Going into the 2014 CHAD Hero Half Marathon, I had one goal: to run comfortably, and not hurt myself on the hills. This was a much more challenging course than the New England Half Marathon in September, and I knew I wouldn’t PR.
The New England Half Marathon in September. No sustained hills, 374ft of climbing, and 604ft of descent at the end when you’re fatigued.
Before the race:
It was drizzly and cold all morning, so I stayed inside, took my time changing, and headed out for a short warmup about half an hour before the race. I did very little, to force myself to stay slow in the beginning.
The start was a little overcrowded. The 5k and half marathon started and ran the first mile or so of the course together, so you had a wide variety of folks toeing the same line at the same time. They held us there for awhile during a special saying/oath, the national anthem, and finally the start command was given.
I started out quick, but settled in within a tenth of a mile or so. I ran the first mile in 6:06 and the second in 6:07. Mile 3 (6:16) saw the first hill, a gradually sloping one back up to the finish area, before running to the west side of the green. So far, I was feeling completely relaxed, and running was still effortless. Mile 4 (6:05), we headed downhill toward the river, before crossing it, and heading back uphill under the interstate into Norwich. I passed three guys in the first four miles, but I had no idea what placings were like, as we’d started with the 5k.
Next, came the first real hill, a two-mile long hill from 3.8 to 5.8. This one slowed me down a bit, because I focused on keeping my effort level down. Mile 5 (6:25) was the worst, while mile 6 (6:17) was a bit better because you could sense the downhill was coming!
Miles 7 (6:07), 8 (5:56) and 9 (6:20) were mostly downhill, sometimes steep, and my legs were just starting to fatigue. I focused on keeping my stride rate up, and letting the stride length take care of itself. I passed one more guy here on the downhill, who was clearly feeling the quads more than I was.
Mile 10 (6:24) had the longest steep hill, at about half a mile with 150 ft of gain. Luckily it started to go downhill again right afterwards, letting me pick up the pace again.
Mile 11 had a short, but very painful hill… I felt like I was sprinting, but my pace slipped to 8:46, and I very nearly walked. But I crested the hill, and saw that the blue-shirted guy I’d been chasing for 5 miles was about two minutes ahead.
Mile 12 (6:16) was a gentle downhill, but at this stage of the race, my legs were somewhat fatigued, and I couldn’t really capitalize on it. I finally passed the guy in blue with about 1.5 miles to go. He really hung close after I passed him though, so I still pushed my legs as hard as I could. My heart rate fell quite a bit, as my legs just couldn’t keep up!
Mile 13 (6:16) had ANOTHER &@MN HILL. My heart rate rose again, and I kept the effort level pegged for the last .3 (this course was long, because we didn’t have full control of the roads).
I crossed the line in 1:23:16, for a 41-second PR. Not bad for a much more challenging (and long) course! I was very pleased with the time, but even more pleased with what I felt was a smarter race.
Here is a video clip from several points in the race: