Saturday, August 27, 2011

Race # 14 - Battle of the Triad Half Marathon, Kernersville, NC

Battle of the Triad Half Marathon
7:00 AM
Kernersville, NC
Time: 1:38:05
Placed 12th Overall; 1st place Age Group

Today I ran the Battle of the Triad Half Marathon in Kernersville, NC. This was a half marathon & 5k sponsored by my sister's company's new hospital, Kernersville Medical Center. She was generous enough to get me an entry into the the half marathon for free, so I couldn't pass up the opportunity.

The race took place at the Kernersville YMCA on the weekend that Hurricane Irene was headed up the east coast, and the effects could be felt all the way in the triad. While no rain was expected, the wind was sure to play a role. I had not ran a race since my last 5k in March, and haven't ran a half marathon since my PR in December. I put in a lot of training throughout the months leading up, but training was for upcoming Ultramarathons. So I didn't know if I could hold a fast pace for that long and PR. My training had been mostly slow runs, and not a lot of speed work. I knew I wanted to run an average 7:30 pace per mile, and if I could hold, that would give me a new PR.

With a 7am start time (I assume due to the thought that it would be very hot), Summer and I headed out early to the race. (This was my first race our little baby, nestled in her tummy, would attend. And hopefully the first of many!) Supposedly a professional Kenyan runner was to race as well, but he never showed. And another professional triathlete did show up to compete with the Kenyan, but since he didn't show, this guy was the favorite. We all lined up for an on time start, heard one of the runners play the national anthem by trumpet, and then we were off!

Of course, started out what seemed fast, but I quickly decided that you know what, I'm going for it. Let's see how all this distance training pays off. Let's see if I can hold a fast pace for 13.1 miles. So I did. Mile 1 split was 7:14. We continued through the next 3 miles going through a neighborhood, up and down rolling hills, with the wind constantly in my face, so it seemed. Every turn I took I was waiting for the tailwind, but it just kept hitting me in the face. I kept telling myself, 'if you don't feel a headwind, it must be a tailwind, so pick up the pace a little and take advantage!'

We passed by the start/finish area and Summer was there with my water bottle with accelerade. She handed it off, I took a couple of swigs, threw it in the grass, and headed out on the open road with a 'lane' made of road cones for us runners. (Special thanks to Summer for being such a great wife and handing off/picking up my water bottle).

The next 5-6 miles we were running with a tailwind. I ended up passing a couple of folks who decided to stop at the water/gatorade aid stations while I elected to keep on truckin'. Once I hit the 10 mile mark, I was back on the road that gave me the generous tailwind earlier, this time though, it was the other way around. I knew the next 5k would be a tough go, legs would be hurting as I tried to keep my pace, in addition to catching the guy who's back I'd been staring at for like 7 miles. When we hit the last water station, the guy I almost was about to catch up to stopped. He stopped! I couldn't believe it, and I took advantage. I kept moving. The gap wasn't too big, but I was out in front, with only the cycling dude leading the course in front of me.

It was time for the home stretch. As I got down under 2 miles to go, the guy who I had recently passed was gaining on me, thanks to the wind. My legs were starting to burn, and then he was there. Right behind me. I yelled out, 'you got me!' But he didn't pass. He must be drafting off me, I thought. We were then within a mile left, and a gentle downhill was now under my feet. A row of trees lined the other side of the road which knocked down some of the wind. I tried to pick it up to put some space between he and I. It worked as I opened up about a 20 ft. lead in front of him. We took a left into the entrance of the YMCA and then another left to the finish line. I crossed the line and stopped my watch at 1:38:06.

Official race time had me at 1:38:05 finishing 12th overall out of 171, and 1st place in my age group. I was pleased overall as this was a PR by 100 seconds, and I did it with the windy conditions which we had. Summer and the baby were there to congratulate me and I have to thank her for getting up early and spending her morning coming out to watch me run. Below is a pic of the age group award.

Race # 13 - Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5k, Winston Salem, NC

Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5k
8:00 AM
Winston Salem, NC
Time: 29:59

Today was my birthday race and I told Summer I would run this 5k with her and not 'race'. She told me she wanted to break 30 minutes so I decided to pace her. We met up with a group from our church and took our team picture, then headed to the start line.

After the national anthem, we took off, the first mile being a gentle uphill. Mile 1 was done in 10:23, a little off pace, but because of the hill. Mile 2 was mostly flat and I was just encouraging Summer to use the downhills to her advantage. She did and mile two split was 9:12.

As we started the final mile, I knew it would be close and we'd have to push the pace to make it under 30 minutes. On the third mile we saw Rudy, a race photographer who I work with. He snapped our photo as we passed by and we kept pushing. As we made the final turn and headed toward the finish line, the mile 3 split showed 8:58! Just a little further and we were almost done.

We hit the finish and my watch stopped at 29:59! It was an amazing run and I'm so proud of Summer for digging deep and meeting her goal. I'm so lucky to have an awesome wife!