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Morgan Hill Half Marathon Race Report

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Morgan Hill Half Marathon Race Report

Post  Tom H on Sun Nov 02, 2014 7:10 pm

Ran my first running race in 3 years today at the Morgan Hill Half Marathon. I signed up for this one because it was about 4 weeks out from CIM and wanted to use it as a tune up race, getting reminded of the things I may have forgotten and need to practice.  When I looked at the race elevation profile (altogether too briefly) it looked to be a little hilly, but not too bad.  I think the first graphic I saw was one of those long skinny ones where big hill look a lot less impressive, but here's what it turned out to be:



I drove the course last Friday after packet pickup, and gained more than a modicum of respect for those hills.

My initial game plan had been to run the first 10 @ MP (8:12) then see what I could pull out in the last 3, but fully aware of my inability to run in a race and not race.  After driving the course, it seemed like a rethink was in order as I wasn't sure I could average the 8:12 on the first half with that uphill climb.  I found they had pace groups and decided to tuck in with the 1:45 group, feeling that it could be too aggressive on the first half of the course, but if I was feeling too pushed I'd just drop back from the 8:00 pace as needed (OK, here's where you jump in and question why, if I felt I couldn't hold an 8:12, I join in with a group running an 8:00.  I don't have a good answer.).  My previous PR was a 1:44:58 and I had hoped to better that by a little, but resigned myself to just running the best race I could.

The day started out perfect with a Boost nutrition drink and cinnamon raisin bagel about 2 hours before race start.  Got to the venue and it was 48 degrees and clear skies - perfect!  Did a 10 minute jog to get loose then some dynamic stretches to target the grumpy glutes.  Last portapotty stop then time to get the party started.  We immediately started into the uphill and my HR climbed more rapidly than I'd have liked and the perceived effort was high as well.  This lasted for just a couple of miles when things leveled out and settled down.  All of a sudden I felt strong.  Stayed with the 1:45 pace group until mile 3.3 when we hit the first steeper/longer hill.  The group slowed down but I didn't feel the need to and kept on going, opening a gap between me and them.  I was concerned I was burning a little too hot, but decided I was OK and kept on going.  Got to the peak and started on the STEEP downhill but just relaxed and went with it, trying to not beat up on the quads too much.  Passed quite a few runners here and when I got to the bottom I have to admit my engine was revving pretty high, but with a strong sound of power.

It was at this point a wildly aggressive new goal popped into my head:  Catch the 1:40 group and finish with a 1:39:xx.  The course is twisty-turny so I couldn't see them at all for the next couple of miles.  When I finally got to a flatter and straighter part of the course, there they were off in the distance.  At this point I was running a pace on the order of a 7:16 and knew that if I wanted to catch them, I would not be able to back off - with 4 miles to go.  I realized I was running way outside myself at that point and it was an awesome feeling.  It is GREAT to find out that you are capable of more than you ever thought!  Kept plugging away, holding focus and pace, into mile 12 and the uphill slowed me to a 7:32.  At the beginning of mile 13 the uphill becomes the corresponding downhill and I committed to the finish then and there.  Mile 13 was at a 6:42, all out, nothing held in reserve.  There was an aid station (in mile 13?) and for whatever reason, 3 cars had gotten onto the course, on the runner's side, and had basically stopped in the aid station as runners slowed.  I was not going to slow and went around them on the left where there were also volunteers handing out drinks.  I yelled, "No drinks for me, just coming through" but one guy did not hear or understand and put a Gatorade right into the center of my chest.  At that point, whatcha gonna do but smile and keep on running.  Finally caught and passed the 1:40 pace team at the 13 mile marker and just kept going as I saw that if I wanted to make my 1:39:xx there was very little fat.  Came into the final chute and crossed the finish line at 1:39:35.  This was a 5:23 PR for me on a course that was a lot harder than the perfectly flat one I'd last PR'd.

For all of you who like data as much as I do, here's what it looked like.  (Garmin Connect servers are down right now, so had to use another resource (Beginner Triathlete):



All in all, an awesome race from a standpoint of understanding my race fitness.  I wanted a negative split on this course, both because of the topography and race strategy, and got a nice one.  First 7 miles averaged a 7:54 (wait, what happened to that concern of not being able to hold an 8:12 on the uphills Very Happy ) while the last 6 were at an unbelievable 7:09.  Finished 6th in my AG and 37/755 (top 5%) for all males.  Where'd that come from? 

I'm feeling pretty good about CIM and my ability to hit my 3:35 goal based on these results.
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Re: Morgan Hill Half Marathon Race Report

Post  Mark B on Mon Nov 03, 2014 11:01 am

Holy cow, Tom! You ran that half marathon like a 5K!

And more importantly, you pulled it off. That's extremely impressive -- and a great training run for CIM. You're in a good position to do very well there. I can sense your excitement. Very Happy

Oh, and why? Well, I'd give credit to all that cross-training you did during your triathlon period. You're in extremely good shape right now. Time to see what you've got!

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Re: Morgan Hill Half Marathon Race Report

Post  Jim Lentz on Mon Nov 03, 2014 11:48 am

Wow!!! What is your max HR that you were able to get up to 179 during the race?
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Re: Morgan Hill Half Marathon Race Report

Post  Tom H on Mon Nov 03, 2014 3:54 pm

Thanks for the kind words.  Mark, I do credit the Tri training a lot from the endurance standpoint, allowing me to keep the hammer down longer.  And I think the speedwork I've incorporated in the CIM training cycle plays a big part too.

Jim, last measured max HR was 193.  Did a field lactate threshold test a couple of months ago and found my LT to be at 173 so was walking a fine line in the last few miles.  I don't really know how long I could hold on once I get past LT.
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Re: Morgan Hill Half Marathon Race Report

Post  Mark B on Mon Nov 03, 2014 6:02 pm

Well, you're plenty zippy enough to hit your goal time without blowing through your LT, Tom. I ran your half marathon race results through McMillan's calculator... and you probably shouldn't do that. You'll freak yourself out. What a Face
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Re: Morgan Hill Half Marathon Race Report

Post  Michele "1L" Keane on Mon Nov 03, 2014 9:24 pm

Woohoo, Tom!  Tough course and you nailed it.  Excellent.
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Re: Morgan Hill Half Marathon Race Report

Post  nkrichards on Mon Nov 03, 2014 10:59 pm

Wow! That's impressive Tom. CIM was my first marathon and I don't remember any hills even close to that! It's going to be fun to see what you can do on the course.
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Re: Morgan Hill Half Marathon Race Report

Post  Alex Kubacki on Thu Nov 06, 2014 7:49 am

Great job out there. You never know what you can do until you lay it all out there. Congrats.
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