Saturday, November 29, 2008

Gulf Coast Half Marathon

It rained and stormed all night last night. Thunder and lightening and the works. Woke up at 5AM and did the morning routine plus oatmeal. The Gulf Coast 1/2 Marathon would start in about 3 hours so I filled the tank. Checked the weather for the Stennis Space Center and it said that there was a 1% chance of rain at 8AM. You have to love these 'Rocket Scientists' - I am sure that they thought that there is never a 0% chance. Hit the road right on time at 6AM and headed south for the just over one hour drive. They checked our ID's at the guard station to enter the 'Space Center'.

Registration went quick and we lined up for the start of the race - the 5K, 1/2 marathon and Full marathon all would start at the same time. I took a gel with caffeine just before 8AM, however, due to some late arrivers they delayed the start of the race by about 15 minutes.

Jodie and I walked around for a little bit and then lined back up at the start and we were off. I intentionally started very slow. I surely did not want to get caught up in the 5k fast group and burn out. I watched my heart rate and kept it low and slow. Even though the pace was slow my right hamstring started to feel tight and ache just a little - this was in the first mile!

I was clicking along at 7:30+ / mile pace. I was trying to pace off of one of the fast women - I believe that she was in first or close to first place. She looked serious - running belt with numerous gels and a GPS watch that she was pacing off of. I was not going to let her slip away and tailed her for most of the race.

So I started slow and then by about the 4th mile I picked up my heart rate just a little. I was trying to keep it under 170. I would back off every time it jumped up. I kept this up until right around mile 8 (just under an hour). I allowed my heart rate to increase to the low / mid 170's. I still felt strong but did not want to bonk or to have to slow the pace. In retrospect I should have increased my heart rate much earlier in the race. I was pacing myself off of training heart rates and not race heart rates. During a race my heart rate automatically goes up by 5 - 10 beats per minute. I had been slowly passing people along the way

At mile 12 it was time to go for broke and I gave everything. I ran as hard as I could and passed several more people. Terry, local fast guy from the pine belt pacers, passed me at the water station at this point. I tried to hang with him but he calmly and smoothly pulled away. He had finished second in the 'Hobble then Gobble' race 2 days prior. The thing is - these are training runs for Terry. His race is next weekend - the Baton Rouge Beach Marathon. Terry is just fast.

Okay, back to me. I saw Terry pulling away and I kept my pace up and continued to pass people in those last miles. I tried and tried to pull in this one person that was right in front of me. However, it was to no avail - I finished just a few seconds behind this guy (I mean like 4 seconds). Come to find out that he was in my age group and it looked like I placed 19th overall and 4th in my age group - no awards / no prizes.

During the post race party someone pointed out to me that I had counted the age groupers wrong. One of the people that I counted was female and so that bumped me up to 3rd in my age group - a medal after all!

Shortly after I finished and while Jodie was still on the course it started to rain. And rain hard it did. I had already changed into my dry clean clothes and I got soaked. I can not imagine what the people running the full marathon were thinking when that rain came.

All in all it was a very good experience. My hamstring is hurting again - I will still have to nurse it for a while. I will keep the miles up on the bike and take the running slow and steady.