Thursday, October 23, 2014

Race Report: Bull City Race Fest Half Marathon

The reward: A shiny new metal and a koozie to boot!
My return to racing is complete! I ran my first road half marathon on Sunday, slightly shy of two years after I broke my leg and derailed my running obsession. While it wasn't my fastest half marathon, it does rank 4th out of my 12 attempts, despite being the hilliest road half I've done yet!

It would be an understatement to say that I was nervous leading up to the Bull City Race Fest on Sunday. I've been less than confident about my training, after a few small setbacks and generally feeling the cumulative fatigue big time throughout the past month or so. Not having raced for two years, I was a bit rusty on race strategy, and was wondering how fast I should go and what I should eat.

I showed up in my shiny new Bull City Track Club singlet at 6:30 on Sunday, found the lovely array of Port-A-Johns as they are called here, and then found some friendly faces. As 7:30 approached, I ditched my jacket and headed for the start line.

My original plan, being two weeks from marathon day and all, was to run this as a tempo run, so around 8:20-8:25 per mile. My marathon goal will be somewhere in the 8:40/mile range (I think), so that has been my tempo pace. On Saturday night, after thinking about my numerous long runs under 8:20 so far, I figured that I could go faster. I decided on 8:00 or so for the first half, with the goal of dropping down to 7:50 or so for the second half.

The race started, and it was a fast start! I clocked a few miles under 7:55, and felt fine, so I figured I'd go with it. It felt manageable. Knowing that the race is supposed to be hilly, I assumed that I would lose those banked seconds later anyway.

The first eight miles felt fine. The course seemed to this flatlander to be rolling hills, and I seemed to take them all in stride. Around mile eight, I felt a bit tired, and queasy. That passed, as did a slightly slower mile. No matter, I had this one.

Once miles nine and ten came, I realized that I had arrived in the hill zone. I just couldn't seem to get back up to speed at the top of each hill before I hit the next one. The few downhills helped, but I still logged several 8:30 miles.

I had enough left in the tank to finish strong-ish, but with seriously aching feet. That one was new for me, and has me a bit worried for the marathon. I decided to take today off, since my left foot still doesn't feel right. I hope it is better by tomorrow, because I need to get back to it!

All in all, the Bull City Race Fest half marathon did not disappoint. It was fun to run through Durham, actually through several places that I've done many of my solo shorter runs on since moving here. I wouldn't mind to try my hand at a flat half right now, to see how my fitness compares to two years ago, but I think I performed well, considering.

Final result: 1:46:23, or 8:07/mile.

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