The Quest for A Sub 1:30 Half Marathon

This year I've had some great running races and my running was shaping up nicely, that is until I my plantar fascia had other plans!  I've spent most of the last month or so being very gentle on my runs, running only sparingly and trying to keep my fitness with swimming and biking.  My run mileage has been way down and last week was a total of one run for 4 miles.  The good news is that it's starting to subside with me not running.

I had a case of this a few years ago and it just went away one day.  Don't get me wrong its not like I wasn't treating it and doing everything I could to help it subside, but one day it just disappeared.  I was hoping it would happen this time around, but that simply wasn't the case.  I was going to attempt to break 1:30 two weeks in a row, so if I missed the first time, I had a second chance at 13.1 a week later.  However, since my pain kept getting worse I had to limit my running before my first try.

Race #1 Savin Rock Half Marathon-West Haven, CT

I had never run this race before so I had no idea what to expect.  I saw the course profile online and the race didnt look nearly as difficult as it would end up being.  The first chunk of the race was pretty flat but it was into a headwind and since I knew we were coming back the same way I was not looking to the finish with a headwind in my face!  It was a gradual climb of about 65 ft in the first 3.5 miles, so nothing too tough, but thats when the "fun" started to begin.  The next mile went into a 50 foot downhill followed by a 80 foot climb.  That climb was followed by another 50 foot drop which basically lead into a rolling climb of 100 feet for the next 3.25 miles or so.  We were then greeted with a quad punishing 125 foot drop and right back into a 100 foot climb before we got some downhill action from 9.3 miles until 10.5.  The last 2.5 miles or so where a mix of rolling false flat into the headwind that we started against.

EF Green Leading the way!

The first  mile I took off with the leaders, this being a smaller race I wasnt sure exactly how far off the front I would be, and who I should and shouldn't be following.  In running my warm-up I ended up chatting with the guy who eventually took second place and he told me he was expecting a 1:18,  being next to him after the first 1/4 mile was a mistake!  I slowed down and eventually got my first mile pace down to 6:14.  My heart rate was around 165 so I didn't spike it going out,  I took it easier on the next few miles averaging close to a 6:30/mi pace.   I had no idea what I was to come, looking at the profile I thought it would be a gradual 100 ft climb over the next 6 miles or so, but as I pointed out before it was a lot of up and downs in the middle stretch. Between miles 5&6 I had my first mile over 7 minutes.  And between 7 and 10 I   struggled to maintain a 7 minute average pace.   The last 3 miles were a huge struggle for me,  I struggled to maintain a 7:15 pace and my heart rate was through the roof. I felt like I was running a 5 minute pace yet my legs weren't moving.  To put things in perspective I regularly run between a 7 and 7:20 pace with a heart rate in the low 150's for my easy pace runs.  I looked at my watch and I knew it was going to be close, but just how close I had no idea.

As I plodded along the shoreline into the brutal headwind I felt like I was just going nowhere.  2 Miles left, 1 mile left, .5 miles left and nothing changed, I still felt like I was running on E.  As I came closer to the line I could see the clock.  I was pushing and yet not moving.  I could see the clock at 1:28... getting closer 1:29.... 1:29:30...... I finally crossed the line at 1:30:14, 15 Seconds short of my goal time.  Some might think I would be disappointed, but believe it or not I wasn't, this was a tough course, and I gave it everything I had.  Given the fact that the weeks leading up to the race I had to limit my running and long runs on top of the fact that I was running injured I was OK with my performance.    I finished 22nd overall out of 414 runners (which is the top 5%) so I was content, but it didn't mean I wasn't going to try everything in my power to get those 15 seconds the next week!

Savin Rock Course Profile

Garmin Data

Race #2 Danbury Half Marathon- Danbury, CT

I have run this race several times so I knew what to expect.  I was a little worried however about going out a bit too fast since this was a championship race this year and there were going to be some hardcore runners.  In between the races I did just one run of 6 miles so I could let my plantar rest.  I did do a bit of riding and running, but most of it was light as I wanted to make sure I was fresh for the next race.   I did however do a 2 hour bike ride on the Saturday before the race which I didn't do before the Savin Rock race because it was on a Saturday. This course started off with a bunch of rolling hills until you basically hit a 200 foot climb from mile 7 to 9 with no downhill sections to break it up.  Between 9 & 11 its mostly rolling before a downhill/flat finish for the last 2.1 miles or so.

Still comfortable at mile 1.5 or so

I started off this race much like I did the week before. My first mile was a 6:17 but I held back this time from going out with the leaders,  I know my current limits and I'm not running a 1:15.  The first 2 mile of this race can be fast and can hurt you if you take them too fast.  2 years prior I ran the first 2 miles in 12 minutes which was a mistake at the time!  I took the next few miles in stride and kept what felt like a comfortable pace which happened to be around a 6:35/mi.  As I got to the first climbs my pace got closer to 7 by I didn't end up going over a 7 minute mile until i hit 9-10.  That was the crest of the climb that started a little before mile 7 and didn't end until slightly after 10 miles.  I slowed down even more between miles 10 and 11 before I could recover with s sub 7 min mile between 11 and 12 aided with a massive quad pounding downhill.  I stopped at the last  aid station for a little longer than I should have to catch my bearings which caused my split between 12&13 to be a little slower than it should have been.  My quad had seized on the downhill portion which made running very uncomfortable.

As I was nearing 13 miles I could see it was going to be close again.  But in my head I knew I had longer to run than my watch was telling me.  I had run this course before and I knew that I had more than .2 mile to  go till the finish.  I pushed and I kept an eye on my watch.  I realized this course was going to be long, and that I had no shot of breaking my goal time on the clock, but I still had a chance at doing it on my watch.  According to my watch I was under 1:30 by 12 seconds at 13.1 miles.  You can see the extra split  on my link.   I still pushed through the end and made it across the finish line  which was clocked at 13.27 miles in 1:30:40.  Once again I missed crossing the finish line without meeting my goal, but my goal was to run 13.1 miles in under 1:30, and that had been accomplished.  I was 75 th overall out of 879 runners and happy with my result.

Gut check time, pushing with everything I have left at 12.5 miles.

Course Profile

Garmin Data

Since the races I have taken some time off from running, having run 4 miles only once since.  I have continued to stretch ice, and baby my plantar fascia and will continue to do so until it goes away.  As the weather gets nicer here in the northeast I am excited for another season of racing to come, Its only 7 short weeks until my first sprint Triathlon and I can't wait!