Tag Archives: race

Spokane Negative Split Half Marathon

Race report by the tweet.
Some time here, in my hotel. Yeah, I was pretty surprised to hear the race had only 320 runners. Smaller by a factor of 10 (almost) than my last race! There were only a handful of runners in the sub-8:00 corral, so I thought my chances might be good. They all looked to be in their twenties, with telling cross country collegiate gear. But I suspected wily graybeards might lurk, biding their time.

20130706-130940.jpgSo there it is. A couple minutes slower than my last race. Sadly, I don’t think I managed a negative split – which would have been particularly apt in this race. [Actually, I managed a 40 second negative split.] The course was pretty easy, with some rises (I wouldn’t quite call them “hills”) along the Spokane River.

20130706-131326.jpgAround mile 6 or so I could feel that I am not in the same aerobic shape I was back in May. I was on track, in terms of my race plan, but rather than find the next gear at mile 7, I faltered. Then at mile 11 it just unraveled a little. I was hoping to run the last few at 6:50 min/mile pace. Still, I was pretty happy with my “race” — I managed to pass about 5 people, and none of them managed a counter move (though the last guy gave me some trouble). I did manage a negative split. Nice data just posted on the website, with halfway split, time behind leader (for full and age group results). I was 5 minutes behind my age group winner, who ran the race I would have loved to clock: 1:29:29. Next age grouper was 16 minutes behind him.


Something very satisfying about besting a man in Newtons – not sure what exactly – but anyone wearing those is probably pretty serious about their running – or have a lot of dispensable income. (In my last race there was another guy with said shoes, and to make it extra satisfying he was wearing a Stanford t-shirt.)

Yes, pretty long stretches wondering if the person I passed earlier was going to come blazing by. Pace can slacken in these solitary moments with no one to spur you on. My experience, anyway.

And that is my rather fragmented race report. Pretty happy with what I did, given the material ( i.e. fitness) on hand.

Race Report — Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon, 2013

Short version:

Overall felt good, not great about this race, my third half. Certainly it’s a 10 minute PR over my 2011 race, which is nice, but not sure it really reflects the full measure of my recent training. To fully capitalize on that I still have a lot to learn about racing, for one thing.

What went right:

Preface fueling. I did some carb loading. Nothing crazy, a bagel here and there — and I went into the race fairly confident that my glycogen stores were topped up.

Confidence, focus: despite a lackluster workout last weekend, I was focused this morning, did my lunge matrix and ran some strides. I hydrated early and had no bathroom issues (seemed to come up a lot in training).

Training, long runs. Since I did several 15+ mile long runs in the weeks leading up to the race, the distance, though non-trivial, did not feel like the epic adventure of my first two half marathons. In fact, at several points I found myself scratching my head – “Wow, I can’t believe that was Los Olivos already” (6 miles).

Training, hills: I had noted a “modest hill” at the 5-mile mark, based on Garmin data from 2011, and slowed a little in anticipation, but said hill never materialized. I guess it just didn’t register given the madness in Griffith Park. Also, the modest hill was likely something of an artifact of a horizontally squashed graph I was reading in Garmin connect. #interpretingdata

What went okay.

Pacing. I went out a little fast, even though I was very much trying not to. Hard not to get pulled along, let others move ahead. With experience I think I might realize with more conviction that indeed I’m going to pass a lot of them later. Run your own race!

(I was amused by one woman who went out guns blazing, listening to music, playing air drums. Then at mile 3 she exclaimed “I can’t do this!”)

Pacing, hills. Even though I thought I was quite conservative on the hills (at one point around 8:00/mi pace) I still have the habit of attacking them. In training, good. In racing, it depends. There were two young women (1-20 age group, I’m guessing from UCSB, a coach-like woman threw them some gels before the first big hill and some instructions) that passed me around mile 6, looking all business. I passed them going up the hill at one point, which surprised me a little. Of course they passed me, I used their momentum to move past a group at one point, but they dropped me pretty quickly.

Pacing, downhill. I had assumed that taking the hills conservatively gave me license to blow out the long downhill section. But my splits show this was probably a bit overdone, as I slowed gradually and had a tough time with the final hill.

Pacing, general.
I want to reconstruct my mile splits, from the half-mile splits I was recording. Those tell me pretty clearly that my pacing is all over the place. This is a key area that I really need to work on.

Racing, general.
I placed 5th in my age group, but 2nd, 3rd and 4th were completely up for grabs! I need to toughen up. This might also fall under the heading of ’suffering’. I could have pushed harder. This aspect had even more impact than running smart, I think.

