Sunday, October 18, 2015

Danville Half Marathon and a great training week.

 With the upcoming race I didn't want to train too hard but I also hadn't planned on tapering for this one. I wanted to race well but this was just another step toward the bigger goals.

 I started off with an easy 4 miles on Monday due to time restraints and that  I had just done the hard turn and burn on Sunday.
  Tuesday was an easy 6. Probably would have done a few more or hit the hills but I had big plans for Wednesday.

Another strong workout with Laura
 Yes, it was Wonderful Wednesday. Since I couldn't run on Friday , Laura and I still wanted to share a few miles so we met on Wednesday with a plan to run a few together and then she would go on and do more miles at her usual pace. It went great as we ran the first 3 together at a pace much better than expected. When I turned around I decided since I felt so good to just go with it and ended up with a new all time best for that 6 mile route. I timed the cooldown mile perfectly to be back at the start as she finished her extra 2 miles.

 I followed that up with and easy 5 on Thursday and then took Friday as a rest day and drove to Danville after work. Did I mention the weather was great this week! Cooler and lower humidity in the afternoons.

 Ok, so what about the race?

 I had raced here in 2007 but it was in Sept then and very hot. This morning it was 34F as I was making the short drive to the start !
 The course was quite different than then also but still much of the race was on the greenway along the Dan River and flat.

 I lined up near the front with about 140 others in this low key but well organized event.
 I had done a warm up mile and wasn't feeling too spiffy. I had a realistic goal of 1:46-1:47 range and a fantasy goal of 1:45 but as we started I was having doubts and thinking 1:49 might be the target.
 Although we started on the road, the contour reminded me of the first mile of my favorite section of the Neuse Greenway with gentle short hills. My stride didn't feel just right and I was expecting 8:15 to 8:30 so I was shocked when I saw 7:51 ! Wow, I'm running better than I thought !

 Mile 2 started with a qtr mile hill that was nearly as steep as cemetery in Umstead so I just relaxed knowing that there were no more real hills to come. Once at the top and the highest elevation of the course I had a 3/4 mile easy slight downgrade to the river which I used to settle into a strong relaxed pace. That mile was 8:11 and I was quite happy with that.

 For the next 3 miles we ran along the river on short stretches of gravel , broken pavement and sidewalk while weaving in and out of parking lots and behind buildings and shopping centers ! Not the most scenic route and way too many turns but at least it was flat. And then finally we made it to the greenway. I was very happy to be maintaining a very even pacing just about 7:55 average.

 Right around the halfway point we began an out and back section of the course on the greenway which would bring us back to the old railroad bridge that would take us to the other side of the river to the finish. In 2007 we finished about 100yds past the bridge in front ot the train station but this year we would have to circle under the bridge with another half mile to go.
greenway passing under RR bridge 

 Ok, back to the race. At mile 7 I was still running every mile within about a 5 second range. With 6 to go I was telling myself all I had to do was pretend it was my normal 6 miles with Laura which right now  we are running around the pace I had run for the 1st 7miles of the race.

 By mile 8 I was confident there would be no blowing up this time but I still kind of expected to gradually slow down in the last miles. I made it to 9.5 and did the loop around a field and then headed back upriver on the greenway. I thought this might be when I would slow some  but I remained focused and the 7:55 ish splits just kept coming and over the next couple of miles I started picking off quite a few that were slowing down. And then with about 6/10ths to go we came to the bridge.

looking across the RR bridge
 Running across the old 3 span truss bridge would be cool but in order to do it you have to run up a steep narrow wooden ramp, make a sharp 180 turn on a small landing losing all momentum , run up another ramp and then make a sharp 90 turn onto the narrow bridge. After crossing the bridge it is a series of 3 sharp narrow 90 turns then a sweeping 180 to finally circle under the bridge and get back on the greenway with 4/10ths to go to the finish line. I was pushing strong but all those short compact turns cost me time and mile 13 was 8:09 and would clearly have been under 8 if we had not had to run that maze of ramps. ( RD said next year that they would eliminate that).

view of RR beidge from greenway

 I was so thrilled to finish in 1:43:15, my fasted half in over 15 years and much better than I dreamed I could do at this point. I am officialy done with referring to the injury now !

 So, you would think in a small race like this with that time I would make it to the podium ? Ha !  Turns out I was in the toughest age group of all ! I was 5th !!! Even with a 23rd overall placing !
 I would have been 2nd in the 45-49 ag by just 4 seconds. I would have been third in the 50-54 and if I was just 2 months older would have won the 60-65 ! Oh well, I am just happy with the great personal performace and knowing I still have some great racing ahead of me.

happy 1:43:15 finisher

 Stay tuned  for more running excitement !

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