This was the inaugural running of the Blooms to Brews Half Marathon, put on by Get Bold Events. I ran my first half marathon last fall in their North County Wine Run and then also participated in their Resolution Run 5K. They work very hard in putting on a good event.
This was advertised as a flat, fast course. And it did not disappoint. There were only three “hills” on the entire course and those were about 20 feet long and no more than 10 feet high. The rest of the course was totally flat. I also loved the fact that this was pretty much one big loop, with only a couple 90 degree turns. This allows you to settle into a good pace and rhythm and not have to change from that due to the terrain. Well…except for about a mile and a half stretch of a dirt/gravel dike road that was not advertised. Wasn’t a big deal but took me by surprise given the rest of the course.
I had been tracking the weather all week and it was supposed to be fairly sunny and a bit on the cool side. Was going to be perfect running weather. About 15 minutes before we arrived at the race site it started RAINING!!! Hello…were you not watching the forecast?!?! And it was about 10 degrees warmer than expected. Good thing I’m anal and pack way more stuff than I need just in case. By race time it was a little drizzly and in the mid 40’s. Just cool enough for me to decide to run in my “cool” racing attire.
This was to be a “training run” race. I was scheduled to go 13 miles for my long run this weekend so thought it would be fun to just do a race and pick up some more race day goodies. My plan was to target an 8:00 per mile pace with a planned finishing time of around 1:45:00. I wanted a good strong run while still feeling like I had a lot left in the tank and could have gone harder.
The starting gate was pretty narrow so I was forced to go out a little slow, which I figured would only help me from going out too quick as is normally my issue. As I’m quickly learning, I can’t rely on my Nike GPS watch to give me an accurate “current” pace when I first start a race. My watch was telling me I was going right around an 8:00 pace and I was feeling pretty good. I checked it a few more times in the first mile and got the same readings.
I hit the one mile marker and my watch showed 7:25…oops! But I was feeling pretty good, didn’t feel like I was pressing the pace at all. Second mile my time was 7:19…oops again! At this point I knew I had to make an effort to slow the pace. The next four miles my splits ranged between 7:33 and 7:43. Even though my pace was more inline with where I had originally planned it to be, I wasn’t feeling very good about the last four miles. They felt sluggish and I felt like I was gradually getting weaker and slower. I had this horrific feeling that my splits were going to continue to drop 5-10 seconds per mile and I would be limping into the finish line with a horrible time.
Right about mile six a father and son passed me. They weren’t going a lot faster than me, maybe 10-20 seconds per mile. I made the decision to tuck in behind them and let them pace me for at least a mile or two to see if it could pull me out of the funk I was feeling. The first half mile or so I was questioning my decision, but the longer I stuck with them the better I was feeling. As we approached mile eight I was feeling really good. When we hit the water station around mile nine they decided to slow way down for a moment to get their water. I grabbed mine and just kept on going. By this time I was a lot more confident in my pace and felt I could maintain it without them. My splits running with them were 7:27, 7:20, & 7:16.
Mile 10 my mental wheels came off a bit. This is when we hit the dike road. It was a hard packed dirt road but was a bit rocky. Thought for sure I was going to slow WAY down. But my pace was 7:33, which I was pretty pleased with. When we hit the road again I knew I only had a couple miles left so I pushed the pace as much as I could. Finished my last three miles going 7:23, 7:21 and 7:17. My last mile was only one second slower than my fastest mile. The second half of of my race was about two minutes faster than the first half. Which led to this finishing picture…
My chip time ended up being 1:37:28. A PR of 23:13. I really couldn’t have asked for a better race. I placed 13th overall and was 2nd in my age group.
The 7:26 pace for the entire race is right on target for the pace I need to hit for the Portland Marathon. Plan now is to maintain, if not improve, my speed while increasing my endurance so I can do it for the full 26.2. I have the Portland Rock n Roll half next month and the Vancouver USA Half Marathon in June that are both pretty flat courses. I would like to see myself drop my overall pace a little in each race. If I could get the pace down to around 7:15 I would be very pleased.