Subaru Fall Classic Half Marathon Report

Tuesday, December 2, 2014
I run long distances for several reasons. For starters, it's something not everyone can or would want to do, so that allows me to be unique. Secondly, it's a way to at least combat my weight issues (which are legion on some days). Third, it hopefully lays a foundation for Samantha learning how to use running and other activities to help her health. That one really goes for all of our kids. Finally, it's a two hour opportunity for me to be a running billboard for the fight against cystic fibrosis.

I haven't run a half marathon in four years. Aside from the Fort2Base, a 10 nautical mile race, I haven't really run anything competitive since 2012. I decided that this year was my year back. I trained (mostly) well and was (fairly) ready for the race. All I wanted to do was beat my 2010 personal best of 2 hours, 6 minutes, 33 seconds, which I ran at the Carlsbad Half Marathon. A side goal was to finish in under 2 hours.

Unfortunately, I made just about every rookie mistake out there. It was like I had never run a half marathon before! I ate the wrong food before the race, I stopped training consistently a few weeks before the race, I started out too fast, I didn't manage water intake very well, and a whole host of others! I was a mess.

Speaking of going out too fast, I was feeling really good those first several miles, so instead of just settling into a pace that was comfortable, I ran with my senior chief, a fellow who is naturally a far better runner than I am. Still, I enjoyed the competitive nature of our run. We ran in a group of four (all from my ship) and made a good game of passing people from mile 2-ish to around mile 8. We ran those miles in under 9 minutes each. That was WAY too fast. I hit a wall around mile ten and had to literally claw my way to the finish line.

As for the race itself, I enjoyed the scenery very much. We ran through several residential areas, so we didn't have to worry about traffic. In many ways, it was a nice, quiet race. Unfortunately, it also wasn't all that well attended, so the limited people out watching and cheering for us probably had an impact. The miles were marked very well until mile ten. Sometime after mile nine, I saw a marker with the number 1 on it. Well, I made the assumption that they didn't have a "10" marker and were starting over with 1. They weren't, and I expended a lot of energy thinking I was further along than I really was. Sure enough, just before mile 12 there was a 2 and so on. I was really frustrated by that part. I figured out later that they merged their shorter race in with the half marathon toward the end. Had I done better research before starting, I would have known that. Again, I was making rookie mistakes. Anyway, it was a nice course with not too many turns and it was mostly flat. That was vital to me not dying. I remember the La Jolla half marathon for its massive hills.

Overall, it was a good race on a good course and a fantastic time. My overall run time on the course was 2 hours, 1 minute, and 20 seconds. I beat my best previous time by over five minutes! My best mile was #4 (8:44 pace) and my worst was the first one (9:42). Granted, on that first mile, I was dealing with a lot of people, so it was to be expected. I placed 85th out of 158 runners in my age group (35-39) and 565th overall out of 2112 finishers. 

This race also gave me a chance to see some of my pacing. Toward the end, when I was running on will power alone (from starting out too fast), I tried to keep my gait and stride correct, but I knew I was having trouble. The below pictures show that I was pointing too much with my toe and landing too much onto the heel. I've worked hard to become more of a mid-striker, but clearly I have some more work to do. 

Most important though was the camaraderie I had while running this race. USS Hue City had several runners in this race. I really enjoyed planning the race, running with several members of the crew at different points, and the before and after photos.