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"You cannot propel yourself forward by patting yourself on the back."
- Steve Prefontaine

RACE REPORT: DRC half marathon 11/02/08
DateRaceDistancePaceTotal TimeWeather
11/02/08 DRC Half Marathon
(White Rock Lake, Dallas, TX)
13.1 mi 8:34/mi 01:52:11 (chip time) 62°F-72°F, 80%-57% humidity,Sunny
Wind SSE 6-7 MPH

WhooHoo! A Half Marathon PR! According to my Garmin, I ran the race in 01:52:24 at an average pace of 8:27/mile for 13.3 miles. I tried to run the tangents in order to run the exact 13.1 miles, but it was too crowded to do that all along the route. All the weaving between other runners in order to maintain pace added an extra 0.2 miles to my distance. My chip time (01:52:11) was based upon 13.1 miles, so I averaged 8:34/mile for chip time.

The photo below is at the start. The first mile was the slowest because of the crowd (photo above is of the start). There were 3,285 runners, although 4000 people signed up. Consequently, when the race started it was slow until the congestion eased. But all popular races are like this, unless they do starting corrals based upon qualifying time (like Boston does).

I wasn't sure I could run this pace given the sunny conditions, humidity, temp, and hills from miles 2.75 to 5.25. I had planned on only maintaining an 8:42 pace. But I felt good the entire way and was able to average 8:27/mile.

DRC Half Start LineThe "experts" say to run the course beforehand if possible. When that's not possible, they suggest finding a course with a similar route (running surface, elevation profile, race day weather). That's so that you will know what to expect and can devise a pacing strategy. It also helps with confidence to know you have already done the distance on that course at a certain pace. Consequently, two weeks ago I ran the route around the lake (about 9 miles). And last Tuesday I ran almost 12 miles of the course, making sure I did the hilly miles through the neighborhoods (miles 3-6). I made sure I maintained pace during these runs and also ran later in the day to simulate the warmer weather predicted for the race.

Mile 1 was really congested, especially along Northwest Highway where there really wasn't a lot of room to spread out. In order to maintain pace, I had to weave in/out of people up until around mile 3. But when the hills started around mile 3, it started to clear out. The 3 miles through the neighborhoods (miles 3-6) contained a lot of hills. However, there were also some significant downhills where I was able to really "put some time in the bank". I basically "coast" on downhills letting gravity do all the work and am able to run 7 min/mile on downhills (ChiRunning and Evolution Running methods). There was also a couple of smaller uphills between miles 7-9. Evolution Running showed me how to lean into the uphill to also make it easier to run. I also had my mantra going on in my head whenever the course got tough: "Pain is temporary...If I quit or slow down, it lasts forever." I know how bad I feel afterwards if I do poorly in a race. That feeling is much worse than any pain endured during a race.

Miles 9-13 didn't have a lot of shade (photo left) and it was sunny and starting to warm up between 9 AM and 10 AM. I had on my 2 bottle fuel belt with EFS Sports Drink and I had the bottles marked so that I would drink 1½ ounces per mile. That worked out perfectly - I kept hydrated without stomach sloshing/upset, had energy the entire way, and never had to stop. I did grab water on the run at 3 aid stations between miles 8 and 13 and dump it on my head to cool off.

I'm finally learning to do the "floating" part of the stride cycle. Notice that my feet aren't touching the ground in the photo below. WhooHoo! It has always been a struggle for me to overcome my previous shuffling stride. I am finally able to do the "float" I see so many of the better runners doing.

I had my Garmin to help me keep the pace, but I decided to do a pace wrist band to keep track of what the elapsed time should be for each mile of the course based upon my finish time goal. I found a really cool tool for creating wrist pace bands. What I didn't realize was that the sweat caused the numbers to run and the paper to tear when it got caught up with my Garmin. I should have put tape on it to make it sweatproof and I also should have worn it on the other wrist (instead of the one with the Garmin). Oh well, live and learn!

Crowd support was good at this race and the police and barricades kept the course free from cars. I was too busy concentrating on maintaining running form and pace to really enjoy the course. But that's the way it always is when your primary goal during a race is time rather than fun. When I run a race for fun (as a training run), I'll take my pocket camera and take photos and not worry about the time. My pocket camera only weighs 5 ounces and I often just carry it in my hand on recovery/easy runs to take photos.

I didn't have enough photos for a photo album of this race. Because of the crowds and parking issues, my husband was only able to take photos at the start and finish. There was no way he could move the car to go to different viewpoints and get our parking spot back. The place we parked last year was full, so we parked along Buckner Blvd, which made for an easy in/out. And the good thing about having a Jeep is that you don't really need a paved road - you can drive and park on just about anything (as long as it's legal). Thank goodness we didn't park along the access road. That was where the runners were coming across as they neared the finish line and hardly any of the cars that parked there could get out.

There were definitely some Kodak moments at this race. There were two Westies in a bike stroller I wish I had a photo of. They were absolutely adorable - one looked bored and the other looked ready to jump out and chase a squirrel. The same goes for two little dogs in Halloween costumes (dressed as devils) who were barking to cheer us on! There was also a crowd of people around mile 6 dressed up in Halloween costumes and cheering for us - it was great! A couple of people around mile 5 kept yelling "Go Vanessa" and I remember thinking, "Do I know them?". And then I remembered I registered early enough to get my name on my Bib. They must have had really good eyesight to see my name from across the street. I still think I may have known one spectator that was cheering me on, but I can't quite remember where I know her from.

It's funny what a difference variables such as course, weather, running economy, and individual well-being on race day makes. I had a real mental hurdle to overcome because last year I did really poorly on this race. And that's not an exaggeration. Last year I averaged 10:30/mile. That was my worst time ever for a Half Marathon and 2 min/mile slower than today. I overheated last year and my IT Band and sciatica were hurting really bad. I also did not know how to run correctly last year. I was still overstriding and landing with my foot out in front of my body. With the speedwork and the correction in my distance running form, the improvements have been dramatic. What a difference a day makes!