Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Route 66 Half RR

  I had a terrific week 2 weeks ago and was primed for a strong effort but then beginning on Monday of race week, I crashed due to a zinc/copper imbalance.  I went aggressive with the liver glandular, which proved to be a bad call.  I never did get back on track all week and actually considered bailing.  I figured since I already paid for both the race and had a non-refundable hotel, I would go and give it a shot even though I knew my chance of a good time was almost zero.  All I had to do was finish and it would count as state #21.

It's about a 10 hour drive from Birmingham to Tulsa, which is about as far as I will go via car.  It was not a bad trip if you split it up evenly over 2 days.  I left work 2 hours early and stopped in eastern Arkansas and actually saw a guy that I know from Birmingham at a gas station.  The 2nd day was a little messy as it started raining hard when I neared the Oklahoma border.  Fortunately, it stopped once I got to Tulsa and the weather would not be much of an issue on race morning.

Course and weather:
Temps were steady in the mid-upper 50s with mostly cloudy skies and winds of 15 mph so no real complaints there.  I was never uncomfortable with a tech shirt and shorts.  The course was gently-moderately rolling with some flat areas mostly from Miles 6-9 before a tough stretch in Mile 12.  It covered mostly residential areas with a few parks and a small section down by the river before heading back to town for the finish It could be a PR course but was not blazing fast.

I awoke on race morning feeling lousy but I would still give it a try.  Extra glutathione seemed to help a bit but Vitamin C made little difference.  I arrived in plenty of time but there was a mile long line for port-a-johns so I ducked into a nearby hotel but would have little time to warm up.  No big deal.  I did not want to waste the little energy that I had.  I predicted that I would crash within 4-5 miles and slow jog or even walk-jog to the finish.

The gun went off and it was rolling from the get go.  After a slow start, I began feeling not as horrible around a half mile in and managed to increase my pace.  Mile 2 was mostly downhill and would be my fastest mile of the race but as expected, I began fading shortly thereafter.
7:07- 7:07 not so bad
7:04- 14:11 not so bad
7:16- 21:27 slipping
7:28- 28:55 meltdown is coming

I fully expected that the meltdown would come within another mile or two and my pace continued to slip by 10-15 seconds per mile but surprisingly I was able to hold it there and figured that I might manage a hollow victory with a sub-1:40.  On a flat section just after the halfway point, I made an effort to pick up the pace and found a surprising resurgence.  I did my best for the remainder of the race and though it wasn't pretty, it was a boost in morale knowing that I would finish with a non-horrible time.
7:44- 36:39 8 miles of pain to go
7:40- 44:19 holding on.
7:42- 52:01 flat section
7:22- 59:23- resurgence

I would pass several runners over the next 2 miles and a sub-1:40 was all but locked up.  In Mile 10, I took a gel after a tough uphill and though my energy remained similar, my groin began to tighten up and I had to slow down a bit.  We hit some nice downhill, which led us to a nice section along the river.  It would be a tough finish back into town but I held my position and even passed a few runners on my way to a solid finish.  According to the results, I gained 21 places after the 10K mark and managed a slight negative split for only the 4th or 5th time in a half marathon.  My watch time at the finish line was 1:37:42 (7:28 pace).  A mediocre performance but better than I expected on race morning.
7:17- 66:40 passing runners
7:40- 74:20 water and gel stop
7:28- 81:48 riverside
7:35- 89:23- holding on uphill
7:19- 96:42- solid finish
1:00- 1:37:42- last .16.

Final thought:
I've gone numb.  It seems that I never go into a race expecting a PR or even to run well. This was nearly 10% off my PR and close to the lower limit of "respectable."  With 21 states in and only 4 to go, I might as well finish the Half 2 Run challenge but if this doesn't turn around next year, I'm sticking to local races that do not sell out.  If you need Oklahoma, OKC is probably a better choice because there is more to do in that city.  In addition to the lack of port-a-johns, I was mistakenly assigned to the slowest corral at the expo.  Fortunately, I was allowed to move up without a word from the volunteer.   This one fit my schedule because of the Thanksgiving holiday and gave me an excuse to take the whole week off. I did meet a super nice woman from OK on my way back to my car and we talked for 5-10 minutes. She smiled the whole time and I got a sweaty hug too.

Trip home:
I stopped in Little Rock (4 hrs from Tulsa) to break up the trip.  It was a pleasant 60 degree sunny day and I enjoyed my tour of the city.  I saw the Clinton presidential library, which I enjoyed even though I am politically conservative.  I also saw the Old State House (ARK history museum) and state capitol building and did a junk run along the Arkansas river.  This was my favorite day of the trip.
Official result: AG 17/204- 92nd percentile, which says more about the overall weakness of the field than my performance.

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