Thursday, April 18, 2013

2013 Rock the Parkway Half Marathon Race Report - 4/13/13

The first half marathon of the season is in the books...
It seems to anticlimactic with what happened Monday at the Boston Marathon, but I'll muster out a report to hit the highs and lows for my day of 13.1 miles.

My training has gradually changed focus.
In the past, I was more focused on a set distance for long runs and then timing for shorter runs and drill running.  During the 2011 winter I was aiming to stay around 7 to 8 miles for long runs to keep the base up.  This past winter in 2012 I was more focused on 1:30 runs, 1:45 runs, 2:00 and 2:15 runs leading up to rock the parkway.

A medal so big you need a wheelbarrow to get it to the care after the race.
During the timed long runs, the goal was to stick the heart rate in high zone 2 and crank out the long run.  Distance was a byproduct of heart fitness.  As your body becomes more acclimated at running distance at zone 2, your heart rate would theoretically stay in the same range, but your body would be able to go faster at your fitness improves.  You would be able to push yourself harder at the same heart rate.  That was the theory anyway...

It also depends on how dedicated you are to sticking that heart rate.  I'll be the first to admit I'm only human and there were some runs I wasn't feeling it 100 percent and some runs I nailed it.  I try not to be too hard on myself, and looking at the positive side there were no planned long runs that I missed.

I was comfortable I was trained up to complete the half marathon, but I wasn't sure if I would be able to challenge my 2012 Half PR of 1:37:13 at this same race.  I wasn't really sure I was going to break 1:40, which is lofty, but the expectation I have of myself for an A/B+ half marathon.

It was cold...
I'm not a fan of cold weather.  I don't really like being cold at all.  Running in cold is not cool.

It was just above freezing at the gun.  Luckily I have some friends that work at the building hosting the start line and I was able to duck inside to use the facilities and keep warm until 10 minutes before go time.

The RD set up wave starts for 2013 to allow less congestion and to add more slots for runners.  They added around 1000 more runners between the half and 5k.  Under normal circumstances, that would be ill-advised, but with the new wave starts, it was not an issue.

Ward Parkway, where the race went, is a large 6 lane road with a lot of history for Kansas City.  Without wave starts, the 3 lanes in each direction would have been packed for the first mile with faster runners hitting the grass and curbs to get around slower runners.  As we all know, EVERYONE lines up according to their pace times... not.  The waves cured that issue and personally, I was able to run my own pace from start to finish and only had to dodge two people.  Start line success.

I'm not sure what it was...
But I was easily exceeding my heart rate range of 165 to 170 for the race.  For a long range event like a half marathon, I didn't want to burn my matches too soon.  A few of the moderate hills got me to 175 bpm and I found myself having to back off a lot to not tax the system too early.  By mile 5, I was fairly certain I wasn't going to get a new PR.

I knew that the last 2 miles were all downhill and coming back on the out-and-back course was a lot easier, but I was pretty sure I was going to have to back off early to reach a sub 1:40 and ditch a new PR.

Hills at the halfway...
Everyone loves a good hill.  Loose park was the "turn around" point and as you get to the turn around the park to start heading back, it's the nastiest hill of the race.  I wouldn't say it's a killer, but when you realize you're 15 to 20 seconds off your goal pace, you know you won't be making time up on this hill.

It put me in a hole that solidified no new PR.  I had to bust ass the remaining way back to keep a sub 1:40 in sight.

When you look at the elevation chart, it doesn't do the Loose Park hill justice.  What it does do justice for is the realization that the last 2 miles are mostly downhill and a nice stretch to start kicking for a PR.

The home stretch
At mile-ish 12, I had 1.1 to go and needed roughly a 6 minute mile to get a 0.01 second new PR.  Astonishingly enough after what felt like sub-par running for 12 miles, I was in a position that was realistically attainable.

That last mile has around 85 feet of drop.  It was possible, but putting aside my higher than expected heart rate, my legs were feeling like lead at this point.  Part of me wanted to just jog it in and call it a day and part of my wanted that new PR.

I gassed it for all I was worth in that last mile and lucky for me I could see the bigger than life race clock ticking away as I sprinted for the finish line.  I was able to see my PR slip through my fingers and it became a race just to finish sub 1:38.

Better Eat Your Wheaties!

The results
1:37:56 - 43 seconds off a new PR.  On one hand, that sucks I was so close, but on the other at least it's confirmation that my running endurance from 2012 hasn't slipped away.  There's room to improve and time before IM KS 70.3 in June.

That was good for 07:29 minutes per mile, 37th in my age group and 210 overall.

Check out the google doc spreadsheet below of past Rock the Parkway Performances.  Improvements every year until this year.  I'd call this year a non-slip victory.

This year I'll be foregoing the Heartland 39.3 half marathon series and instead focusing on training and not leaving Em with the kids during a race for the 3rd straight weekend.  She'd do it if I really wanted to, but I can run 13.1 miles around home for free and not have to drive 30 miles to get there and use up valuable weekend free time to get there and come back.  All about the priorities.

It was a good event and they avoided the extreme humidity from last year that resulted in a few runners requiring medical attention. Compared to what happened in Boston, our race was downright boring. It puts things into perspective.

I would call myself satisfied with the results, but I know what I need to work on.

Special thanks to:
Team Fluid for the gear and nutrition.
Heritage Chiropractic for keeping me aligned.
Kent at Thouroughly Kneaded Massage Therapy for keeping me limber and knot free.
Team Wheaties for the energy and sweet running gear.
My wife for watching the kiddos.
My friend Rob for the ride to the race.
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