Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Guest Post - Nick Dunford's #HistoricHalf Race Report

For a while now, I've been soliciting my friends to write up a race report for some of their races. I always love getting to read it when Charlie Hurt or Adam Otstot would email me one, but those were before my blogging days. Now I think I've got a couple of the local Fredericksburg celebrities on the hook to write their tales of the Historic Half from last Sunday. First up is Nick Dunford!

For those of you who don't know Nick, I won't be able to help you much. I've known him since I moved back to Fredericksburg in 2006. He used to work at Dahlgren but has since moved on to Quanitco, has a wife and newborn son, and is a virgo. He's currently serving as a Board Member for the Fredericksburg Area Running Club. Below is his race report from the 2013 Marine Corps Historic Half! Thanks for sharing Nick!

Training Begins
The 2013 Historic Half race began for me back in November of last year. After coming back from a stress fracture in early 2012, I was finally to the point where I could seriously train again. During the training for the Ocean Drive Marathon I followed the Hanson Training Program and in March I ran a personal best in the marathon with a time of 2:57:05. The goal after this race was to leverage that training and complete just the J'Brians 15K and Stafford Hospital 5K and then take a break from racing until late June when the plan is to start training for the Marine Corps Marathon. 

One of the goals I have had while training for the marathon was to try and balance some of my caloric intake and get more protein (It is normally recommended to get 1 gram daily per pound of body weight and a normal diet only has only around 80 grams). One easy way to do this is to drink a protein supplement drink daily but through discussions with trainers at American Family Fitness and the review of a Consumer Reports article it appeared that those protein supplement beverages currently available via the mainstream had other ingredients that were not so good for one's health. At a loss for how to add protein for my diet, I asked the trainers at AFF for a recommendation. They recommended that I stop in at Complete Nutrition of Fredericksburg and discuss a potential replacement for my current protein supplement and also look to see if they would be interested in sponsoring me as a runner. 

My visit at Complete Nutrition went very well and I came away with some nutritional solutions and an offer to sponsor me for the Historic Half. After completing the Stafford Hospital 5k I re-baselined my training and used a cross between a couple of training programs to establish 4 week running plan to change gears for the half. These weeks consisted mainly of hills, some runs at goal race pace, some runs at tempo pace and a long run that had the last 30 minutes increase in pace until I was at goal race pace. One of the goals during those weeks was to get as much time on Hospital Hill as possible, which both helped prepare me but also reminded me how hard that hill can be without already having done 10 miles.

The Race
The morning of the race I felt ready but also nervous about meeting my goals. I showed up later than
planned but was still able to stop by the VIP tent and get my gear checked. I muscled my way up to the starting line and saw many of the normal faces as we all prepared for the race. When the gun went off I reminded myself that I needed to hit my own pace so I gradually let a lot of the people in the front of the field pull away while I tried to hit my goal of maintaining a 6:10 pace for the first 10 miles. The goal pace was to be running 6:10s for the first 10 miles, then get up Hospital Hill, while maintaining a constant level of effort, and finish as quickly as possible in order to break 1:22. The first couple of miles went pretty well, hitting a 6:07 and 6:06. Coming up William Street I was in about 19th place and began running with two other guys who told me that if I stayed with them they would be able to help pace me to my goal. I told them I would do that but would still execute my race goals as I had planned. I ended up leaving them around mile 5 as another runner passed us and I noticed we had been slowing down. I hooked up with that runner and we ran together until mile 8 where I noticed we were gaining on another runner and I picked up the pace to close the gap and keep on goal pace. I caught that runner on River Road and easily passed him as he was pretty done (he had actually stopped to walk a bit before I caught him).

The Hills
From that point on I was without another person to pace off of and was about to hit hospital hill. Upon reaching the hill I prepared for the uphill battle, pun intended, and tried to keep my effort constant.
The goal was to get up the hill as quickly as possible without burning myself out. From my splits I ran a 6:27 and a 6:24 to get through miles 11 and 12. For the last mile I just went head down to get to the finish as quickly as possible as I was falling apart, but still ended up running a 6:01 for mile 13. I was passing 10k runners left and right and finally saw the finish in front of me but it still felt so far away. Upon reaching the first timing mat I saw in the 13.1 chute I stopped only to have everyone yell at me that I still needed to close a couple of meters. I kicked that last little bit left to get to the finish and was finally happy to be done.

I knew I had finished in the top 20 and had broken 1:22 which were my main goals for the race so it ended on a high note. This was in contrast to my last Historic Half race I ran in 2011 when I crashed on hospital hill and ran a 1:24:09 when I had been shooting for a sub 1:23 and Bert had almost caught me after he had started after the last runner. I was happy to find out I had finished 12th in 1:21:37 but I think what made me the happiest was that I met my goals, ran the race exactly how I wanted, and that all the hard work had paid off (mainly all the speed work, physical training sessions with Patti at AFF, and improvements in nutrition with the help of Complete Nutrition of Fredericksburg). Goal now is to re-baseline and get ready for my first MCM.

Photos 1 & 2 from Nick's Facebook page, Photo 3 from Claire Hagan's Pacebook.

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