Tuesday, March 24, 2009

National Half Marathon

On Saturday, Mar. 21 I raced the National Half Marathon with a CHIP time of
1:23:19 and GUN time of 1:26:46 (yes, big difference). I finished 11th for the women, 65th including the men and 1st in my age group... which is almost exactly how I placed in these respective groups last year (11,63,1), but with a faster time. Bank-robbing, midriff showing pics of me are available HERE.

The morning of the race, I unintentionally woke up at 3:30 and figured I’d get started on breakfast so ate peanut butter with half of the free bagel I secured at work the previous day, returned to bed, then rose to my alarm 1 hr later to finish the bagel with a banana, yogurt and coffee (I drank gatorade the rest of the morning and had a gel 15 min before race time). I left my apt for the metro at the planned departure time of 5:40 and arrived at RFK stadium at 6:20 to meet my pacer, Ryan. 40 minutes was NOT enough time for multiple porta-john visits, warm up and standing in the bag drop-off line with enough time to start in corral 1. At least with triathlons, bathroom lines aren’t an issue since you start in the water or close enough.

So – the gun sounded and the runners were off! At the time, I was nearing the front of a LONG bathroom line. Ryan and I crossed the start line after a few minutes—with 8,000 runners, it takes a while for everyone to filter through. Missing the start was a HUGE mistake since we planned to open up with a 6:25ish mile and were mixed in with a slower group—bad for everyone. There’s a good pic of the congestion at the start in Ryan’s photos (#2838). We weaved through the runners and parked cars and took to the sidewalk at times. When Ryan couldn’t get around people, I slowed my momentum by pressing my hand into his back, although he called them “blows to the back.” Energy was wasted and we only had a 6:50 opening mile to show for it. Get to the race early—lesson learned.

To communicate pacing with Ryan, I used a combination of verbal and nonverbal cues. As confirmed by our watches, miles 2 and 3 were a touch fast, so I told him, “I’m slowing down--this is too hard.” Ryan pulled back the pace. Since I was running behind him, and his pace slowed too much, I clipped his feet, nearly sending him to the ground. However, we were on the same wavelength—he knew this meant speed up a bit. The abuse continued as I elbowed him a few times and at one point, knocked his right elbow forward on an upswing, lurching his right arm to a full extension and throwing off his stride. I guess be careful if you are my pacer… plus I will run the pace I feel like anyway.

This was my second open half-marathon—I did this race last year—and have included my splits below. The inconsistency in the mile pacing has more to do with the terrain as I try to hold a steady effort… until the downhill section at mile marker 9 where I apparently like to turn it on… this is where Ryan and I "lost touch" (btw, he ran a 1:16 on this course last year when he was doing his own race). The 9 miles of pacer beat-down racing tactics weighed heavy on him and he got dropped when I threw down a sub-6 min mile.

I am surprised by how good (not deathly) I felt in the last 5k since my longest run in months has been 6.5 miles. I land run around a 8 min/high 7 min pace so all hard run efforts are done in the pool. The fatigue I felt in my legs during this half was similar to how my legs tire while aqua running—pretty convincing to me that it’s doing some good. Plus, pro runners water run when coming back from an injury.

and look, no hard feelings... me and Ryan AFTER the race:


  1. Great racing Lauren! Your time is even more impressive given the whole "missing the start" thing and then having to run through all the bodies. Congrats on your PR!

  2. Hi Beth, It was actually Lindsey that raced, although I will gladly take credit for her results!!! Hope the training is going well!