Saturday, May 18, 2013

Frederick Half Marathon & Nut Job Challenge Recap

Sunny, warmish day(s) in May  

Nut Job Challenge
C-  5k - 27:06 (goal was to run relaxed pace-success!)
      1/2 marathon - 1:44:41 *PR!!

D and I decided to participate in the Frederick Running Festival Nut Job Challenge.  The 5k was Saturday at 6pm.  The 1/2 marathon was at 7am the next morning.

Our real goal was to run the half marathon as fast as possible.  The second goal was to complete the challenge in decent shape.  We weren't really interested in running a competitive 5k.  Our goal was to see if we could run the 5k the night before the 1/2 marathon without destroying our 1/2 marathon fitness.

D and I have run our share of 1/2 marathons, but we've never done a full.  I don't think either of us is really concerned about finishing a full marathon, but this was an interesting challenge to see how speed would hold up with more miles.


In the Parking Field pre-5k.
D is modeling the half marathon shirt, and I'm wearing my support Boston Police Shirt.
The goal was to enjoy and finish.  Not race.  We did just that.

This was an out and back course with a small hill that you had to run down, then up.  Not particularly inspired scenery or spectators, but there were mile makers.  PLUS there was a guy standing on top of a car in a Stormtooper outfit making sure that everyone ran correctly around the turn-around cone.  He had a microphone and was shouting "If you want to cheat, I'll show you the dark side!"  LOVED IT!

The start and end of the race were on a track.  I liked this is theory, but in reality the track was gravel and the runners kicked up dust as we raced.  I started my race coughing.

End of the race was also great.  The center of the race track had booths, race food, and 2 free beers per runner.  It was also nice to finish both of our races with stands semi-full of people cheering us on. :0)

1/2 Marathon (aka pacers are amazing!)

I've never run a race with a pacer before.  There were 1:45 pacers for this race, and my goal was to stick to them like glue.

Yay Pacers!!! (Frederick Pacers)

I thought a lot about how realistic running with the 1:45 pace group was.  I'd run a 1:47 2 months earlier at the Savin Rock Half Marathon- and that was a hilly race that I paced incredibly poorly (I went out WAY too fast).  Still, Savin Rock had been a PR for me.  And I was supposed to run a 5k the night before this half.  I had no idea well I could run this race.  1:45 seemed like a realistic, if slightly crazy, A goal.  Plus, obviously there was no "1:47 pace group" or "1:42 pace group," so 1:45 it was.

I thought I'd try to stay with the 1:45 pacers through at least the first 8-10 miles.  If I felt great, I could speed up.  If I felt horrible, I could slow down knowing that at least I didn't pace the beginning of the race as poorly as Savin Rock.

The start was a bit hectic.  D and I parked where we had parked for the 5k the night before- in a field right next to the 1/2 marathon road start.  It was just cold enough that we need to keep on some layers between the car and the coat check.  In retrospect, I may have been better off dumping my jacket in the car at the last minute.  The baggage check was perfectly efficient (and inside and warm!), but the lines for porta-potties were a bit much.  I had an upset stomach and b-lined for porta-potty-row.  Afterward I checked my jacket and got back in line for the porta-potties.  While there were a lot of them, I don't think there were enough.  With less than 10 minutes to the start of the race, I gave up waiting in line.  While I had to pee, I was more worried about finding the pace group before the start of the race.

The pacers were right by the start line (much further up than someone my speed usually gets to the start).  D and I scrambled around people to get near the pacers.  D was starting with the 1:40 group, so we said good bye and wish one another good luck.

There were 3 1:45 pacers, and they were great.  I absolutely refused to let them get more than about 10 feet away from me because I knew how quickly they would disappear.  

Staying close to the pacers meant that I was more focused on them than the course.  I remember the start of the race, but then very little before the last 2 miles.  There were a lot of runners, and even 8-10 miles in the course felt "crowded".  Perhaps a little too crowded, but that may have just been because everyone wanted to be by the pacers.  There was a pro-gay-rights preacher blessing runners as they ran by at the first mile.  There was a cute downtown area that we ran through, which had more spectators than the rest of the race.  There was a guy running back and forth on a short stretch of road, who was warning runners that they were on a "false-flat."

The course was perfectly nice.  There were some big potholes in places and some narrow-ish turns, but the roads were clear, well-marked, and wonderfully traffic free.  I don't remember any horrible hills in the first 10 miles, and there were plenty of water/gatorade stops. However, every time I tried to slow to try to get water, I'd watch the pacers start to disappear into the horizon.  This caused me to get fluid less than normal and to drink less of what I did get.  Thank goodness D had pinned a Hammer Gel to my shorts.  I don't remember seeing gels being handed out, but I was so focused on staying with the pacers that it's possible I ran right by them.

By around mile 10, I was struggling to stay with the pacers.  I kept thinking, "one more mile- just stay with them one more mile."  My last water stop was somewhere around mile 11 when I looked up from my water cup to see that the pacers were at the top of a little hill, while I was still at the bottom.  I was practically in tears for the next half mile trying to get my body to move enough to catch up even to the pacers.  Then I refused to let them get away again.  Water be damned, I would not slow again for anything.

I missed the mile 12 marker, and I had no sense of how close I was to the finish.  I asked the peppy, not-even-kinda-feeling-the-run female pacer how much farther it was to the end.  She took this to mean I was dying (granted, I was only able to speak in 2 word sentences at that point), and she did a great job of getting me up the last big hill.  I was dying, but dying in the sense that I thought I still had another mile and big hill in front of me.  Instead, I was suddenly entering the race track.  With only a half trip around the track left, I was almost done!  I was confused, but tried to accelerate through to the finish (and I did come about 20 seconds under 1:45).  So in the end, I was really hurting, but was mentally and physically prepared to go further than I had to go.

The pacers were great.  From my perspective they didn't really slow at the water stops, BUT they were hitting the splits almost exactly.  I could never do that on my own, and it made me a much better runner.

Our bling

I found D right after the finish line.  We collected our 2 medals and got 2 more free beers a piece.  The finish area seemed like a nice set up, with a band, but we were too cold to stick around.

Race Recommendation- Run this.  Particularly if one of the pace groups is around your A goal time.
Frederick Run Fest

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