21 April 2012

Magnuson Series Half Marathon

The Magnuson Series is a pretty cool event. It consists of a 5 km loop that winds through Magnuson Park and normally you can do the loop once, twice or three times but twice every year they have a half marathon option which means you do four laps plus a 1.1 km loop to round out the distance.

This course is roughly 50% paved foot paths and 50% gravel walking paths and one grass section. With the exception of one tiny rise (30' elevation gain?) this is a FLAT loop. I have always thought Magnuson Park was huge but you need to wind all over the place to get in 5 km.

What makes this event so great is that it's in the city (so it's close to where most people live), it's scenic, there is plenty of parking, the course is not difficult plus it's a loop so you can go as long/short as you want which lets everyone finish and there is a separate walking category which makes it more inclusive. Nice.

Did I mention that Magnuson Park is not very far way from our house? So I rode my bike to the start! Here I am after finishing.

Magnuson Series Half Marathon. And what the hell, how about a PR.
Riding to the race was an excellent idea. I'm not much for warming up (actually I'm very much FOR warming up, I just have a hell of time getting myself to do it) regardless if it's a cycling or running race and so using my bike for transportation solves that problem nicely. It took me way less time to get to the park than I anticipated so I had almost 50 minutes to burn but that meant I could hit the head twice in leisure, change my clothes, pin my number, check out that last 1.1 km loop and find a place to stash my bike in plain sight.
See, I kinda screwed up. This race does not offer any sort of equipment check and so I was just going to lock my bike up and hang my messenger bag over my bike and hope the park was only going to be populated bylaw-abiding citizens today. With this race being the main draw all the way down here by the water I figured the odds of this were high. To prep I took all the essentials crap that I usually haul around in my bag out and left them at home. I even removed my lock key from my key ring so my other keys could not get stolen. When I got to park I discovered that I had left my lock key in the pile of stuff I had removed from my bag. :(

What to do? No way was I going to DNS so instead I found a high spot, leaned my bike up against a railing, draped my messenger bag over it and then wound my lock around my bike and the railing to hopefully fool anyone that might be inclined to act on impulse. I was guardedly optimistic as the bike was RIGHT THERE where everyone could see it and you would have to be pretty ballsy to gab it and ride away in front of all the spectators. Still… I was a little nervous.

I was wearing a new pair of shorts today! They are total running shorts meaning they are very short (3.5" inseam), split up the side and weigh nothing. And I loved them. LOVED them. These things completely disappear when you run which is exactly what I was looking for. And within about .25 miles I completely got over the self-conscious aspect of wearing teeny, tiny shorts.

I tried out a new top today as well, this shirt is incredible. It also 'disappears' when you run. This is the first day I have been able to wear it by itself, because of the cold it has always been a base layer up until now.
The announcer let us know that this was the 3rd anniversary of the Magnuson Series, I guess it started exactly three years ago on Earth Day. Pretty cool. Then it was time to line up by estimated pace. Sub 8-minute up front, 8-12 in the next section, 12-16 next and finally 16+. Of course I was looking around to see who all else had on half marathon numbers (each distance had a unique color) but I did not know what each of the other colors designated. Oh well.



Ouch… I have had this weird 'thing' in my right hip and not having run a single step prior to the start my running muscles were not ready yet. Sometimes this thing bothers me when I start running but it usually goes away after a mile or two. Well it hit me pretty hard today and suddenly I was almost limping. Not an auspicious beginning. I forced myself to keep running relying on the belief that it would get better. Very soon. Luckily it did.

Right away there are about four or five guys that just light it up. I have done this run once before and based on experience they are doing the 5 or 10 km distance but still, to see them shooting up the trail is somewhat discouraging. I also see about five(!) guys with half marathon numbers pull ahead of me. Rats. For some reason I thought I this would not happen. Oh well, with my hip acting up I was content to just try and warm up and run myself into this.

ASIDE - three days ago I had thought that I would be happy with a sub 7:30 pace. I mean shoot, it had been some time since I had run any distance whatsoever and ages since I had done any speed work. Two days ago I wanted to do sub 7:15. After running one mile and checking my watch a few times I told myself fuck it, let's shoot for 7:00.

So from then on that was my goal, to average 7:00 or just a hair under. I saw everything from about 6:40 to 7:10 (panic!) but really I was pretty okay. The second lap felt nice and easy and I had to stifle the urge to speed up… I have a huge problem with starting too fast for my ability/fitness and with this lofty pace goal (for me anyway) I knew I had to keep it sane. I slowed a little on the third lap but was resolved to make it up on lap four. Not so easy.

Changing gears is difficult for me. Especially after I have been plodding along at the same pace for some time. So when I crossed the line at the start of the fourth lap and tried to pick it up - by just 10 seconds per minute - it was not happening. I did manage to push a little on the two descents on the course and to take advantage of a tailwind section but that was about it. So I changed my plan to just pick it up on the last 1.1 km loop but even that was not happening. It starts with a climb so the only time I was able to really go was the last 100 m of path leading up to the line. Sigh.

On the up side, even though I was barely able to speed up I did not slow down! And considering that I have also not been focusing on running lately I am super happy with this result. I'm convinced that bringing my won bottle contributed to my time. I never stopped. I methodically drained my bottle, I ate my gel half way in and nutrition/hydration was totally covered.

Last fall I ran the Leavenworth Half Marathon with the specific goal of going under 1:30. I thought I scorched the course with a 1:26:12 only to find out all the leaders (including me) had missed a turn and shortened the course. :( Doing some simple math my pace on that day would have resulted in 1:31:48 so to go exactly 1:30 today put a huge smile on my face. I don't have a running background and I don't have any fast twitch muscle fibers in my body but having done this and only really feeling the strain on lap four I'm pretty confident that I could maintain 6:30 pace (1:25:09) on a good day with proper preparation/training in the future. You think?

Here is my run. The GPS measured the distance a little short but I'm confident the promoters got the distance right. You can see my pace is pretty rock solid. Except for mile seven where I must have lost concentration I am very happy. You can see my almost entirely futile effort to pick it up at the end… not so much.

Here is my ride to and from the race. Riding home I was able to wear a sleeveless shirt! It felt really good and once again highlighted to me that the muscles you use for running are way different than the ones you use riding. Yet it still kept me from stiffening up.

Sleep 6
Waking HR
Body Weight
Body Fat
Breakfast 5:45 AM - 2 bananas, apple sauce, 1 scoop protein powder, walnuts, water
Workout Food 15 min before race - PowerBar Energy Gel, water
race - bottle w/1 tablet Nuun and 2 scoops HEED, PowerBar Energy Gel
Injuries I got a blister on my left ankle, one of my right toes and bruised another toe on my right foot - something must have gone wrong
Time of Day run - 10:00 AM
Workout Type race
Weather low 50s to low 60s, sun, dry, calm
Results Men 45-49 - 1st
Overall - 3rd
official results
Time run - 1:30
Distance run - 13.1 miles
Pace 6:52
Equipment ride - Town Bike
run - Hoka Combo XT, hand held bottle, Garmin Forerunner 405
Clothing run - Brooks Infinity Short III, Patagonia Capilene 1 Silkweight Stretch T-Shirt. Teko Light MinCrew socks

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