Fitness Update: Northland Half and 5K

Sunday was the final race of the Northland Progress Series sponsored by The Running Well Store. Perhaps next week I will do a post on the series as a whole, if something else doesn’t come up of more topical interest. Today, however, I am going to concentrate on this week, and specifically the half marathon.

Last week I mentioned my overdoing it attempt to run the half solo, the dehydration, etc. So this week I ran two 4.5 prep routes, but nothing longer, before the half marathon on Sunday. I also swam 2,000 yards, skipping my Friday swim to sleep in. I was highly sleep deprived this week by Friday, but managed to get a lot of sleep on Friday and Saturday nights, hoping to be recharged for the half marathon.

But I don’t think I was quite up to the quality I was two weeks ago when I did the 12-mile run.

Because of family car arrangements, I rode my bike the 7 miles to the race course. There I met several people I had seen before and come to know. The person I knew the longest was Paul Mast, who was running the 5K, not the half, because he had just done a 10K on Saturday. We discussed our expected times: his was around 22 minutes, mine 2 hours.

I also saw the “young man” (lower 40s) I had been seeing each of the other races, Jason Thomas, and actually got to meet his wife and daughter before the race. In each of the previous three races I had managed to finish and stay ahead of him.

I was also looking for Deidre Eilts, who would be singing Sunday afternoon with me in the Songflower Chorale concert that was my Sunday afternoon gig, but didn’t manage to spot her.

This time, I started near the front of the pack, and managed to end up running with some of the 5K people. I struck up a conversation with one guy, and about a mile in found I was at a 8 minute pace, instead of my intended 9. So when he took the turn back, I tried to alter my tempo toward what I thought was 9. But I wasn’t feeling overextended, it felt right. (I’ll have to remember that tempo for the Corporate Challenge 5K on May 6).

When I reached the 2 mile marker I saw the lead person looping back and hitting the 3 mile marker — so about 50% faster than me.

There were “plenty” of water stations, and I was well-hydrated, so I didn’t have issues with that. I didn’t feel the multiple times to walk, but as I got onto the gravel levee at mile 5 I did sense a change of my pace.

Up to this point, and through most of the rest of the race, I was getting passed periodically, and passing very few people. So the tempo and dynamic of this race was different than the other three races.

I made it to the end of the levee, and did the turn around the circle and started back. That was about 8.5 miles, and around 9 miles I found Jason Thomas coming up alongside me. He was apparently close behind me at the turn, and finally got up to there. The two of us used each other as pacers from mile 9 until mile 12. I had enough energy for spurts; I walked at the water stops and got going again, syncing with him, while he didn’t stop, not thinking he could start again if he stopped walking.

We kept a good pace, and I hope encouraged each other; I know he kept me going. I finally wasn’t able to catch back up to him after the water station at mile 12. I kept behind him, and the distance separated slightly until about mile 12.5 when I started walking until the tingle and dizzy went away, then ran the last quarter mile.

It is possible I wimped out, but though I didn’t make my 2 hours, I was satisfied with my gun time of 2:02:43.30 and chip time of 2:02:38.98 That was an overall rank of 79, age rank of 5 and sex rank of 40.

If I had made my 2 hours, and nothing else had changed, I would have been rank 70, still age rank 5 and sex rank 36. To change my age rank I would have had to carve off 6 minutes; so from the stats perspective it didn’t make a real difference.

So, while I finished before Jason on the first three races, he finished before me on the half marathon, with a time of 2:00:05.50 — just five seconds over 2 hours, and right at the pace he was planning. He placed 69th overall and 4th in age group.

I feel fortunate to have struck up that friendship; won’t know when/if we will cross paths again, but it was a blessing for me, and I hope for him.

I didn’t see Deidre on the course, but she apparently saw me. She ran a good race, and was third in her age category.

But both of us were feeling it at the concert, though the music gave us our second adrenaline rush of the day, and we had an excellent performance, that I might write about somewhere else.

I did take 15-20 minutes to recover with the refreshments at the finish line before taking a quite leisurely bike ride back home. I had the endurance for the distance, but not the strength for the speed.

Summary: first half marathon was a success, but I want to train to a slightly better edge before the Corporate Challenge Half Marathon on May 20.

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