Saturday, April 1, 2006

2006 Dick Lytie Half Marathon

This again, will not be your typical race report from me. It struck me today that this was the first race that I have run in against all of you... funny how I have know you all for over a year now, but typically I am writing up a race report for a run from Minnesota., or Upper Michigan or Florida. These race reports required detailed information on the conditions, the competition, and everything else that you don't know about but may be interested in. This time, you were all there so I certainly don't need to tell you about this stuff.

First I just wanted to say that you all did so well.... I don't think that I talked to any of you that didn't say that you either felt great during the entire run, or that you hit your goal, or that you set a PR. It is Mondays, and Wednesdays and Saturdays (and all the days in between) that we train together that got us all here.

So instead of a description of the stuff that you know, here is what was going through my head during the race.

In the early miles, I was very surprised at how fast the entire group went out. Sean passed me at the 1 mile mark, at a pace of 6:20. Of course we were all chasing the fast 3 miler runners, and not able to tell the difference, thought that we had to be that fast to not loose track of the leaders. I really thought that this fast start would be the death of me.

At the base of the first hill, there was Ivy, handing out gatorade and wishing us well. It was nice to see her this early in the race. Brad and I ran together up the first hill, making some small talk about how fast the pace was. Neither of us wanted to be running that fast, and certainly didn't want to attack the first hill with such vigor. There Stacy was, making her first of many appearances, cheering us up the hill.

By the time we got to the top, Brad and I were still together, and breathing was difficult for me. At that point the pack was starting to separate. I knew that if I let the lead pack get too far ahead I wouldn't have anyone to draft off of, or anyone to help push the pace. So in a bold move, I sped up to a 6 min-mile pace by Champeau to catch the group in front of me. I felt bad separating from Brad, but we both new that we each had to run our own race. This was our agreement going in... each with a different strategy, with a plan to meet up at the end.

On to the hill climb on Church.. there was Stacy again. Telling me to pump my arms, lean forward, shorten my stride. All of things that I had forgotten in my tired state. I had a great plan going in to slow my pace by 1 min/mile on the hills (0.85 miles of steep up hills) and it really helped at the top. And of course, Stacy yelling is always a motivator.

The middle miles were really blurry... the only that carried my along was knowing that at any random point, I would see Laura, my Mom and Dad, Ivy and Stacy again. Not knowing where this would be, I always wanted to look strong.

Van Lanen hill was tough (as I am sure that it was on all of you), but I had just taken a Power Gel, so the sugar rush and Stacy yelling at me really helped. I ended up passing someone at the top of the hill because I had so much left in my legs. I was too afraid to ever sneak a look behind me, thinking that Brad or someone else that I had misjudged on talent was closing the gap. I was really nervous that I wouldn't be able to hold the pace. At that point, I was running 6:45 a mile.

Here is what kept me running throughout the home stretch... On Friday I took the day off and watched Chariots of Fire. At one point of the movie, one of the runners says to his wife, "God put me here for a reason... and he made me Fast"! As funny as this sounds (and I'm not that religious), as I got tired, I kept repeating this phrase every 1/2 mile or so, and each time it made me smile. I knew that today was the perfect race day; that conditions were perfect and I was in peak shape. I woke up on Saturday morning telling myself that I today wasn't the average race; I was going to be 'Great Today'. This was what I need as motivation to sprint through the finish line in 1:28:08 (6:44 pace), or a full 18 seconds better than my last half marathon PR and 12th place overall and well below my 1:30:00 goal for the day, considering the hills and the wind.

But at that point I didn't think about how well I had done; All I could think about was that I needed to catch my breath, see my parents, give Laura a hug, and go back to cheer my friends on. The same friends who helped get me here. To watch Tom, and Brad others cross the finish line, each achieving their own set goals was what I really wanted to do. To see Mike S already done, and to hear about his race (and how he continues to kick all of our butt's every week);. These guys have worked me every week, pushing me to the limit. I owe my 18 second PR to these guys, to Ivy and Stacy for being on the course, to Laura for understanding how hard it is to train for these, to my parents for making the trip to see Laura and I race (despite the cancellation of the Aerosmith concert), to Alicia and Julie for making fun of me when I wanted to take Friday off to rest (this was a great motivator), and to the rest of you for your kind words and motivation after the race. To me the best part of the race are the cookies, bagels and comradery at the end where we talk about how tough it was... and it was tough.

In case you didn't have your GPS on, here is a profile of the course. I have to be out of town this week, so I won't see you all until Saturday. I hope that you all recovery quickly and are ready to get in shape for the Marathon!

I leave you with this... for as well as we all did today, think about how good we will do at the marathon, with better conditions, more rest, and a flat course! I am excited just thinking about it.

327+342=709 (hill)
338+327=705 (hill)
336+330=706 (hill)