Sunday, October 26, 2008

Half the distance and twice the fun

The half marathon is becoming my favorite distance. Today's Koala/Luke's Houston Half Marathon was challenging but fun and I am already thinking about tomorrow's run. Had this been a full marathon, it would have taken me at least a week to recover.

My time of 1:41:57 (7:46 pace) was pretty good under the circumstances, and actually a bit better than anticipated. Even so, a rookie mistake (forced stop to re-tie shoelaces), an unscheduled port-a-pottie stop and some dubious race planning resulted in me possibly missing a New York Marathon qualifying time. The first two issues resulted in a very slow start (8:01 first mile and 8:37 second mile). The race planning, which was to keep my heart rate around 150 or so for the first 10 miles, and to then accelerate if I had anything left, worked fine but left me too little distance to make up for the slow start. From miles 3 to 9 my average pace was about 7:40. Mile 10 was 7:25, Mile 11 a brisk 7:08 and Mile 12 still good at 7:18. The most telling statistics are the first and second half splits: first half was 8:08 average pace (ranked 24th); the second half average pace was 7:29 which put me in the #11 rank in my age group for that part of the race.

Although my average heart rate increased to 163 over the last 3 miles, I think I clearly had it in me today to run 7:40 average pace over the entire distance. Lessons learnt:

1) avoid an overly slow start
2) double tie your shoelaces BEFORE the start
3) start to push the pace a little sooner, if you're clearly feeling good and conditions are favorable.

A negative split is fine but not to the point where it undercuts your overall time.

Random notes:
* It was fun running with Cortney, a vegan buddie whom I bumped into around Mile 4 or so. We ran together until Mile 10.
* Very good weather - not overly humid and about 55F at the start.
* As always, a well organized run - good job Houston Striders! Nice design on the technical finisher's shirt.
* The racing flats experiment was a success. My left calf is a little tight tonight but otherwise no damage.

The bottom line: a fun and rewarding half marathon run. I'm a little miffed with myself for missing an opportunity to qualify for New York, but this gives me a lot of confidence for the next attempt which will be in San Antonio on Nov 16, weather permitting.


She Who Makes Waves said...

Congratulations on your race!

Sorry about the not qualifying for New York! Other than that, it sounds like your race was a pretty decent experience!

If that San Antonio race is one of those Rock & Roll deals, I will be curious to read your post on that!

Laurel said...

Congrats on the race.

I love the half distance as well. It's always fun.

I totally agree with all your learnt lessons. I had a friend who never double-knotted her shoes and she was CONSTANTLY stopping to retie them. Drove me nuts!

johnking said...

glad to see you rocked the flats in the half. im a big fan of them in short races. just take a bottle of frozen water and rull it under the feet until you cant stand it anymore. Congrats man and keep the training positive!

atrusni said...

Half marathon?!?!

Wow, I barely make a 10k. I do not know if I could ever reach that mark!

Amy said...

Great race Bert! There is always something new to learn with every race, isn't there? But you still had a great time and hopefully a NYC qualifying time in San Antonio. Good luck!

Vegan_Noodle said...

The half marathon is such a great distance... so much kinder on your joints than a full!

The weather sounds like it was perfect... bummer about not hitting the qualifying time, but it sounds like you learned some valuable lessons!

Go Annie said...

Congratulations Bert on a great race! It sounds like you learned a lot about when to push your pace. Good luck in San Antonio. I hope you qualify for NYC!