Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Dexter Ann Arbor Half!

The Dexter-Ann Arbor has come and gone, along with the runners, the rain, and my (to date) best half marathon experience yet!

First off, the stats:
Distance: 13.1 miles
Time: 1:54:00 (chip time)
Pace: 8:43/mile

The day broke muggy and warm, cloudy, windless and stifling. The half marathoners were bussed to far away Dexter (well... 13.1 miles far) to much merriment and anticipation. I was seated next to W, a first time racer. I could tell when she very politely held up her chip timer and said: "Excuse me, but do you know what this is?" Well... that and I had asked her a few minutes prior, but that's beside the point.

She was full of questions about running and hydration and using Gu and stuff like that, and I was happy to relate all that I knew. I don't know if it helped her at all, but it helped distract me considerably. After venting my wisdom (about 30 seconds) and the wisdom of my running friends (the rest of the trip) I gave her the one piece of advice that I thought would be most important to her: this above all else- don't go out too fast. Warm up slowly, don't give into temptation to keep up with all those who might pass you in the beginning.

Strangely enough, I sort of managed to follow my own advice, though not completely. :)

I met up with some of my running group friends- it's always nice to chat with running buddies before a race. After a 20 minute delay for a tree being down on course, we started. I ran the first two miles with a friend R, who kept a steady pace through the race. It was her first half marathon, and she was running just to finish. Also, she didn't know that she'd be free to run it till Wednesday last week, so she wasn't able to train like she might've wanted.

I ran my first two miles at a calm 10:30/10:15 pace, with an average heart rate in the 130's and 140's respectively. After stopping for a quick drink of water, I went off too quickly. Oh well, irony has always been my friend. I try not to dwell to far into hypocrisy... or if I do, try not to reflect upon it too much. It would depress me.

My third mile was 8:08 pace, as was my fourth. I stopped off for Gatorade and water, and lost maybe 15 seconds coughing because I'd forgotten how to swallow correctly. Oops. Still, I managed to keep my pace relatively consistent. I had a few miles in the 8:40 range, but a lot of that might have been due to the hills... I think there were more hills this year than last, though I could be wrong. There was certainly more humidity- of that, I'm certain. :)

Another nice thing about starting off slowly is the psychological boost given by passing people for almost the entire race. I'd see someone up ahead. I'd focus on them, giving them names like "white singlet" or "red hat" or "nike symbol" and I'd slowly reel them in, hoping to pass them. One person in particular, "nike symbol" passed me at mile 10. For some reason, this got my blood going, and was just the boost I needed to finish the race strong.

The race ends with a relatively (for Michigan) substantial hill at the end. I knew I was pushing myself a bit when I looked at my heart rate just prior to the hill and saw I was at 190 (my predicted max heart rate is 187). But I felt fine- just a bit out of breath. I slowed down a little at the start of the hill, and let myself be passed by a few who were starting their kick early. About half way up I started to really work my legs, finally crossing the finish line at about a 5 min pace and a heart rate of about 204.

This is the first race where I really "raced" in that I tried to push myself to (or maybe a bit past) my limits. In the last three or four weeks I've done speed work. I told people I had a goal time (1:50 dream goal; 2 hour "more realistic" goal; and "I'll be happy with" goal of breaking last year's 2:08:54). And lastly this is all part of my hopes of eventually getting a BQ.

I really do consider myself well satisfied. :) Many thanks to T for waiting after her race (on the day after her birthday no less!) E, K and R for feeding me dinner afterwards, and to you for actually reading through all of this! :)

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