Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Race Report: GO! St. Louis Half Marathon

I was fairly excited to race the GO! St. Louis Half Marathon this year since I had recently improved my time for a 5k. This half marathon would have shown me what pace I am capable of maintaining for 13.1 miles, helping me better prepare for my first marathon.

This year the race organizers went with a corral start. I was placed in corral B and felt it contributed to a much smoother start. I lined up with the pace group I thought I would be compatible with and never really had a problem keeping the pace I wanted. There was plenty of room to maneuver and adjust pace. In fact I may have gone out a little too fast, just because I had the opportunity to do so.

I was able to keep my pace fairly consistent throughout the race (8:30 min/mi). I may have pushed myself a little too hard on some of the hills in order to keep pace. I lost about 10 seconds off my pace on one of the last hills and wasn't able to recover.

I finished the GO! St. Louis Half Marathon in 1 hour and 54 minutes at an 8:41 min/mi pace (avg speed of 6.9 mph). I am very happy with this time as my previous finish on the same course last year was 2 hours and 10 minutes. My best half marathon time is 1 hour and 53 minutes at an 8:31 min/mi pace and that took place on a fairly flat course.

I am also considering my 1:54 finish time an accomplishment considering start temperatures were above 65°F with high humidity. By the end of the day, temperatures had climbed to near 90°F. Due to the heat and humidity, race officials decided to divert marathon and marathon relay participants to the half marathon course around mile 9, just about 2 hours after race start.

I had trained all winter long and even ran parts of this course a couple times prior to the race, but I can fully admit that I was not acclimated to the heat given this was the beginning of April. Everyone I had talked to agreed it was brutal out there, making a very tough course that much tougher.

The event went well from my perspective and I am looking forward to next year. Congratulations to all who finished any of the weekend events!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Base Building and Half Marathon

The GO! St. Louis Half Marathon is coming up this weekend and my last month of base building went almost as planned. I threw a curve ball at my training schedule when I did some impromptu speed work. I have been happy with my pace, but thought I would give it a try after speaking with a running friend.

A week after my first speed workout I had a break through week. Either I hadn't been pushing myself hard enough in the past or my speed workout took hold faster than I thought it would. That week I ran my fastest 5K (3.10 miles) in 24:37 minutes at a 7:56 pace. This is after I had been unsuccessfully trying to break 25:00 minutes on the same 5K course. With that under my belt I wanted to get back to my base building and ended up running my furthest distance to date (15.25 miles) in 2:28 at a 9:43 pace.

So my goal this month was to finish with four consecutive 30 mile weeks, but given the progress of my speed work, I am happy to finish these last two weeks with 30 and 32 miles respectively. I still don't have a clear goal for how I want to run my half marathon this weekend. Initially I was going to treat it as a training run, but now want to face it as the race it is.

I went into my first half marathon with the intent to simply finish strong and ended up nailing my estimated time of 2:10. I wanted to break 2:00 hours for my second half marathon and ended up crushing that time with a 1:53 finish, although the course was a lot flatter. My half coming up this weekend is the same course as my 2:10 finish... so again I will be happy with anything better than 2:00 hours, but it would be nice to finish with a time closer to how I finished on the flat course.

I still have a few more days to think about how hard I want to push myself and will post a race report here next week. Good luck to everyone running this weekend!