Sunday, January 10, 2016

2016 Winter Warrior Half Marathon

Weather: Mostly Cloudy, 47°F, 74% Humidity, Wind: S @ 9 mph.
Route: Winter Warrior Half Marathon
Time (Pace): 1:49.49 (gun) 1:49.23 (official), 8:21 min/mile

Pre-Race Observations: It's been about four months since my last "race," the Rochester MVP Half-Marathon and my training has been fairly consistent, so I'm as ready-to-go as I could be. While not the wintry day that the race name might have suggested (or hoped for), the Winter Warrior Half-marathon does include some unique elements that should make for a challenging, if not snowy) experience. Today's start time is 4:00 p.m. which is a far cry from the more traditional 8 or 9 a.m. starts of which I am more accustomed. I had intended to conduct some moderately distanced training runs in the evening to acclimate to the race start time, but those failed to materialize so most later afternoon runs were limited to a shorter runs on the occasional after school trip to the gym.

Today's race is also a "loop course," as seen in my previous route scouting trip. I haven't run a loop course of this distance in over 12 years, but I have trained to train for the probable less-than-inspiring repeating view offered by a 3.1 mile course being traveled on the roads of an industrial park after hours. One thing that will make the view much more pleasant, and make me feel inclined not to go too slow, is that my wife will be coming with me to today's race. Ma-a-a-any years ago she would accompany me to many longer distance races, but during my recently running renaissance, the start times have been very early, and frankly there was much to see relative to my performance. I am likely past any huge performance breakthroughs, but I am hoping to finish with a smile and look forward to seeing my wife at the finish (and 3.1, 6.2, 9.3 loops).

Post-Run Reflections: In anticipation of this race, and given the uncertain weather conditions, I asked my son what he would recommend I wear. My son, himself a former collegiate and current recreational runner, advised me to dress for weather 15 degrees warmer, to account for the body temp rising once I was moving. Not surprisingly his suggestion was spot on and though I lacked a headlamp, I found myself very appropriately attired (though I dropped my gloves and hat at the finish going into\the final loop).

I ran well this evening, putting forth my best half marathon effort since 2011. While not a PR it was nice to feel strong. and to be able to successfully challenge myself to maintain focus and form (via a consistent breathing pattern) throughout the course of the race. As suspected, the topography of the loop was not overly challenging, though the repetitive nature of the loop to require some additional mental energy.

My wife, Anne, and me
following the race.
Much of the success of my run today can be attributed to two women. Foremost was the fact that my wife braved the elements (and the tedium of waiting for me to finish) to support my efforts. I am admittedly a man of fanciful flights and milady is always supportive.

The second was another competitor on whom I paced myself for the majority of the race, losing her to walkers being lapped and my own mental duress going into the final mile.  She did a fantastic job getting out and then settling in at comfortable pace. I tried my best not to draft (though given the number of participants on such a small course each competitor likely had an opportunity to take a turn as a windshield for someone). I am not a talker while running, and was unable to track her down at the finish, but thanks to her unsolicited assistance was greatly appreciated.

Coming down the last half mile, having maintained a groove for most of the run due to that initial pace-setting, I was able to pull more out of my expended reserves than I otherwise may have been able to. As is often the case, in the challenging distance just prior to the final mile, I fought against the internal monologue that "I can't do this and won't do this ever again." Of course, now 12 hours later and feeling pretty good (and proud), I find myself having a different conversation with myself, "What's next?"

Individual results for the event from our friends at Yellowjacket Racing are available HERE.

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