Sunday, May 28, 2017

Day 3,801: Boston's Run to Remember half marathon (PR)

I PR'd in 1:39:14. A 6:53 Mile 13 saved the race for me.
BOSTON -- "You came all the way to do this race?" the lady at the expo who gave me my race bib asked me when she saw I was from Atlanta.

I nodded. As soon as we'd decided to come up to Boston for our vacation I checked to see what races would be held while we were here. This race came up. It looked interesting, mainly in the city and mainly flat.

When I PR'd with a 1:42:40 time at the 2016 Publix Georgia Half Marathon, it was all by accident. I hadn't trained for a specific pace.

With this race, I saw an opportunity to do one of three things: 1) Break 1:40 in a half marathon 2). Make the Peachtree Road Race Group A time standard for a half marathon (last year it was 1:40:18) or 3). Set a new PR.

I'd also used a race time predictor that showed that with a 5K time of 21:44 I should be able to run a half marathon in under 1:40. So I set my goal for a 7:36/mile pace, for a projected 1:39:33 time.

That said, it was far from easy or certain. I started Hanson's Half Marathon method in Week 7 of an 18 week schedule. I found that while I could run at a 7:36/mile pace, I frequently broke my tempo workouts or even the easier pace (8:20/mile) long runs. The only thing giving me confidence was the strength workouts, where you run mile or longer repeats at 10 seconds faster than your goal pace.

Many times after a workout, it would take me two days to be ready for the next hard workout, throwing me off schedule.

Still, I felt strangely confident I could rock the race, even though I had little to show for it workout wise.

On race day I ran from our hotel, about 1.3 miles, for a workout. I felt pretty good, just as I had a week earlier doing an easy eight mile run in Bar Harbor, Maine for my last long run before the race.

The corrals were organized well. They basically had three waves and I settled behind the 7:30/mile pace sign.

My goal was to just try to replicate the tempo runs. The most I'd run at a 7:36/mile pace was four miles and I thought my goal would be to do that or maybe string together seven miles at that pace (the longest tempo at that pace you do under Hanson's).

We started out and it was a little congested. I was a little concerned but salvaged a 7:41 mile. The race continued and I was surprised at how easy it felt. There were some hills but they were pretty tame compared to what we have in Atlanta. I ran Mile 2 a little too fast in 7:19 and tried to slow down a little bit to conserve myself. Mile 3 was 7:30 and we neared the Harvard bridge that crosses the Charles River.

I continued to string together miles at or under pace. (Mile 4 was 7:27). I knew that I would probably pay for it at some point but decided to just go with it. Mile 5: 7:22.

Mile 6 rolled by at 7:27 and I felt surprised at the next mile when I completed the old T7 workout with a 7:32 mile.

At this point we were on our way back toward the Harvard bridge and I started to wonder if my luck would hold out. Mile 8 was 7:33. At Mile 9 I took a GU gel  (7:28/mile) and I decided that with the temperature being relatively cool I would continue with previous practice and not drink any water. I had to lick my fingers a few times to get the sticky from the gel off.

At Mile 10 I started to wonder how much slower I could be and still break 1:40. It seemed close! I ran that mile in 7:35 and it looked like 24 minutes for the next 3 miles would put me right at 1:40.

When Mile 11 came I was just trying to hold on. I ran that in 7:38 and still was in the ballpark where 16 more minutes would put me right at the line.

At this point I knew I was slowing. I ran Mile 12 in 8:01 and hoped for the best. It wouldn't be any big deal if I couldn't break 1:40 since it looked likely I would definitely PR.

My legs were so heavy as we crossed the bridge on Seaport Avenue. I decided to truck in as best as I could but I really wasn't sure.

When you cross the bridge you can see the finish arch. There are about three or four stoplights before then. When I had two stoplights left, about two blocks, I looked at my watch. It said 1:38:34, which meant I had less than two minutes to break 1:40.

It would be a photo finish!

I ran as hard as I could and was really happy when the clock said 1:39:14. I could not believe it! Later on when I checked my laps, I did Mile 13 at a 6:53 pace! It saved my race and I slowed after that (my watch has me running the last .27 miles at a 7:05/mile pace).

I'm glad to be finally off a training schedule and it'll take me a few weeks to decide what I want to do from here. I'll probably have to alter the traditional training schedule to give myself more recovery in between hard workouts.

But a significant milestone for what I want to do ahead has been reached.

Time: 7:05 a.m.
Temp: 56 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Pactimo nuun hydration), shorts (Mizuno), cep compression socks, Newton Gravity V shoes, Headsweats nuun visor.