Friday, May 9, 2014

One America 500 Festival Half Marathon Recap - New PR


This past weekend I ran in the One America 500 Festival Half Marathon (Indy Mini).  I signed up for this some 7 months ago with a goal to get a new half marathon PR, run a sub 1:30 for the first time and get a top 500 finish (they give out extra bling for a top 500 finisher).  I was going to use this race as a gauge to see if my goal of running a sub 3:00 marathon in the fall was a realistic one or not.  This was before I signed up to run my 2nd 100 mile ultra marathon.  My main focus for the last almost 20 weeks has been not on speed but on endurance.  In fact, I haven't done any speed training since I last trained for a marathon in November where I had a PR and Boston Qualifying time of 3:09.  All my miles have been focused on building my endurance and not on speed.  A typical week for me over the last few months has been 80-100 miles with my cut back weeks being 60 miles with some months seeing over 300 miles run.  I do long runs every week of usually 30 miles with back to back 20 milers during my cutback weeks.  Back to back to back 10 milers during the week has become standard for me during this training so to now quickly turn my focus to a half marathon just 3 weeks away from my 100 mile ultra was going to be difficult.  I wasn't really sure how to approach this race.  Do I use it as a training run or do I just run the only way I know how to run a half marathon.  Push hard and hold on at the end just to see what happens. 

The week leading into the race I decide to just train like any other week so no taper for this race.  I ran back to back 10 milers on Tuesday and Wednesday however I decided to take an extra rest day on Thursday to where I would normally run another 10 miler.  My plan was to run M-rest day 1 miler, Tu-10 miles, We-10 miles, Th-rest day 1 miler, Fr-rest day 1 miler, Sa-Half Marathon Race, Su-30 mile training run.  I also really didn't change my diet from what I would normally do.  I usually have a diet that is higher in carbs and protein running all the miles I do but will be the first to admit I'm not the best eater.  The day before a race I always have a little pasta for lunch and then a sandwich from Subway.  I have always done this and usually don't deviate from race tradition however the Friday before had been hectic and I couldn't get in the normal meals I would normally do before a race.  I had McDonalds for lunch (I know, I know) and then for dinner I ate peanut butter sandwiches.  Totally different than anything I had ever done in a race before.  I woke up really early the next day.  3am as I just couldn't sleep plus the Indy Mini is one of the largest half marathons in the US with almost 35,000 participants.  I left early in order to get a good parking spot and to not have to fight the traffic.  I arrived about 2 hours before the race was to start.  I couldn't have asked for better temperatures in May.  It was a cool 48 degrees and would stay cooler during the race except we would have to deal with some stronger winds.  I have run this race 2 other times.  My first year of running I ran it in 1:40 and it got near temps of 90 degrees, last year I ran it in 1:33.  It had near perfect temps last year as well but that was just 2 weeks after I ran my first 100 miler so I wasn't quite recovered yet although it was my 2nd fastest half marathon at the time.  This year I knew I wasn't ready speed wise but endurance wise it would be no problem.  I was just hoping all the miles I had logged would somehow carry over to help me with my speed.

