Sunday, September 23, 2012

Newport Liberty Half Marathon, USATF-NJ Half Championship, Jersey City, NJ. 9/23/12

So I talked John P. into signing up for this race by making him a bet that he could run a 10 minute PR and if he did not I would pay him $10.

I had just run my lifetime best half PR last weekend at the RnR Half.  There, I ran a beautifully paced race on a great course with no weather issue to contend this.

Today's race started equally beautiful, except for the wind which was going to be an issue, especially for all those sections along and over the water.  I was torn up about what to do.  It took me three years to get this new half PR.  I never run fast in JC and I am not sure why. Usually there is a lot of rain when I run this race but not this year.  So maybe I could run fast.  I only run PRs in Philly and I just did so what am I doing here? Oh Boy!

I thought about pacing John.  I have my goal race next week so racing hard is not be necessary. However, I also felt that it would be better for John to crush this course on his own.  He doesn't need a baby-sitter and I knew he could run fast without anyone's help. He has learned to train well, he is fast, and he is strong.  He has gotten his volume up to his lifetime highest.  He is ready. He told me he wouldn't mind a pacer but he wouldn't mind if I ran hard for me as well.

Finally, I thought about my Do Runners team.  I wasn't sure who had showed up for our women's team.  There was about 2500 runners so it was not easy to find everyone. I would feel bad if I showed up to a Championship Team race, and then ran a slower time that I could have if I ran hard.   So I told John I would go out at my goal pace and if I find that I am struggling and it isn't working out, I may decide to hook up with him for some pacing.

The gun goes off and we are crammed into the street heading to the first turn around.  It was a slow start, but then I was running easily. I saw I was hovering about 6:50-7:00 once I got settled into to a run pace.  The weather felt great and I took advantage of any down hill I could find.  The course was very flat, but there was some undulation to play with.  M1 7:10

I ran behind a few ladies for a mile or two who are generally around me in races.  I thought about sitting behind them for a while, since we were all running about 7:00.  M2 7:03. However, I felt like I could pick it up a bit through the city streets before we hit the windy park.  I new the park miles were going to be tough, so I took advantage.  M3 6:56, M4 6:59, M5 6:58.

At this point, I felt great and knew I was running a little faster than last weekend. I would glance down at my watch and see 6:40s and make an effort to get back to the 6:50's since it was very early still.  I was hoping to have something left to give to the last 4 miles that might get me a new PR (if the wind wasn't too bad).

By now we were in the park running on a bike path.  There was some puddles that people avoided, which I ran straight through.  They weren't deep but my feet and the KT tape I use on my Plantar Fasciitis go wet.  I run on the balls of my feet and it works for me.  However, this race had more sharp turns and turn around than most races I run.  By mile 6, I could feel a blister forming on the ball of my foot.  I don't really have blister issues anymore, but they can become an issue at any time.  Today was that day.

Each step I could feel the hot spot getting bigger.  Every turn around a cone or corner resulted in pain and a sensation that I was tearing the skin off my foot.  Regardless, I just ran.  It hurts, but I can tolerate it, and that is that.  M6 6:59, M7 7:02, M8 7:03. 

By Mile 8 we had already run thought one very windy stretch over a unobstructed walkway over the water.  I felt like it was a good part of a mile before we got out of the wind.  I was happy I held my pace, there but I took a lot out of me to work harder for the same pace.   Now at mile 8 we were doing it all over again.  It helped to have the wind assist for part of the out, but it seemed to not be enough to compensate for the wind in my face for the back part of this stretch.  M9 7:08.

One off that walkway, I picked up the pace, but with each stride on my toes, my foot was getting more irritated.  I had to alter my gait completely and sit back on my heels.  It was ok.  It relieved the pain. My pace was fast enough and I felt like I was using fresh muscles.   M10 7:01

Miles10 through 11 was another windy section and I was getting so very tired of wind.  I was running as fast as I could and starting to feel like I was on the losing end of an ultimate fighting match.  I felt pummeled and beat up bad.  It was relentless and I needed a break from it. As we turned into the street I hoped we would get a rest.  Well, we didn't get a break from the wind, but we did get to run back up the one incline I was so happy to descend earlier. M11 7:10 

Ok, only two to go and I see that clock say 1:17.  So I figure I can hold 7's for 2 miles and kick for the last .1 I got a new PR.  I flip my watch to Average Pace mode to check to see if I have a chance at breaking 7:00 for the entire race.   It says 6:57, but I am long on distance, so I know I need to run about 6:55 pace to ensure a sub-7 race pace (once I take the race time and divide by 13.1... regardless of how sloppy I ran that race or whether it was measured long or both).

I try to pick it up and I feel no pleasant response.  I sense I already going as fast as I can maintain for the final 2 miles. It seems too soon to go faster.  I decide to get to 12 and then dig for a kick.  M12 6:58

Ok, here we go.  Last mile and we are along the water again.  I am trying my best but just hating the headwind. But, I am catching women, so I focus on placement.  After all, where you place matters in the USATF Grand Prix series.  I pass a two girls and see another one who usually just crushes me in 5k's.  I wondered what a battle in the last stretch would be like against her.  I know she has more speed than me, but maybe not if she is tired. I reflex on my yearly mileage, remind myself that I am strong.

I work my way up to her over the last half mile. I try set myself up to overtake her if can get just a little closer before the last 10th.  M13 6:55

I pull up on her side and she responds to my presence.  We are now racing. We have one last sharp turn  at a corner, that I know is going to tear up my foot now that I am back up on my toes.  I come off that turn, unfortunately on the outside of her since I could not get past and tuck in before it,.   I dig... hard... and I find what I need.  I am ahead by a nose and inching more. I have the edge now.  But I am afraid she has enough time to come back from my pass and take me back before the shoot... unless I can find just one more gear.

Last .15 (yeah garmin reads long here) in 38.9 second.  I have become a sprinter running the 50 meter dash.  I found that gear and she doesn't get me.  I held her off!

I look at my time and it makes me smile!

New PR: 1:32:07 (7:01 pace) for 13.1 miles!

A few minutes later, I see John P hauling towards the finish and I smile knowing that I have a $10 bill in my car that I will gladly hand over when we get back to the garage! :)
(he left before me, but he knows I am good for it)

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