Saturday, April 2, 2011

Rock the Parkway Half Marathon Race Report

What: Rock the Parkway HM
When: April 2, 2011
Time: 7:30 a.m.
Temp: 39F start / 50F finish
Finish Time: 1:45:49 (Garmin)
Avg. Pace: 8:01/mile
Avg. HR: 171
Max HR: 182
Splits: keep reading


My training this winter has been hampered due to tweaking my knee during icy trail runs and multiple ITB issues preventing me from putting in proper long runs.  It wasn't until the last 2 weeks that I started seeing my pace increasing while my HR was staying the same. In short, my pre-winter endurance is starting to return.

Race day:
My morning routine goes off without a hitch and I end up getting to the race about an hour early. Since it was a bit cool at 6:30 in the morning, I sat in the Jeep for about 30 minutes and listened to my pre-race CD. I also started to think of a race plan. I wasn't sure how I was going to approach this race. I kept teetering between racing it or treating it as a training run.  I decided that I would treat it as a race, but not try for a PR. I really didn't think I was in PR shape.

At about 7:00, I headed to the restrooms at the HS stadium and then went to line up.  I decided that I would line up between the 1:50 and 1:55 pace groups.

At the start, facing forward.

At the start, facing behind me.

So looking at the pictures, I guess I lined up a lot closer to the 1:50 pace group. :)

Since I knew the temp would warm up to 50F byt the time I'd finish, I wore a sleeveless shirt and my race ready shorts. I like running with my own water so I wore my Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab 1.5L hydration pack. It has plenty of pockets for me to carry my camera and honey stingers energy chews.  My hydration strategy was to drink a little every mile and take an S!CAP electrolyte capsule every 30 minutes.

As you can see from the elevation profile, this is a PR friendly course.

I quickly changed my strategy and decided that I would keep the 1:50 pace group close until the 10K point and then do a systems check and increase the pace if all was good.

Splits from Garmin connect.

I'm sure some of you are wondering "when is he going to get to the actual race details?" To be honest, I'm wondering that same thing. Well, now is as good of time as any. We are all lined up, the National Anthem was sung, and the countdown started..3....2....1..Runners are off!

The first mile was nice and slow allowing me to get warmed up. I was thankful for the pace group at this time since I likely would have started out too fast. It was an uneventful mile and I was running at my typical long run pace.

About 2 minutes after the start of the race.

We picked up the pace for Mile 2 and I was starting to have doubts if I could keep up this pace for another 11-12 miles. I told the doubter inside me to STFU and tried to relax. It worked. At about the 1.9 mile point we came to the first aid station.  When the pace group stopped to get water, I kept going. This is where I consider the race actually starting for me.

Near the start of Mile 2

Near the end of Mile 2.

Mile 3 had a few decent short downhill sections so my pace picked up a bit. I managed to keep the pace up the inclines. I decided at this point that I was going for the PR. This meant that I had to finish faster than 1:48:49. My new plan was to keep my current pace until Mile 7 and then start picking it up. As long as the 1:50 pace group stayed behind me, I felt I had a decent chance. If they ever passed me, I would pick up the pace and try to keep with them until Mile 7 and then re-evaluate the plan.

About a 1/4 Mile into mile 3.

I could tell my pace slowed a bit during Mile 4, but I decided to go with it. After all, I still had over 9 miles to go. IIRC, it was during this mile when I saw some decent signs. I think one said "13.1 is just a 5K with a 10 mile warm up."  Another good one I saw said "DON'T POOP out." 

Roughly a 1/3 through Mile 4.

Since I really don't remember too much from the middle miles, I'm just going to let the pictures do the talking for me.

Near the beginning of Mile 5.

1/2 way through Mile 5.

About 1/3 through Mile 6. I was trying to capture the rolling hills in the distance.

maybe 1/2 through Mile 6.

About 3/4 through Mile 6

The end of Mile 6.

1/3 through Mile 7

I interrupt this post for a short narrative.

When I hit the mile marker for Mile 7, I decided to stick with my plan and start picking up the pace. IIRC, my average pace so far was about 8:20/mile. I started to actually believe that a PR was possible as long as I at least maintained this new faster pace.

Now resuming to your previously scheduled program.

1/2 through Mile 8

Roughly 1/2 through Mile 9

Roughly 1/2 through Mile 10

When I hit the mile marker for Mile 10, I had about an average pace of 8:15/mile. I started thinking that I might be able to reach a sub 1:45 finish time. It was time to start using the upcoming downhills to my advantage. I just had to pick up my pace.

Roughly 2/3 through Mile 11.

I became all business after the last picture. I started passing quite a few people those last 3 miles, but only 1 person passed me. By Mile 12, I didn't know if I could maintain the pace. I couldn't keep my breathing in check and I couldn't have said a word to anyone. My average pace was dropping steadily. At this point, I knew that it wasn't dropping fast enough for me to go sub-1:45. I didn't think I could maintain my current pace. I was exhausted.  I tried to just will myself to pick up the pace. I evidently did, just have no idea how it happened.  I was so thankful when I reached the marker for Mile 13. I could see the finish line up ahead. I tried to kick it in, but it was pathetic. I had no energy left.

When I crossed the finish line, I felt that if I stopped I would either puke or pass out. So what happens, the people in front of me walk so slow it seems like a standstill. Once I got passed the roadblock I felt a bit better. It was a good thing that all the volunteers removing the timing chips were busy because I doubt I could have stood still long enough for them to clip the ties and remove the chip.

I am ecstatic that I set an unexpected PR by 3 minutes. I thought I would struggle to finish near 1:50. This race went almost perfectly. Looking back, the only thing I would have changed would be starting with the 1:45 pace group instead of the 1:50. I know I am currently capable of getting a sub-1:45. Since my endurance is just now coming back, I'm going to have to pick a new HM goal to reach.

If you managed to read the whole thing, thanks! I hope you enjoyed the pictures.



  1. Outstanding! Love the 6:56 for mile 13! And if you finished feeling like you were going to puke or pass out, you raced it perfectly. :D


  2. Perfect day for a perfect race!! Congrats on a great race and PR!!