Boulder Half Marathon 2009

Adventures10 Comments

Distance 13.1 miles
Time 1:35:26 (PR)
Pace 7:18
Rank 41 of 1680 (Top 2.5%)
GPS Analysis Strava

Boulder, once again. 5th year in a row. Every year a PR. What will this year entail?

I started getting more sleep a few days in advance to rest up. I never focused on this before. Always tried to get a great night’s sleep the night of the race. That didn’t work. But what does work is sleeping a lot for 2 or 3 days in advance. Then the night of — you are wired, but it doesn’t matter. The hay is in the barn.

Broke protocol and rode to the race with my neighbor, John. It was nice to have company for once. Normally this is a solo outing for me like most races. He did his best to get me some tunes to pump me up on the way down but admitted he was light on Slipknot and Metallica. No worries. Got there quickly and I found out that John and I have something in common — bathroom breaks pre-race. Although he goes more than I, I did keep going over with him and doing it too. It helped given I never stopped during the race. I usually hit them twice pre-race but John showed me the light with 4-5 visits. That’s my new strategy because it worked.

Met up with Team Escorcia pre-race. Hadn’t seen them since June. Both were running today — Team Fuller would lose that battle but that is cool. Kelly went on to take 2nd for the women! Simon’s recap here.

We got started to warm conditions. They moved the start back an hour from last year. We went out at 9 AM. Probably a great call if its freezing cold like some years. However, it was warm and in the mid 70s at this time — our 70s are hotter than your coastal/plains/midwest 70s. The sun was hot. People were nervous. Not I. I run in this every day. Those that stay inside on the treadmill were in for a treat. However, it had me worried in that I wasn’t carrying water and I would love to drain 30 ounces on the run. I would have to do with a couple cups per aid station. I downed my GU pre-race and we were off.

Mile 1 is wacky. Everyone is sorting out and the course leaves the parking lot and gets off and on to the dirt where 80% of the race is run. This course winds through some backroads of Boulder. Mostly dirt. All washboard. It isn’t the fastest course in the land. As we left the Reservoir, it started — the wind! I am no judge of wind but I heard people saying 20-25 MPH. It was blow your hat off windy. It sucked. I saw my pace slow from 7:00 to 7:20ish and I knew we were in for a treat. Hot and windy. I continued to progress though. Muscled my way through it. Remembered the sage wisdom of Glenn and kept in line behind others. Drafting is legal. I would hang with a pack for a while just to store up and then blast around them and leap to the next group. If I saw a turn coming where the wind would turn from head-on to cross-wind, I would wait it out and then smoke the group after the turn. It was more race strategy than I had ever had to pull out before. I kinda liked it.

I was ticking through the course pretty quickly but the paces where 0:15 off where I wanted to be just after a few miles so I made the call to just back it off and not try and run the race I had planned. Conditions where not there for the big record so let’s just have a solid run and see how it plays out. So I stopped stressing about missing my pace marks every mile. I just hammered when the wind was away and tried to draft and push through it when it wasn’t.

Got to the turnaround in no time. Took a walk through it and downed my 2 cups of water and another GU. It was my marathon strategy used in the half. Get it down and then run. I never lost position through those. Just a little time. Just as I was pulling away from that aid station, I hear someone saying “Go Brandon Fuller!”. Now who could that be? They obviously know me. They are hanging at the far aid station. He has a camera. It is Justin Mock! He tries to tell me that he wants a picture but I need to go in for the handshake. We haven’t ever met in person so I guess it was a fitting first meeting. I shook hands and kept on moving.

Up to the half way point, the course trends uphill. So downhill on the way back. The wind should now be a tailwind — but it wasn’t. It was sort of gone. Taking a break. I figured it would come in handy but it only beat me down and left me to fend for myself. So no wind and feeling good, I cranked down into another gear. I wanted to run 6:XXs back. That was the original plan that the wind had messed up. Let’s see how I can dig into the deficit.

I really started racing at this point. Focusing on the person in front of me and making it my goal to destroy them — OK, I mean pass them. I did this relentlessly for the remainder of the race. To my knowledge, I wasn’t ever passed by anyone. I ran a good comfortable hard the rest of the way. HR only came up a few beats until the last few miles where you have some uphill again and fatigue is setting in. At one point, with 2 miles to go, a spectator told me what place I was in. That was cool. So I started counting every person I passed and decreasing my position by one. It was a fun fun game. Best part of the race.

