Sunday, November 16, 2014

2014 Richmond Half Marathon

Richmond Half Marathon

Time: 1:33:8, pace: 7:04/M,Place 238/8452 overall, 17/393 in my age group & 180/2901 Among men 
 Garmin Data: HERE

It was a spur of the moment decision. The Star City Half Marathon on Nov 22nd was going to be my long distance fall race, but after running the Greenway Memory 10 Miler at a sub 7 pace I knew I had potential for a PR at the 13.1 mile distance if the course was right. The Star City Half is rolling hills with a few steep ones thrown in...not what I would call a burner by any means.
At the expo with Denise and Faith

The Richmond Half is mostly flat with a final mile characterized by significant elevation loss. If I was going to log any distance PR's this calendar year then Richmond would be my best bet.

Last year I logged a half marathon PR in North Carolina at The Scream Half Marathon, a point-to-point half marathon mostly consisting of 10 miles of steep elevation loss. I wasn't in the greatest of running shape last year, but as a somewhat good downhill runner I figured I had a good shot at beating my 2012 Blue Ridge Half time of 1h35m29s. I did beat it by just over a minute with a 1h34m26, but it was kinda a "gimme" statistic since it was a downhill event. The true essence of running achievement lies with running equal amounts of elevation gain and loss.
Warming up a bit before race start.
Richmond has a net elevation loss, but its mostly contained to the final mile. All things considered, a half PR at Richmond would be a significant statistic, so I had to go for it.

I started out with the 1:30 pace team and resisted the urge to run ahead at an unsustainable pace even though it would have been in my character to do so. I figured I'm not in it for any chance at a podium spot, so why even tap into my burn out reserves when all I need is a steady high 6/low 7 to PR? Position means almost nothing at an event of this size with almost 9000 participants and over 350 in my Age Group. 

I just settled in to a pace I thought would be sustainable given my stats at the Greenway Memory 10 Miler, a high 6, then I figured since this was 3 miles longer than the 10 miler that a handful of low 7's would be good energy management.

With no interest or viable reason in thinking I could go sub 1h30m, I wasn't the least bit discouraged when the 1:30 pace team dropped me about 3 miles was to be expected. I kept my mind on my cadence and only looked at Garmin once per mile when it beeped to alert me what my time was for each completed mile.

I knew I had a good bank of high 6's and low 7's so I could afford a few mid 7's without compromising my chances of a PR, but I didn't want to use any of the time I was banking. I was a bit concerned when I started logging 7:13. 7:16 and 7:15 for miles 8, 9 and 10. Not only were these numbers slower than their counterpart miles from the Greenway 10 Miler, but I was also systematically being passed this entire event. Usually I don't see much passing at a half marathon after the first couple miles while everybody is establishing their pace and stride.

Still, anything under a 7:20 counted as a success given the time bank I had established in the first few miles and the anticipated strong final mile since it was downhill. My PR pace from the Scream Half was 7:12, so I had enough wiggle room to play a little bit if energy management started to look like an issue. I was relieved when mile 10 took me back in to the 7's with single digits, but my relief would be short lived as I was starting to hit a wall of sorts by the middle of mile 11.

For the last mile and a half I kept a good cadence, but my breathing seemed off rhythm and it was messing with my head. I knew my time was looking good and that I was flirting with a 1h32m finish, but I was also considering the value of maybe just ditching the PR attempt and slowing down into the 8's or 9's just to reestablish my breathing pattern with my pace.
Making sure Garmin time and clock time and the same or close as I stride towards the finish.

I kept plugging along with reservations and stayed encouraged as mile 12 wrapped up with another 7 in the single digits and with mile 13 being mostly downhill I figure I could count on a high 6 or low 7, so my PR seemed in the bag. I wasn't concerned at all by about 5 or so more people passing me in the last mile because the podium was never in my sites anyway.
Finishing up in the 1:33's!
The finish came into view and I just cruised in at what ever was comfortable. 1h32m and 40ish was on the clock, but I was too far away to go in under 1h33m so I just took it in stride and got a 1h33m8s. 

My deepest respects and appreciation goes to my wife and daughter who waited and walked in the chilly temperatures while I ran this race. The race and the PR were fantastic, but a weekend get away with the family is always priceless. 


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