Lehigh Valley Half Marathon
That paragraph should also tell you that I didn't have a spectacular race, or else I wouldn't be so grudging in writing about it.
Actually it was one of those races where the more I thought about it, the less bad I did. And it was a very fun weekend. Rebecca and I drove up on Saturday, went to the sort of mini-expo that they had to get our numbers, and rested up and ate a pasta dinner that couldn't be beat at a little out of the way Italian place. We marveled at how it takes traveling out of town to be able to just lay around and do nothing.
The race start was outside Allen High School, home of the fighting Canaries. The course was characterized, somewhat oxymoronically, as fast with rolling hills, and the weather was sunny and a tad on the warm side. With about 4,000 runners, it was a pretty big race, but by no means huge.
This means that at the gun, the lead pack was about ten or so folks who I tucked in with. We stayed together until about the first mile (5:29) when everybody started to spread out and I fell near the back. Mile 2 read 5:20, but the effort didn't feel any different and I've stopped trusting the accuracy of mile splits. A 5:32 third mile and sofar so good. We are in the country now, with rolling hills. I overtake a guy and a group of three are in striking distance. Still strong at mile 4 (5:35) and about a half mile later there is a turnaround and we double back a bit on the course. On turning around I realize that we've been enjoying a tailwind that is now blowing in our face, and are going into a slight uphill. Suddenly I'm thinking this will be a long race.
Mile 5 is in 5:48 and I'm wondering how long I'll be able to hold that up. I distract myself by looking at the people running out as we come back. I see Rebecca looking good a bit after the 1:50 pace group and a bit before a woman running in a Wonder Woman costume. My splits get less and less wondrous, with miles 6 and 7 in 5:54 and 5:51, respectively. We are now on a dirt path through a lovely leafy area along a stream and the sudden rises and dips on the path gives the race a cross country feel in how it takes the wind out of me. I wonder how much longer I can keep up a sub 6 pace. Mile 8 is in 5:57 and I'm counting down now. 5 to go. A runner comes up from behind me now and I hold on to him for awhile to get Mile 9 in 5:43. But then there is another short rise up to a covered bridge that is emblazoned on the race medals. For me this bridge should be emblazoned on a fork - I am done. Two more runners pass me and I don't have the heart to give chase. Mile 10 was 6:08 (57:24 10 mile time) and mentally and physically I lose it. Those two runners vanish ahead of me and I sneak a peek behind me - noone to be seen. Totally alone on a woody road with precious few spectators. I miss the 11 mile marker and mile 12 come with a 13:03 2-mile split. I sneak another peek behind me and someone comes into sight. This motivates me to speed things up for the 1.1 miles, which pass in 6:43 (still a 6+ minute pace). The race finishes with one last quick uphill into a stadium and around a track. I'm rounding the final turn when I see the finish line clock turn over to 1:17 and cross the line in 1:17:11.
I just proofread my account sofar to make sure there are no traces of whining or complaining. And I promise there will be none forthcoming. Just the facts. 11th place and first masters finisher. Best post-race free massage I've ever got. First and only time I will ever eat vegetarian sausage. Rebecca finishes in 1:57 something, well ahead of Wonder Woman, and is a bit disappointed she didn't beat her last years time. But she shrugs it off and I am determined to do likewise.
And why shouldn't I? I went out perhaps a little too fast but about on pace to go for a PR (low 1:13's), and I had no reason not to. I had no idea what kind of distance shape I was in, so I went out to do well. I gambled that I was in better shape than I was, and really didn't lose much in misjudging. In slowing down I lost three places and I could have ran another minute faster and still finished the same placewise. Though I'd like to have run faster, I'd rather think that than finish faster and say to myself "what if...".
I do have one complaint. I picked up $200 for the master's win but the race people forgot to sign the check. But even there, they have until June 2 to replace it, which is when, Rebecca informed me soon after the race, we have a reservation at Buddakan toward which this money will go.
So, I learned that training for speed does not lend itself that well to distance, for me at least. A couple of 80 mile weeks would have helped a bunch in getting over that 9-mile hump. One of the pieces of advice that I have given that people have said they remember is that the easiest way to get faster is to put in more miles. I learned that all over again. But I made the choice for speed this season, and have no regrets in doing so.
Despite the massage I got yesterday, my legs still feel worse than after some marathons I've run. So I'll take it easy this week, despite the rigorous training schedule GP has laid out for me, which among other things means that blog entries will be infrequent here. And Broad Street is up next Sunday, and there will be no expectations that I will put on myself other than to enjoy a great race. Then I may take another week or two of very mellow running and gear up for Twin Cities.
The thought of many miles appeals to me. Two months from now I'll look back and wonder what I was smoking when I wrote this.
Not such a short post after all.