Until the wind returned. I think it was about 3 miles to go. We crested a hill and the wind was back in our faces. Not as hard but not helping. Afterward, people would curse it — how can it blow both directions? Because it does — happens to me daily on the county roads by my house. I just go with it now.

The finish was brutal. They had changed the course again — 3rd year in a row and made us cut sharp and run along side the field where the cars are parked. Grass. Bumpy grass. Sucked. I wanted to go all out but I kind of was in fear of messing up. So I just held position. As long as the guy in my rearview remained at distance, I would finish here. The next guy up wasn’t worth the catch. So we curved and turned and I crossed the finish with more time on the clock than the goal for the day. But I felt OK with it.

Changed my plans as needed along the way but I had that advice going into this race. I was told by a few running friends that this wasn’t the A Goal race. That is a month from now. Do good but don’t blow the real race. So I took that to heart when the wind didn’t make for the day I had planned. No worries. I am happy with that. Not happy with the time but I am happy with the result. 5 PRs in the half at Boulder in 5 years. Each year I stress — can I do it again? Yes.

Plus, my pace today was nearly the same as my 10 miler 2 weeks ago. So held it out for 3 more miles with more hills and shitty wind. That feels like improvement.

Wondering if there is value in coming back to this race next year. I feel like running a half on pavement somewhere would give me the shot at sub-1:30. I could eventually do it here but it isn’t the course for doing it right now. We will see how my plans for 2010 shape up. Here is a random table I worked up to show how I have improved in this race. Times and places fell each year. In the last column, you see how many miles I ran the year before the race. More miles seems to equal faster times.

Year Place Time Improved Time
Over Previous Year
Mileage Run in
365 Days Prior
2005 375th 1:55:31
2006 325th 1:48:18 7:13 291
2007 Unknown 1:45:44 2:34 866
2008 110th 1:38:47 6:57 1548
2009 41st 1:35:26 3:21 1844

4 weeks till the big dance. Feeling great today. Did a few miles cooldown once I got back home. I think I will stick to the plan and see if I can get 2 more 80 mile weeks in. Then a 50, then another 50 — 26.2 of which might hurt like hell. But during the fast miles today, I kept telling myself — you get to run 30-40 seconds per mile slower than this at Denver. Won’t that be a treat? Think my body bought it? We will see!

  • Dude – excellente. Definitely enjoying watching your progress. 20 minutes in four years is awesome. Nice work, well done and keep at it.

  • Nice work Thin Man!

    I can’t believe the results are not posted, it’s leading me to believe that something is messed up.

    I did the same thing drafting, there were a few tiimes where I took off spriting about 100 meters to catch up to the next guy so that I could draft off him before the turn.

    See you at Denver!

  • Great run and amazing progression! It was windy for me on my bike out on the course so you threw down a solid time!

  • Michelle Hancock

    I enjoy reading your blog. It helps me when I want to try a new race, and you’ve run it. I was wondering how you get the split chart from Garmin Connect. Do you have to hit the lap button every mile? I have a Garmin, but I just signed up for Garmin connect today since I saw it in your blog. I ran the Boulder Marathon yesterday and knowing my splits would really help. Thanks

  • Nice work Brandon. So what’s the goal for Denver? Based on your half, it seems that 3:15 – 3:20 would be the range.

  • GZ – Thanks for your encouragement. I hope the improvement can continue but I have a feeling that it will get harder.

  • SE – Thin Man, huh? I wish! I am down but need to get to be “JM skinny” then I will be rocking. Great seeing you out there.

  • JP – Nice meeting you post-race.

  • Michelle – Thanks! I need to branch out though. I seem to be in a rut. I have Boulder covered now 5x over! On the Garmin (depends on the model) but you basically go into the training options and setup “Auto Lap”. Set it to 1.00 miles. Then it will just do the equivalent of pushing the lap/reset button for you every mile. That gets you the splits live on your watch during the race and on Garmin Connect. Looked you up in the results — not sure about your history but looks like a solid finish out there. I never ever want to run that marathon there so kudos to you.

  • Nick – Well, the original Denver goal was sub 3:30 back when I made this thing up on 1/1/2009. However, things have changed. I think I can do the 3:15:59 required for me to BQ. So that is what I have been working toward. I am within minutes. Stay at elevation and get it done on my home turf. If I can’t, I may have to go to sea level and push it out but that seems too easy.