Monday, December 6, 2010

Race Report - Baton Rouge Beach Half Marathon 2010

This past week has seen some decent volume and a taper for the Baton Rouge Beach Half Marathon. The month before the race had zero speed work. And last week consisted of –

Sunday – 14 miles (the middle 10 at tempo pace)
Monday – AM – 6 miles at comfortable pace / LUNCH – 6 miles at comfortable pace
Tuesday – AM – BIKE Trainer (20 min FTP repeats) / LUNCH – 6 miles at comfortable pace
Wednesday – AM – 6 miles at comfortable pace / LUNCH – 6 miles at comfortable pace
Thursday – AM – BIKE Trainer (FTP work – FAIL) / LUNCH – Strength Training

Total Running for the first part of the week equaled 44 miles. I had intended to do some track work on Tuesday night to get 50 miles for the 4 days. I actually made it out to the track but was lacking motivation. The wind was blowing and the temperature had dropped throughout the day. I was cold. In addition, because of the weather, Ginny and Audrey had done their speed work and were finishing up by the time that I got there. I skipped out on the sessions. This would have been the third workout of the day and I would have needed some serious motivation to run fast circles in the dark by myself.

I left work a little early on Friday. I arrived at Charles’s house at 3PM and we left for Baton Rouge. The runners were Terry, Audrey and myself. Charles would be the Sherpa for this race. Last year the weather was much worse. It was in the low 30’s and the sky was splitting a wintery mix. This year the weather would be much better. We arrived at package pickup with plenty of time to talk race tactics, eat too much and drink not as much as last year. Charles and Audrey were staying at Charles’ parent’s house. Terry and I were sharing a hotel room. Terry is a running machine – he has done Boston more times than anyone I know. HE is also a statist ion. He plans his races to the letter. He leaves very little to chance. I enjoyed picking his brain about all aspect of training.

I drank more than I should the night before a race – the optimum amount should be zero – but I did better than last year, I only had a couple – last year I had n+1 – too much.

I was a little restless but the next thing I know is Terry is awake and drinking some special sports drink to calorie load. He also had one before he went to sleep. I look over and it is 3:30AM. I decided to go ahead and make my oatmeal (with the hot water from the coffee maker). This would give my body plenty of time to digest the complex carbohydrates for the 7AM start of the race. In the next couple of hours I ate a banana and a couple of small granola bars. I also drank a lot of coffee.
The runners

We arrived at the race at just before 6AM. It was chilly. I was wearing some track pants and a light jacket over my running shorts and light weight technical fabric shirt. I hit the portaloos twice (the coffee). I heard them announce the start of the race while in said portaloo. I jumped out and sprinted to the race start. I then heard them say that the race would start in 2 minutes. I walked the rest of the way. Last year this race was chipped timed, however, there was no start timing mat, only a finishing mat. Remembering that (I read my blog from last year – see, these blogs do serve a purpose because I remember very little about last year’s race) I seeded myself near the front. This year there was a start timing mat!
Charles showing off his post sugary surgery running fitness.

I had already programmed my virtual nemeses on the Garmin for a PR run. I had set it for a 6:43 pace for 13.15 miles. I always pad the race distance when using the virtual nemeses. This would put me at a PR time of 1:28:19 – which would be 61 seconds faster than my PR from the Jazz Half on October 30th.
He always goes out too slow ...

A minute PR in a month is an aggressive goal and I had my doubts. The start gun went off and I activate the Garmin as I crossed the start mat. In this race the people doing the full marathon start 200 yards behind the half marathoners and a few seconds later. All I know is that within the first quarter mile this super fast Kenya full marathoner comes screaming past us mortals.

I was a little chatty in the first mile or two. I was running with a guy named Hunter who wanted to run in the 1:25’s and a guy named Zack was looking for 1:27. These guys were both a little too fast for me. I hung with Hunter until about mile 2 where I let him go. My Virtual Nemeses had once again started out too slow. I was 150 feet in front of him. I slowed the pace down and chatted with Zack for a little while. He was planning on running a 10 mile tempo and then kicks it at the 5k to go mark. That is not the fastest way around the track but to each his own.

Zack pulled away from me for a few miles and a couple of runner got between me and him. I was running my paces but the effort in the early miles seemed harder than they should have been. Doubts started to creep into my mind. I wanted to slow down a good bit and I was not even at the half way point. This was not good.

However, clicking off miles 7 then 8 then 9 the pace did not seem any harder. I had started to gain some ground on the few guys that had passed me and on Zack. The race course had a lot more hills than I remembered (I did not remember anything about the course). It was deficiently not flat. I tried to keep the time lost to a minimum on the hills and I also pressed the pace on the decline. The entire race I was between 30 feet and 100 feet ahead of the virtual nemesis. At mile 10 I was still feeling good but it was getting harder. It was getting harder for everyone. I started to creep past the people that had passed me. Zack was fading hard but he gave me some encouragement. I also passed the guy in blue. He told me to go get them. I continued on – I was not running faster but I was not fading. Everyone else was fading hard. I think I passed 4 people in the last 3 or 4 miles.

