Saturday, November 17, 2012

2012 Star City Half Marathon

2012 Star City Half Marathon


     I have no course/event history with the Star City 1/2 Marathon, however it works out very well logistically given that it is close to home. Taking a slight stretch, I can claim a consistent 2 1/2 year history of racing the half marathon distance on asphalt, once in the spring and once in the fall with the spring event being the Blue Ridge Half Marathon and the fall event being the half way point of the full Richmond Marathon.

     2010 gave me a 1:49:27 at the Blue Ridge Half and a 1:35:45 at the half way point in Richmond.
     2011 gave me a 1:37:19 at the Blue Ridge Half and a 1:36:02 at the half way point in Richmond
and so far
     2012 gave me a 1:35:29 at the Blue Ridge Half with Star City Half to be determined...


     I suspended my high intensity training about 6 weeks ago because I felt like I was over training and possibly putting myself at risk for an injury. I have continued running with an emphasis on merely covering the distance at a comfortable effort. I'd like to see myself hold a sub 8 pace for the whole event, but given my recent Garmin stats and unfamiliarity with the course I won't be disappointed if I start slipping into the 8's for the last 3 miles of the course. I will be disappointed if I do worse than than 1:49:27 which was my 2010 Blue Ridge Half time, but I will get over it quickly enough and just be glad that I completed another half marathon.

The Event
Star City 1/2 route per Garmin
      This race turned out a lot better than I had anticipated in many ways, but the memory I want to carry forward as a priority is the finish. My wife, Denise, a walker, was participating in the 10k run/walk simultaneously as I was running the half. We had joked some about racing each other to our respective finish lines, but never actually anticipated finishing at the same time. The 10k finish shoot and the Half Marathon finish shoot were on opposite sides about 25 yards apart. I crossed my finish line, made my way to the exit and just as I was setting out to find Denise, she crossed the 10k finish line. Technically I finished a few seconds ahead, but we were both in the combined finish shoot at the same time, so I call that an "alignment" event...and deem it a sign that the stars above are happy with my marriage.

Star City 1/2 elevation profile per Garmin

     I started this race knowing I needed to pace myself in the mid 7's for a strong finish, but as is typical I was unable to contain myself and ended up running the first 2 miles at a sub 7 pace. I can only imagine that it did not cost me much later in the race as I fell into a mid 7 pace by mile 3 and stayed there for the rest of the race with the exception of the one mile with the most elevation gain where I slipped into the mid 8's. I finished with an "official" avg pace of 7:41, and I can be happy with that since it represents a significant improvement from where my training runs have been.    

     The course is easily broken down into 3 segments: The Start/Downtown loop, The old Southwest loop, and the Greenway/finish loop. 

     The Start/Downtown loop. I felt really good for the first 2 miles and was keeping the race leaders in my sights. By the time the course took us to the Hotel Roanoke I was starting to feel too fatigued to keep up with that crowd and a steady stream of younger folks started passing me regularly. I found a steady 7-ish pace as we hit a small section of Greenway and followed it to a Holiday Inn and Gainsboro Rd. As the course took us to Shenandoah Ave I was starting to doubt my performance, but I just kept thinking about an ageless peace of wisdom that an older runner gave me once when he said "It takes 6 miles just to get warmed up!" We took the 5th St. bridge back to the VA transportation Museum, followed a path back to Jefferson Rd, and headed back to the start area.

     The Old Southwest loop. Right at the 6 mile mark we make our way past the start area and sure enough I'm starting to feel in my zone with the mid to high 7's. Unfortunately it all ends as we head up Avenham and I can't hold my pace. 8:20 for that one, but I recovered fast enough and got my groove back on in the 7's as we made our way back towards Wiley Dr.

     The Greenway/Finish loop. Up to this point I had only been monitoring my pace, but with just 5k left to run I started trying to estimate what I was looking at for a finish time. Hitting the 10 mile mark I was happy to see that I was staying close to what I had done at the Greenway Memory Miler 3 weeks earlier. I started thinking about surprising myself with a sub 1h40m time. It was going to be close, but when I tried to summon up some extra intensity, it just wasn't there. I resided to just hold my pace in the 7's and take what I get. I ended up with a 1:40:41.9 and I can't complain because it put me in the finish shoot at the same time Denise was finishing her 10k walk. Picked up a nice finishers medal and a 2nd place Age Group medal too!
Finishers Medal, 2nd Place AG Medal, Number, and Event Hoodie

     The Star City Half Marathon 
2012- time 1:40:41, Pace 7:41/M, Place 56/573 overall, 2/39 in my age group, 44/253 among men
Garmin Data HERE 

Usually I prefer not to listen to tunes when running unless I'm on a treadmill. I decided to do something random and listened to this playlist for todays race.

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