Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Berry College 1/2 Marathon
What a race! I will be brief with the write up - the event; the course and the organization were awesome! The weather was ideal for me, we caught a break and the rain was reduced to a drizzle for a majority of the morning. Starting temps were somewhere in the high 40's to low 50's to take a guess. Just comfortable enough for shorts, short sleeve tech shirt and gloves. Some may say the weather was less than stellar but I like running in cool, overcast conditions. The rain did make a few sections of the course a little more difficult, there were a couple of sections that covered dirt & gravel roads, this might have caused a slight slow down of pace.
I arrived on campus a little after 7am, quickly found parking and was on the shuttle to the start. I could have walked the 3/4 of a mile to the start but it was raining and the shuttle happened to be there. It didn't take long to grab my bib & race packet-I found a spot along the wall in the Ford Hall and changed into my running gear and went out to find a porta potty & get a quick warm up. The lines weren't too long and my morning coffee did it's job. (That was for Adam)
Considering there were about 700 1/2 & 400 10k runners, I managed to easily make my way towards the front of the starting line. The 10k & half marathon runners were starting together at 8am, the 5k runners started at 8:20am. After a few instructions, the race was underway, I wasn't too far back from the start it took about 11 seconds for me to cross the starting area. My goal was to hold back a little at the start, the prescribed plan was to go out at 8:37 and drop 3 seconds per mile through the first 9 miles. I hit the first mile mark at 8:15 and it felt really easy. Listening to conventional wisdom, I tried to just bank that time and drop back to the pacing. Not so much. The second mile was a little slower, 8:22. I had already banked 35 seconds, I "tried" to run closer to the plan, it was just coming too easy. My HR was settling in the low 150's so I wasn't concerned about going too hard. Mile 3 came in at 8:25.
The course is mostly an out and back; it was easily broken up into three parts. Miles 1-4 were flattish, with a few rollers, 5-8 a couple of nice climbs and descents through the Mountain Campus and 9-13, the return to the main campus -again, some rollers, but an overall elevation loss through this section.
As we were starting to hit the hills in the middle portion of the race, I put up my slowest split of the day, 8:40 for mile 4. I was purposely trying to hold back. At about this time my buddy Weezy rolled up behind me and we started chatting about some upcoming ultras. He and I ran Sweetwater & Chattooga together and I was on hand to watch him finish his first 100 mile race at Pinhoti last November. We were hooting and hollering-having a big time out there. I think a few runners around us were put off when we starting yelling at each other and talking sh!t about the "hills". Miles 5 & 6 had a couple of 100' ft grinds but they didn't last long and didn't take a huge toll on my pace - 8:33 & 8:29 respectively. After hitting the Mill, we were on our way back.
My favorite mile had to have been mile 8, for two reasons. The first was that we were winding through this really cool section of the campus that reminded me of being back in Germany. The buildings were stone mason type buildings and the roads were narrow & winding. Mix in a couple of sharp descents and I was flying to my fastest mile of the day @ 7:46.
After another mile out & back on a gravel road, the remaining portion of the race went by without much fanfare. We were on a bike trail labeled the Viking Trail that pretty much was a 3 mile straight shot along some power lines. There were a couple of small rollers but mostly really flat & boring. This was where I did most of my work. Picking off runners one at a time, I turned in some great splits. 8:09, 8:03, 7:59.
One mile and a little extra separated me from the finish. I had selected my next victim, the runner a 1/4 mile up the road with a bright red jacket on. My final mile of 7:47 had me over take that runner and about 10 others. In the 2nd half of this race I was only passed twice and I probably overtook 30-40 runners. We rounded a couple of turns and the finish line appeared out of nowhere. In the distance I could see the clock roll over to 1:47. I knew I was well ahead of the goal pace of 1:48:59, however, I had another goal in mind - 1:47:59. I kicked it in and drove to the finish, crossing the line at 1:47:55; later finding my chip time to be 1:47:41.
NEW PR and an awesome race.
I can't say enough about the folks who put this event together. Going in I had only heard good things about this race. Every single one was true. GREAT COURSE! Perfect for running a negative split, the hills mixed in the middle really broke it up nicely. There were aid stops with water, powerade & gels every two miles...and the volunteers were amazing, very friendly & energetic! If you are looking for a great course to run a solid half in the Southeast, put this race on your list!
thanks to Weezy for pushing me through the middle portion of the course and helping me not mail it in- congrats to you for turning in a good 1:49 as well. I ran into another GUTS runner and blogger C$, who threw down out there with a blazing 1:31:33, nice job Christian, all of your hard work this winter is turning into a phenomenal 2011 season.
I could spend a whole blogpost devoted to the idea of negative splitting and the likes, all WR's have been set on neg. splits. I love the idea and execution of it. The bottom line is that I am going to run slower miles, either at the beginning or the end. i'd rather run those early miles slower and feel good at the end then bust it in the beginning and trudge it in at the end. (...and the look on the faces of the other runners who want to go with me as I pass them, but can't, remindes me of a Karate Kid quote, "Finish him!")
Now, all focus turns to SweetH20! 40 days until my first 50k of the season and all systems are a go!