This morning I ran the Nookachamps Half Marathon in Mt. Vernon, WA. The skies were clear and temperatures were in the upper 30's by race time - perfect conditions! I've struggled with some kind of chest cold the last few days and took two days off before today's race. Before the race, I felt pretty decent, but still not as strong as I usually do. I think I get these little "mini colds" when I'm borderlining (is that a word?) on over-training. I've also run a few too many times in the pouring rain lately.
As for the race, it started at 10am. It was a crowded start, as the 5k, 10k and half marathoners all started together. The runners in the shorter races turned off the main road early in the race, opening up the course nicely. The roads weren't closed to traffic, so even though we occasionally had a motorized escort, we had to keep an eye on passing cars. Due to the crowded start, my first mile was very slow...but that played right into my plan of going out slowly. I then settled into a rhythm for several miles. The course was primarily flat, with the exception of a nice hill at around mile 6 and an even longer hill starting at about mile 10. I wore my hydration belt, drank Heed and ate one caffeinated gel (which gave me a nice kick later in the race).
I thoroughly enjoyed this race for a number of reasons. First, after several days of clouds and rain, the weather was perfect. Second, once I started running, I found that I had more strength and energy than I had the previous two days. Third, this is the first road race I can remember in which NO ONE passed me the entire race! I didn't count how many people I passed, but I would guess around 40 or so. That leads me to believe I ran within myself and didn't go out too fast. Fourth, I managed to get a PR by nearly a minute! This was my third half marathon (my first one was last October) and in just three months, I managed to improve my time by nearly 3 minutes. I know I won't get a PR every time out, but I'm thrilled with my progress and even more anxious to run my first full marathon in May.
It was also nice to see some familiar faces there - Terry, who is the RD of the Skagit Flats Marathon (which I may run this Fall), Scotty, who I first met while volunteering at the Ron Herzog 50k, and Bill, who I first raced against at the Fowl Fun Run 10k, back in November. In that race, Bill and I ran together for the last 2 miles. He then out-kicked me to beat me at the end. Today, I passed him soundly on the uphill during mile 10 and ended up beating him by three minutes and change. He just moved up to the 60-64 age group. Am I proud of beating a guy 17 years my senior? Heck, yes! No shame here. He managed to place third in his age group today, so he's a good runner and a very nice guy.
So, finally, my finishing time was: 1:41:22 (7:41 average pace, according to my Garmin)
Here are my splits:
Mile 1: 8:28
Mile 2: 7:36
Mile 3: 7:46
Mile 4: 7:47
Mile 5: 7:47
Mile 6: 7:50
Mile 7: 7:32
Mile 8: 7:31
Mile 9: 7:31
Mile 10: 7:27
Mile 11: 8:00 ("The Hill")
Mile 12: 7:28
Mile 13: 7:07
Last .1: [7:02 pace]
I was surprised to have a 7:07 mile in me for the last full mile. I'm becoming much more comfortable with this race distance and pacing myself accordingly. This was a well organized race on a very beautiful & scenic course, mostly on country roads. I look forward to running this one again next year.
I'll post placing results when they're available.
Next up - the Mercer Island Half Marathon on March 21st.