Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Marine Corps Historic Half 18 May 08

Ran the Marine Corps Historic Half on Sunday in Fredericksburg. I signed up for this inaugural half when registration opened way back in Nov and it was no surprise when the 5000 slots filled up very rapidly since this event is put on by the same people who put on the annual Marine Corps Marathon (The 25,000 slots for this one sold out in five days...and I have one of them!).

I drove up the day before to attend the Expo and pickup my race packet. Later after checking into my motel and doing a brief workout and shower, I met up with some runners from the Runners World forum for a wonderful dinner at the Poppy Hill Tuscan Kitchen located in the historic downtown section in Fredericksburg. My expectations for this race was initially to try to run it for a PR, but after riding around the city going to the Expo, restaurant, motel and looking at all the not so gentle hilly terrain, I was hoping for a sub 1:30. I would still start out running for a PR and would see how the early hilly miles would affect me.

Woke up Sunday to cloudy skies but checking the weather, it said the temps would start in the high 50's with highs expected in the low 70's with some wind, clouds and rain...but the rains would hold off until after 9:00...the race starts at 7:00, so everything should be good.

We were told we could park in the area shopping center parking lots if we didn't utilize the shuttle service from and to two outlying Park n Ride lots. I chose to drive and parked in the Wal-Mart parking lot and walked the 3/4th of a mile to the start line. I got to the starting area in plenty of time to take care of business...a few times...and chat with some runners. The starting area was corralled with expected finishing times and I staged myself in the under 1:30 corral and met and talked with a couple of runners from Virginia Beach staged one corral behind me. It was now about 6:45 and I had this urge to go and the port-a-potties were way back at the end of the last corral...too far away, but I noticed a good size trailer with Men's and Women's signs on the doors...bathrooms on wheels for the dignitaries...but I and the two from the Beach went and utilized some very fine toilet facilities! We got back to the starting line just as the Marine Color Guard marched to the front and the singing of the National Anthem.

The race starts with a shot from a flintlock rifle from a revolutionary uniformed militiaman, confetti gun firing and the release of some white doves, and we were off to the races. We race down the street passed the Wal-Mart, take a left running under a large American flag set up by a ladder fire truck and under a balloon banner and down a rather large hill...same hill we will be coming back on...and the first mile is 6:22...a bit fast but we are headed downhill so it shouldn't be too bad. After the first downhill, we come to a small up hill and then down another stretch of hill. I miss mile two but mile three is 12:50...which comes out to about 6:25 splits and a total of 19:12 for the three miles...so still doing pretty good. But we come up on some good uphills as well as downhills and mile four reads 6:36...still doing good but starting to feel it every time we get an uphill section and mile five comes in at 6:47. I feel myself getting fatigued and it surprises me that I'm feeling this way so soon. Usually in half's I start feeling it around mile 10-11...not in the early miles. The first five miles has a net loss of about 250 feet but there are numerous little uphills that I'm feeling the effects from. I miss mile six but mile 7 is a total of 14:12...which means my pace is now about 7:06 and I'm losing ground fast and I feel I have no energy. I try to up the pace and mile eight is in 7:o1 but I slow down again the next mile to 7:22 and things go down hill from there for me and the course starts to go uphill. the 250 feet drop in elevation has to be made up in miles 10-12 and these are two long and rather steep stretches. Mile ten is actually quite pleasant running by a raging brown river and then through a small path through a canopy of trees but my watch split reads 7:26 for a total of 1:08 for ten miles. 3.1 miles to go and it looks like even 1:30 will be a real struggle to get...and here comes the two big hills. The first winds up through the University of Mary Washington Hospital...how appropriate...there is an Emergency Room direction sign pointing the way we are turning to go up the first long hill...I think it's trying to tell us something. I slow considerably going up this hill and mile eleven split reads 8:22...ugly! A small downhill and we are going up the final hill and it gives me some energy knowing that this is the final hill and then only about a mile to go and I try to up the pace and the split at twelve reads 7:37. We are back on somewhat level ground now and again go under the huge American flag draped off the ladder of the fire truck and make the turn headed to the finish and mile thirteen is 7:05. I try to sprint the final tenth and cross the finish line as the time on the race clock reads 1:32:24...chip time was 1:32:23. We receive our medal, a cool towel and another finisher coin. We are directed into the back of the Expo building to get food and fluids...I grab some in a bag and head out to the Wal-Mart parking lot to unload my stuff and then head down the course looking for two runners...one from the dinner who expects to finish around 2:00 and another from my gym who expects to finish around 2:30. I find the first runner just past the flag draped fire truck and run with her back to the finish line. She has had a very rough run starting around mile five where she got dizzy and week and had to stop for awhile...even thought of dropping out but she was just topping the last hill when I found her and she did well all the way to the finish. I went out again looking for my gym lady and find her near Wal-Mart. She tells me her friend is still out on the course so when we finish and she gets her medal and drink, we head out to find her friend still on the course. She texts her but doesn't get a reply back so we get worried. We are going past Wal-Mart again when we get a text that her friend is at the finish, so we head back to join up and find her.

The race was actually very scenic running through quaint old town Fredericksburg with it's shops, pubs, restaurants and boutiques, through neatly maintained neighborhoods, through tree lined paths next to raging rivers and starting and finishing in the modern large shopping centers, with broad streets, large motels and chain restaurants...and...lots of rolling hills...some not so rolling. The people were great cheering us on in the early morning. A fun race and I actually had a real good time...one to do again next year!

Race Results:
There were 210 finishers in the Male 50-54 age group and 3826 total finishers
Overall finish place was 77 of 3826
Age group finish place was 4 of 210
Time: 1:32:23 for an overall pace of 7:04 per mile

Weekly Training:
Mon: 6.7 miles run, 20 min Elliptical, 10 min Stairstepper
Tue: 31 min Elliptical, 30 min Cycle, 10 min Stairstepper
Wed: 9 miles run, 25 min Elliptical, 20 min Stairstepper
Thu: 40 min Elliptical, 47 min Cycle, 20 min Stairstepper
Fri: 8.2 miles run, 20 min Elliptical, 20 min Stairstepper
Sat: 36 min Cycle
Sun: 18.8 miles run, including 13.1 MCHH in 1:32:23

Next race is the Elizabeth River Run 10K on Saturday...My quads are still sore and my left shin is tender from the half so I don't know what to expect from this race...depends on how much I have recovered.

Have a great week you all!


robison52 said...

A very good time on a tough course, geez, I was getting motion sickness just READING about those rolling hills! Great job!!

Charlie said...

Thank you Bruce!

It had some hills at the beginning that the elevation chart just didn't show that well and surprise a lot of runners. It was a very fun race though and well organized.

Have a great week,

Steph Bachman said...

Great job, Charlie! Did you GU at all on this race? Would that have helped with the fatigue or was it just the hills?

Charlie said...

Thanks Ms Stephanie!

I didn't have any GU or Gel...I was looking for them around the seven mile mark where they were suppose to have some but didn't see any. But I drank the Powerade on the course at most of the water stops. For most halfs I have rarely done anything except for drinks so I think it was the unexpected hills on the first part of the course...but I think I gave up mentally around the 5-6 mile mark...I was talking to myself and negotiating a lot during the middle miles...I was pretty much alone and had no one to talk to! :(

Have a great week,

Nat said...

Hills will wear you out! You are just an amazingly strong runner and you continue to impress me.