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Race Result

Racer: David Orton
Race: LAWS 1/2 Marathon
Date: Sunday, April 15, 2007
Location: Leesburg, VA
Race Type: Run - Half Marathon
Age Group: Male 25 - 29
Time: 1:54:27
Overall Place: 51 / 125
Age Group Place: 6 / 8
Comment: A Long run in the Cold Rain

Race Report:

This was meant to be a 'long run' during a week of base training. I was on the fence about doing this race all week as the weather reports were forecasting terrible downpours and cold wind. Karolina and I decided to do the race Saturday afternoon despite the anticipated weather. It turned out to be the right decision.

Night Before
Karolina and I did our usual pre-race dinner ritual on Saturday. We hydrated throughout the day and fixed a pasta dinner. The salmon fettuccini with a light alfredo sauce was perfect. Per tradition, we had a single glass of white wine. We prepped our bags and drinks before going to bed. We were lights out at 10 pm.

We awoke at 6:15 AM a little over two hours before race start. The weather outside was terrible but we got up and had out traditional pre-race breakfast: plain bagel with a light spreading of cream cheese, banana, and Cytomax. After breakfast, we confirmed that we packed a change of clothes and a towel and dressed up for the race. I decided to wear an Under Armour base layer beneath my Nike Track National Team long sleeve with matching Nike race shorts. I went with my Asics Kayano 12 shoes and matching Kayano socks. Following the race, I feel this was the right set of clothes to wear for a rainy and windy 40 degree race.

We hit the road around 7:15 for the Leesburg fairgrounds. I sipped some Smart Water and munched on Shot Bloks to stay hydrated. We reached the race site in about 30 min and proceeded to race registration. There were fewer racers than expected due to the weather and we breezed through to get our race numbers. The other positive of the decreased runner turn-out was nonexistent queues to the port-o-potty. A blessing!

We ran back to the car and made the final preparations before the race. I decided to wear my fuel belt filled with Gatorade Endurance and a GU flask containing four gels (chocolate and espresso). I finished my last Shot Blok and we made our way to the starting line. To start the race, we decided to don trash bags. The plan was to wear them through the first aide station where we could properly dispose of them in the trash. This proved to be a very good decision. It helped us stay dry prior to the start and helped get our core temperature up during the first mile. There were only 125 racers in the half marathon so finding a spot near the line was easy. With no Champion Chip timing, we want to make sure we had a good starting position to help our gun time.

After a five min delay, the race started.

Mile 1 (Pace 9:19, Avg. HR 143)
The race started on a muddy gravel downhill to Dry Mill Road. We hung a right and followed the road to the W&OD trail. I had a hard time starting this race partly from a lack of warm up and the trash bag. I felt slightly constrained and I think this added some stress. I was also surprise how high my heart rate was starting out. I kept looking at my watch and thinking I was going to fast, but I felt slow. Once we settled into our pace, we made the winding climb up the W&OD to Rte. 9 and the first aide station where we ditched out bags. At the aide station, I only took water given the sugar in my system from the Bloks. I would only take water from the aide stations throughout the race.

Mile 2 (Pace 9:06, Avg. HR 144)
I started to get my rhythm during the second mile and got my breathing under control. The race was held entirely on the W&OD from Dry Mill Road to Purcellville so I locked into a steady stride and followed the yellow line. Karolina was still with me and with the field thinned out, we ran side by side. I was surprised to see my split in the low 9s since I felt like I was running much slower.

Mile 3 (Pace 9:01, Avg. HR 145)
The course was pancake flat at this point and I started to get my stride and breathing even more dialled-in. I felt solid and slowly pulled away from Karolina. Little did I know, she stayed only a few meters behind me for the next three miles. I was again surprised with my split time and felt that I might break 2 hours on the course.

Mile 4 (Pace 8:48, Avg. HR 147)
The course continued on the flat portion of the trail. I felt myself settle into my stride and maintain a comfortable pace. I started consuming my Gatorade at the point.

