18 October 2014

Lake Padden Half Marathon (USATF Trail Half Marathon Championship)

Today was my first ever running National Championship.

As they say down under, I'm over the moon with my result.

The Lake Padden Half Marathon has been around for years. This year, thanks in part to the work of Eric Sach, it was a USATF National Championship event.

I have been struggling with a hip issue lately and the only thing that has helped has been rest so I came into this race very fresh. Something not to be underrated I'm learning. To keep with the freshness theme, I decided to get a hotel room in Bellingham. This meant I could set the alarm for six instead of something like four. Worth it.

Talking to other runners it seems tons of them 1) don't eat much for breakfast and 2) don't carry much with them while running this distance. Had this been a training run, I would absolutely carry a bottle and a snack. But today was a race. Instead I went all in and decided to rely on the aid stations (there were two) and just carry one gel with me. I also wore my singlet instead of a short sleeve shirt. FAST. :)

ASIDE - my new Brooks Infinity 3" Split Short has loops in both pockets specifically for holding nutrition so I tried it today. It worked! The elastic loop held my gel just fine until I needed it.

Walking around before the start I suddenly realized that my left hip was feeling pretty good! Lately just walking has been about the most uncomfortable thing to do whereas running has felt tolerable once I get warmed up. I was psyched and so went for a short warm up jog and sure enough, no hip pain! Feeling like caution was the prudent path I didn't push my warm up and cut the jog short in favor of some light stretching.

I had run up here one week ago and on that day went out WAY too fast. I've been pretty good about pacing lately so was frustrated with that newbie mistake and resolved to do better today. As a result, when the gun went off, I was soon running near the back of the men's field. Heck, I was running near the back of the ENTIRE field, there were some blazing fast women here today.

This race is mostly along a flat, firm gravel path. If there is one thing I suck at it's running fast on the flat. As a result, when we finally hit the singletrack at mile 1.1 or so I had no shortage of carrots in front of me. Luckily once we hit the trail it was awesome! There were banked turns, soft surfaces, roots, some steps and drop-offs and I was having a blast. As much as you can while keeping the heart rate pegged anyway.

After that first mile of gravel path and about one mile of trail I had found my rhythm. I was going hard but not too hard and I was guardedly optimistic I could maintain this effort for a while. It was kind of funny, to a person that mostly races ultras, this was definitely feeling fast! To everyone else it was probably just a normal race pace.

My goal going in - assuming I felt good - was to hang with the Club Northwest guys in my age group. They are always fast on the flats so this would be a big challenge. I also wanted to hang with Arthur Martineau and Ryan McKnight both of whom were running very well lately.

After mile one everyone I wanted to hang with was out of sight, dang. Nothing to do but keep after it. After that first mile of singletrack I could see Arthur up the trail a bit so tried to use him as motivation. The only problem is I was not really able to go any faster! I guess this race just had to play out. Here are the highlights.

  • I still don't know how to drink out of aid station cups. I dumped most of the water all over myself the first time. The second time I stopped for a second so I could actually drink.
  • I walked way more than I thought I would. Going in I figured I might walk one or two hills and I must have walked six or seven times. But it certainly didn't slow me down and it saved a bit of energy.
  • This collegiate woman passed Arthur and I on a descent like we were standing still, she was flying! We would then pass her back on the next climb or the flats. Nuts.
  • I did catch Arthur and ran with him for a few miles, that was great. He told me I would catch Ryan which was nice of him to say. I didn't believe him.
  • With about 1.5 miles to go I caught Ryan.
  • With about one mile to go I was within maybe 50' of a Club Northwest runner. Then we hit the flat trail and he pulled away again.
  • Having lots of carrots up the trail is a good thing, don't be afraid to hold back early so you can finish strong.

One of the best things about showing up to races with your team is hanging out together after. And this wasn't even everyone that ran.

When they finally posted the results I thought I got 4th.

I got so excited I sent out a premature Tweet.

Turns out I should have looked more closely, one of the guys that beat me was older so I actually got 3rd place in my division. Nice!

I ran as fast as my current fitness allowed today and was able to do so because I got my pacing right, that's all I can ask for. The result was some sweet icing on the cake for sure. And there were not only lots of SRC runners at this event, we had some fantastic results in general! Justin Houck got 4th overall, Erik Barkhaus was the 10th USATF runner overall, Marlene Farrell was 10th overall, and a bunch of others had super strong performances in a stacked race.

Here are all the pictures.

Sleep 7
Waking HR  
Body Weight  
Body Fat  
Breakfast 6:00 AM - 2 bananas, large bottle w/3 scoops Perpetuem
Workout Food 45 min before start - GU
race - one GU at 48 minutes, water after loop #1 and after loop #2
Time of Day 9:00 AM
Workout Type  
Weather upper 50s at the start, low 60s at the finish, dry, windy
Course three flat (firm gravel path) circuits around Lake Padden with some hills and singletrack between lap one and two and between lap two and three
Results 3rd - 50-54
official results
Time 1:43:44
Distance 13.1 miles
Equipment Brooks PureGrit 3, Garmin Fenix 2
Clothing Injinji Run Original Weight Mini-Crew, Brooks Infinity 3" Split Short, Brooks singlet


  1. Nice race, Martin! I love that you choose to learn so much from each experience.
    One thing to NOT learn is all that not eating breakfast BS. That is what people do who are a) too lazy to get up early enough to eat, b) too lazy to take the time to figure out what their body's can handle, c) too afraid to test things out that might make them better. Breakfast is less important for a half than it is an ultra, but either way you're demanding a lot from your body and if your body doesn't have calories, it's a lot more difficult to achieve your best. That's my food/breakfast soapbox. :)
    Hope your hip is still doing well.

  2. @Trisha - thanks for the kind words! And don't worry, I wake up hungry all the time (and early) so eat breakfast no matter what the distance. :)


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