Thursday, March 6, 2014

#tbt Historic Half 2008 Race Report

I don't know why I was looking through my emails, but I found this race report that I sent to Team Blitz on the inaugural Marine Corps Historic Half on May 18, 2008. The race was not good. But I'll let 2008 Bert tell you that tale.


On Wednesday, 5 days before the race, my back started to hurt during a workout on the track. Debi Bernardes tried to stretch it out for me. After the cool down, we did a bunch of stretches that I don't usually do, and I didn't do my normal stretches.

The next day in school, I could barely function. I was in so much pain that I was walking funny. I got a heat pack from the nurse and tried to loosen it up by stretching a lot during the day, but I was impaired. I took drugs on Friday and Saturday. It improved but the looming 13.1 was not looking pleasant. Running was uncomfortable those three days, but I didn't do anything unusual so I hoped it would loosen me up.

At the expo, I saw someone who I know that is supposedly knowledgeable. He told me to stop heating and to lay on the floor with my legs up on something as though I were in a chair. I did that when I got home and it did feel good, but was no miracle cure.

Saturday night, KC and I slept at her sister's house because of road closings for the race. That also kept her from having to wake up at 5:30 to drive me in the direction of the race; I just warmed up from her sister's.

As I wasn't sure the set-up of the starting line or finish line, I warmed up towards the race and then back to my car at Wal-Mart. I was happy to do both. The starting line was no where near where I'd thought it was (not that it mattered) and the parking lot at Wal-Mart was completely full at 6:15 AM. I parked the night before, naturally. With about 5 minutes to go before the start of the race, I ran over to the line.

I was on the front of the line and it didn't look like there was anyone too threatening. I knew that Tim Young, the junior at JMU who had beaten me over 5k, 4mi, 8k, and 10k was on the line somewhere (it was a big line) but I wasn't concerning myself with him. I knew what I was about to do and none of the rest of them mattered. Of course, that didn't make my aching back feel any better... [Note: I remember that despite being destroyed by Tim at a 10K recently, I still thought that my experience at this race distance would give me the edge over him. Spoiler alert-- I was wrong. Ignorance is bliss.]

I don't think I led the race for even one step of the way. I immediately was passed by a wave of people. I continued to run slowly and was passed for a while. I ran with someone for 10 meters at a time until they passed me. By the time we got to the mile, I was in 12th place. I reached that mile in a slower than anticipated 5:48. Then I went to work. It was a daunting job; I marked Tim at 7:23 next to a sign; a sign I reached at 7:57. He was cookin'!

I wanted to run 5:30 pace, which would have been a huge PR to 1:12:06 (from 1:13:23) and I wasn't going to make any excuses for why it didn't happen before the race even started. So I ran the next (largely downhill) mile in 5:30 (11:18). Much better. I passed one person. The third mile was hilly in both the down- and up-hill sense, and it also had a whole lot of turning and winding around. I passed 2-3 people here, running 5:38 (16:57). The 4th mile was also hilly, but more down than up, and the last hill for a long time. I took this very controlled as it was covered with spectators. By the end of the long downhill towards the end of the mark, I was in 6th place, on the heels of 5th, and with 4th in close range. This mile was my fastest, 5:29 (22:26). Immediately after the mile, I moved into 5th place and caught 4th roughly 600 meters later. This was the last person I encountered on the course who was not spectating.

I missed the next mile split for the mostly flat 5th mile, but reached the 6th, somewhat hilly mark 11:08 (33:34) after the 4th mile. My bicycle support team informed me that I was then 2 minutes behind Tim, and 1 minute behind 3rd place. I expected myself to pass 3rd place considering the fast early pace he'd already faltered from. My back was hurting but it wasn't causing me to slow down yet. I was remaining in control in anticipation of the hills I'd face on the 11th and 12th miles.

I was really bored for a while going to miles 7 (5:34, 39:09) and 8 (5:32, 44:42). I knew there was a food stop (Jelly Belly Energy Jelly Beans) at mile 8, so I expected water as well. I took a GU leading up to that station, but was ultimately disappointed. I saw no jelly beans nor water for over a mile after I took the GU. That is poor planning on my part, I suppose, but I really didn't like having all that chocolate in my mouth for so long without being able to wash it down.

I won't pretend that it was GU in my mouth that slowed my next two miles. I'd chalk it up to the knowledge that I'd fallen another 30 seconds behind 3rd place (who'd been in 2nd place), the fact that my hips were starting to lock up because of the pain my back, or knowing that 5th place was not in sight while on a street that is completely straight and flat for over a mile (according to the biker, I did not look back). So I came to mile 9 in 5:42 (50:25) and got a much needed cup of water somewhere along the way. Mile 10 was very much the same. I was alone and starting to hurt. We had to cross over a small bridge in the middle which is usually pretty slippery in the morning, and today was no different. I lost a lot of momentum slowing down to take the turn off of the bridge. I'm glad I went slowly though, as apparently Tim did not and he fell and cut his leg pretty badly. Dumb mistake on his part. The 10th mile was also slow, 5:46 (56:11).

Now for the hills. I won't pretend that I was running 100% going up the first big hill. I knew that I had another longer, steeper hill to climb on the 12th mile. I was alone, I was hurting, and I knew that reasonable time was no longer within reach. That being said, I was still TRYING to run faster than I did. I reached the top of the hill and the 11th mile mark in 6:27 (1:02:38). Talking to some people yesterday, I realized that may be the slowest mile I've run in a race since possibly the Boston Marathon in 2004. I would like to get out my logs the next time I go to my mom's house to check that out. I was disgusted with myself when I saw that split.

The next mile was flat to start with a little bit of downhill, followed by a long climb up and over I-95 into Central Park. I ran past KC and her family and some kids from school on this mile, and wanted to at least look good for them, so I'm sure I picked it up heading towards this hill. By now, thoughts of the hill are beyond me. I know I was in pain and that I wanted to finish. I expect that Tim was finishing just as I was cresting the bridge. With all the uphill behind me, I tried to turn it on and give everything I had left. I finished that 12th mile in 6:05 (1:08:43), mere seconds before Tim finished. The prospect of finishing (without regard to the total time or whatever else was happening in the race) inspired me to run a 5:45 (1:14:28) 13th mile into Central Park and across the highway towards the finish line. Just before mile 13, I saw "Go Bert!" written in chalk on the ground; another indication of KC's late night adventure with her sister. The crowds were cheering and so I salvaged a 33 second finishing kick to clock 1:15:01.5.

My slowest half-marathon since the Colonial Half in 2004. Only 16 seconds faster than the second half of my marathon in Las Vegas. Only 27 seconds faster than the second half of my marathon at Shamrock, two months earlier. But this was only one half marathon! I didn't have to run one before it or one after it.

I guess I don't have to state specifically how terribly disappointed I am in my finish. The place is irrelevant to me; I blew up and ran a slow time. Time to move on.

I'm still considering the Philadelphia Distance Run, as well as the Richmond Half-Marathon. I could do one, I could do both. I probably need to do something to rejuvenate my desire to run as I'm pretty bored lately. Maybe I'll ride bikes until I realize how lame that is and then hit the pavement again. I've got a lot of races to run in Fredericksburg, including a mile on Sunday night. Prospects don't look good for that many of them. Tim has now run 15:06, 31:13, and 68:50 to annihilate me in all distances. But there is nothing wrong with second place. [Note: Why was I so depressed about running? What was my deal? Cheer up, emo guy.]



I hope you all enjoyed that trip down memory lane. I know I sure did. Luckily I've had much more successful ventures at the Historic Half than this one.  But I've certainly had bad races since this one too. Live and learn.

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