Sunday, November 13, 2011

Race Report: 13.1 Fort Lauderdale

My 10th Half Marathon is done, and I find it fitting that I finally finished with an average pace that starts with 10 -- barely but I'm very proud of my 10:59 pace and a PR by over 4 minutes! Now my 2011 PR collection is nearly complete, so Space Coast better watch out because I'm coming! Before we get into specifics, here's the stats:
  • Garmin: 13.2 miles in 2:23:59 @ 10:54 pace
  • Clock: 02:26:10
  • Chip: 02:24:00 (might actually be 02:23:57)
  • Overall Place: 1491 / 2147
  • Gender Place: 626 / 1056
  • Division Place: 112 / 171
  • Age Grade: 46%
  • Pace: 10:59.0
  • 10K Split: 1:11:16
Pre-race: I woke up an hour earlier than I planned, but knew I'd be groggy if I went back to bed so I just stayed up and got ready ever so slowly. By 5 am, we were on our way to the race start but traffic was lite and we got there nearly 50 minutes early. I was disappointed that it did not feel cold at all when I stepped out the front door, but once we got to the beach the wind helped make it feel cooler. We parked near a hotel, so I was able to use the restroom there before heading to the start. I ran a slow mile to warm up, and immediately noticed how humid and warm it was and it was only 6 am. I was glad I chose to wear a singlet instead of sleeves. I made my way to the starting coral, lined up behind the 2:20 sign and it wasn't long before we were on our way.

The Course: Gorgeous course along the beach, which was a double edged sword as the beautiful view brought with it strong cross winds for nearly the last 8 miles. The first 4 miles included a few short hills, a tunnel, and a short steep bridge. As soon as we got to the bottom of the bridge and turned left, the winds began with a vengeance. I loved the out and back course because I got to see the elites finishing.
The Race: I was having some tummy issues at the beginning, and was really warm, so the first few miles were a bit rough but then I found my groove.  My pace was increasing a tad faster during the first 4 miles, but I was feeling good so I thought I might be able to finish faster than planned. That all changed once we turned onto A1A and the battle of the winds began. I was still on pace and picking up speed each mile, but not nearly as fast as before. I kept hoping that pushing through the headwinds meant I'd have a tailwind after the turn around to propel me to the finish, but it was actually a cross wind and it never really stopped. The few minutes when it did stop were just as bad because then you could feel the heat and humidity.

After the turn around at 8.5 miles, I dug deep and worked hard to maintain my negative splits and meet my goal. During those last few miles, I took the opportunity to work on my form and breathing, and to practice mental strength. With a little concentration, those 2 hard minutes flew by and I was cruising. Around mile 11, I switched to 3/1 intervals (was using 2/1 from the beginning) and started cutting the the walk breaks short by substituting the last 30 seconds with a slow jog. I ran the last 1/2 mile straight digging deep and using a 1 minute slow jog in place of the last walk break. I was careful to keep my stride short when sprinting and increased my cadence instead to make sure I didn't injure my hamstring. I was spent and a little sore when I finished, but overall feel great. You can see my progression in the pics below. The first one was around mile 4, then mile 12, then the final sprint.


Pacing Strategy: I executed my negative splits strategy flawlessly. The individual mile splits were a little off, mainly because the tunnel threw a wrench into things where I lost the signal and then the GPS made up for it when I got out so miles 2 and 3 are totally wrong, and I adjusted for the hills/bridges/water stops as appropriate. But when you look at the pivotal points, it was perfect and just like I predicted in yesterday's post:
  • 11:25 avg pace by mile 5
  • 11:13 avg pace by mile 10
  • slowly ticked away at that to bring it home in under 11 by the skin of my teeth. 
What is more telling though is to look at the 2 halves and the last 5K where I simply had to push to make this happen:
  • 1st half = 11:22 avg pace
  • 2nd half = 10:26 avg pace
  • last 10K = 1:04:09 (10:22 pace) - My 10K PR is 1:06:20!
  • last 5K = 30:48 (9:56 pace) - My 5K PR is 30:26
  • last 2 miles = 9:57 ea
  • final sprint = 7:54
Only by having a negative split strategy could I pull this off. I conserved energy at the beginning, listened to my body when I needed to adjust the walk breaks, and then had enough left to push so hard at the end. 

Nutrition: I ate 1 shot block at 2 miles, 1 at 4.5 miles, 2 at 6.5 miles, 2 at 8.5 miles and a gu roctane at 10.5 miles. Oh, and some strawberries near mile 11 :) Sipped water at nearly every water stop. That's my other complaint. The water cups were so full and I always feel wasteful only drinking half.

Post-Race: The finish line was at the beach, and it was gorgeous. The headed us a towel that was like a wet nap to freshen up. I kept walking because I didn't want my legs to tighten up. My only complaint about this race was the food tent. They had the typical post-race fare of bananas and such, but also rice, chicken and beans. These were both under the same tent and you had to stand on the same line for both. I didn't really want to stop moving or eat something that heavy, so I really wish they had a separate table for those that just wanted to grab a banana. Instead of hanging around, I found my support crew and we walked 2 miles back to the car then went to a local dinner to refuel. As soon as I got home, I sat in an ice bath for 20 minutes then put on compression pants and socks. I feel pretty good, but I don't want to take any chances so I'm doing all I can to speed up recovery.


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