Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Woodlands Marathon 2012

Growing up in The Woodlands I remember the old marathon that I hoped to do one day as I grew up, however by the time I was in a position that I might have actually really done the race it had disappeared into the sands of time. However, starting in 2012, The Woodlands Marathon has come back as a new event and this time I made a point to be there.

Given that I am primarily in training for IM 70.3 in Galveston and then IM Texas, also in my local neighborhood of The Woodlands, my race preparation has been for those races and not for this one. I resolve to follow a heart rate based plan to help me get the most out of the race without overdoing things. I also set to follow a nutrition plan that I want to use for my 70.3 and full Ironman races, which is to take on a gel every 2 miles, plus a bottle of water each hour plus 4 Endurolyte capsules each hour starting 30 minutes into the race.

Seeing as how I set my PR of 5:30:45 in Disneyworld almost 2 months prior, I figure I should be able to run about 45 minutes to an hour faster without posing for Disney character photos and running at a faster pace. I had initially planned to start with the 4:30 pace group and see if I could keep with them. As the race got closer I figured that I might try a slightly more aggressive plan and start with the 4:15 pace group and drop to the 4:30 group if I needed to do so. The night before the race my friend Karen tells me she wants to try to go for a 4 hour finish and I decide to join with her for as long as I can hold the pace. We were running the entire race with an 8/2 walk/run.

On race day Karen and I meet up and get ourselves positioned at the back of Corral A just in time to begin the race. We leave at the back of the corral and head out feeling strong. I'm running without a GPS device to ensure I stay on my heart race plan, but I ask Karen what our pace is as we pace mile 1. Her response is, "You don't want to know." Actually that first mile went by in just under 8:50. We continue and stay on a solid pace. There is good crowd support and great racing weather this morning. I really enjoyed pushing a solid pace and having good company while doing it. We share occasional bits of conversation and use each other as a pacer. We pass the Mile 10 mark right at 1:30, on a 9 minute per mile pace, which is only slightly behind the time I had for the Ten for Texas 10 miler last October. As we turn back to complete the first loop we are just over 1:58. I've never run a sub 2 hour half marathon before today, and now I'm headed back for more.

We're still feeling strong and running in the low 9 minute pace through mile 14. This is where we begin to slow a bit. Mile 17 results in a 10:17 mile and we take a quick potty break in conjunction with our walk break and regroup. This must have helped because the next 6 miles ranged from the 9:30s to 9:50s.  Miles 24 and 25 were tough as (or at least I) were running on fumes and heart and each passed in 10:11 and 10:19.

Karen and I later in the race.

Finally, after passing the Mile 25 sign we're able to pick up the pace and average 9:19 over the final 1.2 miles. Karen is able to sprint ahead to the finish while I didn't feel up to it. However, just after she starts her sprint I do find the strength and I follow her into the finishing stretch.

I finish in a new PR time of 4:06:30. If you'd asked me a few days ago, I wouldn't have even thought I had an unreasonable chance of making a time that fast. Clearly I needed the help of a friend to open my eyes to the possibility of accomplishing more than I expected as I improved my PR time by 1:24:15. There are some days where I wonder where this road of activity is leading me, but, at least for now, I am enjoying myself along the way and I hope it always stays that way.

Post-race with Coach Michelle.


K said...

I am smiling ear to ear after reading this post. We had so much fun, even during mile 23-25...LOL

So blessed to have done this with you, and even more blessed to call you my friend.

1 Cor 10:31!

This is where the road is leading you!

Adrienne said...

Great post, and way to nail a 90-minute PR!

Most importantly, you did it amongst friends, having fun (or most of the time, anyway;)!

Amanda said...

As I keep telling you - you are an animal, a beast, amazing, wonderful, inspirational, and awe inspiring!!!!

Talk about a new PR - my goodness. That's so cool!

I wish I could harness your mental strength and physical ability and use it for myself :)!


OutRival Racing said...

Great write-up Richard. What a journey you have been on! So happy to be a small part of it.
--Coach Michelle :-)

Heather and Jeff said...

Way to go Richard!! That is just AMAZING! HUGE Congratulations on a HUGE PR!! and I see a very awesome IM Texas in your near future!