Getting confidence from the half

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After a disastrous, very disappointment but full of tell tales about the marathon experience (From which I learned tons specially about the respect of the distance, my diabetes and myself) I moved on to my next event, a half marathon. I needed something to regain once again some of the confidence that I can do distance running. Yes, I know, a half it is not 26.2 miles and it is not going to be the same challenge. But still I needed to go back to basics and find the running form, pace and endurance that I had back at the Arkansas event (At least the 1st 18 miles of that one). This event took place at Umstead Park also this was the second year doing this event and part of the Spring Triple Crown. Last year I had one of the worst half performance. So it is a perfect opportunity to prove and start the process to redeem myself.

NCRC_Classic_2013This year I want it to at least improve over last years performance and hoped that temperature, humidity were going to cooperate this year. My previous training runs were once again at the same trails, lots of good hill training. But this time compared to last year’s training, my weekly mileage increased. The weekly mile volume back then was around 30, now is closer to 36. Those extra 5-7 weekly miles are mostly added solid speed work and more steady long runs. I was able to do some Yassos 7X and hill work between the events. With back to back long run on Saturdays and Sundays or 8 and 12. Again paying a lot of attention to my body cues.

Like previous events, there was no change to my morning routine, a latte, oatmeal and a bathroom visit just before leaving the house. Got to the event area early, found good parking and hanged around near the waiting finish area. I saw my friends Nemesis and decided to chat with him a little bit. We compared note from the previous half and the full at Raleigh Rock and Roll. He also mentioned that he felt that he was in trouble and that also had the worst performance. He was planning to do another full during the June timeline in Colorado or another state near by. While talking to the nemesis I saw another friend and chatted for a while. Roland showed up little bit later and we waited a little bit in the staging area which it was about 250 meters away from the starting line. We talked about the plan of attack for this one.

The plan: Taking it easy, slowly build up a good pace and finish strong.

The first couple miles were easy miles with a decent slow pace even as most of them were slightly uphill. Miles 3-5 were short up and down steeper hills. Now for mile 6, is all up hill. My friend and I knew it well, one entire mile+ uphill, we have trained in this trail several times to be able to conquer this. Going back, I remember the first few times we tried and not being able to complete the climb, but soon after those few training runs, we were building the necessary strength to not only climb the uphill mile, but to sustain a good decent pace. I was feeling really good almost all the way to the end of the climb, when I saw my other friend from earlier, Gary. He was having some trouble with the uphill. I encourage him to keep going at a good pace and to keep it steady, that we were almost to the crest of the hill.

Roland and I continued, chugging along the miles. We were getting closer to the turnaround at the half point of the race, we saw my friend’s “Nemesis”. “We can take him”, I told Roland. Lets keep him on our eye sight for a while and when we feel comfortable we will press the pace and pass him. Then we will stay in front comfortably. Roland got a second wind and we were able to hold a faster pace for a few miles. Unfortunately, he started to show signs of fatigue. Maybe we were too fast of a pace for too long. His form started to get a little bit choppy. Around mile 10 we entered the flat and slightly downhill section of the event, until one final uphill towards the finish line.

About half mile into the flat, my friend started to slow down a bit. I reminded him that we are really well poised to beat last year’s performance and that even tho we can’t see the “Nemesis” at this time I knew he could not be that far ahead. I tried to press on a bit and increased the pace, feeling strong. Not at a pace to do PB/PR, but easily to beat last year’s performance. My friend signaled me to go ahead and press on. He mentioned that he was going to be ok. After hesitating for a few steps I went for it.

I started to increase the cadence, and lengthening my stride a little bit. I was getting a really good pace, passing people very comfortably. After 5 minutes of increasing the pace, found myself in a really well controlled rhythm. I knew I was doing well under 10 minute mile, close to perhaps 9:00 minute/mile pace and improving. I saw in the distance the “Nemesis”, I knew I was closing in and had plenty of time to pass. But that was not good enough, I pressed on and passed him, doing the next 1/2 mile about 8:45 pace. Mile 12 at 8:19 and the up hill to the mile 13 in at 8:39, last .1 segment to the finish with a 7:42 push.

Even though it was not PR event, it felt great!!! A super strong finish, much needed to start regaining some confidence in my current running abilities. A start of the redemption process from what happened during the last marathon, which included a combination of a series of stupid mistakes and uncontrollable forces.

I walked back to the finish line and waited for my friend. I saw the “Nemesis” finish and not far behind my friend was arriving, and still with some good energy to finish strong and crossing the finish line with a smile.

[vtftable cols=”{0}0-4:c9daf8;{/}”] {f1}Month/Year;;;{f1}Event;;;{f1}Location;;;{f1}Type;;;{f1}Time;nn;
May-13;;;NCRC Classic Half;;;NC;;;Half;;;2:18:58;nn;
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[vtftable cols=”{0}0:c9daf8;{/}”] Event Highlight & Learning Points;nn;Highlights:

Course: The scenery is great, trails are very wide and the Umstead Park is very relaxing. The course is extremely hilly. Tons of ups and downs. Including a mile and a half of uphill

Venue: Good start/finish line. Good parking

Expo: No Expo

Weather: Clear skies 54 with 71% humidity.

T1D: Sugars with in running range at start.

Fueling:Pre-Race: Oatmeal and Latte. One energy gel with caffeine 15 mins before the start of race

Race: Water at the water stations, GU Strawberry Kiwi gel around mile 4 and 8.

Post: Water, banana and oranges

Learning Points:

  • Preparation at the route of the event helps tons.
  • Going easy during the first few miles pays off for strong last quarter of the event.
  • Increasing mile weekly volume added extra endurance and increased confidence.
    ;nn;
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