I signed up for this race about a month ago and had dreams of hitting a sub-1:10. One year ago I ran a 10 mile race in 5:12 pace and felt like I could have easily maintained that for another 5K so I don't think a 70 minute half marathon is out of reach. Having said that, a lot can happen in 12 months and I've had two different injuries in that time so needless to say, my fitness has varied over the months. I feel pretty good right now, but I've been pretty stagnant with my training--it's just been a lot of base building with very little interval and tempo workouts mixed in. Yeah, I've ran a couple 5K's in the past two months and while I'm sure they helped, that's not the best preparation for a 13 mile race. So anyway, a sub-1:10 was probably a little un-realistic today but it was worth a shot.
So about the course... If there is anyone out there that wants to run a legit half/full marathon PR, this is it. The race is run around Sauvie Island, 10 minutes NE of Portland. It's a loop course with the starting line at 26 ft above sea level. Yup, 26 ft. It's flat for the first 2 miles and then there is a slight rise (maybe 30 meters long) and then it's flat the rest of the way. No hills, no rollers, nothing; hence the name of the race being the Foot Traffic Flat. BUT, with the race being on an island, there is only 1 way on and off (other than boat of course) and that makes for a pre-race logistical nightmare. I left my house at 4:30 and got to the starting line just a bit after 5 in order to avoid being stuck in traffic when the gun when off. I wish others would have done the same...
The full marathon started at 6:30 and the half was to follow at 6:45. At 6:41 (and after a 2 mile warm up) they announced that the half would start at 7:00 to allow those stuck in traffic the chance to park their cars and get to the starting line. I'm looking around and seeing hundreds of people ready and waiting to race. The half was capped at 2300 runners and there are at least 1800 people ready to go. Why do those who made the effort to get there on time have to wait for the minority who didn't? It's chipped timed, so does it really matter that they don't start with the rest of us? Frustrating. At 7:00 they announced 'just a few more minutes and then we'll get started..." Again, why cater to 100 more people (at the most) at the sacrifice of the 2000 that are ready to go? I just don't get it.
So sometime around 7:05 we lined up to get the race started. They announced that those running a 5:00/mile should approach the line first, 5:30/mile next, followed by 6:00/mile and so on. I really appreciate it when races do this to avoid a cluster of a start. It would help if others paid attention. I'm on the front line as I figured I was top-10 or so. Lined up next to me are two homeboys dressed as such; baggy basketball shorts, bandannas on their heads, Top Gun-type sunglasses, iPhones on their arms and shirtless to show off their 20+ tats all over their chest, back, shoulders and arms. Best part of all is their rocking the newest Nike 'kicks' that are white as can be and not even laced up. So my two biggest pet-peeves happen this morning; late starts and a starting line cluster. Anyway, I digress...
I was shooting for 5:20's each mile and figured I could try and run even splits on such a level course. First 3 miles are 5:22, 5:30 and 5:26. Clearly I'm not on pace for my goal but I'm feeling okay and I begin to try and pick people off in front of me. After the first mile I was in roughly 15th place and by mile 3 perhaps 12th. Not sure.
With miles 4 (5:16) and 5 (5:24) I was between runners and going at it alone but I could tell I was gaining on a group of 4 guys 100 meters ahead of me. Miles 6 (5:11), 7 (5:19), and 8 (5:19) I was able to catch 1 guy per mile and found myself in 9th place and that's where I stayed until the finish. Mile 9 (5:24) and now the course is out of the shade and in the direct sun for the final 4 miles. Right now I'm thinking I'm SO glad I'm not running the full marathon as the temps are heating up.
Miles 10 and 11 were long and short, respectively (5:38 and 5:05). The 5:38 was a shocker as I knew I hadn't slowed down that much (it felt like I'd actually picked up the pace and should have been around a 5:15-5:20) and the 5:05 was laughable as I was now feeling the effects of poor training. Either way, at 11 miles I was sitting at 59:00 and I still felt like a sub-1:10 was doable. A long shot but it might happen, right...
Nope. Not today, anyway. Mile 12 was a 5:25 and mile 13 was a struggle in 5:37. I just didn't have an extra gear to shift into despite my mind telling my body to do so. Or maybe the signals got crossed and my body thought it was supposed to slow down, not speed up. Here is where my proper training has kicked in before and today there just wasn't anything. Final .1 in 40 seconds, so I slowed down even more. Fantastic!
So now that I'm done typing, perhaps this all sounded negative. My bad, because it shouldn't. I'm pleased with the race and pleased with the time. It's a PR by 3 minutes so that's good. I just feel like I missed a great opportunity on a great course to run a lifetime goal. Oh well. There is always next year.
2 miles to cool down after the race.
Type A (262)