Sunday, July 22, 2012

Old Port Half Marathon Race Report

Bit of an odd start to the morning, but all in all the race went pretty well. The sun did start to get to me though. It warmed up pretty quickly and it was also humid. Compounding matters was there wasn't much shade on the course. Not my best day, but I still finished in 1:27:17, good enough for 12th place out of 1043 finishers and second in my age group (40-44).

Kate and I got there about an hour and ten minutes early. We opted to park closer to the finish and walk to the start, a little less than a mile away. By the time we got there, I had to go potty really bad and then I went for a warm-up.

During the warm-up I had to go potty again REALLY bad. I cut it short and headed over to the start area, but by then the lines were wicked long and as I exited the stall I only had a minute to get up the big arse hill to the start line. In a stroke of luck, the start was delayed, and I had some time to get in some additional active stretching. Still, I was in a bit of a negative mindset because of all of that and also the more-humid-than-I-expected conditions. I just wasn't really feeling it.

I chatted with a few runners, including one really nice guy from NH who was expecting to run about the same pace as I was. It turned out he did and I didn't. Still, I'd fare pretty well overall.

We're off!
Miles 1-4
The first mile was fast. NH Guy and I ran for a bit in the first half mile but he pulled ahead after I got my pace into check.

A series of turns led to the path on the Eastern Promenade along I-295. From there we hit the bridge on Route One that crossed over to Falmouth. During this time, quite a few runners passed me, but I smiled inwardly. I sensed I'd get most of them back, especially now that I had settled into my pace. I knew I could hold what I was running, but wasn't so sure about some of the dozen or so runners that had formed a pack a hundred feet ahead. Funny how you can just tell and often be right.

After the bridge into Falmouth we made a right turn through some neighborhood streets. That pack had begun falling apart and I was picking some of them off. This was a good mental boost that I needed. But the sun felt pretty intense and wasn't helping my mood. I was hanging in the balance.

Miles 5-8
Back on Route One and up towards the Audubon Center which featured nearly a mile of legit trails. However, I was in the second wave and I had now caught up with the first wave (26 minutes ahead of us). It was pretty congested and tricky to manage.

I was thankful to get through the first wave folks on the trails and back on the roads where there was a bit more breathing room. Still crowded though. There were sometimes three or four runners side-by-side and wearing headphones, so yelling "on your left" was a waste of energy. Kind of annoying, but I tried to focus on remaining positive. My pace was pretty steady so I was concentrating on that.

We crossed the Route One bridge back into Portland and not too much longer we were at the Back Cove.

Miles 9-12
I was struggling on the Back Cove and my splits were showing it. More first wave runner dodging. I checked the weather history and it was only in the mid-70s at this point but it felt way hotter. However, I was able to pass a couple of guys here who were also in the first wave (running pace made it pretty clear who was who).

As we turned off the Back Cove and on to the Eastern Promenade trail, I noticed one guy in particular a few hundred feet ahead of me wearing black shorts who was also in the first wave. From hence forth he shall be dubbed Black Shorts Man. I kept my eyes locked on him and I made him my target.

The Final 1.1 Miles
There were several times when I didn't think I would catch Black Shorts Man. It was proving pretty difficult to gain ground but as the path veered to the right and towards the Old Port I could tell that I was making progress.

It wasn't until about a hundred yards or so from the final left hand turn on to the pier that I would be close enough where no first wave runners were between us and as I got about 10 feet behind him, he must have heard me and gave a very quick glance over his shoulder and began to speed up a little.

I stayed just behind Black Shorts Man, matching his slight increase in pace and I listened to his breathing. He appeared to be working about as hard as I was, but I knew I still had a kick. The final sharp left turn was now approaching and a few dozen yards before it, I made my move.

It's harder to judge distances on turns, so if I could put enough between us by the time he made the turn, he might be demoralized a little in terms of trying to catch me. I passed him and gave it all I had and made the turn a few moments later. I continued pressing with all I had, dodging a few more first wavers and not daring look over my shoulder just yet, however, I couldn't hear him. 

The finish line was a little further away after that turn than I had anticipated but I managed to keep the pace up. I eventually did steal a glance over my shoulder but didn't see the guy. I crossed the finish line in 1:27:17. 

I chatting briefly with Brenda who was volunteering (more her talking, me grunting), while I waited for Black Shorts Man to come in. He was farther back than I had thought and I wondered if he had even gave chase. We exchanged fist bumps and congrats and then I went to find Kate. 

Post Race
Hung out with Kate while I rested and she filled in on new information on our various friends running the Vermont 100. Big congrats to my Trail Monster teammates Ian, Jeremy, Joe and George for stellar finishes!

Got caught up with Jeremy of Atayne for a bit and also found Bob M. and we had a barley soda together at the beer area, which was free thanks to Shipyard (had to throw in plugs for those two race sponsors because they rock).

Waited for the results to be posted but when they were, there were clearly some big errors which still haven't been fixed as of this posting, but hopefully they'll have it worked out soon. Looks like the two wave start threw off the timing company and a lot of the first wave folks were gifted 26 minutes off of their times.

I also got second in my age group, but I thought the awards only went one deep so we left since it would still be an hour when they made announcements. A friend told me I was called up though. I knew there was one guy ahead of me, but apparently that was it. Oh well.

Chilling in the Misting Tent

Barley sodas with Bob!

Given the stomach issues before the race and my head not being in a good spot at the start, I'm actually pretty proud of how I did. The heat didn't help my mindset either, especially in the early stages, but I'm thankful I was able to pull it together. That's what's important.

I checked my pace several times throughout, as I always do, but I rarely looked at the distance. That wasn't really on purpose, but it was still helpful. Just concentrating on the pace while knowing what mile I was on most of the time was all that really mattered, which was good.

Strategically, things went really well. It really only came into play significantly with keeping my cool as that pack moved ahead very early in the race and again at the end with the Black Shorts Man.

I also took water or Gatorade/Cytomax/whatever at every aid station except one, I think. That was smart with the heat. Compare that to the Midcoast Half last March when the weather was very cool and I only took one Gu and half a cup of water during the race and was more than fine.

w/u Ran .6 miles @ 8:09/mile pace.
Ran 13.1 miles @ 6:40/mile pace.
Official time: 1:27:17
Official placing: 12th out of 1041
Age Group (40-44): 2nd out of 62.
Paved roads, about four miles of trails.
Upper 60s to mid-70s, sunny, humid.
Saucony Kinvara 3, shorts, singlet.


middle.professor said...

Good work on a hot, sunny day. I think I chose wisely, though, running in the shade on blackstrap hill!

Jeremy Bonnett said...

Really great race man! So happy to hear you crushed it and had some fun strategic play in there as well. You are a tactical runner.

pathfinder said...

It is pretty cool to have a good race even when you are having a not so good race....I will have to learn how to do that sme day