Saturday, May 2, 2009

Race Report: Door County Half Marathon

What a beautiful day for a half marathon. I woke up at it was in the lower 40’s an mostly sunny. I am staying in Sister Bay, WI so I have to drive about 10 miles to where the Door County Half Marathon which takes place in Peninsula State Park. If you have never been there before, it is a very beautiful park and a great location for a half marathon. The race will take place entirely in the park on paved roads with hills in the middle that reach up 150 feet.

I get to the park at about 8:45 and since the race starts at 10, I have time to relax and use the facilities. My goal as stated a few days ago, is to run somewhere between 1:43 and 1:45 depending on how I feel. I have not tapered at all for this race but I feel good.

I get in a mile 1 mile warm up which is something I have not done before a half or full marathon before. Let’s try something new! The race is pretty crowded. I am not sure how many are in it but the road is not wide and they say there are twice as many as last year so maybe 600 to 700. I will know when I look at the results. The horn goes off and it is not hot and not cold. Probably about 50F to 55F but the trees should provide some shade on the course from the sun. I was not at the front but I laid back and had to weave through a lot of people who do not understand where to start a race. No worries, after 1 mile, it is clear running. I go past 1 mile in 7:48, a little faster than I wanted to go which was 8:00 for the first 4 miles. I feel really good though but it is only 1 mile after all. Mile 2 was a 7:27, “WHOA THERE, slow it down.” “But I feel so good”. I slow it some and mile 3 is a 7:52. So far the course is flat but the hills are coming after 4.

Mile 4 is a 7:48 and I take a little walk break. I do these during long runs to give the muscles a little break. It is the Jeff Galloway method and it works well for me. Now I encounter the longest hill on the course up Sven’s Bluff (It is very Nordic up in Door County). Mile 5 up the hill dropped to 8:10. Actually I was pretty happy about this time as I took the hill easy as to not wear out the muscles. A little downhill and a little up hill on mile 6 and I am back down to 7:32. I find myself now running near the same people which is usually this time in a race. They go a little faster up the hills and I go a little faster on the down hills. I plan on my next stop for water and a GU at mile 8 and plan on picking it up from there and trying to go 7:30’s. Miles 7 & 8 are 7:50 and 8:08. I must have been daydreaming a little.

At Mile 8, I stop for my second and last walk break and down a GU and some water and now it is time to pick it up, if I can. There is really only 1 more section of up hills to go right after 9 and the a log downhill to some flat for the finish. I start to gain ground on others and pass some as I drop a 7:16 for mile 9. 1 last section of a few up hills on mile 10 and I still maintain a 7:42. I look down at my Garmin and notice I am averaging a 7:45 pace and wonder now if I could break 1:40, something I have not done in over 15 years. A nice downhill section in the 10 mile mark but it is really too steep to get good speed on. I run with a guy for a few hundred meters, exchange running pleasantries, and the drop him. I see a lady in front of me I have been chasing now for about 5 miles so she is my new target. I pass mile 11 and see that I ran a 6:56. HOLY CRAP and I still feel pretty good. I tell myself I need to be to mile 12 at a certain time if I have any chance to break 1:40 and push to try to get there. 1 more up hill before 12 but it is pretty small compared to the others and I pass that lady. I give her some encouragement but she does not stay with me. A head of me 100 meters is a group of about 6 spread out over 20 or 30 meters and now THEY are my new target. I see some slowing so I gain ever so slowly. I run mile 12 in 7:41 but my Garmin says mile 12 is earlier than the sign. It has been getting further off during the race. I pass the 12 mile mark and look at my watch and it says either a high 1:32 or a low 1:33, I don’t remember. I think 1:40 will very hard to get now but I still have the guys in front of me to catch.

I dig deeper which is something I am unaccustomed to doing late in a race this long. Usually it is me just trying to survive. I catch 2 of the guys and the 2 more. I feel great as I push hard. I don’t bother to look at my watch when it beeps mile 13 as I have 1 more guy to catch and maybe even break 1:40. I pass him during the final shoot and cross the finish line. I stop my watch and it says 1:40:05 AARRGHH! It is OK though. I am very happy with the performance and considering the course and hills, I am very pleased with my time. Garmin says I ran a 6:47 from mile 12 to 13. I think I ran a slower mile during the 5K a few weeks ago.

In 3 weeks from now I plan on running another half. The plan is to run the Madison Marathon 2 person relay with a friend. Sub 1:40, here I come.


Jake from Garmin said...

Hi, it's Jake from Garmin - - and I loved your thorough race report. I just did the Lehigh Valley half today, and the weeklong rain let up just long enough for us to get in a great run. The reason that your Forerunner will often beep before the mile marker is that race officials are required to measure the 13.1 as the tightest/shortest possible distance. That way, if someone cut every corner tight, they'd still hit 13.1. Since no one actually runs like that (especially in a crowd), we all end up running an extra tenth or so, with a few feet here and there adding up over the course of the race. Which makes our times even more impressive, when you look at it that way!

Congrats on a great race, and keep up the great blog!


Mark said...

Awesome!!!! Man, you ran a great race!Super report! What if you'd tapered? You are on track to bust a new pr!

M2Marathon said...

Great race and great report! Very inspiring--I love it when I read about people running better than they expected and it still feeling pretty easy. Keeps me racing after I have a less than ideal performance...