Wednesday, May 21, 2014

2nd Annual Carbon Valley Half Marathon - 1st half win!

1:26:37  1st place overall and course record

This race was added to the calendar after searching for another half after the debacle at Redline 13.1 Westminster. I had wanted to do the Platte River half and get a time on a known fast course but the family schedule wouldn't allow it on that weekend.  I opted for a second year event in Firestone, where I had luck the previous year in getting second place at a local 5K.  Knowing a bit of the area and course, I thought it could be a good fit.

I'd checked out the results from last year and was a little surprised with the slowish times from some runners I knew were pretty quick.  Maybe it had been a hot day or slightly long - I guess I would soon find out.

I used the same taper as before Redline which is really working well for me right now.  I'm getting to the end of the week feeling fresh and rested with an attitude of wanting to get after it on race day.  Timing these races with natural low weeks has also helped get in some of the required recovery which is harder to do in a normal training week without a race looming.

The plan was to start off on the slow side and imagine that I was running a marathon.  This generally calms me down a little, find a good pace and then settle in to running my own race.  It was the perfect strategy and while there were 5 or 6 guys ahead in the early going we hit mile 1 right at 6.30 pace.  Perfect! The course was much more challenging than I expected.  The dirt roads and trails were muddy from the overnight rain and there were hills the whole way.  Nothing too major, but enough to kill the pace a little.  I sat in about 3rd for 5 or 6 miles behind one guy that turned out to be in the relay and another who must have looked at his GPS a thousand times.  I used to love my Garmin (and still do for certain workouts) but usually leave it at home for races now.  Part of the reason is that it can be such a distraction and so tempting to keep checking pace every now and again.  I'd never seen this though.  This guy should be in a Garmin commercial.  I even joked about it with him but he couldn't hear me as he was plugged into his MP3 player.  This guy was connected!

Right around 5 miles we blew through an intersection with no cop having arrived yet and narrowly missed a couple of cars.  The lead bike told us to keep going and he'd be back in a minute.  Noooo!  This can't be happening again.  I started to dread the Redline race repeating itself and having another disaster on my hands at the expense of a lead biker.  Luckily, he was back within a minute and providing good directions.  He turned out to be an awesome volunteer and did an outstanding job looking after the runners the whole morning.  Thanks Skip!

About half way I got a lead and asked Skip how much of a gap I had.  He kept telling me that it was 80yds for the next few miles which was just so frustrating.  I couldn't shake the chasers and it was like I was the dangling carrot now, just hanging out there to be swallowed up.  It felt like a bike race where they leave the breakaway just out front enough to give them hope, but can pull it back in a heart beat when the peloton decides they want to.  A solid hill near 8 miles took me on to the wettest, muddiest section of the day before entering a nice paved downhill section.  I decided to try and get to 10 miles and then make a push in the last 5K to finish it out, but I could sense that I was starting to slow a little.  The gravel paths were great underfoot but loose and gave me that lead legged feeling.  10 miles came and went and when we got to 11 miles Skip shouted to me the lead was now about a quarter mile.  Phew.  I sneaked a glance behind and realized that I could coast to the short turn around, see a fun battle for 2nd and 3rd developing and have a strong downhill finish to the end.

What a lame smile!

While I got my first ever win in a rinky dink 10K on a Wyoming air base last year, this felt a lot more special. Plenty of local athletes could have thrashed me today, but if you can't let yourself enjoy a win when one comes along then you'll never be happy with any performance.  Sometimes you need that combination of luck, perseverance and a weekend with a ton of races to help you out :-)  Having had lucky Felix in our lives he seems to be something of a talisman in performing better this past year!

I'm pretty happy with the time all things considered.  The 3rd place finisher just ran a 1:25 half a couple of weeks ago and finished in 1:29 so maybe my time is good for a few mins quicker on a flat course.  I'll probably jump into the Longmont Sunrise Stampede 10K in a few weeks so will get a better sense of my speed there.  I'm happy that the body is responding to all the nutritional changes too.  No need for any gels, sports drink or anything.  Just a couple of sips of water from one of the aid stations in the last couple of miles was plenty to keep me feeling good to the finish.

Even though it's a newish event, they have done a great job in the first two years.  Live music, food trucks, vendors and a very fun atmosphere.  With the proceeds going to benefit Autism prevention, it's a great cause and one worthy of supporting.  What a bonus to get the course record too.  Hopefully I get a chance to come back next year and participate again.

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