Sunday, October 25, 2009

Houston 1/2 marathon 1:16:24 - 5th overall (PR)

I more or less stuck to my gameplan and ran a strong race and PR'd by over a minute. I had a little finish line mishap which cost me 5 or 6 seconds, but fortunately it didn't cost me any places. Last night I found out I'd be getting to wear one of the Kenyan Way Elite singlets for the race so I knew I'd better not run slow. My plan was to start in the 5:50's and then pick it up and finish strong. Race conditions weren't ideal - temperature started in the mid 60's and fairly humid at the start with some headwinds on the 2nd half of each loop. The pack took off and I sort of found myself in no man's land (like usual). I hit 5:50 for the first mile which was as fast as I wanted to be, but there was a fairly large pack of probably about 10 guys pulling away from me, but I was committed to sticking to my plan. The course was 3 loops on Allen Parkway which is a pretty tough course with 4 decent hills on each lap as you drop under the Waugh and Studemont overpasses.

The 2nd - 4th miles are a little slower as you hit the hills on Allen Parkway and it seemed like we hit a headwind as we turned around and started heading back. I it 5:56, 5:57, 6:02. As soon as I saw the 6:02 I knew that I needed to pick the pace up. I was running with a couple of guys, but I put in a surge and dropped them and started catching a few guys who had been falling out of the pack ahead. I hit mile 5 in 5:47 and then got a little too excited on mile 6 as I reeled in a couple of guys and I hit 5:36. I could see Gerardo Mora, Tom King and Rudy Rocha all in my sights ahead and my goal was to catch them over the next couple of miles. Mile 7 was 5:48 and then I hit 5:41 in mile 8 as I caught and passed those three guys. I could see Sam Rodriguez and another guy 20 - 30 seconds ahead and my goal was to catch them by the halfway point of lap #3.

I hit mile 9 in 5:45. Sam had pulled away from the guy he had been running with and I was closing the gap on the other guy but Sam was pulling a little farther away from me. I caught the other guy before mile 10, but I missed the mile 10 marker. The one thing I don't like about the looped course is that I am lapping people for almost half of the race. They were pretty good today about leaving a lane clear for the faster people to run in, but you can't always run the apex of the corners and you end up having to run a little farther and it is really difficult to grab water at a water station with all the people who are walking through there. My mile 9 - 11 split was 11:30 so I'll just assume I hit 5:45 for each of the miles, but I suspect it was probably more like 5:42/5:48 since I probably would have been going a little quicker as I was catching somebody in mile 10. I was pretty exhausted when I got to mile 11 and I didn't feel like I had much in the tank to really pick up the pace and I was just trying to keep running fast and not fall off pace and get passed by anyone. At the last turn around, Sam looked really strong and I pretty much knew I wasn't going to catch him. Mile 11 had 2 of the hills in it and was really tough as I fell back to 5:54.

At this point I knew I was almost done and just needed to push it in for one more mile. I didn't get a split at the 13 mile marker as I was trying to kick it in and I stopped my watch as I crossed what I thought was the finish line with a 6:26 for the last 1.1 and a 1:16:15. For some odd reason they had a timing mat right as you entered the chute and several people standing there so I crossed it and stopped and grabbed onto the railing. Then several people started yelling at me that I needed to keep going and I saw another timing mat and the clock about 20 meters ahead. Fortunately nobody else was close, but I was kind of ticked that they had the "false" finish line. I guess I should have seen the clock was still a little ways ahead, but when you are kicking it in and you cross a mat and there are several officials there it's pretty easy to assume you are done. If I hadn't stopped I probably would have been at 1:16:18 or so, but hopefully I'll set another PR in my next half marathon and I won't have to worry about the 6 seconds I lost.

I was really happy with a 1:15 PR in the half on this course in these weather conditions. I placed 5th overall but only came in 3rd in my age group as my age group took 3rd, 4th and 5th. I never was passed by anybody in the race that stayed ahead of me and I passed at least 10 people. I think I picked up the pace a little too much on the 2nd lap as I was passing people and I was struggling to hold on at the end instead of finishing strong with sub 5:40's which is what I had been hoping to do. All in all it was a great race.


  1. Hey man, great run out there. In all honesty, I kept expecting to hear you coming up on me in the late miles. You did just about exactly what you wanted, and that's awesome. Executing a race plan, especially in a long distance race like this is a great feeling. Another PR is sure to be coming as long as we stay committed to the training. Great race, Geoff.

  2. Geoff,

    Good job. Congrats on the singlet.