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Race Result

Racer: David Orton
Race: Colonial Half Marathon
Date: Sunday, February 24, 2008
Location: Williamsburg, VA
Race Type: Run - Half Marathon
Age Group: Male 30 - 34
Time: 1:36:54
Overall Place: 153 / 860
Age Group Place: 18 / 51
Comment: Kickin' Off the 2008 Season

Race Report:

Karolina and I first thought about doing this race in late January. We looked at our calendar and wanted to find a running race in late February to test our legs and open up the 2008 racing season. The Colonial Half Marathon presented an excellent opportunity. It's a well organized race with a start and finish on the campus of my alma mater, William & Mary (Go Tribe!).

With a 1PM start, we didn't need to stay overnight in Williamsburg and drove up Sunday morning. I had a typical breakfast consisting of cereal and coffee along with a Balance bar for a few extra calories. Mike Orton decided to join us for the trip and also run the 5k option. The three of us hit the road a little before 9AM and made the easy drive down to Williamsburg without issue.

The race temperature was about 43 degrees and I went back and forth trying to decide what to wear. I debated wearing a dry fit t-shirt or a long-sleeve shirt. When we arrived for packet pickup, the sun was out and it felt warmer then mid 40s so the t-shirt option seemed best. About 10 minutes later, the clouds rolled in and it suddenly felt much cooler. At that point, I made my final decision going with shorts and long-sleeve shirt.

After packet pickup, we met Reid and Mary Beth Kiser who were in Williamsburg visiting family. We huddled in the warm basement of William & Mary hall to get in some stretching and hydration before the race start. With 20 minutes to go, Karolina and I ran back to the car for some final pre-race preparation and a warm up jog to the start line.

We timed the warm-up jog perfectly and arrived at the start line minutes before the gun. Since the race did not use Champion Chips for timing, we tried to get near the start line to ensure an accurate result. The start was surprisingly clean without any issues. This was a surprising given the 800+ runners and the immediate right and left turns coming in the first 100 meters. The out and back course runs next to Colonial Williamsburg and then goes down Carter's Grove Country Road. I didn't have any information on the course or aide stations until packet pickup. I'd heard it was like a 'cross country run with some hills'. Within the first three miles, I realized it was going to be a challenging course with rollers and a couple challenging hills. I went out in 6:49, 7:08, and 7:06 for the first three miles. I checked my HR and saw it was a little higher then I would have liked. I backed off a little at that point and settled into a 7:25 pace for the next three miles. From that point onward I decided to run on feel and not look at my HR. This had worked in the past for shorter races and I was optimistic that I could 'trust my feelings' for 13.1 miles.

I really enjoyed the course despite the challenging rollers. I'd run on Carter's Grove Country Road a few times while at W&M and forgot how nice it was to run through the Kingsmill woods and along its wooden bridges. The weather also turned out to be perfect and in hindsight, I probably would have been better off wearing a t-shirt rather than the long sleeve. Lesson learned.

The aide stations seemed too spread out on the course and I was excited to get some water at the first stop around mile 3. Given my high sweat rate, I like to drink every couple miles and would have liked to see an aide station every couple miles. Then again, this is a 'winter' race and the overall need for water is lower than during the summer. I decided not to wear a fuel belt (a first for a half mary) and only carried a gel flask with 75% hammer gel and 25% water. My plan was to take swigs from the flask before the aide stations and wash it down with water. The plan worked well and my energy levels where in-check the whole race.

When I hit the turnaround loop at Kingsmill, I felt a surge of energy knowing I was finally making my way back to W&M. I picked up my pace to 7:15 for the next few miles and felt like I was putting together a great race. Mentally, I tried to stay relaxed and focus on efficient running (short stride length, relaxed upper body, and controlled breathing). I wore my training shoes (North Face Arnuva 50 Boa) for the race rather than my lighter DS Trainers. I didn't want to risk hurting myself this early in the season and decided to stick with what I was wearing for my long training runs. The shoes work out perfectly with no pain or blisters.

I rolled through the 10 miler mark in 1:12:36, a new PR by two minutes. At this point I knew I was having a great race and I started to focus on not blowing up and finishing strong. At mile 11, there was a final (brutal) climb at the end of Carter's Grove Country Road. I honestly forgot how steep it was when I ran down it at the start of the race and didn't plan on running back up it. As I pushed myself up the hill, I felt myself pushing into 'redline' territory. "Just get over this hill" was all I heard in my head. I got to the top and saw some W&M students holding a sign: "Two Miles to Beer". It was all the motivation I needed as I tried to regroup and get over the final two miles. The final stretch wound through campus and felt like an eternity. I slowed down during the last two miles but did my best to finish strong. The finish line for this race is really cool because it takes you up the ramp and straight into William & Mary Hall with people cheering in the stands.

I hit the line in 1:36:54 (7:22 pace), an 18 minute PR from my last half marathon a year ago. I thought I was capable of running in the low 1:40s so my time was a great surprise. I'd put in some quality tempo runs on the treadmill with consistent long runs on Sundays since December which clearly helped setup this result. That being said, I was completely fried after the race for about 15 minutes while I drank lemonade and walked my warm-down. A few minutes later Karolina finished in 1:44:25 (7:56 pace) with a 12 minute PR. She was super happy with her performance, especially given the hard course.

We connected with Reid, Mary Beth, and Mike shortly after the race and shared stories over a couple beers. Mike was please with his 5k result where he finished second overall. We grabbed a late lunch at the Cheeseshop and hit the road with Reid and Mary Beth while Karolina stayed in Williamsburg for a work conference. Big thanks go out to the Kisers for cheering us on and giving us a ride home in the Texas Truck. It was a great weekend and excellent way to kickoff the 2008 season.