Mile 5 (Pace 8:58, Avg. HR 150)
The course slowly started to move upward and I found myself slowing down to keep my heart rate in check. I focused on staying relaxed and steady during the gradual uphill.

Mile 6 (Pace 9:06, Avg. HR 152)
The path continued upward before tapering off. I kept my pace down and tried to keep my heart rate in the high 140s.

Mile 7 (Pace 8:39, Avg. HR 151)
The course stayed flat to the race turnaround spot. I had a hard time feeling relaxed after the two mile climb to this point and didn't feel comfortable. Hitting the turnaround was a mental milestone and helped me pick up my pace. I started consuming GU at this point using water at aide stations and my own fuel belt's Gatorade. It was nice to see Karolina coming back and she looked very strong!

Mile 8 (Pace 8:06, Avg. HR 155)
It was fun coming back down the long climb we made to the turnaround. I tried to lengthen my stride and focused on catching the runners in front of me. I wanted to get my HR down and realized I was going a little too fast. Passing the runners got me fired up and I had a hard time slowing down.

Mile 9 (Pace 8:04, Avg. HR 155)
The downhill continued and slowly levelled off. My pace slowed down a little as the path levelled and I felt good. The long downhill made my quads hurt from the longer than normal stride.

Mile 10 (Pace 8:23, Avg. HR 159)
I crossed the ten mile mark faster than I ran the Army 10 Miler last October. I was both surprised and a little concerned having not realized how fast I was running. I throttled back and began a 'steady-as-she-goes' pace. Mentally, I didnít want to bonk and tried to keep myself steady to prepare for a strong finish.

Mile 11 (Pace 8:46, Avg. HR 159)
I found myself in no-mans land at this point in the race. No one in front to chase and no one behind me to keep me motivated. I tried to run steady and stay relaxed. I felt myself tiring a bit and tried to take down more GU. The course began a false flat leading back to the Leesburg which added to my slowed pace. The rain really started to come down and this was the first point in the race where my hands and toes started to get cold.

Mile 12 (Pace 8:41, Avg. HR 160)
I hit this miler marker with the idea of not bonking and having something left for a good finish. For the first time, I was feeling the effects of the pounding on my legs and the cold had become frustrating. I was still alone on the course and tried to stay focused and motivated. I noticed my HR was creeping up and I tried to remain steady, relaxed, and control my breathing.

Mile 13 (Pace 8:07, Avg. HR 162)
I hit the final mile marker and finally caught some more people. I hit the last aide station and took one last swig of GU. I attacked the final climb to Rte. 9 while trying to keep my upper body relaxed with a steady stride. I crested the top and started down the long downhill along Dry Mill Road. Suddenly, I noticed that my left shoelace had come undone. I debated stopping but felt that the shoe wasn't moving. I decided to keep running as long as the shoe stayed on and felt stable.

Mile 13.11 (1:24, Avg. HR 165)
The final turn off the W&OD sent me uphill to the finish. Given the shoe situation, I ran hard but did not sprint. There was one runner just ahead of me but decided to finish within my self and not run him down. I was pleasantly surprised with my finish time. 1:54, a PR by 8 minutes! After crossing the line, I noticed that I felt surprisingly fresh. Following each of the three half marathons I'd previously finished, I'd always felt somewhat sick and queasy. It was a welcome surprise to not feel nauseous after the race. I tied my shoe and went back to finish line to cheer on Karolina. She crossed the line 3 minutes later in 1:57, first in her age group and a 13 min. PR! She ran a solid and steady race. In the end, my Garmin showed total race distance at 13.17 miles.

Overall, this was a great race despite the bitter cold rain. We raced smart and made all right pre-race preparations. I was really happy to run a half marathon PR this early in the season without any special rest or taper. Coming off a long training day on Saturday validated my base training and gives me confidence going forward in my half Ironman training.