With my focus on getting ready for the Ironman this summer and the fact that my running is not yet back to where I want it to be, I hadn't planned on running this race. I was looking forward to another wonderful long run in Umstead Saturday morning with my usual training partner , The Marathon Princess and possibly The Ultra Angel who joins us on occasion. I went into work at my part-time job Thursday at The Athletes Foot CV which is one of the race sponsors and saw that two free entries were not being used so I called Karla and asked her if she would rather run the race Saturday and after a few hours deliberation she called back and said sure.
So on a warm and muggy Spring Saturday morning we found ourselves preparing for the race with no real plan other than to have some fun. I knew I was in no shape to race a fast time so I was just going to run it with her for the fun and training. On Friday, I had decided I wanted to get back started with some speedwork so I had done some half-mile repeats thinking they wouldn't have much effect on todays event. Karla wasn't sure how fast she wanted to run so we decided to take it easy the first mile, then try and settle into 9 minute pace and see how it felt and go from there.
We lined up in the middle of the 1,600 or so starters and as planned took off easy. The course begins with a big loop of downtown Raleigh and is fairly flat and we hit the first mile in 9:05. That felt fine so we just settled in for the long run. I was already drenched from the high humidity but it was not too hot and was comfortable enough. We were having a lot of fun and chatting away as is usual on our training runs.
As the course turns away from downtown and heads west along Hillsborough St it begins a long steady climb and our pace had slowed a little as the effort stayed the same. Around the 4 mile mark , Chris Damico joined in with us. The three of us shared the next several miles enjoying the music from the bands along the way and our conversation. At around the 8 mile mark the course turned onto the greenway at the NC Museum of Art, a very pretty area but also hilly. I was still feeling good as we made the long descent and I snapped a few pictures along here. But then as we hit the first little hill I could tell I was not feeling strong and felt I was giving out too much effort for the pace we were running. I think I was feeling those repeats from Friday and I realized I had not been drinking and was probably getting dehyrated from the warm muggy conditions.
We made the final big climb and then over the I-440 pedestrian bridge onto the Meredith College campus at 9 miles and I could tell Karla was pushing the pace now. I was struggling a bit to keep up and fell a few steps behind her and Chris as I tried to recover from the hills. Mile 10 was just past the College and I stopped to take a gel and drink some water thinking with my leg speed I could catch back up on the predominantly downhill of the next 5k. I took off in pursuit feeling a little better and running a good pace on the slight downhill, slowly gaining ground on Karla. After a short time I realized that she was also picking up the pace some more. I would make up some of the gap and a few minutes later look up and see the gap had widened again. This went on for another mile and a half and I finally accepted the fact that I was not going to catch her today. The rubber band broke and I backed off the effort. And then by mile 12 the wheels came completely off and I shuffled my way to the slowest half-marathon time of my life.
Karla went on to run a strong finish and Chris pushed it in for a good time for him. We stayed around watching finishers and listening to the rock band at the finish line stage, Airiel Down until I had to leave to get ready for work. Other than a disappointing time and not being able to hang with Karla the last three miles it was still an enjoyable morning. The race went off very well I think and is a great asset to the Raleigh running community. My old friend Butch and his staff have a winner in this event.
Here are the few photos I took including a couple courtesy of Brad Broyles, NCRC President who was a spectator on the course today