Saturday, April 28, 2012

Let's Move, Festival of Races Half Marathon - 4/28/12

I signed up for this only a couple of weeks in advance, when I was still flushed with the success of the Martian marathon. The race was in Mount Clemens, Michigan, which is almost due north of Detroit and about 35 miles from our house. I decided to go and get my race packet the night before, just in case Bren didn't want to come to the race and so I wouldn't have to find somewhere to put my crap, while out running.

Bren decided that she would come anyway, but early packet pickup did mean that we could leave a little later on the Saturday morning. One of the things I decided that I was going to like about this race, was that they decided they were going to have two different start waves for the half marathon. People that expected to finish under 2 hours would start at 8:45am and those that would be over 2 hours, would start 15 minutes later, at 9am. If only more races would attempt to do this kind of thing, the stress level at the beginning of races would be greatly reduced, no more dodging walkers, etc, awesome.

The weather forecast, wasn't great, cold cloudy with a good chance of rain. I chanced just wearing shorts and a t-shirt, as I tend to heat up pretty fast while running and I didn't want to be too warm. I did bring gloves though, which was key through the first half, but cheap and I could toss them if I needed to. We arrived with about half an hour to go, a little later than I planned, but perfectly adequate, as it turned out. The start area seemed well planned with adequate porta-johns, readily available.

The run was mostly uneventful, with the exception of a Garmin issue around 5.3 miles in. My gloves were getting wet and kept touching the bezel of the watch, which causes it to beep and change display. This was getting quite annoying, so I decided to lock the display, but somehow I managed to make the thing hang horribly and after a minute or so, I forced a reboot, all of this, which trying to maintain my ~8:33 pace, what a fiasco. The watch came back and had only paused the workout, which I could restart, only have lost a minute or so. This meant that the watch could not longer accurately track my distance or total time, but it would still be able to give me a indication of my pace. Looking at the workout in Endomondo, you can see that all this messing about actually buggered up mile 6 for me, but what the hell. The course was very nice and meandered up and down some rivers and around the edge of Lake St Clair. There were no hills to speak of, apart from right at the very end, a nice uphill before the final straight, what a way to finish.

A huge thing for me is my developing running form, from the two pictures, you can see my horrible heel striking is gone, while I work on my cadence and posture. Cadence averaged out at 188 per minute, with 190 being the desired. The head up, look forward and gradual lean thing seems to be making a difference too, we'll see how it all goes over the coming months. Post race, I never experienced to much pain, either in my calves or the soles of my feet, so really quite chuffed over all.

All in all I really enjoyed this run, way more than the Martian. The marshalling was excellent, there were plenty aid stations, the medal is kinda cool, although my shirt is a little big.

How my Garmin saw it -

How Endomondo saw it -

Results; 20/55 in my age group, 194/841 -

Black long sleeved
tech shirt

Monday, April 16, 2012

March 2012, a great recovery

The one sentence summary for this month would be, most miles run in one month, so far, >50 miles. I'm going to put this all down to the 'Most Running in One Month - March', challenge in Endomondo. Turns out that this simple challenge becomes a huge motivator, so much so that I ran more in March than in any month previously, 54.76 miles, which also took me over 100 miles for the year so far. A lot of this can be put down to starting to try and run at lunchtime while at work and trying to maintain good running form, all in preparation for my upcoming first official half marathon, the Martian in Dearborn, Michigan. I'll leave it at that and get this posted now.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Martian Half Marathon, 14th April 2012

So this was it, my longest race to date, it would be only my second > 10 mile run since before Christmas. I had been cranking out the miles, but not too many long ones. I wasn't sure if I had bitten off more than I could chew, but I had a plan and a goal, all I needed was the legs to go with it.

Packet pickup was the previous day, very close to my office. I got a nice black tech shirt with Space Invaders themed design (going completely against any chances of intergalactic detente), the kids shirts were regular t-shirt material.

I set the alarm for my usual 6:15am start, I ended up pressing the snooze button a couple of times before starting. Today was going to a little different from usual as Bren wasn't coming down for the start, which I fully understand as I wouldn't particularly relish waiting a couple of hours for me to decide to drag myself across a finish line on what potentially looked like could be a very crappy day indeed, according to the Weather Channel. Getting into Dearborn wasn't very pleasant, parking wasn't much fun either, but I achieved both and got to the starting line about 20 minutes before the start. I had fueled up before leaving home, with my usual banana, water and some cereal. This was going to be the first race that I would have to carry fuel for as I'm still not completely convinced that GU will keep me going as I haven't had it enough and the runners rule is nothing new on race day, ie, same old shoes, clothes & sustenance, etc.

The starting line is mobbed with almost 1,800 people competing in this years race, I decide to try and slot myself in around half way. The horn sounds and we are off, which sounds way more intense than it actually is, as all we do is kind of shuffle, as a group toward the starting line, as the people in front get going. The timer is a chip in the numbered bib, so no concerns about how long it takes to cross the starting line, I also monitor my time using my Garmin watch, so I'll know exactly what my pace looks like and how I'm doing via my virtual partner. Of course, us usual, the first half mile or so is spent trying to pass walkers, etc, and it is as annoying, as usual.

The course is a lollipop, that is it goes out and back along the same road, I wasn't quite sure how I was going to feel about that. The first mile came in a little slow, but that is to be expected due to all the messing around you have to do to get away from all the walkers, etc. The the course ended up being quite pleasant, the day stayed grey, with a little very light rain around mile 8. The course rolled a bit but the hills weren't all that bad, but as you get near the end, any hill sucks and there were a few wee ones that almost had me walking. Walking for short periods were all part of my plan, but I just didn't get around to doing them, I kept promising myself a short walk after the next mile and just kinda kept on going, by the time I got to mile 10, I wanted to see if I could do the whole thing without stopping. I took advantage of water at the aid stations, either for a small sip, or to throw over my back.I didn't take the GU though, more relying on Cadbury's Mini Eggs, commandeered from the kids Easter Baskets on the way out of the house. The past part of the run involved running through the grounds of UoM Dearborn, going over two bridges which were moving up and down along with the runners which jarred my legs with each step, it was surprisingly nasty. Eventually the finish line was in site and I saw Bren about 100m beforehand. Medals & snacks distribution was well organised. The skies decided to open, just after I crossed the line, the temperature dropped and we got nicely wet...

How Endomondo saw it -

How my Garmin saw it -

Final results 1:54:33.9 which was ~9 minute improvement, 52 out of 121 in my age group, 536 out of 1791 overall, all in all, I'm very chuffed.

My kids were also finishing up their Kids Marathon and had to do their final 1.2 miles after doing a total of 25 miles prior to race day, I ran with them, which was very cool, but damn sore on the legs, but I wouldn't have done it any other way.
Gordon, Iona & Liam (l to r)