Sunday, March 01, 2009

First long race of the year, a smashing success!

After my still can't believe it time in the Chocolate Mile three weeks ago, I started to get really fired up about long race season. Until I heard the weather forecast for possible snow showers, or much worse, cold rain. Then I wasn't so fired up about it. I made the drive to the hotel nonetheless; I was not leaving at 5-5:30 to drive nearly 50 miles that morning knowing that I still needed to pickup my race packet and the Beltway is always questionable. No drama there, hotel had a microwave, I found a Wawa with bananas for the morning, I was good to go.

After a great (especially for hotel) night's sleep, I was off to Severna Park (MD) High School for the first half marathon of the season. I was all jacked up, although very cold once I got out of the car at the school. So I went into pre-race routine mode, the race number and chip were all set, a brief run and stretch, followed by fixing my watch so I could track my chip time. I was good to go at the starting gun.

I didn't really know what to expect from this race as it was my first long race in winter conditions, or my second race of longer than one mile in winter conditions; the 4 miler on New Years Eve was fun but not really a race. I had a goal of finishing under 2 hours, with 1:55 the "get under that and I'll be thrilled" line. 1:50:39 I ran in Richmond? Not happening, too big of a difference in conditions and on top of that, while I have gone on several long runs on the weekends, I had a lot more races under my "recently run belt" when I ran Richmond.

The course was just about all on the Baltimore & Annapolis Trail, which does not go all the way to Baltimore but I digress. After running through a middle school parking lot, the course proceeded to the paved trail. The trail was open to cyclists or other runners during the race, but I only saw three other runners and no cyclists since it was 7:30-8 AM on a crappy Sunday morning. Nice running surface, not chopped gravel, a couple slick footbridges but heck it snowed a bit the night before so it goes with the territory.

I'm running, staying hydrated, settling in when I came to the one hill at the turnaround, up and down, all under US 50. That was a bit tough but after that my pace per mile kept on getting slightly faster. I didn't look at my watch all that often during this race, pretty much just at the mile markers. I started to notice I was getting close to the 8:30 mile pace. Cool! I knew that 1:51:21 was 8:30 for a half marathon but didn't think I was running that fast. But I kept on keeping on, taking advantage of the water stops, using my own water belt (4 tiny bottles attached to a belt) to help with hydration...and....started to hurt a bit around mile 12.

But I dug in and finished with a chip time of 1:51:09, exactly 30 seconds slower than the Richmond race. I am VERY HAPPY with this, especially given the conditions. I'm so glad I went now, a new experience, chatted with a few people, and verified that my time last year wasn't a fluke. I recommend races put on the Annapolis Striders. The race premium was a light zip jacket that helps with wind prevention, that's a great bonus but both races I've run with them were very well organized (the most important thing by far). I can't wait for the 10 Miler in August!!!

Finally, it looks like I will be making my yoga debut on Saturday at Pure Prana. I'm sure my super duper sized audience is greatly awaiting news of that.


djwiersma said...

Congrats on the great race.

Zandria said...

That's great, Jeff! Congrats on your finish time. :)

maryjanejeff said...

Many thanks. I was very happy with how I finished, even if it was actually 1:51:10. I know, one big second. A half marathon distance run is on tap tomorrow morning, I want to take real advantage of the warmer temperatures.