Sunday, March 9, 2014

NC Half Marathon: Race Report

Charlotte Motor Speedway

Concord, NC
March 9, 2014

Since I'm not able to be in Atlanta to run the Publix Half Marathon with my PTS Sports teammates next week, I went in search of a local half-marathon and stumbled upon this race.  While many people were enticed by the promise of running on a NASCAR track, I (being the NASCAR-uninterested person that I am), was satisfied with a race that didn't require hours of travel time or complex parking issues.  Being a triathlete, training hasn't been specifically geared toward the half-marathon, but I've been building some mileage and certainly knew I that I had the fitness for 13.1 miles.  Speed, however, was a bit uncertain.

Race morning started as usual - peanut butter and banana toast on the drive to the race site.  I'd had one complete rest day and then just some short strides in the two days leading up to the race, but my legs weren't quite feeling as fresh as I hoped.  Not that this was an A race, but I was hoping for a little more freshness.  I did an easy mile jog and some stretching to warm up and then found my way close to the front of the pack at the start line.  My race plan was 8 miles at 7:25-7:30, 2 miles at 7:20, and then the last 5K sub 7:15 pace.  My previous PR was 1:36:28 and a new PR was the goal of the day.

The entire 13.1 miles is run within the grounds of the motor speedway, which made for lots of turns and some mind-numbing repetitive stretches.  I settled into what should have been a comfortable pace for the first few miles, yet it just never felt as comfortable as I anticipated.  Mile 4 was a struggle with a long gradual ascent around the speedway.  At this point, I could already tell a PR wasn't in the day's cards.

Mile 1 - 7:27
Mile 2 - 7:33
Mile 3 - 7:16
Mile 4 - 7:42

Miles 5-7 felt much better, and I began to think I might have a stronger second half of the race.  Then we entered the drag strip, which meant running a mile down a flat road and then turning around and running a mile back.  Miles 8 and 9 always seem to be the toughest for me in every half-marathon I've done, and the boredom of that long stretch combined with an ugly climb heading into mile 10 meant that was true yet again.
Mile 5 - 7:29
Mile 6 - 7:29
Mile 7 - 7:25
Mile 8 - 7:45
Mile 9 - 7:59

Miles 10-12 were more circles around the speedway and consistent, yet slower than anticipated miles.  Despite a gel and fluids, attempts at a faster leg turnover and descending splits just weren't happening.  I focused on the women in front of me, and took pride in passing two in the final miles.  The last mile was on the track itself and I pushed to pull the last bit of speed out and finish strong.

Mile 10 - 7:36
Mile 11 - 7:40
Mile 12 - 7:36
Mile 13 - 7:25
Last 0.1 - 6:46

Finish Time: 1:38:50

50th / 1167  overall
7th / 642   females
1st / 86      F25-29

Although I was hoping to nail a new PR today, I can't say that I'm terribly surprised or disappointed with my result.  I can't expect more than I've trained, and all of my long runs have been around 8 minute pace.  I'm pleased with the consistency of my splits, ignoring the two miles with long climbs.  My overall placement among women was satisfying, and I was surprised to take the age-group win once final results were posted and the first two women in my age-group were on the overall podium.

Enjoy the medals, Dad, as this is likely the only NASCAR paraphernalia that your daughter will ever own!  

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