ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
[personal profile] ilanarama
I haven't posted much about running over the summer, partly because I haven't been running a whole lot. I spent early summer slowly building up my miles (which were also slow! :-) to about 40mpw - then we left on our roadtrip vacation, and I only ran three times in four weeks. The week we got back I managed 32 miles, last week about the same. Oh, and on Saturday I ran a half marathon. *whistle*

Back in April I mentioned that I was thinking of registering for the Thirsty Thirteen, a local half in its second year (I worked an aid station last year). After an email from the club warning it was likely to sell out (it's limited to 500 racers) I went ahead and registered. It's a point-to-point massively downhill race (though with a few significant uphills), it is on scenic country roads with views to a reservoir, and it ends at SKA Brewing with a free beer - and a ticket for the San Juan Brewfest in the afternoon. What's not to like?

Other than the fact that I was massively unprepared, of course. Granted, massively unprepared means different things for me than it does for most people, or even compared to how I used to approach racing when I started, over ten years ago. I probably ran 2-3 times a week, 15mpw for my first half marathon. My second, I only started running again after a long layoff, and I ran maybe twice a week. (That time remains my Personal Worst.) Once I started getting serious about running, proper preparation for a half became 35mpw...then 40mpw...then 45mpw, at a minimum.

So clearly my 20mpw over the past several months wasn't going to cut it. Also, my last run over 10 miles was six weeks ago. On the other hand, we did a lot of hiking on our Canadian roadtrip, including two hikes of half-marathon distance or longer. My last long run might have been only 9.5 miles, but it was a trail run that took me over two hours, longer than I expected to run in the race. I did a test tempo run with a three-mile section at 8:20, and my heart rate was about where it should be for a half, and the effort felt right, too. Of course, I didn't know how much advantage I could reap from the enormous downhills, nor if I had enough endurance for the distance, but I figured I could reasonably aim under 1:50, which would be an 8:23 pace. Considerably slower than my 1:36 PR, but I was okay with that.

We were bused to the parking lot of a church, where they had porta-potties set up and a van to take our drop bags back to the start. I reluctantly took off my fleece jacket at 7:45 to put it in the drop bag, as it was still chilly in the shade, but I knew that as soon as we got in the sun I'd be thankful I was wearing only a sportsbra and running skirt (and a visor and a whole lot of sunscreen). The actual start was a bit odd as there was no marked line; we lined up at the edge of the parking lot and, at the metaphorical gun, ran out and immediately turned left onto the road. Naturally, I started out way too fast feeling way too good, but common sense prevailed and I forced myself to slow down and let others overtake me, knowing I'd pass at least some of them later. Still, at a flat eight minutes, my first mile was a lot faster than my intended 8:20.

The first mile and a half was a gentle downhill, followed by a gentle uphill during which I passed quite a few people. I was fiddling with my heart rate monitor, as it seemed to want to read either way too high or way too low, but right around the end of the second mile it seemed to settle in the right range. This was a good thing, because this meant I could use it as a tool to pace the downhill - and the downhill was about to start.

At mile 2.2 the road took a serious turn for down. According to my map-adjusted GPS track (i.e., elevation is taken not from the GPS readings, which can be very inaccurate, but from crossreferencing my 2D position with mapping data), the course dropped about 825 feet in 3.5 miles. Fortunately, this part of the course was on a dirt road, so the pounding wasn't as bad as it sounds.

I kept my heart rate in or below my half-marathon effort range, which because of the downhill got me going at a pretty good clip. I was careful to use good downhill technique - wide stance, fast cadence, short enough stride so as not to overstride and slam the quads, arms out for balance. This is where I passed many of the people who passed me. When the downhill grade moderated, keeping my HR in the right range slowed me down pretty much to what I had been targeting, so I felt as though that had been a good estimate.

Right at the 6-mile mark was a short, steep uphill. Then the road went down for the rest of mile 7, then up for mile 8. It was also starting to get hot. My pace slowed a bit, and my heart rate went up a bit. We'd also gotten back onto paved road, and this one actually had traffic. We had been instructed to run along the right shoulder, where the cones were, but the problem was that the shoulder was about two runners wide, and there were several pairs of runners who were running two or even three abreast, which meant that in order to pass them I had to go out into the road. And if a car was coming... Well, the drivers were pretty polite, but, still. Also, the cones were in the way as they were set right down the middle of that narrow shoulder.

Another screaming downhill began at mile 8.5, with a 750 foot drop in three miles. I had told myself that after mile 8 I could let my heart rate push above 160bpm, and so boy, did I ever push. Mile 11, with a 300 foot drop, was my fastest at 7:10 pace.

