Monday, October 7, 2013

Crawling Crab Half Marathon 2014

Going into this race, I wanted the half to either be part of a 20 mile run or I wanted to post a good number and gain some confidence leading up to the Niagara Falls Marathon.  The week leading up to the race I decided I would go for the good time and maybe a PR.  My previous best time was 1:44:11, I planned to follow the 1:45 pace group and turn it on at the end.  The goal pace for the day was 8:00 per mile.

(Michele and I at the Expo)

Do not get this blog post wrong, I take full responsibility for my performance/time.  The pacers are like any training tool, they can help you achieve your goals, but you as the runner/racer MUST use them correctly.  I’m thankful for the time they give up to pace a race and this post is in no WAY blaming them.

(We decided to get crabby)

Warm up mile 1  10:41
Warm up mile 2  11:23

(Time to get to work)

Mile 1  7:47
My starting position for the day was in corral #1, starting up front like this always makes me feel excited.  After my warm-up, I made my way to the corral then noticed I was on the side with no openings,  UGH.  No way I had enough time to walk around the starting line to gain access from the “correct” side, so I became the climb over the fence guy.  Excuse me, pardon me…yes I’m a dork and I hope I don’t fall and bust my butt.  I made my entrance and found the 1:45 pacer and lined up right behind them.  Waiting for the race to start there was some good energy in the crowd and everyone was pretty happy and positive.  When the gun went off the group moved out pretty smoothly and within seconds was running down the opening mile without an incident.  The first mile felt great, my legs enjoyed the quick turn over and I was jockeying for a good position.  This mile was mostly flat but did feature a slight hill climb over the interstate.  Glancing at my GPS a few times I noted our pace was a bit fast, I normally like my opening miles to be a bit slower than goal pace.

Mile 2  7:48
It was hard to believe this was the first week of October as race morning was filled with bright sunshine.  The temperature at start was 73, everyone was commenting about how the temperature could turn this race into a brutal match against the 13.1.  I was feeling really good, we had settle into a good flow and my legs were drilling out the miles without much effort.  My only concern was the quicker than goal pace.  I suffer a bit from having the confidence to really push myself in races…I always fear the DNF and feel I run to conservative at times.  This race a wanted to run free, so it was at around this point I accepted the fast pace and decide I was sticking with the pacers.

Mile 3  8:01
Mile 4  7:57
Mile 5  7:35

Mile 6  7:47
We hit the halfway point (timing mat) around 49m 36s, a quick math check told me I was on target for a good run and PR was in the works.  My breathing was in check, my legs felt good…all was clicking along.  My goal time for midway was 52:24, we were about 3 minutes to the good.

Mile 7  8:02
Mile 8  8:18

Mile 9  8:38
Here is where I felt the first waves of fear I had went out to fast.  I started to struggle that the pace the pacers set was not right for me.  It was at a transition around a turn or through a water stop that I began to lose contact with the pacer.  And it was at this point that I noticed I could not get up on the front of my feet to put on a push to catch back up.  It was also around this point that it got a little warm.

Mile 10 8:46

Mile 11 9:29
This was the worst part of the race for me.  I was feeling zapped…my legs felt heavy, my foot turnover was slow and I was really fighting with myself that I had messed this race up.  It was humbling.  I’m an Ultra-runner and this half marathon was kicking my butt.  Up to this point I had ran thru all the water stops, drinking out of my hand held bottle vs. taking a cup of water/Gatoraide….but now I stopped grabbed a cup of water, dumped it over my head and rolled on.  This cooling effect helped…I felt a bit better and I pushed to pick up the pace.

Mile 12  9:05

Mile 13  9:18
The closing mile of this race has got to be one of the toughest for a half, two bridge climbs over local highways with the last climb being right at the last half mile of the race.  If you’re hurting like I was, and many around me, this interstate pass over can feel like Heart Break Hill or today, Everest.  I motored up it the best I could…never breaking stride but also never picking up the pace.  The downhill allowed me to run free again and make up a little time, but it was truly too little too late…this race finish was going to be ugly.

(Finally got a cool race picture...thanks Michele)

Mile 13.1  7:52
Turning for the finish line I saw what I knew in my heart was waiting for me…the timing clock ticking away the last few seconds of a sub 1h 50m half marathon.

Chip Time 1h 50m 01s
Over place 255/2352 (Top 11%)
Age group 25/135 (Top 18%)

(Get Well Soon, Lisa)

PACE, PACE, PACE…The right pace is everything in running and in racing.  I learned this lesson again.  In training I was not running a half marathon at sub 8:00 pace. Why did I think I could run it on race day?  I’ve run some fast closing miles of simulated race set ups, but only after I used a controlled pace to put me in the right position.  Why did I let myself get away from that…again on race day?  BECAUSE I got caught up in the race hype. 

NEGATIVE SPLIT...I firmly believe your goal should be to run a negative spilt, run the second half of your race faster than the first.  Many new runners believe the old adage “Get while the getting is good” or run the opening miles of your race fast, in hopes of holding on at the end.  I have learned painfully that this does not work (for me).  And I’ve read numerous articles supporting the advantages of running negative splits.   These articles quote studies proving you lose more time off a slower finish then you’ll gain by the fast start.  This point proved out again during this half marathon.  The fast opening half provided me with a buffer of 2m 52s, but you’ll notice I lost nearly 7 and a half minutes over the closing half of the race.  The NET results was a loss of 4m 34s…  I believe in the negative spilt race strategy. 
PLAN your race, RACE your plan.  I’ll use these missteps to refocus my plan for Niagara Falls and if everything falls right AND if I learn from the past, I’ll bring home a PR.


  1. Brian,

    Great synopsis of the race and I agree with your observations. Although you missed the PR, you still had a good race given the heat. I had my worst half ever and was really suffering from the heat. I made a number of mistakes, including going out too fast. I wanted to run with the 1:52 Pace group, but got stuck in Corral 1 and went off too fast. Although I had hoped the pace group would catch me, by the time they did, the damage was done and I lagged further and further behind. The heat and associated dehydration issues really kicked in by Mile 9 and I experience light headedness and even some "brown out" symptoms. By Mile 11, I seriously though I might have my legs go out from under me. The final straw came around Mile 12 when I began to experience spasms in my calves, which made running almost impossible, except for very short spurts of less than 1/4 mile. I did not run a smart race and the unseasonable heat and my mistakes really did me in. I was determined not to DNF and I finished, but it was not pretty.

    1. wow, glad you finished and did not go down for the count. Better days ahead, look forward to running with you!


  2. You still ran a great race- I think negative splitting is the way to go, I really do think (based on my experiences alone) that you lose more at the end slowing down from a fast start. Shake it off and get pumped for Niagara falls....I see a sub-4 coming