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Downtown Temple,NH

Monday, March 21, 2011

2011 New Bedford Half Marathon

Phew! I'm glad that's over (results).
I had been dreading this race for some time now (pretty much since the day I signed up). The jump up is I haven't exactly been in a happy place (with regards to my running) for some time now. Training has been work and not fun. I can't quite put my finger on it, I'm not injured but I don't feel quite right. I've been in a funk. Period.
The long run, which I used to love, has been non-existent. New Bedford would be my longest run of the year. No kidding. Not exactly the type of statement that instills confidence!

So standing at the start line I could honestly say I had no idea what pace I was going to run  My plan was to run comfortably at the start and not worry about any other runner. I really really really wanted to avoid a death march at the end if at all possible. The first couple of miles can be kind of fast since it's both the start of the race and slightly downhill. I was quite happy to see my first two splits (6:15 & 6:22), probably about 20-30 seconds slower than previous years, but more importantly it felt like a pace I could hold for a while.

Miles 3 and 4 are typically a bit slower since they both include a few hills. Denis T went by me in the 3rd mile and Rich Lavers joined for a bit during this stretch. My pace dropped a bit (6:28 & 6:31) but considering the hills, I can't really complain about the pace. The long, gentle downhill section from 4 to 7 did not seem as fast as previous years (6:09, 6:14 & 6:15). I think it was a combination of running a lot of it solo (no packs of runners to pull me along) and some sort of wind (either cross wind or head wind, hard to tell). I had stopped checking my watch after the 2nd mile or so and was running on feel alone, trying to keep the effort consistent. Looking back I think I may have held up a bit too much (trying to make sure I didn't blow up at the finish). No big deal. After all, I wasn't exactly going for a PR today, just trying to get some confidence back.

I was still feeling pretty good by mile 8 (6:19) but knew the wind would be an issue over the next few miles along the water. The 9th mile has generally been my slowest mile in each of my previous 3 attempts here. Mile 9 is totally exposed and there always seems to be a headwind. No different this year (6:37), followed by a 6:25 in the 10th mile. Ugh. Do we ever get a tail wind on this course????

Finally, as we made the turn away from the water and headed into the 11th mile (6:16), a tail wind! Joy joy joy!!! It was a little too late since parts of mile 12 and mile 13 make up the last significant hill on the course. A tailwind going uphill just doesn't cut it. Doesn't hurt though! For the first time all day I really felt like I was pushing the pace (6:08 & 6:16). This was no longer a comfortable pace, it was getting hard but the finish was near. The 6:08 12th mile, uphill, would be my fastest mile all day. There would be no death march today!

A bit of a sprint to the finish (to make sure I got under 1:23) and I was done, with a very respectable 1:22:53 finish. No complaints today. I was very happy I was able to finish quite strong and not fade at the end.This was not a 'leave everything out on the course' type of race, it was more of a 'don't do something stupid and make a fool of yourself out there' type of race. Just what I needed.


Michael said...

Ha. Other than the last two miles, we ran nearly identical races. Our splits are no more than 4 seconds off one way or the other for the first 11 miles. Of course, it was because you were holding back and I couldn't go any faster.

Too bad we didn't start together. At least I could have blocked the wind for you before you dusted me at the end!

Steve Wolfe said...

I could have used a little help out there. Denis was of no use.
We were looking for you and Justin at the start but couldn't see you guys, which is surprising since you're freakishly not short.
I would have pulled you over the last 2 miles :-)