|Rank||110 of 1579|
As previously mentioned, I was ready to ditch my trail shoes for some good old fashioned fall road races. The Boulder Half Marathon was my first ever running race of my career 4 years ago. I have run the race annually since then. I am always tempted to step up to the marathon but it is nice to just have a day where you can enjoy a shorter distance and benchmark yourself. I have done more in the past year than any previous year in between this race so I knew a PR would happen. Just by how much?
I used to leave way too early for this race. This year I slept in and took it easy the day before. Just 2 miles worth of full speed 200m intervals to wake up those fast twitch muscles. I ate light for dinner — soup! I also got a great amount of sleep on Friday night. I have learned that it isn’t the night of the event that matters, its the day before that.
On the way down there, I pumped the tunes because I decided to run without the iPod. This is a big deal. But I wanted to be tuned into myself the whole time and not drift. The downside is that I would miss out on those tempo tunes that get you fired up. But I knew the watch would be my motivation. My pre-race consisted of 10 oz of Gatorade and a few ounces of Cheerios. I measured the stuff out. I then started with the drugs — salt caps and VESPA followed by my GU. Although I hadn’t eaten a lot, my stomach seemed overly full.
They moved the start of the race from out on the road to back into the reservoir parking lot. Jury is still out on that one given the tight start. The race is chipped as of last year so I suppose the impact is minimal. We got started a minute late by my watch and the race was underway. I brought a few different layers of clothes but ended up going in RaceReady short shorts and tech shirt. I bailed on everything else including gloves. It was the warmest I have been at this race ever. Usually its trash bag weather at the start.
So what was the goal? I decided on something sub 1:40. That would make a 1:30s halfer. I want to be in that club. So I set the watch at 1:38:30 and was going to nail that. Figured with any missed tangents I should come in under the flip to 40. The first mile was all over the place. Starts uphill then downhill plus you had to fight for position. I finally settled in to 7:31, the target pace. As the first few miles ticked away, I was off by seconds. A 7:36, a 7:34, a 7:38. Kept bouncing around. It was worrying me but I had the whole minute of play so I kept adding the differential up that I was losing. Probably the biggest factor was my lungs. They thought they were still in San Jose! Lots of belly breathing and I could feel the cramp I get going “Don’t make me do this to you!”. So I kept at it and played with breathing. The first few miles have more loose rock and dirt on the road. BTW, the course is mostly dirt road…85% maybe. But then when we got to Oxford Road, the dirt was nice and beat down and felt like a smooth race track. I felt my legs and lungs starting to get along.
I hit the 1/2 way point and felt like I was ready to roll. I shot out of the turnaround and I was doing 7:00 flat. Too hot but it was slightly downhill so I rolled with it. That next mile split was 7:14. I then realized I had just burnt off all the missed splits from before with one mile. Can I hold it? I started focusing on pace more than ever and held low 7:20s. Why not? As long as it felt good, I stayed there. I blew through most of the aid stations only grabbing a quick gulp twice the whole race. And NO, I never stopped at a potty the whole time! Yeah, for me. That’s a record.
The miles were melting off very fast and I knew I had it in the bag. Felt like I could push harder but for a 1/2 marathon, this was a comfortable pace now. My legs were having a fun time so I just enjoyed it. With about 2 miles left, the marathon leader passed me. He was moving. He went on to a 2:34(?) finish. Holy crap…on this course! I lost some time on the final few hills for my splits but those earlier quick splits kept me even. So I think I did a decent job on the negative splits because the course isn’t even throughout. As I rounded the last turn, I hit the pavement and the entrance to the reservoir. The finish was in sight and I kicked it up a bit and gave it some more speed for a strong finish. The results show that I finished in the top 7% and this isn’t a shabby running crowd! My first Boulder I ran 1:55, then 1:48, then 1:45, and now 1:38. Its melting off. Hope it continues.
After the race, I found Simon and his family and we sat and talked and refueled. He was tentative on racing because they are awaiting a new addition to the family any minute. The post-race food was perfect — Chipotle burritos with Izze drinks. That’s like my lunch everyday! We traded some stories and I was in awe of his 1:23/9th place finish.
Next and final (big) race of the season is the Denver Marathon. A few more weeks of training. Another PR is in store I hope. Not as guaranteed as this one but my confidence is only gaining at this point. The bad news…the bar is raised on the Boulder Half Marathon for 2009. But I have a year to deal with that.