Monday, March 17, 2014

Wearing of the Green: May the Road Rise to Meet You (3/16/14)

New Bedford
Photo by Joe O'Leary

Event: New Bedford Half Marathon
Location: New Bedford, MA
Goal Time: 1:30:00
Actual Time: 1:29:31

It was a challenging weekend for me.  On Friday was the USATF Masters' Pentathlon.  Then Sunday was the USATF-New England Half Marathon.  

The jumping - especially high jump and my inefficient hurdling - from Friday really tightened up various muscles.  I had spent Saturday trying to stretch everything I could.  But, Sunday morning I still knew I was sore, stiff and stale.

So while breaking 1:30 would make me happy; I still went out with my 1:27 half marathon plan.  Like a hockey game, New Bedford is divided into thirds. 

First Third "The Road Rises": Start to Mile 4.1
Go n-éirí an bóthar leat
May the Road rise to meet you*

A fast downhill starts the race.  It is followed by the road definitely rising - up three noticeable up hills take you to around 4.1 miles. Brendan and I took the first two hills at a reasonable pace.  Brendan moved ahead as my pace dropped off on the third and last hill.  At first I wanted to follow, but my legs were still stiff and - there was still a whole lotta hockey left.

Second Third "Wind at Your Back": Mile 4.1 to 15 km
Go raibh an ghaoth go brách ag do chúl
May the wind be always at your back

The second third is mile 4 to the 15k mark.  Miles 5, 6 and 7 are some of the nicest gradual downhills you will find.  Then 8 & 9 are flat along the bay and you usually have a bit of tail wind. Those first three miles see gravity ups your pace a bit here and if you are ready that's when you accelerate - as my high school coach used to say - an iota.  The fans line much of this section as it’s a St Patrick's day tradition in this former whaling town. 

I pulled back Brendan and caught Karen Encarnacion on this stretch and hit the 10k split at 42:01.  The turn at the seawall at mile 7 caught a bit of a tailwind.  I remembered from last year when Cipriano told me - "you have the tailwind; don't waste it."  So I started working a little harder and kept the pace near the 6:35, I needed for a PR.

Last Third "The Sun Shines": 15km to Finish
Go lonraí an ghrian go te ar d'aghaidh
May the sun shine warm upon your face

The last period is the hardest.  From the 15k (9.3 miles) mark - which I crossed 4 minutes faster than any 15k I've run - the course gets hard.  As you are more exposed and see the noontime sun shining upon you, you also get a big headwind.  This headwind will be your main impediment until around 11 and a half.  And then you see the road rising again for the last brutal steep hill into New Bedford.  Atop that at 12 and a half, after an obnoxious false flat, there are three blocks too many before the turn and downhill charge for the last quarter mile into the finish.

This year I was ready for this wind.  This year I was not going to let the wind make me give up running hard.  And I didn't.  However, by mile 11 my 15 high jump attempts from Friday were really kicking in.  As I fought my way into the wind, I was slowing down and slowing down.  My 6:35 miles became 7:13 at mile 12 and up the last hill slowed to 7:25.  All I could feel was my tight jumping muscles by this point.  The final sprint downhill drove me in at under 1:30 gun time (official for team scoring) and 1:29:31 for net time.  

Agus go mbuailimid le chéile arís,
We meet again

While I didn't reach my A goal, I did beat my expected time based on my exhaustion from Friday's meet.

photo by Tom Cole

SRR Shoutouts
Pickle, Chris K., Sean Jr., Kate Hails, Tommy B, Scot DeDeo, Mark Duggan, Megan Prokop, Alison Lackey, Kimi and Julie Holt all had PRs.

Urvi ran her fastest Half since 2007!

Pickle won his age group
Wolfgang took second in his age group
Liz and Karen E. were third in theirs

Men: Open - 8th/ Masters - 5th/ Senior - 5th
Women: Open - 3rd!/ Masters -10th/ Senior - 7th

End of the Road
Photo by Tom Cole

* The Irish "Go n-éirí an bóthar leat" doesn't literally mean that but it's so ingrained into the English translation AND the English works better for my purposes.

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