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 Bronx Half Marathon 2-11-07

South Orange, New Jersey
Joined: 19 Dec 2004
Posts: 367

Bronx Half Marathon 2-11-07 Posted: Wed Feb 14, 2007 8:04 pm 

The second Half Marathon in the Grand Prix series was run this past Sunday (2-11-07). Though I had intended to run the first race of the series (Manhattan Half Marathon in Central Park) back in January I wimped out when I awoke that morning at 5am and the temperature was 15F and it never got much warmer that day. I don’t mind so much running in the cold but the prospect of standing around before an 8am start in that kind of cold was more than I was able to come to grips with. So I crawled back into bed and did a treadmill workout later that day.

Race day I awoke and vowed not to be a weenie this time. At 5am the temperature outside was 17F. Yikes…not much better then the time before. But this time I knew I’d be able to park much closer to the start area and figured I’d have a warm place to hang out until the start. So, I was off to the races.

My plan was to make this race a fairly hard training session, and with tired legs. The day before I did a 1.5 hour indoor bike workout on my trainer followed by a 40 minute run on the treadmill. The only warm-up I got before the start of the race was the short distance I jogged from my car to the registration tent to pick up my t-shirt, then over to the port-a-potty, and then back to my car. I certainly wasn’t going to be shooting for a PR so a proper warm-up wasn’t on my priority list. Instead, I stayed in my nice warm car until about 5 minutes before the 8am start time. Then I jogged to the start area and slipped into the mass of runners (about 2800+) someplace near the 8 minute pace sign. Normally, I’m in shape to run about an 8:40 pace for the half marathon distance this time of year. But I’ve been much more consistent this winter with my training than I have been in the past and felt I could probably average an 8:15 pace.

The temperate at the start was 19F. The sky was clear and the sun was out but there was also a mild breeze. I felt pretty comfortable having stayed in my car until nearly the last minute. It helped that I dressed well for the weather. My favorite article of clothing for this type of weather is my Buff ( headwear. It covers my neck, chin, mouth, nose and ears and I can easily adjust it as the temperature changes.

Using the advance workout feature of my Garmin 205 I programmed in a custom workout directly into it with specific distance segments and specific pace ranges. The first segment of the workout was programmed for four miles with a speed range of 8:30 to 8:15 min/mi pace, a second segment of four miles at 8:20 to 8:10 min/mi, another four mile segment at 7:50-8:10 pace and a segment for the last 1.1 miles programmed for a range of 7:30 to 7:50, hoping I’d be able to pick up the pace near the end. I gave each segment a wide range to account for pace changes as I hit various hills. I wanted to minimize the amount of beeping the Garmin does when your pace drifts to high or too low. It gives off a three tone alert about every 30 seconds when you need to slow down and a four tone alert when you need to speed up. I didn’t put a whole lot of thought into it but figured this strategy would remind me to run a progressive pace and finish with an average pace to reach my goal time of 1:48.

The gun went off and about 40 seconds later I was over the start line and on my way. I felt remarkably comfortable and despite my workout from the day before my legs felt really fresh. The Garmin was beeping at me to slow down. As I approached the first mile mark it occurred to me that I’ve never run with my Garmin programmed quite like this before and I wasn’t sure if when I hit the lap button it would record the mile split time or “complete” that programmed segment and begin the next. When I hit the lap button I immediately saw the message displayed indicating that the first segment was completed and that the next segment of the workout was starting. In other words, it thought I had just completed the first four mile segment (it would have done it automatically had the measured distance reached four miles) and wanted to start the next segment. So I figured it wasn’t going to be possible for me to track my mile splits during my run (importing the run data into SportTracks later allowed me to see my splits). My Garmin now thought I was on the first mile of the second programmed segment of my workout (mile 5) when actually I was only on the second mile.

I continued on to the four mile mark feeling very comfortable and my Garmin continued to alert me to slow down. My pace fluctuated between 7:50 and 8:10. I had been trying to slow down but now it felt like if I slowed any more I’d be walking. The Garmin finally stopped beeping at me around mile 4 as my pace slowed to about 8:17. Actually, the beeping from the Garmin is just barely loud enough for me to hear it if it’s fairly quiet (no loud foot stompers or breathers near me). So it’s easy to get used to it and I don’t think it bothered anyone else around me.

Over the next three miles my pace averaged about 8:05. I still felt pretty good but thought I should try to ease up a little just to be safe. The next three miles my splits were 8:11, 8:00, and 8:11 as I hit a hilly section. It was at about the 9 mile mark that the course turns back towards the finish line. And it was at this point that I realized the wind had been at my back for the last couple miles and now was in my face and I was starting to feel a chill. I held my pace at about 8:09 until I hit the 11 mile mark and started to feel colder. Though I wanted to wait until the 12 mile mark to start pushing the pace I decided that in the interest of warmth now would be a good time to start picking up the pace. My pace at the 12 mile mark was 8:02. I was a bit surprised because I felt like I was running faster than that. I thought “Hmm, maybe my legs are more tired than I think. Oh, right, I did that long workout yesterday.” I could also sense that my wide berth was acting as an effective sail “against” the wind. But oddly it was only in the last couple miles that I actually felt that I was running with much effort.

With a little more than a mile left it was time to start pushing. I looked for someone ahead of me who was running faster than me and before I could spot anyone a women came running from behind me. Great! I tucked in behind her, but not too close, and tried to match her pace. After about a quarter mile I realized she wasn’t going fast enough and decided to pull out and around here. As I did I sensed her pace pick up. Well…my ego kicked in and I thought “Oh no you don’t…you had your chance.” I pulled ahead of her but I wasn’t able to find anyone else to pace off. I think I just kind of settled into a pace until about a ½ mile to go the same woman passed me again. She was running much faster now and I decided to stay with her. This was great. Her pace seemed to be increasing and I was staying with her. My legs felt pretty good and for the first time my breathing became labored. With about a quarter mile to go I noticed she was starting to pull away from me. I tried to respond but my legs just didn’t seem to want to turn over any quicker. I’ve never experienced this before. I mean, my legs seemed to feel okay…but they just refused to go any faster. The finish line was now just about 200 yards ahead and though I wanted to catch her I just couldn’t seem to muster any speed.

With about 50 yards to go and my sights now set on just getting across the finish line some guy came zipping past me like I was standing still. I immediately thought “Dude, if you’ve got speed like that at the finish then you’ve left something out on the course.” As the woman ahead of me continued to accelerate across the finish line I cruised in about 30 yards behind her in 1:47:01 (8:10 pace). My pace for the last 1.1 miles was 7:40. Though I was hoping for a better finishing kick I was satisfied with my time. I quickly made a bee-line for the refreshment table whre I picked up a couple bagels, an apple, and downed a couple cups of hot chocolate and then headed back to my nice warm car.

Not a stellar performance but my speed and endurance are much better at this time of the year than they’ve ever been before. So I’m pleased. If I can keep up with my speed and tempo workouts through the summer I’m hoping I’ll be able to improve on my 1:38 half marathon PR (as well as my 5 and 10K times) when I run the Staten Island Half Marathon next October. And if that’s possible then perhaps I can finally get a 3:30 BQ marathon this year too.

Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: Bronx Half Marathon 2-11-07 Posted: Sun Feb 18, 2007 9:00 am 

Great race report! Man, you are nuts doing a hard workout and Saturday and following it with a half-marathon on Sunday! Sounds like you handled it like a champ, though.

Do you think using your Forerunner to help achieve negative splits helped you, or did it not make much difference? It sounds as though the wind direction affected things quite a bit.

17 degrees... brrr!

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