Question from a reporter after that race, "Why did you do this event if you're focused on triathlon?"
Me: "You have to be good at running and suffering in triathlon, so a hilly half marathon is good practice!"
So i decided to sign up for the Delaware half marathon for a few reasons, one of which was that it was great to race a local event that has grown by leaps and bounds. There were 1300 half marathoners, 700 marathoners, and loads of 4- person and 8- person relays. There was also a good prize purse for first and extra incentive to run fast.
I had not done a specific half marathon prep at all, actually, almost the opposite where I came off a taper for a sprint triathlon two weeks ago in Barbados. I wanted to put in a big training block from now until mid June, so I figured this would be a good way to kick it off. I was trying to keep it in my mind that this was essentially a long tempo run, and although it would be aerobically fairly easy, it would pound the legs pretty well without the specific long run preparations. I had run one 10- mile tempo the week before at 5:35 pace so I figured it would be reasonable to run 5:20-5:30 pace for this race, although it is fairly hilly in the second half.
Here is a nice text description of the race and a bit of an interview where I was on the news:
My goals for the race were: first to win, second to set the Delaware resident record on the course (1:14), and third, if I felt good, go for the course record of 1:10:32.
Here is my Strava page for the run: http://www.strava.com/activities/139996836
This shows the course elevation profile and splits, but for those without Strava, here is a brief synopsis. the first 5- miles are very flat, mile 6 rolls a bit, mile 7 climbs 200 feet (about 3-4% grade steady) with some on cobblestones then just have rollers until mile 10 where you get a downhill to 12 and finally a nice .5 mile hill at 4-5% to get you close to the finish.
For the first 5- miles, I ran evenly 5:15-5:22 pace and felt conversational. At this point, I had a 35-40 second gap on second and was passing by marathoners who started 15 minutes before us. I had to consistently remind myself to not ease up as I was running past others quickly, but it was not a realistic representation of what my competition would be doing. I seemed to be getting cheers the whole race either from marathoners I was passing or spectators, which was a really fun experience. Also, the two police escorts and a cyclist were incredible so I did not have to do much bobbing around the course. I'd like that for all my training runs! They did a great job. I passed the 10 in 32:50 and 11.25 km mark (half way) in 35:15- but this being the flat half knew I would be hard pressed to come back at the same pace.
Mile 7 got ugly with a 5:50 up the big hill, but I just tried to stay out of the red line and keep the same effort. At the top, I think I relaxed too much and recovered too much because at the 8 mile mark, somebody told me that another competitor was 45 second - 1 minute back so I picked it up pretty comfortably. At mile 9, I was running a little scared as I had no idea how much of a gap I actually had and was getting pretty hot out there, but Melissa was standing there and gave me a good pick up and reality check to continue pushing. I tried to really use the downhill miles from 10-12 well and get to the "King Street hill" comfortably and fly down to the finish. The strategy worked and about 1/2 mille from the finish, I had somebody yell "hey that' s my TA!" So that was pretty funny and nice motivation.
I finished in 1:11:45, a Delaware resident record and a minute off the course record, and 70 seconds in front of second. I am happy with this, but I know I can run a lot faster over a half distance- one day I want to really give a good half a shot but not for a bit.
It was really nice having my Mom there for Mother's Day too, and some other family and my girlfriend came out plus lots of locals that I knew from training were on the course, so it was really a fun event.
Always great to be able to break the tape!
Next race is a change up with the super sprint, draft legal, REV 3 rush with a trials and finals format.