I was running with an older guy who seemed strong. We were talking turns leading into the wind. I took my turn up front and then I hear this noise off to the side. I thought he had fallen off the road. I looked sharp right and he was actually ahead of me off to the side of the road. He was incredibly quick and fluid. My last sight of him was him pulling down his pants in one motion and aiming his back side at a tree. My head swiveled and snapped back. I had seen enough. He was having a worse time than me.
The race stayed hard but I was able to settle into my groove. I got caught by one of the lead women of the race. She was being led by an awesome pacer. He was obviously running easy at our pace. She was trying to run at or around a 6:40 pace. I had started out trying to run a 6:35 pace so I decided to settle in behind them. My pace actually improved and I started to accept the pain. It was so much easier to run with a group. I was able to keep the pace. At mile 11 the there were 4 of us running together. We were in no man’s land. The second or third place girl was just ahead. The pacer told the girl that he was pacing that it was time to pick it up. She told him that he needed to remember that this was just a marathon training run for her. The pacer did pick up the pace and left us. Then another guy that was running with us pulled away just a little bit. I stayed back with the girl. We did pick up the pace a little bit. My last 3 miles were all in the mid 6:30’s. I was hurting but feeling strong at the same time. With a quarter of a mile left I looked at my watch. I saw it tick from 1:25 to 1:26. I knew that I needed to sprint hard if I wanted to improve upon Baton Rouge. I passed the girl and gave it everything. You have to enter a stadium at the end of this race. Fortunately you don’t have to run a complete lap – more like a quarter lap. I crossed the line completely spent. I thanked the pacer and the girl for pulling me along. I needed it!
I was proud of myself for toughing it out. I refused to succumb to the race. When the negative thoughts entered my mind I acknowledged them. I then evaluated these thoughts. And finally I shot them down. I am sure that the real time spent doing this exercise was very small but at the time it was a real struggle. I had to make a decision. I just needed to tell the legs to SHUT UP.
I was able to chip away at my recent PR achieved at the Baton Rouge Beach Half Marathon – but just barely. I finished in 1:27:30 (9 seconds faster). My GPS watch had me at a little bit faster pace (6:38 compared to 6:41) but it was very close. Looking at my heart rate between the past two half marathons I can see that Baton Rouge was a much better race. I am not sure if it was the fatigue of the high volume or the bruised from mountain bike riding that hurt my legs so much (I know, it was both – not smart stuff – as a side note I went mountain bike riding on Friday before the race and decided to put a pair of my old road bike clip less pedals on the mountain bike – for the first time. I crashed 3 times and put a nice bruise on the top of my right foot as well as a couple on my shins. I cannot recommend this in your taper).
Baton Rouge (blue) shows a smoother heart rate progression. I raced a better race two weeks ago.
My next race is the Steam Whistle 12k (that is about 7.5 miles). In this race I ran hard. I am sure that it was the hardest race ever) and won my age group with an average pace of 6:40 minute per mile – right at my current half marathon pace. Last year's Steam Whistle 12k Race Report - here.