Super Half Marathon Race Report
Haven’t written a race report in a while! Yesterday I supported my friends over at PikesPeakSports.us and ran the 2nd annual Super Half Marathon. Colorado Springs is definitely an endurance sport community, but running is probably the dominant sport right now, as it is certainly the most accessible to the masses. There are running clubs all over town pretty much every day of the week (the largest and most famous being the Jack Quinn’s Running Club). Last year, when Tim of PikesPeakSports.us teamed up with the Pikes Peak Road Runners to put on a race on Super Bowl Sunday (pretty much the only weekend available on the race calendar), he thought maybe a couple hundred would show up. When over 800 came out to run in 2012, he knew he had a hit on his hands. So 2013 was organized, and over 1000 people came out to run on a perfect February day for a running race.
My Race Goal
Every race we do has some sort of context: just for fun, a training race to work out fueling/hydration plans for an ‘A’ race, a fitness race, etc. Knowing that purpose well before each race is important. For me, this race was a mix between fun and seeing what I could do. I’ve been working with a new coach since December (Grant Holicky of APEX Coaching) and didn’t do a lot of running in 2012, so we’re taking our time with the running. (My longest run before the race was 1:20 at an easy pace, so somewhere around 7.5 miles.) Last year when I did this race I was 6 weeks out from a marathon and coming off an Ironman. Certainly a different state of fitness for me right now. So the plan was just to warm-up well, start conservatively, but run it hard and see what happened. Since all my half-marathons have been under 2 hours, that was my mental time goal.
I stuck to my race plan pretty well. While it was my first race of the season, I wasn’t nervous, just excited. Had a good “rock out” session to Sweet Child O’ Mine on the radio on the drive downtown. I had plenty of time before the race to take care of everything, met up with some Pikes Peak Tri Club folks for a team picture, chatted with some others. Local races like this are fun because you see so many people you know and the vibe is really positive.
After the group photo, it was time to warm up so I found a relatively clear hallway and did my dynamic warm-ups. Then with about 10 minutes to go before race start, I headed outside and did a few minutes of easy running with some pick-ups. I wanted to finish my warm-up as close to the start as possible. I was easily able to work my way to about the front third (far enough back to not get too caught up in the speedster adrenaline start, but not too far back where I get stuck behind people.) I found my friend Karen and her daughter, chatted with them for a minute, they played the national anthem and then the whistle blew!
Pacing – The First Half
My plan was to start at a 9:00/mile pace and see how I felt. With my heart rate in the mid-160s there it was pretty comfortable. I bumped up a little and decided to watch my heart rate and keep it around 170 for the first half. In the low-mid 170s my breathing becomes less controlled, and I didn’t want to blow up on the second half. I ran the next four miles at 8:45 pace. Another woman and I were pretty much on the same pace, so we chatted a bit. At this point, I also noticed I was gaining on a few people who probably started too fast. So while I was staying with the woman in the pink hat, I also kept my sights on some people ahead.
Mile 1: 9:04
Mile 2: 9:00
Mile 3: 8:44
Mile 4: 8:45
Mile 5: 8:46
Mile 6: 8:45
Pacing – The Second Half
The turn-around was at about 6.8 miles since the race doesn’t finish exactly where it started. It also about a 200 foot elevation gain out and you lose that 200 feet heading back. With rollers along the course, it definitely isn’t an easy course. Since I was feeling good and know I do OK running downhill, I picked up the pace for the second half. After the aid station around mile 7 (I took a gel as planned), I dropped the lady in the pink hat and started focusing on people up ahead. 6 miles is still a long run (considering my longest run in a long time was less than 8) I still had to be careful, but I was willing to see what happened.
Mile 7: 8:43
Mile 8: 8:34
Mile 9: 8:25
Mile 10: 8:14
Mile 11: 8:35 ←-there’s a steep hill during this mile
Mile 12: 8:16
Mile 13: 8:13
With my half-marathon PR coming in around an 8:12 pace when I specifically trained to run a half-marathon, I’m pretty happy with the last few miles.
I always put a few mental strategies in my race plan…things to say to myself or think about if things get tough or just keep me moving as planned. I knew my legs would be hurting (they still are as I type this) but I know the difference between injury and pounding ache, so I knew that was OK to push through. With the UCI Cyclocross World Championships being just the day before, and local pro Katie Compton fighting her way for 2nd place, another thought was “What would Katie “F&*@#g” Compton do? Little thoughts/mantras like that work!
With my overall preparation, I think this race went just about as well as it could and I know I ran hard. Great weather, awesome running companions, good times!
Chip Time: 1:53:19,
Gender Rank: 51/255
Age Group Rank: 15/49 (of course the overall winner was in my age group!)
Link to original photo on PikesPeakSports.us