From James Daniel (republished from http://hubcitytri.blogspot.com )
For the First Light Half Marathon I left the house at 4:00 AM and picked up Jim at his house. It was COLD. I brought 2 large mugs of coffee with me for the 2 hour drive and even picked up a third cup during the drive. At packet pick-up I even topped off my mug. I picked up a couple of extra race packets for people that were not able to make the race. The race people asked me if it was because of the temperature I'm sure it was a factor. It was in the very low 20's at the race start. I ran a few warm up miles (a couple of blocks not miles) to determine how much clothing to wear. I had compression socks (knee highs) on my legs, compression shorts covered with tights, a compression shirt covered with a long sleeved zipped shirt, some old socks with the toes cut out for arm warmers and an ear warmer type headband thingy. Although my feet were frozen and would stay frozen for a couple more hours I decided to ditch the tights and put on shorts. This would work out well. Prior to the start we ran into Neil and Aaron. They were both at the Ole Man River race. At that race I tried to hang with Neil (who went out at a 6:35 pace) and I blew up at about mile 2. That was a tough race a PR but a tough race. Today I would race my own race!
This race does not use timing chips so I inched my way towards the front. I had set my gps watch for 6:55 minute miles (for 13.15 miles just to be safe). I was going to try to follow my pacing as close as possible. I started off and made my way through the crowd. There were people passing me but I was working the plan. I did not see Neil or Aaron at all. So the weather was cold and it was also very windy. Working my own pace, it soon left me in no man's land and into the wind. I saw a group of runners a couple of 100 feet ahead of me but it would have been too hard to close the gap without blowing up. At about mile 3 I could hear foot steps behind me. I was pleased that someone was passing me and I jumped on their shoulder and let them carry me to the pack ahead. In this pack I got a little chatty I was running at my goal pace and I was still chatty. One of the guys had a Boston Marathon jacket and I said that I was working on getting one of those. This guy and one other were running the marathon and shooting for a sub-3. Just about my pace. I jumped in line with them. At mile 7 we passed Neil. He had gone out much slower than in the last race I had seen him just head for a long time. I tried to get him to jump on as we passed but he was hurting a little bit. He said he was going to try and log some 7 minute miles I was a little faster at this point.
I enjoyed the ride from these marathon guys but had to leave them at mile 8 where the half and full split ways. I was alone again and I would have to pace myself now. I was all alone for about 2 miles and about 2 tenths of a mile ahead of my virtual trainer'.
At mile 10 a strong runner in his 20's passed me. I grabbed his shoulder and got pulled along. This was a hard pace. At the water stops I had to slow and walk a step or two while I drank he was able to drink on the run. I mustered the strength and got back on him again. However, he started pulling away. I had also heard someone behind me with much labored breathing. They were slowly gaining and that encouraged me to keep the pace up. I knew it was not Neil it was a girl. I tried to keep her from passing me but she was persistant. I never slowed she just steady gained on me. As she overtook me with 2 tenths of a mile remaining she said Come on or something to that effect. I dug deep and tried to sprint out the end but it was just not there (my last tenth of a mile was at a 6:30 pace just not fast enough). If it had been Neil I might have been able to pick it up more but
This was the smartest race I have ever run. The first half of the race felt too easy. It was very hard to maintain this easier' pace. The race did get hard and it was tough but SO MUCH EASIER than all of my recent races. The splits were much more even and the heart rate had few spikes. This is how you are supposed to run these races. I am glad that I decided to race so much for this marathon training. Not only are these races more valuable than training runs in fitness they are much more valuable in race experience and strategy. The plan is coming together.
I ended up in 14th overall and I won my age group with a sub-1:30 (1:29:38 I also think the race was a little long not by much but several people recorded 13.2 miles no biggie). By my watch I ran a 6:47 pace and by official time it was a 6:50 pace. It was even paced with one slow mile and one fast mile - back to back. There might have been a small hill. My average heart rate was 179 beats per minute- three beats per minute faster than my last half. This is interesting because I went out so much easier. My confidence is building for a Boston Qualifying Mardi Gras Marathon.