Monday, September 21, 2015

Rochester Half Marathon Race Report

Yesterday, I wrapped up the 4th (and final) race of the Fleet Feet Four Seasons Challenge - the Rochester Half Marathon.

The 4 Seasons medals - I stole this photo from Todd b/c his is much better than mine

I *love* the Rochester Marathon. I love running and Rochester and its running community and the fall weather (that we sometimes get in September).

This year, the Roc Marathon had a new course. Instead of running 14 miles of the Erie Canal path (less for the half marathon), the course was moved to the northern part of the city - Charlotte - and part of West Irondequoit where races are rarely run. However, this part of the city has some lovely parks/trail systems that even I had not seen (and I live in East Irondequoit!!) until I previewed the new course to see what it would be like.

Although the previous marathon course was fast and predictable, the canal path can get a bit dull after a while. I was happy and excited for the change. I've run the Rochester half and the full on the old course, so I'm glad I got to experience them while they were in existence, but psyched to see the race move to a fresh locale.

Since I am running the Steamtown Marathon in 3 weeks, I was not allowed to go "balls out" for this race - per Jennie. However, we both thought that if the weather cooperated, and I had a good day (basically, the stars aligned), I could PR this race.

Note: I was not specifically trying for a PR, I was simply trying to execute this race according to Jennie's instructions and if a PR happened - great.

I would be lying if I didn't admit that I have been trying for a half-marathon PR since 2011 - and not just a PR - a sub 1:40 time. I set my half PR in 2011 at Flower City Challenge: 1:40:55. That is not the easiest course and I was confident that I could best that PR, however, in 4 years, I haven't been able to do it. I came reasonably close in both of my attempts last year: Buffalo half-marathon (1:41:45 - admittedly I was not in great shape) and PA Grand Canyon half-marathon (1:42:20 - hilly as shit course). I failed at my attempt this year at Shoreline (blame the weather for that one).

So, it has been getting pretty ridiculous.

However, my main goal this year is Steamtown. I want a BQ, I want it really, really badly, and that is all that I want.

My instructions from Jennie were to start out at 1:40 pace (7:38 min/mile) (and actually, to go out a bit faster than this initially to account for the downhills during the first few miles of the course) and maintain this pace past the hill on Thomas/until mile 6. At that point, I needed to self-assess: if I was feeling reasonably comfortable with the pace - then maintain the pace for a 1:40 half. If not, I was to back off and run the rest of the race at 8:00-8:10 pace (which would still give me a good workout with some marathon-pace miles). I was not to get to a point where I was putting forth more than 90% effort until the last few miles, and then it was ok to make myself uncomfortable. This required me to be self-aware and to be able to give myself an ego check if I wasn't feeling great. That's hard to do - I am competitive, I want the PR, John was racing and I (not so secretly) wanted to beat him - but I knew I had to be able to back off if my body dictated.

Adding to the fun - John and I had late nights on Friday (at the Fringe fest) and Saturday night (at a wedding in Geneseo). We left the wedding at 9 pm (which I felt badly about) in order to get back to Rochester and I was in bed before 11.

We had a 5 am wake-up - and we had to do the bathroom in shifts - since myself, John, David, and their friend Mark were all racing. We left for the race around 6, climbed on the shuttle to the start, hung out at the start for a while as we saw random friends here and there. I did a 1 mile warm up solo, ditched my long sleeved top, and lined up maybe 5 or 6 "rows" back from the line. The weather was great - it was nice and cool and cloudy. In terms of food pre-race I had coffee & half a bagel with jelly at John's, a banana once we got to the race, and then a Honeystinger waffle before my warm up, as well as some water which I sipped on until it was time to line up.

The course is really fun. It starts in Maplewood Park by the tennis courts, heads north, and then at mile 2.3 it sends runners off the road onto the Genesee Riverway Trail which goes through some woods, over a boardwalk, and then pops out onto Lake Ave. Runners then cross the Genesee River and head south on Thomas Ave. At about mile 5.5, there is a significant climb which ends the downhill portion of the race. Runners then turn right onto St, Paul, and stay on St. Paul until heading back to the Riverway Trail in Seneca Park, across the pedestrian bridge, and back into Maplewood Park. This is about mile 10. Runners head south on the Riverway Trail, cross Driving Park Ave. and cross the river at Middle Falls, turn onto Brewer St. (and up a big hill), then run to Frontier Field for the finish.

You can see me in pink shorts, and Heather in blue shorts to the left of the flag guy
I ran the first few miles with Heather and Mark (they were both doing the full). Mark pulled away first, and then Heather did while we were on the boardwalk - she was going too fast for me and it wasn't worth it to me to try to keep up. My first 5 miles were pretty quick: 7:23, 7:33, 7:28, 7:21, 7:35. I slowed a bit running up the Thomas Ave. hill, but I didn't mind this hill. Mile 6: 7:52. After getting up the hill, I assessed how I was feeling. I still felt like I was running comfortably and my knee wasn't bothering me, so I made the plan to run 7:35 - 7:40 pace until the 10 mile mark. If I still felt ok at that point, I would pick it up. If I ever started to struggle, I would back off. Miles 7-10: 7:37, 7:40, 7:39, 7:33. Still feeling good and reasonably comfortable with the pace.

John passed me somewhere after the Thomas Ave. hill. We had a *small* wager about the race just to make it fun - but nothing that I wouldn't be too upset over losing - so I let him go by me. I figured if he was within striking distance at the 10 mile mark, I'd try to catch him.

After crossing the pedestrian bridge, I cranked it up a notch. This turned into "try to maintain current pace" because the course got a little rough here with some rolling hills, some dirt trails, and a super steep uphill on Brewer St. which I was unaware of (oops). I definitely slowed a bit here, but not for lack of trying! I passed John (pretty hard) at around mile 10 (sorry dear). At mile 12, I knew I was going to be very, very close to going sub 1:40. I slammed on the gas and ran it in as hard as I could. I saw Katie with about a quarter mile to go which was encouraging. I could see the finish line and I could see that my Garmin said 1:39 (of course, no seconds were visible). I saw the clock turn to 1:40 just seconds before I crossed the line. Miles 11-13.1: 7:41, 7:39, 7:06, 1:54 (6:33 pace) - my Garmin clocked my run as 13.29 miles.

I was hopeful that perhaps the net time would be enough to put me under 1:40. However, my official time was 1:40:01. Good enough for a 54 second PR, but not sub 1:40. I was slightly annoyed, however, I can't be too upset since I got my PR without trying too hard, got in a great prep. race for Steamtown, and ended up getting 3rd in my age group!

My go-to nutrition plan during every (running) race that is longer than an hour is 2 Honeystinger chews (or currently I am using Skratch Lab Fruit Drops) every other mile (so basically, at every "even" mile - I eat), along with water when I take the chews. I followed this at the Roc Half and I will follow it at Steamtown, although will add in on-course electrolytes there as well. If it's hot, I slam as much fluid as I can at the aid stations.

John finished in 1:40:18 which is a several minute PR for him. (He had a goal of going sub 1:40 as well). I'm very proud of him! I wasn't sure what happened to him after I passed him but he was right behind me. He'll be taking another crack at a sub 1:40 this year I'd imagine.

I know, we're adorable
Me? I'm focusing on Steamtown. Only a few more weeks (if that) of solid work left, then taper, then it's go time!

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love creepy blog stalker friends! Don't be afraid to leave me a comment!