I’ve got limited time and limited brain power this week, so hopefully this report is somewhat coherent. If not, oh well! It had been three years since my last half-marathon, and while I had been feeling discouraged about my performance lately I feel like I ran the best race that I could on Monday at the Patriot Half-Marathon (Rockwall, TX).
1:30:16 (previous PR was 1:31:12 from 2010)
16th overall (out of 885)
2nd in age group (out of 47)
The course was surprisingly hilly – evidently I must live in the flattest part of the DFW metro area, because I unintentionally didn’t run a single hill during training.
In the days leading up to the race, I decided that I would race based on my heart rate and do my best to ignore my pace. I know that my lactate threshold heart rate is 189bpm, and so I aimed to keep my heart rate in the lower 180s (in simple terms, going over 189bpm means that my body can’t get clear the lactic acid as quick as it’s building up, which would eventually slow me to a walk). Keeping that heart rate meant that I slowed way down on the uphills, and hammered the downhills (near the bottom of the biggest hill I clocked in at a pace of just under 5:00/mile). The second half of the course, heading mostly uphill and straight into 20mph winds, I was frequently over 8:00/mile with a heart rate right around my lactate threshold.
I carried my handheld water bottle filled with Canadian Iced Tea since that’s what I trained with. I popped two salt caps right before the race, since I knew I’d be sweating a ton (it was almost 80f/27C). I drank a little bit of water on the course, and about half of my iced tea. So, not a lot of calorie intake during the race, but since it was a half-marathon I knew I didn’t really need much (if any) fuel.
Other than that, there’s no need for me to give a mile-by-mile. I ran. It hurt. I was hoping to come in under 1:30, but ended up 16 seconds over. Could I have squeezed 16 seconds out of the race somewhere? Maybe, maybe not. In the end, I averaged 185bpm heart rate, which when compared to my lactate threshold heart rate, is a couple bpm higher than I should have been racing. So I know I gave it my all, and did the best I could that day. No regrets, which is a good way to walk away from the race.
Two days later, and I’m still extremely sore and really struggling with stairs at work. It’s a feeling I haven’t had in a VERY long time. I like it….in a weird sort of way.
In the past, people have found my race reports by searching for the actual race. So for those people, here are my thoughts on the actual race logistics. If you don’t plan on running the Patriot Half Marathon in Rockwall, TX, you don’t need to read any further.
Race Logistics Complaints:
-Didn’t have my t-shirt size, even though they required you to enter your size on the entry form.
-A few times I had to think/look harder than I would have liked in order to figure out which way to turn on the course.
-Restrooms (in the stadium at the start/finish – no porta potties) weren’t unlocked until close to race time. This wasn’t the fault of the race director, as it was a city employee that had the keys. But I came awfully close to unloading myself in the stadium landscaping.
-Couldn’t see the time clock as I was coming up on the finish. I could see the clock for the 5k race (it started after the half-marathon), but couldn’t see the clock for the half-marathon.
-Minimal crowd support (not a big deal for me, but I know others care about this).
-No sound system at the start/finish line, so the race director was trying to yell directions to 1000+ people. I was close, so I could hear him, but I doubt that people 10 feet further away could.
Race Logistics Compliments:
-Parking was easy and close (you could purchase VIP parking in advance – I didn’t, and was maybe 100 yards further away than the VIP’s).
-Aid stations were adequately spaced, and volunteers were good about yelling “Gatorade first, water second” to let you know which volunteers to be grabbing drinks from.
-They had cold, wet towels available at two different aid stations (felt very good!)
-Some guy in one of the neighborhoods had his garden hose out and was spraying runners (you could avoid the spray if you wanted, but I don’t know why anyone would have given the temps).
-Packet pick-up on race morning was quick and well-organized.
-The race was cheap. Think I paid $30 to register (using a coupon code).
-The course was challenging (translation: hilly), which I would rank as a compliment!