Monday, December 10, 2012

Blue & Grey

Is this grey or gray?
I participated in the Blue & Grey Half-Marathon yesterday in Fredericksburg. It was the 12th race in the Coldwell Banker Elite Grand Prix Series, and my 7th for 2012. I needed to finish this race in order to be eligible for the Grand Prix awards, and I needed to finish in the top 25 or so in order to secure first place, and $500.

In no way was I prepared for this race, physically or mentally. I'd stated that I was probably in shape to run 73 minutes, but would likely run 75 minutes and finish anywhere from first to fifth place. I ran 74 minutes and got 4th. So well within my predictions. There was a course record today faster than my PR, so winning was out of the question. That honor went to Brian Flynn, cross country coach at Bridgewater College and brother of Ricky Flynn.

 I went out with Jason Driscoll and Stephen Harrison, both UMW alums, and some kid from Blacksburg and Lake Braddock who was apparently pretty good at cross country in high school, Sam Rubenking. He said he wanted to run 6-minute pace, so I told him to drop back because we weren't running that. So Jason, Stephen and I ran in 3-5 way behind Flynn and the guy who was way behind Flynn and way ahead of us. Greg and KC were riding lead vehicle with Vic, so I saw them a bunch of times during the race. Greg had chalked up the road, TdF style, basically professing his man-love for me for the whole world to see. Good thing it rained yesterday or else it would still be there today...

Not mile 3
(c) my mom
We were running marathon pace and I didn't like the way it felt already, but I stayed relaxed and maintained. I admit I felt confident, since the two guys I was running with hadn't ever run a half before, but still needed to stay within myself. We ran around the cone and I thought it was short. Vic later told me that apparently last year the cone was too far back. So I would have run sufficiently under 72 minutes last year. Great. But I thought it was short at the time, so when we ran 5:25 for that mile, I thought we were slowing down a lot. The next mile was 5:28, and I left Jason get in front and open up a gap. I didn't want to run under 5:35 pace, knowing what was in store for me the last two miles. I'm not in that kind of shape right now.He didn't open up too much of a gap as we got to mile 6 in 5:34 and him right in front of me still. But he really opened it up on that hill going up Hanover (yes, the hill that Tim and I used to walk during long runs...) and pretty much left us for good there. Running around the shell trail, Stephen tried to make a couple moves on me it seemed, but none too successful. We slowed down a lot on the gravel, and Jason was pretty much gone. At the water stop back on Sunken, KC said he had 26 seconds on me. Geez. That was quick. I took part of a GU, passed it on to Stephen, and tried to go to work. I've got no clue what my splits were for the next two miles, honestly. I forgot to save them in my watch, and cleared them. The splits I've listed here are the ones I remember in bold, and then guesses to fill it out mathematically. I'm sure they're ball park-accurate though. I tried to get motivated by the crowd, but it was tough to do it. I was biting my lip and just trying to get away from Stephen more than trying to catch Jason.
After mile 10
(c) my mom
Coming up past the tennis courts and towards Kenmore, I couldn't even see Flynn. He was gone. Dude in second was getting eaten up by Driscoll, who did eventually pass him and put a minute on him. They weren't coming back. I chanced a glance around the oval when we turned and saw Stephen was still there, so I did all I could on the canal to keep moving. I hit 10 miles in 55:56 and thought that was reasonably respectable, but knew what was coming. Just that little uphill past the tennis courts had done a number on my quads. I thought I head his footsteps when we were under the bridge on Rt. 1 (which now has lights in it!). Mile 11 was 5:42. Just trying to keep some cushion before the 6-minute pace started to happen, trying to run under 18 minutes for the last 5k. Good Lord, I'm in terrible shape.

I was fully expecting him to pass me going up the hospital hill, but it didn't happen. That was a whopping 6:18! On to the last hill on Cowan over I-95, and I tried to turn on the burners as soon as I crested it. I knew I was getting run down by a guy who was running 5Ks in the 15-minute range this fall while I was training for Chicago, so I wasn't too confident in my ability to out-kick him. So I just tried to keep out running him. Coming around the car wash, I saw Janice Lasker, and she told me where he was. I still thought he was going to catch me. It smelled like onions as I passed CiCi's. I took my split, but didn't look. I'm really curious as to what it was, and am most disappointed about losing that split in the watch, above all others. I closed in 38 and was happy to be under 75 minutes.

I've run 10 half-marathons faster than this, not including splits. I only ran two half-marathons this year, independent of a full marathon. So this was considerably slower than the Historic Half (Driscoll would have been right behind me!)  This was my second-slowest. 
  1. Historic Half - 1:11:33
  2. Chicago Marathon (second half) - 1:13:15
  3. Chicago Marathon (first half) - 1:13:16
  4. RnR Arizona Marathon (first half) - 1:13:18
  5. Blue & Grey Half- Marathon - 1:14:23
  6. RnR Arizona Marathon (second half) - 1:14:31
Later KC and Greg told me that they thought I was pacing Stephen because I didn't look like I was racing, just running comfortably. I guess 5:35 pace should look comfortable since I can do it for two and a half hours, but my legs were not enjoying the experience whatsoever. I was sore yesterday and today, but not really to fatigued from the effort. I did an 11-mile recovery run this morning with Chris Post, and will be back at it tomorrow morning with the guys. Last week I did two light workouts for the first time in a long time. I have no idea what is next for a real big race, but I'm sure I'll find something...

Hopefully over break I'll be able to do some back-blogging, like for the Turkey Trot, and then a 2012 wrap-up. That way you'll know what I did all year long. Thanks for reading, mom.

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Race Photos