Friday, September 30, 2016

OCNJ Half Marathon, Ocean City, NJ. 9/25/16

I wanted to run 20M this past weekend with Kim, but I was looking to do something more interesting than just the 20M course we usually run.  As I drove home from work last Monday,  I remembered that last year, Kim and I made a last minute decision to run the OCNJ Half Marathon and we loved it! The race was taking place again this weekend, so we decided again, last minute, to go for it. 

First, I have to say that I just love this race.  The RD does so many things right to take care of the runners. The races is well organized.  The shirts are really wonderful, the material feels great and the ladies long sleeve shirt is cut for women. They give out gloves as well. The course at the beach and is challenging in the beginning, but very fast after passing the 4M mark. They provide lots of aid stations and even hand out Gu on the course. At the end pizza and other food is provided.  Race photos, which I purchased, are so very reasonably priced, especially if you use the 25% discount code before Oct 5.  The cost to register early is only $50 which really is a steal.

I woke at 4:15 am, realized it was 44 degrees out and for the first time in a long time I actually cranked the heat in my car as I made the 1:45 minute drive to Ocean City, NJ.  The weather looked amazing for gun time, with a low-50 degree start. I regret not getting the dew point this morning to calculate the comfort scale. I wonder if I can find that somewhere. We did have some wind, but because this course was essentially a double out-n-back, we would have to fight it for only half the race.  Unfortunately, it seemed to get stronger as the morning grew longer and the last 5K was really a battle into a headwind on tired legs for me.

We picked up our bibs at 6:45 am and ran a 4.5 mile warm up before lining up to race.  I had gotten a cold last week and still felt bad the day before. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I noticed that as we jogged over to the start, I actually felt better than I had felt all weekend.  My legs had some pep in them for the first time since I raced my marathon two weeks ago.

I wore the Brooks Hyperions for the second time. I really like these racing flats.  I had raced in Brooks T7s, or some version of the T-series flats, since I first started racing. The T7s have given me so much trouble that I started looking around for a replacement shoe.  The Adios Adizeros felt good, but not the same, a little too narrow… the NB RC5000s are incredibly light and I love them, but I develop hotspot under my forefoot which is not good at all.  I may use them for 5k's, but for the half they tear up my feet.  The T7s are now just a bit too narrow in the toes (which I could fix by just sizing up) but I have worn the soles cleanly off the last 3 pairs of shoes in races to the point that rubber just dangles and flops off the bottoms.  I had one pair replaced, but since it happened 2xs more I am done with them.  The Hyperions, I believe, are intended to replace the T7s anyway.  I definitely like them a lot… my toes like them… the sole stays attached to the bottom of the shoe solidly, and they feel good on my feet… I wish they were a tad lighter, but really, I have no complaints. 

Yesterday, I completed an article about lactate threshold.  I learned a little more than I had previously knew, just through fact checking my work. One significant piece of information that I learned is that once we surpass our lactate threshold, depending upon by how much be blow past it, our lactate levels will remain in the peak elevated state for 3-8 minutes. During that time, we have no choice but to slow down, to allow our bodies time to clear out the overage of lactate in the blood stream.  3-8 minutes is a long time to suffer from an impaired ability to run our best and by the time the pacing error is remedied, our competition is long gone. However when paced properly, lactate get recycled back into useable energy and we retain the ability to shift into a faster gear when ready and when appropriate. Pace ourselves well and we should really be surpassing our lactate threshold as we finish the race, where it no longer matters what happens in the next 3-8 minutes after we stop.

The Gun goes off. I get a good start. Only one woman is ahead of me. I look at my watch and it is a 6:35.  I realize this is too fast. After submitting my Tempo Run article, yesterday, I can't help but feel like a big dummy if I screw up my own pacing now. I exercise restrain and wait until the second half of the race to run any faster than what I decided would be my Tempo Run pace. Based upon my 5k PR, I assigned myself a Tempo pace for this race environment as 6:45-6:50.  I wanted to hang there until 7M, before I even thought about picking it up and risking pushing too hard.  At M7, I wanted to be able to make a definitive move that could be sustained. If possible I wanted to find a final gear to dig into during the last 5K. And if possible, I would like to kick into the finish.

As I slow down, to my goal pace, one by one ladies start to pass me. At least I can count what place I am.  2nd, 3rd, 4th… pull ahead and I sit there in 5th for most of the first mile.  M1 - 6:47

Then another pulls ahead, 6th... and one more 7th… 

Number 6 is so nice. As she pulls up next to me she said “You are in Great Shape! You are so fit!”  This was such an ego boost for me, that it probably set the tone for the rest.  I thanked her, and return the complement, as she was pretty darn fit, too.  She pulled off ahead. I felt the urge to go with her, but I reminded myself "It is just you and the watch…. Run Your Own Race.  Smart pacing is the best racing and chasing leaders at too fast a pace in M2 may not work out for the best…" M2 - 6:55

I am glad I gave myself permission to relax because in M2, we started to climb up the bridge. It felt like it was a mile long, but it was probably more like .4M.  My pace slowed as we climbed and one more woman began to overtake me.  “Take it easy, Take it easy," I reminded myself.  My right hamstring started to feel tight, which was a surprise to me because my left hamstring was the tired one all week.  

