Saturday, March 26, 2005

New PR in Half-marathon! Ya-Hoo!!

I ran a half-marathon and set a new personal record today!

Actually my wife had planned on taking the train to her aunt this morning and I was going to run a 10K race in Rheinzabern, in the Rhineland-Pfalz area. But fate had its day, my wife still has her cold and her aunt was afraid of catching it, so she didn’t go. The weather was cloudy and overcast, looking like rain, so the garden was out. So she said she would go with me, my dearest! So at high noon we loaded up the car and made the 30 minute drive to Rheinzabern. If you read my old blogs you may remember the name from the 20 KM Winter Series Run from February 6th, same town, same trail, different sport hall. On the way to the run I asked (I’m so nice) my wife if she would mind if I run the half-marathon. “No, no problem, I have my book with me.” So the decision was made, about 1 ½ hours before the run, I would run the 32nd Annual Rheinzaberner Half-marathon Easter Run.

As I mentioned the run was over the same route as the 20K (12.4 miles) in February, plus an extra loop around town. Four hundred and two runners were signed up for the half, roughly an equal number for the 10K (6.2 miles). The 10K runners started at 13:50, the half at 14:10 – I really wonder about these starting times, there must be a story behind them?

So about 15 minutes before the race, after waiting in the traditional toilet line, I left my wife sipping coffee and reading her book and I did a short warm up. I was kind of questioning why I was doing this today, I mean I was probably mentally the least prepared that I had ever been. But I shook off these thoughts and started thinking about my strategy. I noticed from my training the last few weeks that when I started quick I ended up with much faster times. The problem was that I never ran over 14K (8.7 miles) using this method.

About this time the start shot went off and we were off. I latched myself behind some tall Amazon looking woman (complete with blond hair and tan) and her friend who was being dragged along by two dogs. I remember them from my half-marathon two weeks ago, they finished about 10 minutes faster than me. We finished the first 2K (1.3 miles) in 9:56 and the first 4K in (2.5 miles) in 19:54 – folks that’s 4.57 KPH (7.53 MPH), I never knew I could run that fast!!

About that time the Amazon and her dog-friend left me, I me they were outta there! This girl was tall (6’+) and she just stretched out and left dust. Her friend was being pulled along by the two dogs, so probably had less effort (is that fair anyway!). But I was in a group that was going about the same pace so we just kind of shaked our heads at how quickly the Amazon had left us and kept doing our thing. We had a fuel stop at about the 5K (3.1 mile) point, I noticed I had slowed down to about 5:13 the last kilometer, no problem. I ran KM 6 and 7 at about the same pace. We were a group of two dudes about my age, two ladies over 60, and me. We pretty much held our positions, the two ladies about 5-10 feet in front, we dudes playing passing games with each other. You should try this, it really distracts you from the pain

Speaking of pain, well no let's first talk about my pace, I ran the first four KM at a pace of about 5 minutes per kilometer, that’s just less than 8 minutes per mile. This is my fastest 10K pace on a good day. The next 3 KM I covered in about 5:15 per kilometer, about 20 seconds faster than my best half-m pace. So back to the pain, somewhere between the 7-8K point that old nagging cramp from last week jumped up and grabbed the back of my right leg. I mean it was like getting kicked by a cow (that hurts like hell for you city folks). I had to slow down, I thought that was it for me today

I switched to shorter steps and this seemed to help, after a couple minutes the pain had almost subsided. I was amazed to see that I was still fairly close to the group that I had been following (the two dudes had pasted me in my agony). I was kind of limping as I ran, a result of the pain, but with a lot of concentration I was able to change my step in such a way that it seemed to irritate my muscles less. I guess it was a shorter, faster step, rather than stretching it out like I usually do.

At about the 10K point I caught up with “my group”, we passed the 10K point at 51:37, a good pace for me! At the 11K (6.8 mile) point we looped back to the Start and started running the second lap, there was a pit stop shortly after this. I was disappointed that there was no sport drink, but grabbed some sweet tea, better than nothing. The next several kilometers were rather uneventful, I concentrated on my step, being really careful not to aggravate my right leg. We were still averaging around 5:15-5:20 per km. I was amazed!