Don’t let me kid you, the race was hurting and hurting bad but it is just a race – I could push on at the prescribed pace. I only had a couple of miles to go. However, at this exertion level it seems like each mile is a race in and of itself. The 1 mile race at mile marker 11 and 12 were tough. I kept looking across the lake to see where the finish line was. I refused to scroll through the screen on the Garmin to see the exact distance to go – I just thought to myself “What would be the point? I am going to run hard until I finish – regardless of the distance!” As I had passed the last couple of guys I could hear and feel them right behind me. I am not really a racer. I did not try to put them away as I passed. I just kept my same pace and let them fade. I let them say in the race because I was racing against the clock. I was not racing for place. With about 50 yards until the last turn I could hear the heavy breathing of someone right behind me. I did not let my pace fade and picked it up just a little bit. I had just passed a field marshal that had told me there was half a mile to go. I round the last turn for the straight away and kicked it up a notch. I was running flat out. However, the guy in blue was still right there with me. He was working hard and I was hoping that he would blow. He kicked it up a notch. I had nothing left but I dug deep. In my head I was doing quarter mile repeats and my arms were pumping and my stride was long. I was giving it everything that I had – this was my second ‘dig deep’. I kept it up until the end, however, the guy in blow had one more. He shot past me in the final 10 feet. There were 3 timing mats and he shut it down after the first one. You had to cross the last timing mat for the official time. People were yelling for him to continue. He sucked it up and beat me to the final mat by a fraction of a second.

I ran through the finish corral . Someone tried to put the medal over my head but I just grabbed it. I took a 90 degree turn away from the spectators and gagged a little. I was cooked. I took a few seconds to gather my composure and shook the blue guy’s hand.

I had a new PR by a 1:41 – NEW PR 1:27:39 (6:41 pace) (Average heart rate 171 / Max 190 ). That is nearly 10 minutes faster than I ran this race last year. But much more importantly it is 10 seconds per mile faster than my best half marathon time from last year (First Light from January 2010 – 1:29:30). I like the half marathon distance I have gotten faster and each and every one of the races that I have done (the only exception was the Jazz Half in 2009 – just after I did my ironman – it was a ‘fun’ run).

The running calculators still do not think I have what it takes to run a sub-3 marathon. McMillan says I need a 1:25:20 (6:31 pace) half to make a run for it. There are doubts in my mind but I am confident if I can continue to work my plan I will be successful.

Checking the results I finished 10th overall!  However, I was 5th in my age group (the guy in blue was NOT in my age group).  Damn, this is a competitive age group!

I tend to base my running performance off of my half marathons – here is the progression:

11/29/2008 – 1:37:15 - Gulf Coast Half (first half) - PR
10/31/2009 – 1:40:05 – Jazz Half (FUN RUN)
12/05/2009 – 1:37:07 – Baton Rough Beach Half - PR
12/20/2009 – 1:33:53 – Ole Man River Half - PR
01/10/2010 – 1:29:28 – First Light Half  - PR
10/30/2010 – 1:29:20 – Jazz Half - PR
12/04/2010 – 1:27:39 – Baton Rouge Half - PR


Ryan said...

Awesome work! McMillian sucks... It says I shouldn't be able to even finish a marathon :-) Go do the work and get your sub 3! F*&K McMillan!

Jennifer said...

Yikes James! You are a running machine! Congrats on such a great race and a fun race report, I always love reading your stuff. It was good to see you and Jodi at the pottery sale, I hope I can make it to the party next weekend! Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Awesome recount of the run. I was there too for my first half and had a great time. I know what you mean about looking over the lake for the finish. My hips were killing me around Mile 11. (Most of me) can't wait for next year!

Anonymous said...


I'm the guy in BLUE from the race (my name is David Gatz). I happened upon your blog by chance searching for the race results. I have to start off by saying you are one heck of a runner! I never would have run that fast if it weren't for you!

You were steady the whole time and at mile 11 when I started to fade (THOSE HILLS ALMOST KILLED ME!) and you passed me I knew you were digging deep and you were going to keep that pace so I decided to follow you and do the same! As we passed several people during that time I knew it was going to be an exciting finish...I just didn't know how exciting!!!

I've always been a short distance guy (5 and 10K) and I had no idea what I would have left in the tank at the end...I was surprised I had anything! And then I almost lost it on the timing mat! (rookie mistake I guess)

This was my first half marathon and running with guys like you make me want to do more! I've never done a marathon and I'd like to, but I'm worried because I train so hard and fast that I think I might hurt myself. My goal would be similar to yours (around 3 hours). Have you run one? By your blog it sounds like you haven't. Do you have any suggestions/pointers? Plans to run a certain marathon?

Are you from Baton Rouge? I'd like to give you my information but I don't want to do it over the blog. My wife has a facebook and we could exchange through that...let me know.

Again, thanks for pushing me to do my absolute best!

Luke said...

Great job! That time is amazing!

Happy Feet 26.2 said...

Great race and excellent RR. I especially love the pics - the one of Charles and Terry is "priceless" too funny.

You ran a great race and helped someone else to run an excellent first half marathon. Great day, and the weather was not great (IMO). Congrats!

misszippy said...

AWESOME! What an amazing race you had. Love it where you say you had nothing left but dug deep. There was still something there!

Anonymous said...

Stop Photo-shopping picture of me! Where is my six pack?

Big Daddy Diesel said...

Wow, what a great race, congrats

Richard said...

GREAT RACE! What a great season! Congrats.

saucony running shoes said...

Congrats on a great race...Keep it up!!!

lindsay said...

wow! awesome race. congrats on the pr! the half is my favorite distance... i wish i could sub-1:30 like you! (i'm a 1:34 PR)

Jon said...

Nice job! SUPER fast!

Matty O said...

Was there any doubt?! Haha, great job man. I too have nemesis. Loved that name when I first read it from you back when so I stole it.

Good job again, you are a machine!