Two weeks ago I ran the Half Marathon in Richmond. Different course than last year but leading up to the race I said it looks like a better one, we don't have to run through the Diamond parking lot. My knee had been bugging me, same thing as in May/June but on the right knee this time. It felt like someone was trying to pull apart the cartilige or whatever is around the top of the knee and side of the knee with a pair or pliers. I call it the Fredericksburg injury since that's where this injury first popped up. The Thursday night fun run felt great though so I was good to go, even if travel prevented me from getting in the 2-3 mile day-before jog to stay loose. I was determined to finish in 1:45:00 or less, at the time I thought my PR of 1:40:21 was probably unattainable but you never know. I'm a creature of habit in a lot of ways, so I went to the same Italian Restaurant, Piccola's, as I did last year because it worked last year.
Yeah, unattainable my ass. :) I was running late as usual and the portable facility lines were longer than I expected, even though I should know better. I got my pre-race warmup job in but almost missed the start!!! From there, everything fell into place. I was able to dart around the corrals and hopped the fence and get into the first corral just before the starting gun went off. The guy behind me joked that it was a steep fence I a better get a PR for going through the effort to hop it without hurting myself. I am very grateful for the room to hop in.
Being only 4-5 rows back from the front pack of any race with more than 100 runners was a new world to me. I'm not competing against anyone but myself, but do feel conscientious about not wanting to be someone in the way of a faster runner either. No problem! My legs felt tight for a couple miles, but I started out at a sub seven minute pace and came close to holding that throughout the race. I couldn't believe how fast (for me) I was going at the start. Crossed 10K at 43:48, would be a PR by 1:13 if it was a 10K race. 1:11:27 at 10 miles, PR by 5:08. By the time mile 9 and 10 hit, the only question was, barring injury, not if I would PR, but by how much. Kept going, picked it up a bit at the end, finished in 1:33:23, a PR by 6:58! 7:08 overall pace, it actually happened. 10th in my age group, which for me is ridiculously good. Tough act to follow in 3 weeks at a club half marathon, that's for sure.
I try not to stress too much about what time I get for races, as I am not a professional runner who has anything on the line on race day, I'm just a guy with improved health and a newly discovered running ability who wants to self-improve and have some fun at the same time. I guess all those miles I built up for the marathon helped me in the half; I had not run further than 5.5 miles on any day since the marathon. The recovery phase for the half came a lot of quickly than the marathon. Whereas the soreness and need to recover didn't completely kick in for over a week then, Sunday night I couldn't even squat down like a baseball catcher without putting my hands on the ground first. Even after I stretched post-race, it took 3-4 days for me to walk without my quads killing me, never mind run. Maybe it was the 7:08 pace that I never, ever, saw coming that did it. :)
BTW, Elephant Thai, over by VCU's Monroe Park Campus rocks! Stay tuned for posts about a Thai project!