Caesar Rodney Half Marathon Pre-Race:
This one was the yard stick. I wanted to go out there and see where my fitness level was so I can start putting my race plan together for Boston. There’s a lot to cover and dissect so let’s get to it.
As I’ve mentioned in a previous race report, being a Masters runner means you’re always dealing with some minor tightness/injury/pull/fatigue on race day. It’s going to be there so just plan for it. Today’s surprise was a twinge in my right glute I woke up with that felt more like a nerve issue than a pulled muscle. I might have slept in a funny position because if I moved or turned a certain way it would get my attention. As the morning wore on it felt better and I went through my pre-race warm up with no issues so I wasn’t too concerned (but just concerned enough to make it interesting). The older issue, the cramp/numbness on the outside of my left knee I mentioned last week, has improved and it’s really a non-factor at this point thought I’m still paying attention to it to make sure it continues to heal.
I brought my photographer to the race today (Mrs. Designed-to-Run) so you’ll have some better pictures. We got down to Wilmington, DE about an hour prior to get good parking and get a jump on the port potty lines. I ran Caesar Rodney last year so there wasn’t much to scope out but I wanted to get my photographer oriented so she could get some good snaps. Since I was running this as a member of a team (Moorestown Distance Running Project) I had gotten my packet on Friday from our team president so that was covered.
Caesar Rodney Half Marathon Race Start:
Wasn’t sure what to expect from myself today considering where I am in my training (heavy miles) and the one day taper (solely for injury prevention). Based on my last Half Marathon time of 1:26:36 at the Hersey Half and the more severe hill profile of Caesar Rodney, I was hoping to get under 1:26 but I wasn’t willing to take big risks to do so. Since we’re talking hill profiles let’s take a look at Caesar Rodney:
Nice hill huh? It’s got about 402 feet of elevation gain over the entire course. By comparison Boston has about a 550 ft gain (but a 994 ft loss) over twice the distance. As you can see you’ve got a pretty steep down hill right out of the gate and the fun starts as you’re approaching mile 7 and go through Brandywine and Rockford Park. If you’re not making adjustments for these hills you will get burned. I’ll be giving some examples later in the post.
Since my goal was to see where my fitness level was I ran mostly on perceived effort but I was checking my splits to make sure I was getting under 6:36 on the flat portions (based on my 1:26:36 time at Hershey) but not overreaching on the downhills. Here are my splits:
There’s almost no way you can dial it back enough on that first mile considering the adrenaline at work and that steep down hill. Keeping it at about a 6:20 was an accomplishment. I felt good on the flat section and held back a bit. I’m really pleased with my hill splits. Considering the relentless 3-mile climb I was really happy clocking 6:47′s. I had anticipated going over 7:00 during that stretch. After cresting the peak you’re grateful for the down hill on the way in until you revisit that hill near the finish and start cursing the name of the race director. My official tag time was 1:25:14, a new PR by 1:22.
Caesar Rodney Half Marathon Finish:
After crossing the finish I found my photographer, gave her a kiss and posed for a few pics. Saw a lot of familiar faces including my good friend John Murray.
Even though he just crossed the finish line he was more than willing to pose for a quick pic. Note my blue Inov-8′s which are now two-for-two regarding races and PR’s. They felt great and performed well on the wet and slick pavement. I attribute my race performance to a lot of hard work and preparation but I have a buddy who has a different opinion. What are your thoughts Mars?
Post Race Analysis: How Not to Run Caesar Rodney
When I was looking over the race results I couldn’t help but notice that in my age group male 45-49 I finished 4th and the next two finishers were in my age group so we finished 4th, 5th and 6th right behind each other. I’ve cropped out the results and covered the names to protect the innocent, but see if you can look at their splits and see how our different approaches impacted our performance:
What jumped out for me is they were right out front at the start (one second difference between tag and gun time) and they went out too fast (3 mile split). Considering the hill profile of the course this is good example of where being out in front with the rabbits at the start can hurt you big time.
Bib 1558 had a 1:20 lead on me at mile 3 and a 55 sec lead at mile 10. He fell back about 19 secs per mile over that last three miles which allowed me to catch him and beat him by 3 seconds at the tape. Bib 1264 wasn’t as aggressive but made the same mistake. He had a 50 second lead at mile 3, I was 6 seconds behind him at mile 10 and I wound up with a 45 second lead at the finish.
Lesson: Going out too fast will doom you. You can’t bank time!!! Have a solid race plan and stick to your plan unless circumstances dictate you make a change. Ninety nine percent of the time the change will be to slow down.
Next week I’ll have a post up where I break down this race and compare it to races from last fall so I can get a good gage on how I’m going to handle my pacing for Boston. Stay tuned!