I ran the Orca Half Marathon this morning in West Seattle. I’d planned to run this as a training run and more or less did, though I couldn’t restrain myself from picking up the pace at the end.
The race started at Lincoln Park, and it was a point-to-point race, so I parked a half mile from the finish line, picked up my number, used the bathroom, and caught the shuttle to the start line. The shuttle ride seemed to last forever as I kept thinking we’d have to run all the way back. Then, from the drop-off to the actual start line was another half mile walk. Finally, we were at the start line at about 8 am. (I got up at around 5:30.) All of this is fairly inconsequential except that I was dealing with crazy nerves the whole time. Part of the reason I wanted to do this race was to take some of the mystique away from the half marathon. I’ve always found longer races terribly intimidating, and of course this one was no exception.
There was a long line for the porta-potties at the start, maybe 10 minutes. That’s my only major complaint. Otherwise, the race was well-organized. The race had wave starts, and I was in the 8:15 wave. Finally, 8:15 rolled around, and we were off. My plan was to target 9:20 to 9:30 pace for the first five miles. I tried to go out at a nice easy pace and found myself in a bit of a crowd on the narrow path. The race had pacesetters – the first race I’ve run that had them – and I’d fallen in with the 2 hour group in spite of myself. I tried to let them go while keeping my desired pace, and this helped me get a bit of space. The first mile went by in 9:06, a little fast, but definitely within range of my target pace. In the second mile we hit the only significant hill of the race (and it wasn’t all that bad), so I slowed down and tried to keep my effort consistent: 9:36. Mile 3 passed in 9:07. In mile 4, we lost the altitude from mile 2, so I hit 8:47. Mile 5 went by in 8:57. Everything felt completely effortless at this point.
I planned to take miles 6 through 9 at between 9:00 and 9:10 pace. My actual times were 8:51, 8:55, 8:56 and 8:57. Obviously, I was going a little faster than planned, but not too much faster, and I was feeling good. Tired, but good. It was during these miles that time seemed to go a bit slower and I felt my breathing pick up a little.
Finally, we reached the 9 mile mark. This was a milestone because it began a 2 mile out and back section; at 9 miles, we actually passed by the finish line. Mentally, this provided a boost, and seeing faster runners coming back beside me motivated me. I’d planned to take miles 10, 11 and 12 at between 8:50 and 9:00 pace. Everything still felt easy at this point, and I started having trouble holding myself back. I just wanted to go. Mile 10: 8:43. Mile 11: 8:35. By mile 11, I was definitely feeling tired. The turnaround seemed to take forever to come, in part because I’d thought it would be at 10.75 miles rather than 11 miles. In any case, I threw caution to the wind with two miles to go and start speeding up. Mile 12: 8:01. I’d decided pre-race that I’d go as fast as I wanted for Mile 13, and it went by in 7:42. Mile 13 HURT. But I think that’s expected, right? I finished the last tenth in 7:15 mpm pace, and my overall time was 1:55:09, 8:46 mpm.
I finished 10th in my age group, and got a nice medal for my efforts. I felt tired at the finish but not like I was going to die, not the way I felt after my recent 5K or 7K race. I was just exhausted and ready to go home. So, I did. I didn’t stick around for any of the after-race stuff like I usually do, and went home and collapsed and wasted time on the computer for several hours. (Thanks to H for facilitating that!)
Hopefully I didn’t overdo it since the baseline plan is to run another half in two weeks. I’m not so sure about that plan right now. My average heart rate was only 149 bpm, though I hit 176 bpm at the end. Hopefully the 149 heart-rate means I didn’t kill myself. My legs are pretty darn sore right now, though.