Haven't had any new posts since my last half marathon...haven't really had anything to post about but Sunday I ran the Fleet Week Half Marathon. This race is a significant mile stone in my running because it was the first race that I had ever entered...which was only one year ago...besides my MCM training schedule had me running 13 miles at marathon pace, and what a better way to run at marathon pace than a race with hundreds of other runners and people to cheer you on. Last year I ran this race in 1:45:58, 5th in my age group, 132nd overall with a pace of 8:05 minute miles...not bad for a first race ever being a half marathon. My best half marathon since then was a 1:32:26 in April's Dismal Swamp Stomp Half. My last half marathon was the Rock n Roll Half just completed six weeks ago in a disappointing 1:38:27...but it was on a bad leg. So my goal for this half I wanted at least something between the 1:32 and 1:38 and with a secret...wishing, if all goes extremely well...1:30 or better...which I knew wasn't likely because my training hasn't been what it should have been the last couple of months.
The race takes place at the Naval and Air Base here in Norfolk. The race course is a large loop consisting of running through the air base, down and back to Breezy Point...a recreational area, by the helo pads, by the base marina, by the monuments to the USS Cole and USS Iowa, along the piers with the massive carriers, cruisers, destroyers and other ships and finally back to the start finish. Quite a tour of the base. It even went by the building where I work on Morris Street! There was also a "Spirit on the Course" competition where different commands come to cheer on the runners and the top three winners would win cash prizes for their Moral and Welfare Recreational committees...these are people who organize fun things for the command to do...like picnics, dinners and other fun events for the whole family. Well, SPAWAR...which is the command I work for, decided to enter competition to win some funds and of course have fun cheering the runners on.
The temperatures were forecast to be in the mid 50's at the start (8:05) with it going up to around 65 by (10:00), sunny with a bit of a cool breeze from the northwest. A perfect day for a race in my books. I get up at 5:00 and do my normal routine...had everything laid out the night before like normal. The thing I was still contemplating was what shoes to wear...my red Kayanos where the right shoe was rubbing just under my right ankle or my blue Kayanos where the left shoe was rubbing my left ankle...or do I wear my new NB 767 that only had 3 miles on them. Then I had this strange notion to wear the blue one on my right foot and the red on my left...but...in the end I went with the red Kayanos with a sports Band-Aid on my right ankle to protect it. I head to the Naval base around 6:30 and arrive at the gates to the base around 7:00 in a slow stream of traffic of cars trying to get in and parked. I get parked and get my chip and start my warm-ups by walking/running around a track where the event is setup. Last year there were about 600 runners and this year they expect over a thousand. Also last year there were a few Kenyans but this year I didn't see any...even though there was cash prizes but only for 1st and 2nd. I hit the port a potties a couple of times and the last time I have this rumble in my lower abdomen and feel the urge to go and it's almost diarrhea...so I am a bit concerned...so I go scout out where all the port a lets are located along the course map in case I need to use them...and there seems to be plenty of them...and fortunately, I didn't have any problems during the race. I head to the start line and find the 1:30 pace group and get behind them and complete my stretches before the National Anthem is sung and the gun goes off at 8:05 starting the race and I start my watch as I cross the start line. I fall in behind the pace group going through the first half mile and then head to the front and past...the first mile comes in at 6:28...not bad and feeling really good...but that's normal for me to start fast...and I'm going to do what feels good to me...even though I probably will fade at the end...we'll see how it goes but i reign myself in a bit and the second mile comes in at 6:55, and that is where I find my SPAWAR cheer leaders cheering me on. Mile three comes in at 6:50 and the first water stop...I am disappointed that they are using plastic cups and not paper cups, but I grab a water and try to squeeze the plastic cup down so I can drink without it going all over me...it doesn't work...I get half of it down my shirt. On the way to the turn around point at the Breezy Park, I get to see the leaders coming back and upon my turn around I get to see the runners going by behind me and also size up my competition to see where they are...most seem to be quite a way back and I can't remember any being in front...at least the ones I knew were in my age group. I don't remember seeing the four-mile marker and time and so I didn't punch in my lap time on my watch either. About the 4.5 mark I again see my SPAWAR cheerleaders which gives me a boost and mile 5 comes in at 13:46 (miles 4 + 5), which is still at about a 6:53 average for the two miles. Mile 6 comes in at 6:56 and seven in 6:48...these miles I am running with a guy who is running at my pace but he is going through the water stops really fast and I have to expends some energy trying to catch up...I think I was having problems with the plastic cups and had to slow a bit to squeeze them down so I could get a decent drink. So even though it is nice to pace with someone going your pace, at the next water stop, I let him go rather than try to catch up to him. And it showed on my next time at mile 8, I dropped down to 7:18, picked it up at mile 9 to 7:09, dropped down to 7:23 at mile 10...and they finally had paper cups instead of plastic one... 7:27 at mile 11, 7:29 at mile 12, picked it up some for mile 13 at 7:13. I try to sprint to the finish and as usual...I forget to punch the lap time at the finish, but I see the race clock at 1:32: something and feel satisfied. No 1:30 but the 1:32 did feel good. My final official time was 1:32:24...a whole 2 seconds faster than my best at the Dismal Swamp Half...so a PR!
The last half where I had come in at 1:32, I came in first in my age group and I don't remember being passed by any "old guys", so I waited around for the posting of the race times...anticipating a first in AG...but not to be. A guy from Albuquerque, NM came in before me...and...I think it was the same guy that took my 1st place AG in a 10K I ran in the spring! Why can't he stay in Albuquerque? Turns out I meet the guy at the score sheet. He was up at the score sheet at the time I was looking for my name and it said I came in 3rd and the guy for Albuquerque had come in 2nd but we couldn't see a name or time for the guy who came in 1st...There wasn't any! WTF...I mean Hay? I told him it must be a recording error and that he was sure to be first and I was second. Then talking with him, he said he had flown in the day before to race...I jokingly told him next time stay at home so I could win. Next time he comes back I will be waiting for him...yes, I want him to come back...He came in at 1:27, and I have a way to go, but it will be nice to run with him next time. So we wait around for the awards he with his family and me with my SPAWAR cheerleaders and wait for the announcements. He does get 1st in AG and I come in 2nd...we get our awards and get our pictures taken and congratulate each other. My SPAWAR cheerleaders take second prize for the Spirit on the Course...they should have taken first but a group in cheerleader outfits took first.
In all a good race...my leg was still sore at the beginning of the race but wasn't too bad at the end. This morning there are some aches but nothing way out of the ordinary. So hopefully I will be able to give my best for the next two weeks training and the Marine Corps Marathon on the 28th.
There were 42 finishers in the Male 50 to 54 age group and 880 total finishers.
Overall finish place was 52 of 880
Age group finish place was 2 of 42
Time: 1:32:24 for an overall pace of 7:03 per mile
First 5 mile split was 34:01 for a pace of 6:48/mile
Second 5 mile split was 35:34 for a pace of 7:07/mile
Last 5K split was 22:48 for a pace of 7:21/mile
A typical race for me...start off fast and fade at the end...but I did take 6 minutes off from my last race (RnR Half) by running it this way...I need to find a solution to end the last half stronger. When I tried to start off slow at the RnR half, I just ended up going slower still at the end.
Two more weeks of training and on to the MCM!