Sunday, May 13, 2007


Normally, I don’t like to post from home, but…wow! I can’t wait another day to get my thoughts down on “paper.” Simply put, Saturday’s half marathon was my best race since college – and I graduated 11 years ago.

I had another rough night of sleep before the race. It seemed like I woke up every hour to blow my nose. I was kind of pissed when I woke up because it was REALLY nice out; low 50s clear with just a slight breeze. Normally this race weekend is cold, rainy and windy. All I could think was, “Great, we finally get decent weather and I’m going to run like shit because of this cold.” Luckily, it’s just a head cold, so I tried to convince myself that my legs and lungs would be fine.

The week leading up to the race I emailed a couple of people to see what they were planning on running. Bill has finished near me at an 8K and a 10K this spring. He said he wanted to go out at 6:15 or 1:22 pace. I told him I was thinking 6:20 or 1:23 pace, but could probably be talked into 6:15 pace. Then, my latest interview Angie said she wanted to run 1:22. I bring this up because during the early stages of the race it’s nice to see who’s around to help judge my pacing.

During the first mile, I settle in pretty well. Bill is a few seconds ahead of me and a group of women is behind me. I know it’s a group of women because they’re chatting like we’re out for a stroll. We roll through the mile in 6:08 and the whole group thinks it’s short. Although this is a new course since the last time I ran this race, it does have a history of inaccurate mile markers, so I think nothing of it.

Just after a mile we turn east into a wind. Now I’m not a good judge of wind speed, but I’d guess it was 5-10 mph – just enough that you felt it. The bad news is that given the course’s rectangular layout, we’re going to be bucking the wind for at least the next 5 miles. The good news is that I’m at the back of a nice little pack of 6 runners, lead by Erin. Although she’s a 2:48 marathoner, I never let that psyche me out. We pass mile 2 in 12:30 (6:15 pace) and figure that made up for the short first mile.

We continue to roll for another couple of miles, passing mile 4 in 25:00 (6:15 pace). I’m feeling pretty good, but still not sure of the pace. I dare not ease up because we have a nice pack. Nothing too exciting is really happening, then the guy to my right just steps off the course. I assume he stopped to take a leak, but I never saw him again. A little while later we hit a pretty big hill and Melissa falls off the back. Before we reach the top, I’m gapped by Erin and another guy. Our strong pack of 5 is suddenly down to 2, 1, 1 and 1. That means I’ll have to battle the wind by myself for the next 2 miles.

I make it to mile 6 in 37:39, meaning I’ve run 6:20 for my last two solo miles. I start thinking stuff like, “I’m still 21 seconds ahead of pace. I can run 6:23s the rest of the way and still break 1:23.” A half-mile later we finally turn out of the wind and the feeling is absolutely amazing. It’s kind of like the perfect wind; strong enough that you feel it, but not so strong that you can’t control yourself.

I try to use the wind as much as possible and am really pleased when I reach 8 miles in exactly 50-minutes – back on 6:15 pace. Now it’s finally starting to sink in, I’m having a really good race. I can handle this pace. My legs still feel good. I’m going to make it. Instead of 1:23 I start wondering if I can get under 1:22.

Right at mile 9 Nicole and Bobby catch up to me. Bobby takes his split and says, “Oh that was a little quick.” I hang with them for awhile, but they are really rolling. Somewhere along here I forget what mile I’m at. I’m almost convinced that mile 9 is approaching. Of course, I was pleasantly surprised when I realized it was mile 10. I reached there in 1:02:40 (6:16 pace). Just 5K left!

Around mile 11, Dan, whom I just met during last Saturday’s group run and another guy catch me. Dan is very encouraging and gets us all to work together. That lasts for another mile before they start to pull away. I'm kind of surprised by how well people are rolling late in the race. Usually, I pride myself on smart pacing and picking off people at the end. I’m running a great race, not slowing down, yet people are just blowing by me.

Just before mile 12, I do a quick calculation in my head and figure I need to see 1:15 on my watch in order to break 1:22. When mile 12 approaches, I see 1:15:10. Normally, this would bum me out, but I kept as much pressure on as I could. My form is all over the pace, but I keep thinking about the repeats I’ve been doing in training, "Just one more 1K. Okay, now just one more 600m repeat." As I turn the last corner, I see the finish line and it appears to be a minute away. A quick peek at my watch and I realize I have a sub-1:22 in the bag. It doesn’t even bother me that Angie clips me at the line. I stop the watch and see 1:21:49, my post-30-years old PR by 1:15 and only 1:28 from my all-time PR.

I know my training this winter, which focused on longer tempo runs, was geared towards this type of performance – more so than a fast 5K – 10K race. However, after a couple of so-so shorter races, I started to question my fitness and my ability to run a 2:55 marathon. Well, I think it’s safe to put those doubts to rest. Even if I fail to run 2:55 in 5 weeks, this race validates what I’ve been doing so far this year.

After the race, my friend Deb, whom I rode down with, saw that she placed third in her age-group. Since the awards ceremony was only 15 minutes away, we decided to stay. Given that this race is fairly popular and part of the Minnesota team circuit, I didn’t even bother to check my results; I figured I’d just look online. So imagine my surprise as they were reading the results and my name was called out for 2nd place in the 35-39 age-group. I was stunned. Complete results can be found here.

In case you’re curious, like me, my time converts to a 2:52:33 using McMillan.

I’ll close by congratulating Bill on his awesome 1:20:39, that's 6:10 pace. I think it's time for him to update that sub-3 goal for Grandma’s. I can’t let him get away with that kind of sandbagging.


Thomas said...

Congratulations! What a great race, and a nice surprise at the end.

Andrew said...

Excellent! Very fast and nice report!

Anonymous said...


Bart said...

Congratulations! Funny coincidence in that I was thinking ahead to my upcoming base building and was wondering how your use of longer tempo runs over the winter was playing out. Excellent report.


Trisaratops said...

WOW. That is awesome! Congrats!

Mike said...

It was nice to read this one. Congrats on a well-run race Chad.

Anonymous said...

It's about damn time brother.

Eric said...

Nice race and excellent reporting, as always. Who knows, another year of consistent training, and you may not need to separate your pre- and post-30 year old PRs...

Anonymous said...

Well struck - sounds like one of those races where you have the strength in your lungs, and your legs just carry you along - great feeling and makes the long roadwork all worthwhile. Congrats.

Nathan said...

Nice race Chad! You didn't need a late charge to beat me this time!

Chad said...

Thanks everyone!

Yeah Bart, I have to believe the longer tempos were a key component.

Double, you got that right.

Eric, I think consistent training is the key thing.

Nathan, nice race for you too - broken hand and all.

brent said...

sounds like it was a great race, nicely done!

E-Speed said...

sounds like a wonderful race. well done!

Chelle said...

Hey, I'm wicked behind on my blog reading and just saw this. Fantastic job, that must feel great!

I'm sidelined with injury for the moment, so it's nice to feel a sense of satisfaction, even if it's just vicariously!

Anonymous said...