Somewhere in here I was rude to an aid station volunteer, which I feel very bad about. As I mentioned before, it was hot and sunny, and there'd been no shade at all for some time. I had been taking water at each aid station, along with an orange slice and a piece of candy at the 8-mile aid station. Usually there were two people in front of the table, one with cups of powerade and one with cups of water, and two people running back and forth from the tables with cups, which were set far back from the road, bringing them more.

At the mile 10-ish station, one person was filling someone's bottle with water. The other volunteer had powerade. The back-of-station people were just standing there. I started calling for water once I got in sight. The volunteer gave me powerade. I yelled, "I asked for water!" and tossed the cup away, because a) I don't like powerade, and b) I was too thirsty to want anything other than water. In my defense, I had race brain, and I was also hoping to win my age group, so I didn't want to stop and wait for water. But really, if someone was occupied filling a bottle, the other volunteers working the aid station should have stepped in to do the job.

I was annoyed and really thirsty by the time I got to the bottom of the hill. The course turned right on the frontage road, basically flat, and finally the last aid station, which I had worked last year, came into view. I gratefully took a cup of water from an adorable little girl (seriously, she was maybe 6). I really needed that water, because just past the aid station, around mile 11.5, I took a right, onto an uphill.

What a rude thing to do at the end of a half marathon! The course gained about 110 feet in .9 miles, then dropped 100 feet in half a mile, then climbed again, a final 70 feet in the last .3 miles. UGH. Worse yet, I got passed by two women during these last uphills. But finally, FINALLY, I turned left and beat feet down the parking lot toward the finish line, watching the finish clock tick ever closer to 1:45...

...and I crossed in 1:44:53. Nine minutes slower than my PR, but about five minutes faster than I had expected to do, and considering my sad lack of training, I was very happy. I would have been even happier had I won my age group - it was faster than last year's winning time - but for some reason, the race director decided to make the 10-year age groups, which last year were the usual 30-39, 40-49, 50-59 etc, staggered by decades, so I was now in the 45-54 age group, and two 45-year-old women beat my almost-52-year-old sorry ass. Grr. (I console myself that I was the first woman over 50, and the second person over 50, out of 450 runners. Also I was the 44th runner, which is top 10%, so, yay. But no award, as only the top in each AG got one.)

Time	Distance	Split pace	Avg. HR	        Max. HR 	Elev. chg.
00:08:00.40	1	08:00.40	-       	       -	-108
00:16:31.10	2	08:30.69	-	               -	38
00:24:02.96	3	07:31.86	151 (76%)	155 (80%)	-232
00:31:34.00	4	07:31.04	143 (69%)	147 (73%)	-330
00:39:10.37	5	07:36.36	148 (74%)	157 (82%)	-199
00:47:24.23	6	08:13.86	155 (79%)	161 (85%)	-43
00:55:35.54	7	08:11.30	157 (82%)	164 (88%)	-64
01:04:24.25	8	08:48.72	162 (86%)	166 (90%)	86
01:12:32.10	9	08:08.74	161 (85%)	172 (95%)	-129
01:20:01.61	10	07:28.61	163 (87%)	170 (93%)	-195
01:27:11.42	11	07:09.82	162 (86%)	166 (90%)	-300
01:35:22.71	12	08:11.28	164 (88%)	169 (92%)	-62
01:44:19.53	13	08:56.82	166 (90%)	174 (96%)	16
01:44:54.51	13.07	08:20.74	170 (93%)	171 (94%)	1

Here is the smoothed corrected elevation and pace graph:

(hee, the scaling makes it look like I ran down a cliff!)

So, what's next, you ask? Well, as it happens, some friends of mine - some I've met in person, some I only know online - have put together a team for Reach the Beach, a ~200 mile relay from Bretton Woods to Hampton Beach, New Hampshire in mid-September, part of the Ragnar series of relay races. And one of the women had to drop out, so...they invited me. I warned them that I wasn't in my usual shape, but they swore it would be okay, that I wouldn't even be the slowest person on the team.

I was still hesitant, since a) it's on September 18-19, which includes my birthday, and b) Britt isn't generally keen on me larking off to run races without him. But just as I was dithering, he got a phone call inviting him to give a talk at a conference in Grand Junction that weekend. So - I'm going to be on a relay team, woohoo!

(no subject)

Date: 2015-09-01 02:26 pm (UTC)
thalia: Delirium from Neil Gaiman's Sandman comic (Default)
From: [personal profile] thalia
Good job! Really impressive race, considering you hadn't trained for it. That ending looks brutal!


ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)

August 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

You can reach me by email at heyheyilana @


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