This weekend was finally the day I'd been training almost six months for: the Bayshore half in Traverse City!
I began base building at the end of December after taking time off from Fall cross country / road races. I was consistently hitting 50 and 60 mile weeks with a weekly tempo run. By mid February, I was consistently hitting 70 mile weeks with down weeks in the mid 60 range usually. At that point I mostly transitioned from tempos to weekly indoor track workouts with MRun because running workouts with people is better. I maintained that mileage through outdoor track season which I competed in, and then just a couple more quality weeks before getting to Bayshore. The week leading up to Bayshore was probably among the worst of my training weeks ever - I never felt fresh or healthy and the small nagging injuries didn't seem so small anymore.
We woke up early. Very early. The shuttle from our campsite to the race's finish area left at 5am so I was up at around 4:30. I ate a poptart when I woke up and then about an hour before the race had a granola bar. When we got to the race's packet-pickup/staging area we then had to take another shuttle out along the bay to the half marathon's starting point (it's a point to point race). It was a pretty cold morning and we got to the start line too early to start warming up so it was kind of cold standing around. When it was FINALLY time to start warming up I just did some light jogging for about 10 minutes and then changed into my flats and did just a few strides to make sure they were tied tight enough. When I got to the start line I finally saw the rest of my friends on MRun!
The start was a bit weird since they had to synchronize with the marathon that started 15 minutes earlier and then we were off! The first mile I was left wondering if I was really on pace since it felt so easy - I was right on pace but almost none of my training miles felt quite so easy as that.
For about the first half of the race I was right on target of staying between 6:00 and 6:10ish with splits of 6:05, 6:08, 6:06, 6:11, 6:14 through mile 5.
About 5.5 miles in I started slowing down a bit and it also happened to be about the same time that I got stuck in no-man's land with nobody to run with. It wasn't that I was dead or even felt that tired but my legs were heavy and I didn't know how I should be feeling and was worried about crashing later on at mile 10 or 11 so I just tried to keep my effort up. The number of "Go Blue!'s" that I got from wearing my MRun singlet from both spectators and marathoners once we crossed paths with them was astounding and helped me keep going. I even got a "Go Blue!" from the 3rd place marathoner!
Splits for miles 6-12: 6:31, 6:29, 6:29, 6:43, 6:46, 6:42, 6:41
I wouldn't say that I ever felt good during this time but I never felt exhausted either. I guess I'd say I felt pleasantly exerted. After how I felt for the last 1.1 miles and the day after, I now know that I could have probably pushed these miles much more.
Right at the 12 mile mark my friend Caspar caught up with me. We picked it up for the last mile and I told him we were going to catch the guy that was up in front of us (who had passed me earlier). My 13th mile was my fastest mile with a split of 6:04. After I picked it up for that mile I knew that I had been going to slow for the second half of the race - I felt like I could have hung on at that pace for another few miles at the finish.
I ended up finishing with a time of 1:23:57. It wasn't quite in my A-B goal range of 1:18-1:20 but I'm not disappointed with it either. My fallback goal was faster than 1:25 and I did just that. In any case, it left me wanting more.
I'd say that I ran the first half of the race very well. I went out conservatively and felt pretty good because of it. I now know that I could have hung on at that pace for the rest of the race but this one was a learning experience. A number of friends told me they dropped about 5 minutes between their first and second time racing a half. That's exactly what I intend to do next time I do one - even though I don't quite know when that might be. Some people are trying to convince me to do the Detroit half in the Fall but I may just want to focus on cross country then instead since it's my last chance to race cross country with MRun.
I ended up finishing in 28th place overall and 3rd in my age group. I'm reasonably happy with my result but not completely satisfied. I just keep reminding myself that I'm still less than a year in to training competitively again and that I don't have that aerobic base from years of running high mileage in anymore. I'll improve with time and patience.
After the race we hung around downtown Traverse City for the day and even went to the beach! It was a fun day involving pie and other delicious food. The day after the race we packed up camp and headed home. When I got home I did what I planned to be an easy 5 miles for recovery around argo (which just so happens to be my last run in Ann Arbor until I get back there from San Francisco in the Fall). It started off nice and easy but I ended up picking up the pace for every mile with the last two miles in the 7:00 to 6:50 range. I guess I felt pretty good by the end! Afterwords I felt well enough to go play a couple hours worth of volleyball and frisbee with some friends (and even biked there). It was fun but was also yet another sign that I could have run harder during the race. I just never got that sore after the race - in fact I felt better immediately after the race than I did during most weeks of training towards the end of the cycle.
I'm now going to take a week off of running (maybe try to squeeze in a long bike ride or two before I fly to California on Friday) and then the next week will just be easy running every other day. After that, I'll jump right back into training! It will be time to start thinking about cross country season and I intend on taking full advantage of summer training! I'm hoping to run more than I ever have with a peak of high 80s or low 90 mpw to try and have the best season possible.