I decided before the race to just go ahead and go for it.  A sub 1:30 is a 6:52 pace.  I was going to try to run that pace as long as I could and just see what happened.  We were off and it took a little bit to get a pace established trying to work my way around the crowd of people.  The first mile was in 6:52. I am right on target.  I feel that the crowd helped me to control my pace at the beginning and not try to go out too fast so maybe it was a blessing in disguise.  The 2nd mile is done in 6:37.  I have never taken GU in a half marathon before but I had planned on it in this race.  It worked so well in my marathon in November where I qualified for Boston I thought why not.  In a marathon I usually take one at 30 minutes then every 40 minutes after that.  My plan in this race was to take one at the first 15 minutes then about 30 minutes after that so it would look something like this GU at 15 minutes, 45 minutes and 1:15.  I get the first GU in at the aid station a little past mile 2.  Next one I am planning on taking at around the 45 minute mark.  Just past the 2 mile mark I decide to take my first GU.  Mile 3 in 6:39.  I'm feeling good so far with a 5k split in 21:01(6:47 pace) under goal but still a long way to go.  Mile 4 done in 6:30.  My fastest mile so far.  Mile 5 in 6:41 and mile 6 in 6:35.  I also take over a minute off my 10k PR with a 10K split in 41:06 (6:38 pace).  Even faster that my first 3 miles. Still feeling strong and still feeling pretty good.  As I approach the track I know it is going to be a hard 2 ½ mile stretch, especially in the open and going into the wind.  I see a sign entering the track that says no GU or water beyond this point so I think to myself, do I take another GU now or try to make the lap around the track and take it after I exit the track.  I decide to take another one before the track.  Big mistake.  It was too early and I end up getting this massive side stitch.  I hadn’t had one of those in over 2 years.
Now along with battling the wind on the track I am battling this side stitch.  I try to breathe through it but it’s a struggle.  To help with the wind I try to catch up with some runners and keep as close to the pack as possible.  The track is 1 lap around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  For those who aren’t familiar with it that is a 2 ½ mile loop or equivalent to 10 loops around a regular track.  It is a mind game and takes a lot out of you.  Mile 7 done in 6:42.  Still hanging on and battling the side stitch but trying to breathe through it.  Mile 8 done in 6:46, I exit the track at around mile 8 ½ still fighting the side stitch and some wind.  I am starting to get through the side stitch though.  Mile 9 done in 6:48 with a 15k split at 1:02:15 which is 14 minutes faster than I have ever run a 15k in a race however my 15k race time is a trail race time so it is hard to compare the two.  Still feeling strong and still under pace.  Mile 10 done in 6:53.  As I turn the corner after mile 10 I start to get a tailwind and my side stitch is gone at this point.  I ask myself do I take another GU or just go with it.  I decided on not taking anything the rest of the race.  I didn’t want to risk battling another side stitch.  I’m hoping just the tailwind will help me through to the finish.  It ended up being the right decision.  Mile 11 in 6:49, mile 12 done in 6:53 and mile 13 in 6:56.  At about the mile 12 mark I know I am going to get my goal of a sub 1:30 and am now thinking to myself a sub 1:29.  1:28 something sounds even cooler than a 1:29 something.  I know you all think like that too.  Trying to get to that next minute.  I end up finishing strong with a 1:28:56.  


As I sit here and look back on my half marathon race my feelings are mixed. I am beyond excited that I had a 4 minute PR. I am also in disbelief that I ran that fast. I usually run 1, sometimes 2 half marathons per year. My goal when I signed up for this race was to one, finish in the top 500 of almost 35,000 runners and two break 1:30 for the first time but that goal changed after I signed up for this 100 mile ultra and my training focus switched to that race. For the last almost 5 months my running has been focused on this 100 miler not working on speed just logging lots and lots of miles to prepare for it. I wasn't expecting a lot out of this race because of that however I still had this feeling in the back of my mind that I could still run a sub 1:30 half and place in the top 500. Not sure how I did it but I accomplished those goals. 330th overall and a 1:28:56. Not only that but I set my 10k PR with a 41:06, 15K PR with a 1:02:15, 10 mile PR with a 1:06:50 and 20K PR with a 1:23:37. I guess the speed was just waiting to break out today.  After the race I asked my High School football coach who is an awesome runner and who I have a lot of respect for how I was able to run that fast without having any speed training.  His answer to me was, "It doesn't have to be speed work, per se, if the long miles are at a high enough intensity."  Must have been what happened in this race.  My mid week 10's are usually pretty easy however I try to keep them with a little intensity.  That combined with all the miles must have been how I managed to get faster for a half marathon race while training for a 100 miler.  I have a lot of respect for my Coach from High School, Coach John Fallis and still carry a lot of the things he taught me back then with me today.  We had something we would do before each 4th quarter that would make it ours.  We would hold up 4 fingers.  Each of those fingers stood for something.  Discipline, Commitment, Enthusiasm, Effort.  That is how I train when I run and I believe having that has allowed me to progress the way I have.  Running is hard work but it is also fun which is how he made it when he coached.  I will always carry this with me for the rest of my life.

I know a big part is having a loving and supportive wife that supports my passion. Couldn't do any of this without her. Maybe it's all the miles I've been logging that made it happen, maybe it's the fact that I get in my own little world during a race, something that’s hard to explain, maybe it’s from running every day, maybe it was Frank Shorter signing my race bib, maybe it was a combination of all of them. I really can’t explain it. I know part of it was all of you in the back of my head telling me I could do it and keeping me motivated that helped push me to the finish. I thank you all for that. This race gave me the confidence boost I needed to train for my marathon goal of sub 3 hours at my race this coming November. I'm going to work hard and accomplish that goal. I'll have a race recap later in the week. It's hard to believe I am coming up on Runstreak day 900 on Saturday May 10th and then my 3 year running anniversary on May 11th. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.  My next race is just about 2 weeks away.  It will be my second 100 mile ultra marathon.  The Nanny Goat 100 in Riverside, CA.  Looking forward to a great trip, a lot of fun and seeing some great friends.

Mike