May 22, 2011

Geist Half Marathon race recap

How did I get here. Well Pete drove me, but that's not the point!

Just to recap, Molly could not compete in the Indy Mini because she had a wedding to attend in Arizona. Instead, she chose to compete with her friend Tracey in the Geist Half Marathon. 4 weeks ago, Molly asks me if I will race with her so that I can keep her motivated during the race, and help pace her to complete her first half marathon. How can I say no to that? So, I sign up.

With about 10 days to go before race day, and after fighting a lingering case of plantar fasciitis, her doctor tells race for you! WHAT? So now the decision is do I want to pace Tracey? Do I want to run with Pete and Amy? Or do I want to race it for myself and try to improve my time from the Indy Mini...Wasn't much to think about - I'm racing!

Race prep went well. Race morning was comfortable. Pete and Amy picked me up, and we took Tracey also. Once at the nearby school, we met up with my college roommate, Scott, who had bought Molly's entry. A short walk to the start line, and it's go time!

Star Spangled Banner featured a flyover, and a pumped up crowd had me juiced up and ready show this course what I'm made of! The starting corrals are set up on a downhill near a bridge. This should have been a clear sign of things to come. HILLS!

The first 7 miles seemed effortless to me. The hills were very manageable and the scenery of the reservoir was incredible. Beautiful homes. Great landscaping. Supportive families. An overall great experience. My plan was to lay back on an easy pace of 10:20-10:30, and see if I could run deeper into the miles to finish at better than a 10:45 pace and get in under 2:20.

First 7 miles clocked on the Garmin at 10:09, 10:08, 9:58, 10:18, 10:28, 10:13, 10:09. I felt so good at this point. I thought I was in control of this race! But then...HILLS!

I had reviewed the elevation chart prior to the race, and knew of the severe hill around mile 7.5, but I had no idea how big it may have been until I saw it with my own eyes. As you round the corner off of Fall Creek Rd, and onto 79th Street, there it is. Standing larger than life. I think I heard it laughing at me. Mocking me even. Daring me to try to keep that pace. I wasn't going to back down. I ran into and up this hill with everything I had. I'm guessing I made it more than 3/4 of the way up the hill before my legs gave in to the incline. I finally took my first walking steps.

As I got to the top of Geist mountain, I started jogging again, and managed to keep mile 8 at a respectable 10:43.

Many more rolling hills were to follow, and I quickly realized the toll that this hill had taken on my body. My plan became to run all the downhills, and the flat bottoms to a point where the next uphill seemed to begin, then I would walk the uphills. This obviously damages the average and mile 9 ended at 11:10

For miles 10 and 11 I found a good rhythm of running and walking. When I could run, I found myself on pace between 10:30 and 10:40, but walking the uphills were often as slow as 14:00. These two miles were nearly identical at 12:08 and 12:06

So here I am with 2.1 miles remaining. My Garmin was measuring the course long, and so it was actually about 2.2 miles. Even if I could run a 10 minute pace all the way in, that would take 22 minutes. I had only 24 minutes left to play with in order to beat my mini time. Quick math, I've got to do roughly an 11 minute pace. I've been doing 12s, so I've got to run more and walk less now. This psychology almost worked against me as every time I tried to run, I began to cramp more. I wasn't necessarily dehydrated, but everything hurt. The hills had broken my body down much more than my training had ever prepared me for. Mile 12 ended up being my worst mile of the race. I could not find a rhythm and fell to a 13:05 mile.

Embarrassed by the split that just flashed on my watch, and accepting of the fact that I could not run the last 1.2 at a 10 minute pace to beat my mini time, I pushed through the 13th mile. I got myself back to my mile 10 pace of 12:08, and as predicted had 0.2 miles remaining.

I refused to stop at this point. A nice downhill finish bring a repeated section of the course into view over a lengthy bridge into a well populated finish area. I ran the last 0.2 with everything I had left which was a 10 minute pace, taking 2 minutes, and giving me a finish time of 2:24:51.

The time is EXACTLY 3 minutes slower than the mini, but factoring in the heat (over 70 at the finish), and of course THE HILLS, I am not disappointed.

I enjoyed trying a new course. It was challenging and kept my interest, but this course was much more difficult than I ever imagined. It was great to share the experience with friends. Pete helped Amy to her best finish of 2:31, and Tracey completed her first half in 2:56. Scott ran a great 2:07 and 3,000 others are writing their blogs today as well.

Next up is a Sprint Triathlon on June 11. That race is for redemption on my first Tri experience last September. Beating my previous time will be the first reward. But not going to the ER will be the real victory!

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