Sunday, July 10, 2011

Race Report: Ocean Shores Half Marathon

By Mike

Coming into this race it was very hard to predict how I'd do as I had just began my training program a few weeks back. I did a 5K (21:03) a month ago on June 12 (was effectively my training kickoff) and was quite happy with how well I did given the lack of training. I did a disappointing 45:21 10K the following week and noticed that I just wasn't ready to put out heavy efforts on so little effort. I pulled way back on my training intensity over the following weeks and focused more on nice easy steady consistent efforts with the goal of eventually ramping up to 10 hours a week of training (not there yet) before adding intensity again. Actually I've been feeling weak on recent workouts... struggled to hit the higher intensities and higher heart rates.

Race Course
This race (Ocean Shores Half) was flat however (perfect for a PR) and I knew I had strong underlying fitness but was very unsure how strong of an effort I could sustain for ~100 minutes. I did a bit of race recon the day before the race and was a bit surprised to see that there would be about 2 stretches of ~2.5 mile sandy beach runs. Was not expecting that and would not have brought my K-Swiss Blade Light shoes (they have holes in the bottom that pick up sand) if I knew any better. I was wondering if it would be worth it to take my shoes off after each beach stretch. The race day temp was expected to be mid 50s with low humidity and some sun and very light wind ~5mph... Great conditions on flat easy course minus the beach sections. All these factors combined with fitness, fatigue, etc made it tougher to really predict how I'd do. I made it a goal to ignore time and focus more on trying to put out a strong effort with high heart rate.

The Race
The race started about 6 minutes early so I barely had a chance to warmup and didn't have a chance to use the bathroom or take in a drink with my Roctane (decided not to take one at the start actually). There were maybe 30 people at the start (supposedly 200 registered) so either the number was off or a few people got caught off guard with the early start. Since it was chip timed, it was impossible to know if any fast people started behind us (Lindsay and I ran together).

The race started off fast with about 10 folks going out ahead of us... 4-5 of them women.. wow.. what a fast start. Lindsay and I decided to keep an easy pace as we figured they'd burn out and we'd reel them in later. Well we did reel some people in but only a few. Actually we started pacing together at in the low 7's... with me drafting the group for much of it... I think the other runners didn't "get" the benefit of drafting because they just let me hang on. We hit the sand shortly after 2 miles and it was annoying to say the least. After the soft sandy part though it wasn't too bad on the packed wet sand by the water. We even saw a baby seal on the beach.. can't say I've ever seen that in a NY race.

At the half-way point a woman came up from behind us and was running hard. I accelerated (from ~7:15 to 6:45) and latched on and so did another male runner in our group. We went from a group of 5 to a group of 6 for a short while to groups of 3 and 3. The 6:45 pace didn't last however and we slowed to about 7:05; however the group was already split by this point. The other male runner started breathing heavily.. I could tell he wasn't going to last and he eventually dropped off at around mile 9 before the second beach section. The beach was no more fun the second time around :) but I was happy to keep a nice strong pace. I stopped drafting her on the beach (I should have continued) figuring it was close enough to the end to try and pull off, test my legs and run along side the other female runner. After we hit the 4th and last soft sandy section on the out part of the beach there were ~2 miles left and I decided it was time to accelerate. I dropped her quite easily but she didn't stay that far back. With about a mile to go however I made a wrong turn on a poorly marked section (actually there was a volunteer but she was in her lawn chair eyes down, half asleep, reading a book)... I lost a few seconds here but it was enough for the other runner to bridge a big part of the gap I opened up. I decided to let her catch up to me and then accelerate again once she caught on (like Macca did to Raelert. My legs were starting to burn but I did manage to open up a small gap again. I won this mini race on gun time, but she did win on net time since she started a bit later... ugh! I came in 10th overall and 6th male overall... got chicked x4... this was one tough women's field! Lindsay finished soon after me.


Mile Splits/Paces:
7:15 (1x Roctane here)
7:37 (sand!)
7:21 (mostly out of sand)
7:07 (1x Roctane here)
7:23 (sand again!)
7:13 (mostly out of sand)
1:05 @ 5:57 pace for 0.18 miles.. course long
Total: 1:35:45 @ 7:17

I averaged 167 bpm for the full effort, which was only about 3bpm below what my theoretical max (fully tapered, rested) would have been for a ~100 min effort. I was happy with that! It happened to be a PR for me by 3 minutes as well which was also pretty sweet... my previous PR was on the much hillier course of 2+ loops of Central Park, NY. Really I'm quite happy with this as I had almost no expectations today. This bodes well for some future races where I'll hopefully have a bit more fitness and some more rest. I'm getting close to that elusive sub 1:30! May not happen this year but I'm definitely gunning for it regardless.

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