After about 14K (8.7 miles) I recall thinking about my PR, the only time I allowed myself this luxury. It was still possible, I knew, but I also new that I was hurting. By this time it was obvious that I should have waited a few more weeks for a half-marathon, especially at this pace. What an idot!

Now I like to finish what I start, and today was no exception. So I stopped looking at my watch. I concentrated on thin attractive 60 year old ladies in front of me and let them pull me along. The two dudes seem to be content on following me, one about 5 paces behind the other back there somewhere.

We had another pit stop between the 15-16 K point, I drank water, the tea was too sweet last time. Just after the 17K we ran through a small town then turned right onto a 1.5 K (~mile) stretch that I learned to hate today. A mile up a small upgrade, turn around and come back. I new I had to keep my pace going, my leg was throbbing again, so I gritted my teeth and dug in. I passed the first 60-year old lady on the turn coming back. She tried to stay with me but I think she was more worn out than I was.

A few hundred feet after this I passed the 18K (11.2 miles) marker, I was out of reserve energy, I didn’t feel like I could hold up. As I said I gave up looking at my watch, but there was a dude calling off the times as we ran by, 1 hour 36 minutes. Now my old personal record (PR) was 1:56:31, even at my exhausted state I was able to compute that I was still within range of a new PR. I dug in and dragged out every last bit of juice I had left in me and kept going. I was almost limping with my right leg, the pain was so great. I tried to catch the other 60 year old lady, she wasn’t making it easy. We passed the 19K (11.8 miles) marker, she was about 8 paces in front of me. By the 20K marker she was about 4 paces in front of me, my leg was feeling a little better for some reason (or maybe I was in a daze).

The town appeared, I almost tripped and fell over my own legs, “when will this thing be over”! I fought my way forward, concentrating on nothing more than catching the lady in front of me. I know we were really close, just a couple turns than we would see the crowds, then a 200 meter sprint (yeah, right!). We made a left, down the next street, this lady was not giving up her lead! Then we made a right, I was starting to gain (or she was slowing down), she was only 2 paces in front of me. Then I heard the crowd, I gave it everything I had. I slowly pulled ahead of her, then the last 100 meters to the finish line. Thank the good lord!

My time: 1:53:29
Three minute, 2 seconds faster than my best half-marathon! Okay someone shoot this old horse, I’m done.

I hobbled around the block once, trying to stretch, without too much luck. I grabbed some tea and water, tanked up a bit and walked to the sport hall. My beloved wife had organized some cake before they sold out, a bottle of water, apple juice and my great adoration! They had showers at the sport hall, so I eventually took an ice cold shower (not my choice) which seemed to help. After downing my cake, a steak sandwich, a bratwurst, a glass of apple juice and a bottle of water we headed home.

Both legs are sore, the muscle in the back of my upper thigh still aches a bit. I need to talk to the doctor about that. He will probably tell me I have been training too hard, who me? I had an hour nap, then ate again, right before writing this. I feel very fulfilled somehow, my first goal for the year accomplished, a new PR for my half-marathon.

Tomorrow is Easter, a day of rest. Monday is a holiday, more rest. Than I have four days vacation. I might try a slow run on Tuesday. But no more half-marathons for a while, my body is telling me that I need a rest.

Hey I set a new PR today! So what did you do today?

Woo hoo Jack! Way to go...that's pretty amazing. "Sure, I guess I'll run a half today!!" And then PR!! Now rest those legs. You've got a marathon coming up:)
Having a hard time leaving a comment. Congrats on a great run - you are an inspiration for me to push harder.
What a great report! I could almost picture myself watching you from the sidelines. Way to go on the PR.
Way to go, Jack! Love the report. Giving me goosbumps as you were screaming to the finish line. :D

Hey, take care of that leg. Is that a pulled hamstring? Be gentle on it while it heals. Sounds like you deserve a few days of full rest anyway.

Great race! Congrats on the PR!
I am completely in awe of you!!!! Congratulations on the personal record!!!

I still can't get over the idea of waking up and deciding to run a half marathon!?!? (Big awe here!)
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