ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
[personal profile] ilanarama
Ten years ago, I ran the Steamworks Half Marathon - my first race of that distance - in 2:01:30. On Saturday, I ran it for the fifth time, in 1:36:28, which though not a PR is my second fastest half time and my fastest on this course, and won my age group.

Steamworks is a fairly small race but a popular one, with a long waiting list every year after the 300 slots sell out. There are many reasons for this; though the rolling course is not certified (it's always come up short on my Garmin) it runs along a beautiful country road, and finishes at the Durango Sports Club for a pool party with free unlimited Steamworks beer and lunch (also catered by Steamworks, which is a local brewpub). The race also caters to walkers and slower runners, with a separate early start for those who think they'll maintain 12 minute or slower miles, and a 3:30 time limit.

My friends Kevin and Nora from Paonia came down for the weekend as usual, and Nora gave Kevin and me a ride to the Sports Club to get the bus to the start. When we got there, I went through the portapotty line a couple of times, then jogged to the start line as my warm-up. (Every time I do this race they add a portapotty; the first time there were maybe two, and the lines were huge, but this year they had seven and it was no problem at all!)

At the start I chatted a little with Steven, a professor at the local college who I met at a 5K last month (which I didn't bother posting about, I came in at 22:01, 2nd woman but no prizes) and his wife Cate, who I had not yet met. They ended up coming in 2nd and 1st overall in their gender, respectively - she with a time of 1:23:xx, which I cannot even begin to fathom!

And we were off! A hot day had been predicted, and I was wearing just a sportsbra and light skirt, but at 8am it was still only 56°F and I was happy to get moving. The first three miles were gently but noticeably downhill, and my pace reflected this; my first mile clocked in at 7:02 and the second at 7:14, but I was watching my heart rate and I honestly didn't feel as though I was pushing the pace in the least. (On the other hand, a woman behind me in an orange sportsbra/shorts combination was breathing like a steam engine - not the way you want to be working that early in a half. I was happy to leave her and her tortured lungs far behind after the first couple miles.)

There was a steep uphill in mile four, and I slowed down so as not to blow up, but soon resumed pace. I was chasing two other women who were some distance ahead, and around here I started gaining on them. I passed one, but a few minutes later she passed me back, and also passed the other. But sometime in mile six I passed first one and then the other, and they never caught back up to me.

I could still see a few guys ahead of me to chase, but at this point, mostly everyone faster than me was way ahead of me. Fortunately, I had begun to catch up to the people slower than me, who had started 45 minutes early. In big races, walkers and slow runners can be a pain to encounter late in a race, but here they gave me targets to focus on, encouraging me to keep up my pace. I was happy to respond to their "Good work!" with "You too!" for a couple of miles (and to reassure one group of women wearing identical shirts with "I hope there's someone behind me to read this" on the back, that they were not even close to being in last place) but after about ten miles it had become hot, and the course had turned upward and was mostly unshaded, and I had to conserve my energy.

The last few miles were pretty awful. I tried to keep a balance between blowing up and slowing down, but I just wanted to be done. I'd been doing pace math based on my time at the even-numbered mile markers, and thought I might get in under 1:36, but I just couldn't push it. I was so hot that I was convinced it must have been over 80F, though when I made the last turn I could see the digital temperature readout on the DSC sign read a mere 67°F. But it was sunny, and it felt a lot warmer!

I crossed the finish line with 12.90 on my GPS, same as last year even though this time I stuck close to the left side of the road during the two right turns in the first mile, rather than cutting across the road to make the tangents as most people did. I still hit the first mile marker with only 0.9 on my Garmin, so I'm pretty sure the course is just legitimately short, if that makes sense! I kept an eye on the Garmin/marker mismatch as I went; it hit 0.25M by around mile 8 (that is, I passed the 8M marker at 7.75 on my Garmin) and then it gradually improved a little so that I ended 0.2 down.

As I posted earlier in the week, based on my recent workouts I thought I might be able to hold around 7:20 pace. I did average that pace for the first 8 miles (by GPS), but then I lost time on the hills. I don't think I pushed too hard early, because my HR rose very slightly and smoothly through the whole race (and was actually on the low side the whole time, not sure why); in races where I've gone out too fast and fallen apart at the end (yes, there have been a few!) my HR fell in the last miles as I couldn't maintain the same level of effort.

Splits (by Garmin):
Distance        Pace        Avg HR       Max HR
1.00		7:01.82	   142 (71%)	153 (80%)
2.00		7:13.99	   153 (80%)	156 (82%)
3.00	        7:19.24	   154 (81%)	157 (84%)
4.00		7:35.13	   154 (81%)	158 (84%)
5.00		7:25.71	   154 (81%)	157 (84%)
6.00		7:19.37	   155 (82%)	160 (86%)
7.00		7:22.45	   157 (83%)	160 (86%)
8.00		7:25.79	   158 (84%)	160 (86%)
9.00		7:32.28	   159 (85%)	161 (87%)
10.00		7:29.05    158 (84%)	160 (86%)
11.00		7:28.36	   157 (84%)	160 (86%)
12.00		8:03.38	   158 (84%)	160 (85%)
12.90		7:58.01	   160 (86%)	163 (88%)

Here I am after the race with my friend Kevin, who took 1st in his AG and 3rd OA:
Steamworks Half Marathon 2014

And here we are after getting cleaned up a little, with our well-earned post-race libations:
Steamworks Half Marathon 2014

ETA: Also, you can see me crossing the finish line at 1:21 of this video which is also on the website version of the newspaper article about the race):

Today I didn't hurt at all (other than some epic sportsbra chafing /o\) and I ran a 4-mile recovery run at around 9:30 pace - I felt fatigued, but not sore. Which suggests to me that maybe I didn't run 'all out', perhaps because of the heat. I think I could have run substantially faster in cooler weather. Time to scope out some winter half marathons!
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ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)

August 2017

131415 16171819
20212223 242526

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

You can reach me by email at heyheyilana @


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