Monday, March 19, 2012

National Rock and Roll Half Marathon: Awesome Workout

On Saturday, I ran the Rock and Roll National Half Marathon.  In many ways, this is my homecoming race. The National Marathon in 2009 was my first marathon ever (3:52).  I then ran the half in 2010 (1:39) in preparation for Boston, and in 2011, I ran the half again as a NYC Marathon Qualifier (1:34:34).  And so I returned yet again to the half this year, but not as a race, but as a very long, drawn out workout.  It was not a goal race, I did not want to run a PR, and I was here to follow Sarah's very specific (and helpful instructions).  

This is going to be tough for you because you are going to feel awesome and you will have to run slow, at least to start.  Don’t become impatient.  This is going to be like a very long progression run that ends much faster than I usually ask you to.  Err on the side of going a bit to slow in the beginning because I’d rather have you feel strong and run fast the last couple miles.  So, run a 10 minute or so warm-up to loosen yourself up a bit.  Aim to run 7:30-7:40 pace for the first 3 miles.  It will feel easy.  It should.  From miles 3-6 hold your pace to about 7:20 or so.  From 6-9, start cutting down more aggressively, so go from about 7:20 pace down to 7:00 minute pace.  Hold this until mile 10.  I now want you to aim to race your last 5K of the half.  These last three miles should all be under 7:00 pace.  Aim to run 6:55, 6:50 and then let it all out the last mile.  This will be hard by the end but if you err on the side of caution the first half of the race and don’t push the pace  more than you are supposed to, this will be a good strength workout but overall, not an all-out effort.  2 mile cool-down.  Total: 16 miles
So, I had my instructions in hand - I copied my expected range of splits onto an index card which I kept in my pocket. I had been taking it easy all week in preparation for this. I was excited about the race - like seeing an old friend again, and yet, the National Marathon/Half had turned into a Rock and Roll race and I was very curious to see what was going to be.
And the people just kept on coming...
The race has grown considerably in size since I first started running it.  Last year, there were 10 corrals and I think I was in the 2nd.  This year, as the race has turned into a RNR, there were 27 corrals, and when I got off the metro, I was blown away by how long the corrals were.  And I got seeded in the 1st, which I was very excited about.  I was standing in about the 10th row, with comfortable room, and tens of thousands of people stretched out behind me. The picture doesn't even do justice, but you can tell it was a very big race.
These are from running downtown
When the gun went off, I did all I could to just trot it out and not take it out hard.  I went through the first mile just as planned in 7:30 and felt really comfortable.  Weather was good: sunny and about 50 degrees - much cooler than its been this week!  I couldn't believe how comfortable it felt.  I got through the 5k in 22:40, which was a little faster than the 7:30 pace, but I was really trying to just hold back.  There were also these cool Japanese drummers around mile 2, and it is so hard to control yourself when you're hearing steady drums - maybe it's just me, but I always want to beat out time alongside of them.  Anyways, I felt good, and was readying myself for the series of hills that was going to come between miles 6-9 (the hardest part of the church).  I had maintained about 7:20 pace through the 10k, and at that point, didn't feel tired, but wasn't quite ready to pick up the pace.  But even though that section of the course is the hardest, it is also filled with the best crowds.  The sheer volume of people cheering as we made our way up the hills was just super encouraging, and I made moved into 7:10 range.  You know the crowds are awesome when you are climbing hills, sweating like crazy, but then get chills form all of the excitement.  I felt fantastic - this was not an all out effort, and I was just itching to turn on the gas.  There was even a hilly mile that I got a 7:00 mile in!  The miles had all passed so quickly, and I was ready for the next gear.  At mile 9, once I got through the hardest part of the hills, I knew I only had 4 miles left, and as Sarah said, I was to race that last 5k.  I was getting ready to really race - this was really my time to shine, to pass people who I had "let go" earlier, and to turn on the heat!  The moment I passed the mile 10 marker, it was like a second gun went off in my head - it was on!  I was flying and I knew that this was why I had been easing myself into this race - game on!  And I just started passing people - it felt great, and I was dipping in under 7 minute pace.  I could not believe how fast the time went by, and I only had a 5k to go.  I just felt like I was motoring, and I knew this course so well, and those final turns were very familiar to me.  I was going going, felt great, and that finish line just stretched out before me.  They announced my name as I was coming down the line (which just feels...well, like I was a rock star), and I was grinning from ear to ear.
1:34:03 (7:11 pace)
  • Overall: 364 out of 16291
  • Division: 22 out of 3025
  • Gender: 73 out of 10707
  • I was really blown away with how well I placed overall - I've really made great progress in just 3 years.  This was my second fastest half (Philly - 1:32:34), and a course PR by 30 seconds.  And a terrific workout!  I cutdown my pace according to plan, and it went really well!  Sarah was pleased with the effort, and it should mean that things are going to go well for the 5k next Sunday.  

Me in my new compression socks and medal

    When I got home, I did my cool down (ouch - was definitely sore by then), and then cleaned up.  Check out the compression sleeves I bought at the expo!  I was really happy with the race - it was probably the best non-PR race I've ever run. 

1 comment:

  1. What a great race you ran! One of the hardest things is practicing restraint and you did a and awesome job following your game plan. Glad you like your new compression sleeves--I have the same ones and I love them!