Monday, November 4, 2013

Battleship NC Half Marathon

I ran this race in 2009, in what was my slowest (2:06:52) and most miserable (temps in the 80s) half marathon to date.  I'd never run more than 13.1 miles, was going by feel because my watch died that morning, and went out way too fast before getting sick at mile 7 and walking a good bit of the second half. Since that race, I've run over 5,000 miles and have taken 12 minutes off of my half marathon PR, so I barring anything disastrous, this was pretty much guaranteed to be an improvement over the first one.

After racing the 10 miler last weekend and putting in a pretty respectable post-race training week (about 35 miles since that race), the plan was to use this as a training run.  After conferring with my running friends, it seemed that a progression run was the best option, so I decided on 4 miles moderate, 6 miles comfortably hard, and 3.1 miles at Dallas goal pace (6:59).

Weather was perfect: low 50s and sunny.

First 4 Miles: From the Battleship through downtown Wilmington
Goal: 7:30  Actual: 7:25
As usual, I got caught up in the crowd at the start and went out a little fast, but worked to correct that pretty quickly.  This section includes two bridges, which equate to small to moderate hills, and then goes through downtown Wilmington parallel to the Cape Fear River.  There were some nice views from the bridges, it's a cute downtown area, Monte and several other spectators were near our hotel at mile 3, and I was running a fairly comfortable pace, so these miles went by pretty quickly and easily.  The most challenging aspect was that some of the footing was less than ideal, particularly the metal grated section of the second bridge and some of the cobblestones through downtown.  I definitely felt like I could have gone faster, but stuck to the plan.

Middle 6 Miles: Around Greenfield Lake
Goal: 7:15  Actual: 7:15
This section is a loop with a lot of turns (including a 180 around a cone) and a lot more hills than you would expect in for a race near the coast.  I picked up the pace a little and was just below my goal pace without much difficulty.  Around mile 8, I ate a Gu, not because I felt like I needed to, but because I thought it would help give me some extra energy at the end for what I hoped would be a strong finish, and having only used gels in marathons, I thought I should practice taking them during a shorter/faster race in preparation for Dallas.  That turned out to be a huge mistake.  It never really settled well at all, and by mile 9 I was pretty sure I was going to be sick.  At least I learned this during a training race rather than my goal race.  I decided to try to push through one more mile, telling myself when I got to the end of this section I could jog it in.

Last 5k: Across Memorial Bridge and back to the Battleship
Goal:  7:00  Actual: 7:40 for 3 miles, then 6:30 for last .13
By this point my stomach was not happy at all, and I was just aiming on keeping everything down until getting to the finish line. This part is definitely the least scenic section of the race, and there are parts that you have to run on the sidewalk, which is challenging because for most of the race you're going by walkers (who start one hour earlier than runners).  It wasn't bad when we were in the road with plenty of space, but there were so many of them walking side by side and taking up the entire sidewalk without any consideration of the runners trying to pass them that I was starting to get annoyed.  Each time you'd have to run off the sidewalk into the wet grass/mud and no one even moved over at all.  Once we headed onto Memorial Bridge to go back to the Battleship, things opened up again, but then I was wishing there were people in front of me to block the headwind!  Even though I was feeling bad, I managed to pass a few more people who were seemed to be pretty miserable.  Given the incline, headwind, and painful-on-your-feet metal grates, I could see why.  Coming off the bridge I tried to pick it back up a little, and when I heard Monte yelling I decided after sandbagging the last 3 miles I should at least try to kick it in.  Though the little pick up at the end got me in under 1:37, it was probably not the best idea and as soon as I stopped that Gu finally came back out.  So I am 2 for 2 in vomiting at the Battleship Half, but thankfully this time it was after the finish instead of right in the middle.

Final time: 1:36:53 (4th F30-34, 13th female out of 865)

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