THE HOLLYWOOD HALF MARATHON EXPERIENCE: POST MORTEM
When I laced up my shoes this morning for the Hollywood Half Marathon I realized that barring any last second additions, this was going to be my last half marathon until mid-August (my next two monthly races will be full marathons). I knew the outcome of this race was going to be bouncing around my mind for the next four months. My hope was to push it a bit and have a good race.
I didn’t have a good race….
I had a friggin’ awesome race.
One of my best ever.
I’ll leave discussions about the course and race for the full race review (coming tomorrow), but it really was a wonderful experience today.
Things got off to a nice start as I had a completely stress-free time getting to the race (via Metro Rail). I ran into several friends along the way, and made a few new ones. There were a pair of group photos for me to get all Kodak-y: Hollywood Half Marathon Legacy and Half Fanatics. After chatting with several fellow Fanatics, I made my way into the corrals and hooked up with numerous members of my T2/”Team Roadkill” family. It felt great just hanging with my friends as we kidded around, waiting for the race to begin.
And as the dawn approached (yeah, it was a pre-dawn start) the gun went off and thousands of anxious runners made their way across start line.
Headphones on and iPod cranked up loud, I pressed “start” on my GPS just I crossed the blue timing mat. And like that, we were off.
In spite of a log-jammed first two miles (due to all three races: 5K, 10K and half marathon running simultaneously and funneling down some narrow and meandering streets) I was keeping around a 10:00 min/mile pace. Once the 5K and 10K made their U-turns to head for home, the course opened up and I was able to pick up my pace.
A few miles later I got a very pleasant surprise.
Last month the Hollywood Half Marathon had a contest where they stated that 13 lucky runners would have their names placed on mile markers, signifying that mile would be “presented” by them. Sure it’s a little cheesy, but then again so am I. Of course I entered the contest and sent an e-mail saying if I was lucky enough to be chosen could it please be for Mile 5… as I’ve stated several times, “5” is my favorite number. So imagine my delight as I approached the Cinco mark and saw that Mile 5 was presented by yours truly. That was when I knew things might fall into place on this race.
To quote blue-collar comedian Ron White: “It’s gonna be a good day Tater.”
I put the pedal down a bit and by the halfway point I was running a solid 9:44 min/mile and feeling strong. If I kept speeding up and managed a “negative split” I was looking at a potential PR.
I then ran into Stacey Spanish, one of my T2/Team Roadkill teammates and a recent bride (awesome wedding, by the way). She’s one of my favorite people to run with (we talk endlessly and manage to push each other when we run). We ran side-by-side for about a mile when she told me to go on ahead as she was going to hang back (she did just get back from honeymoon after all). I waved “bye” to her, popped my headphones back in and cranked my iPod up nice and loud.
It was time to get serious.
I kept pushing harder and steadily picked up the pace over miles 7-11.
Now, I was doing a 5:1 run/walk ratio today, but as I crossed mile 11 I decided I had taken my last walk break for the day.
I ran the last two miles non-stop, hoping to shave off some precious seconds.
As I mentioned earlier, a “negative split” (where you run the second half of a race faster than the first) is typically the sign of a good race. Not only did I achieve the negative split, but my last quarter of the race was faster than the first three quarters and my fastest mile of the day was the very last one. Good stuff.
As I crossed the finish line, I stopped my watch and smiled as I had indeed achieved a PR (the fastest of my 26 half marathons)… 2:03:15. I was over three minutes faster than my previous best half marathon (Surf City in February) and over 16 minutes faster than last year’s Hollywood Half Marathon. In fact, I’ve PR’d 5 of my last 6 races (dating back to Thanksgiving) and am currently the fastest I’ve been since I started marathon running back in 2008. Not too shabby for a guy who just blew out 45 candles on his cake last month.
So, I’ll put the half marathons on the shelf for the next few months while I concentrate on the full marathons and building up my endurance (I get another crack at the 5-hour marathon barrier in 4 weeks at Orange County).
But in the back of my mind I think of my running resolutions for 2014. One of those was to crack the 2-hour mark for the half marathon. I believe I’m within striking range.
I’ll rest tomorrow (cross-training Monday), but I’ll be back running come Tuesday… after all, I’ve got some work to do and I’m excited to get started.
2014 HOLLYWOOD HALF MARATHON
CHIP TIME– 02:03:15
PACE– 9:24 min/mile
PLACE– 1603/5726 (Top 28%)
CALORIES BURNED– 2,025