Beet juice!
On the good authority of Matt Fitzgerald I tried this. (There’s solid research that indicates up to 2.8% performance benefit.) Unclear about the result, but would like to try the commercially available shots as opposed to the indiscriminate dose of home blended.

Fueling, in-race. This was marginal, at best. I ended up relying on the race sport drink, which seemed to me pretty watery. Also, drinking from those aid stations is a skill I am far from mastering and find myself just wanting to get rid of the cup. I may need to find a gel that I tolerate.

What went horribly wrong. Fortunately, nothing. No early blowout, no late race bonk. My last split was my fastest, lending yet more credence to the Tim Noakes “central governor” theory.

Assessment? A good effort. I ran 7:05 pace, I think (forgot to hit the button at race end) right in line with training. And I think that 1:31 is easily within grasp and I may, in fact, do a beach race in the next few weeks — I want to capitalize on the fitness, not wait another two years! My training is superior to my race effort at this point. (That crazy workout April 7, for instance — now that is suffering!)

One thing that would be really helpful is to have a long distance person to race with. Something to ponder, not idly, either.

I’d gladly run this race again next year. The shirt was much nicer this year, the course is beautiful, and they cap the race at 3000 participants. I even availed myself of the free post-race massage (no legs). Recommended.



The wife has sweetly produced all kinds of “remedies” as if she were a native-born Californian, in the hope that I might salvage my race on Sunday. It is two days, but this morning the cough seems to have tightened its grip and the throat needs lots of attention. Most likely it will be a choice between running it easy, tentatively, or not at all, which, to be quite frank, sucks ass.

When It Hits the Fan

The crazy.  Yesterday I bought several hundred dollars worth of clothing that is not even running gear. I also noticed I have, 4 days before race day, a little cough. I finally signed up for my half marathon in May, alarmed by an “almost sold out” notice. Tomorrow I would have been driving for an hour to meet with someone affiliated with a potential employer (it remains “potential” until I see some cash), but that meeting was postponed due to illness. Some time this week, possibly tomorrow, the wife is flying to Denver (or some place like that — the middle part of the country) for work. Friday I’ll be performing music at a small club with some dear friends — for the first time in decades. Sunday I run the 5K.

The workout. Today the plan was just to do a little speed work. I checked the last week of a few 5K plans to see what seemed reasonable (it is hard for me to stick with a plan) and made sure it made sense in terms of what I’ve been doing (“Is there an arc?”). So a mile of warm up and cool down sandwiching .75 miles @ 5K pace, .5 miles @ 3K pace, and .25 miles at mile pace (6:00 min/mile is goal mile pace, which should have been the fastest section of today’s effort). With 1 minute walking recoveries. So, short and sweet.

It was quite windy, and dare I say it, chilly this morning. The point of this workout is just to get a little speedwork in before race day, without adding too many miles during taper week. I blew out the speed part, pacing will be a big focal point of my training up to my 10K (not registered just yet) and half marathon.

The logged workout was 33:51, 3.8 miles @ 8:54 min/mile. (Logs are problematic, need more detail.) Here are the quarter-mile splits:

.75  5:39 min/mile, 6:15 min/mile, 6:28 min/mile (that last lap was the goal pace)

.50  5:59 min/mile, 6:18 min/mile

.25  5:30 min/mile

So speed is good, endurance (per the long weekend) is good, but pacing is just nuts. I just don’t feel the pace yet, in my legs. There’s just the one cue: run fast, and probably faster than that. Will have to watch it carefully on Sunday, and if I don’t combust, should get a decent result. Excited and stressed.

Chinatown Firecracker 5k: February 24th

For logistical reasons ran to the park this morning, a novelty. The usual hiking and running, a bit longer than standard. I took it easy, did not push as I’m just not there yet and there’s — tomorrow. I wore the Brooks Trance. If ever a shoe died in my closet, this might be the shoe. Feels a little dead, especially on the roads.

I brought up whether anyone was planning on running the upcoming 5k. After some discussion, someone said, “Let’s keep talking about it.” (Not a lot of buy-in!). I said, “No, enough talk!”

So this morning I registered. It’s a hard, but not brutal course (without having run it, ha ha). I need this focus. Excited. The race page is here. I have 41 days to not train for a 5k — in that, my focus remains the half in May (need to sign up for that…). Still, there will be adjustments. I am committed to running my long runs S L O W L Y, and a bit longer. And to focus on the other runs, the arc of the training.

Somehow I got 27 miles in this week.

1:18     7.53 miles     10:26 min/mile     9:24   8:49   14:42   17:29   8:16   7:52   7:38   8:36