"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -- WOW-- What a Ride!"

Monday, October 17, 2011

Grand Rapids Half Marathon Race Report

Grand Rapids Half Marathon, Grand Rapids, MI
Sunday, October 16, 2011

Unofficial time on my watch 2:16:20 for an average pace of 10:24/mile.  Official time turned out to be 2:16:17, so my watch was close.  Finish was 1089 overall out of 1644, 80th in my age group out of 94.  Not dead last, so I'm happy.

Mile splits from my watch:
Miles 1-4 44:39 (didn't see markings for miles 1-3, so didn't take a split until mile 4)
Mile 5  10:30
Mile 6  10:19
Mile 7  10:20
Mile 8  10:17
Mile 9  9:50 (where'd that come from?!)
Mile 10  10:00
Mile 11  10:16
Mile 12  9:56
Miles 13.1 10:13 (a 9:17/mile pace!  Yowza!)

Packet pickup on Saturday afternoon was uneventful.  Staff was helpful.  Nice race shirt and some socks in the bag.  Cool!

I was accompanied to the race on Sunday morning by my wonderful wife who was my "official" cheerleader and photographer.  Thanks honey!  It meant a lot to have you there.

When we left Sunday morning it was raining, a little bit breezy and cold.  I was worried it was going to be a wet, cold morning for racing.  We hung out inside the Y near the starting line until it was time to line up to stay warm and dry.  Almost as if it was planned that way, just as we got started the rain stopped and the wind died down.  The temperature at the start was in the mid 40's.  With no wind and no rain, it was perfect running weather.

The first 4-5 miles I wanted to start out slow, so I stuck with the "Al Gore" pace team.  They were pacing a 4:58 marathon.  Once I was warmed up, I left them behind.  They seemed like a fun group that was going to party their way to the finish.

I'm a ways back.  Just after I'd made my move around team "Al Gore".  The pacers are in the background with the orange shirts.

Apparently the lady next to me can run and play the harmonica simultaneously ;-)

The next few miles were spent between "Al Gore" and "John Bingham 'Penguin'" teams.  I caught up to the "Penguin" pace team at around mile 8.  The Penguins were pacing a 4:44 marathon/2:22 half marathon.  Lots of runners in this group and lots of congestion.  Moved ahead of them a bit to get more space.

This middle portion of the course from mile 6 to approximately mile 11 was mixed between a bike path and a road.  The route took us through Butterworth Park and towards Millenium Park so it was as if we had suddenly left the City.  One minute we're running through an urban neighborhood, the next we're in a meadow following the Grand River.  Neat.  I had some fun in this section as there a couple of small hills to run up and down.  I especially enjoyed the down parts.

The last couple of miles were spent chasing down pink shorts lady.  She passed me between mile 11 & 12, but then didn't pull away.  So, I followed hoping I could just match her pace and have her pull me in to a strong finish.  Somewhere in mile 13, I managed to catch and pass her.  Whoever you are, thanks!  I enjoyed racing you to the finish.

Bringing it home on the stretch to the finish.  I need to lean forward a little.

Passed all 4 of those people in the last 200 yards or so.  Nice race!  Nice to see someone in the crowd showing a little Tigers pride.

All done!

Brought my handheld filled with Gatorade so I could avoid the congestion at the aid stations as much as possible.  Only slowed to grab some Gatorade at 2 or 3 aid stations, skipped the rest.  Didn't bother with Gu or anything like that because I've never practiced with it.  Had to stick with my rule:  "Tried and true, nothing new".  Also, I am accustomed to running my long runs with my handheld,  It would have felt weird without it.

Pre-race dinner was at the Red Tomato pizza buffet in Muskegon, MI.  Loved it.  Upon further reflection though, I feel that would have been a better choice for after the race instead of before.  My tummy says pizza is not it's preferred pre-race running fuel.  It says pizza would be awesome for recovery though.

Post-race recovery was barbecue at Smokey Bones.  Baby back ribs for me.  Yum!  There is nothing like smoked pork to recover and refuel.  Not sure if that's nutritionally sound, but it tasted really good and hit the spot, so I'm going with it.

Overall my strategy of slow and steady worked out well.  In retrospect I might have pushed it just a little faster a little earlier than I did, but I have no regrets.  I had never run a road half before and had no idea what to expect.  My training was ~35 mpw with a weekly long run of 10-12 miles.  That got me to the finish line feeling good.  Upping the mileage and doing a little speedwork would probably make me faster.  I was happy with my kick at the end.  It validated my approach of starting slow.

Up next is some recovery time and a little break from running.  In the interim I'll be doing plenty of cross training, rolling and stretching.  In November I'm starting back with a plan to get to 40 mpw.


Chris said...

Great Job!

Rose (Hacker Half Marathon) said...

Congrats! Great job on pacing yourself!

Jen said...

Very nice! Congrats on your first road half. Nicely executed and you are really consistent in your splits given the congestion.

Michael Smith said...

Thanks everyone for the kind words!

Life as a Convert (Khourt) said...

Wow look at those splits! Negative can sometimes be quite positive :) That last mile.1 was sure speedy!

I can barely breathe sometimes when running.. Kudos to the lady playing the harmonica!

Congrats on a race well run! Do you take any fuel during long runs?

Michael Smith said...

I think the "harmonica lady" was actually sucking down a gel :-) It just looked funny to me.

The only thing I used during the race was Gatorade. I've never practiced with anything else, so I didn't use anything different on race day. Next spring/summer I may work gels or something into my long run just to see how I react. For the most part I think I get enough calories during a normal day to get me past 13 miles without any supplements.