I wanted to really stay comfortable until M7 before I tried to increase the pace. It was so very very hard to let people go.  The only reason I felt ok about not trying to stay with the leaders was because this was not my goal race.  This was just a random half marathon we found to make a 20M day more fun.  I wanted to see how it felt to hold back, so it if did not work out, I had nothing to loose. 

As we crested the bridge and ran down the other side my average pace for the entire race so far was now 7:00… and we had to crest this bridge again after the turn around at mile 3.4.  To try to find any edge I could, I hugged every single tangent as tight as possible. The head wind was not helping matters and I felt I was really working very hard to hold the 7:00 pace I was stuck at.  I could not wait to turn around.  
M3 - 7:18 (running some uphill and into headwind)

It was amazing to see so many fast women racing today, especially since last weekend was the USATF-NJ Half Marathon Championship.  However, this race offered prize money for 1, 2, 3 OA. Money brings in talent, so it made sense that the women here were such excellent athletes.  I did not expect to place. Top 5 would be really nice… especially since as we approached the bridge just a M4, I was in 9th.   M4 - 6:48 (running some uphill with tailwind)

As soon as we crested the bridge I thought about how I do tend to run downhills well. I took advantage of the descent and passed one woman and small pack of men on the way down. Once the bridge was done, we had to run mostly on the boardwalk to the turn around at about 10.5 miles.  
M5- 6:40 (running some downhill with tailwind)

After the bridge, we turned to run the boards. The wind was shifting a bit through most of this section, but I felt it mostly at my back which did help… I knew this meant we would be running into it for the last 5k back.  Once at our back, the wind no longer helped with cooling.  It started to feel like I was overheating a little. I was glad there were so many water stops so I could dump some on my head.  M
6 -  6:39

While on the boards, I started to feel really good.  I had passed a female just before the boards but was caught up with running with a pack of men and we were moving. The woman who told me I looked good was up ahead and I concentrated on reeling her in. I wanted to start to make a move to pick up my pace. I looked at my watch and it read 6:26…. that was too fast.  I had to settle down and be patient.  As I finally caught her, I encouraged her to run with me and she did for a bit. Some spectators called out “Number 1 and Number 2 ladies!”  She said “Yeah, I wish!”  I said “Hey we can pretend ;)… in a lot of other races we would be at this pace.  I think we are 6 and 7 now.” 
M7 - 6:32

As I pulled away, I could see two ladies in the distance.  I could sense I was moving slightly faster then they were, but not by much.  It would take a while to catch them.  I just wanted to makes sure I did not run myself out of a kick by trying to catch them too soon. I knew the wind would be challenging at the end of the race and it was already starting to get a little crazy. The flags were shifting in all directions as the buildings seemed to create some turbulent air.   M8  6:40

I was working hard, but I never felt a sense that I was pushing too hard.  The entire race I felt like I was just waiting for the final turn around so the suffering could begin... but as I waited, I was reeling people in.  People around me were fading. M
9 - 6:47

It took me all the way until mile 10 to catch the first of the two ladies. I heard a man call out to them 4th and 5th females (from his balcony).  I really really love when spectators give useful information that helps runners understand what is going on in the race.  Within a minute I had passed both and I was now in 4th.  This is where I wanted to really make a push with my pacing, but I was getting tired.  M10- 6:32
After a minor collision with a guy at the aid station, thank goodness neither of us fell, I hit the turn around and started the hard work of trying to kick in a headwind. As I headed back to towards the finish, the guy on the balcony yelled out… Lead Lady 3 minutes ahead… 2 and 3 are 90 seconds ahead.  Man, there are less than 3 Miles to go and 90 seconds will be hard to make up.  I saw them all at the turn around and they looked strong.  But I was not going to give up. 

It is just me and the clock… no one else.  Run your own race… M11 - 6:36

The wind was obnoxious and worse on the boards.  It made it tough to get a good solid pace increase, but my effort was definitely harder than the rest of the race.  I was working as hard as could.  I saw Kim on the way back and she said "4th lady, no one behind you.".I was glad to hear that b/c I was not sure if either woman I passed had been able to hang with me.  I didn't look back.  M12  6:48 

The last two miles felt like the longest two miles on the planet. I was fully grunting at this point and really trying to find a faster speed.  "Where is the finish!" I seemed so far away.  I looked at my watch and realized that I was going to be really really close to my PR.  I dug as deep as I could.  But I truly had maxed out. A guy flew past me and I had nothing left to respond with.  I was so happy to see that finish line.  


1:27:27 (6:40 pace)
(6 secs slower than my PR). 

4th Female OA

22nd OA

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