 3.2 (that is, relatively weak) due to Utah's bizarre alcohol regulations. But I don't mind, because that means I can drink a whole lot! I had three pints direct from the tap, plus two other people decided they didn't want to drink and I got half of each of their beers, for a total of four. That is a post-race Beer PR! (And I still felt entirely sober driving home.)
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ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)
Ilana

April 2017

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My running PRs:

5K: 21:03 (downhill) 21:43 (loop)
10K: 43:06 (downhill)
10M: 1:12:59
13.1M: 1:35:55
26.2M: 3:23:31

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