Archive for October, 2008

Lessons from the 2008 San Jose Rock & Roll Half Marathon

October 5, 2008

I entered the San Jose Rock & Roll Half Marathon less than two weeks before it was run, with one goal in mind: to break 2 hours. Well, to make a long story short, that didn’t happen. At all. I finished in 2:09:42, as compared with 2:03:19 last year, when I had a much better excuse (eating too much at Disneyland). It’s even 3 seconds longer than my first half marathon in San Francisco, which is a much harder course.

The race itself mostly sucked, except for the first few miles when everything seemed to still be going according to plan. But since it ended I have at least gained some better perspective, and definitely learned a few things:

  • I’m glad I didn’t quit. There was no reason to other than I felt like doing that, but I would feel worse now if I had.
  • Running by myself on a track is faster than running with 13,000 others on a road course, even on a very flat course like this one. Before I signed up, I ran 8 miles at comfortably under 8:45/mile pace, and even including a warm up mile and a cool-down mile, I was under 9:00/mile for the whole 10 miles, but that was on the track. Today I fell apart before getting to 10 miles, and the writing was on the wall before even the halfway point.
  • I had two ways of judging my pace, since I had my GPS/heart rate monitor. When my heart rate went well above the 155-165 range that I had done that test run in, I kept going at the pace I needed to make the 2 hour goal, hoping that somehow I could maintain that heart rate (167bpm average over the whole run, but up into the low- to mid-170’s from around 2 miles until about halfway–that is around 100% if you believe the standard 220-age formula, and is seriously high in any case). If I had based my speed on my heart rate, I would have had to slow down and give up the goal sooner, but my time would have definitely been better than it was.
  • I was reminded that I still like trail runs better than road runs. Which is mostly good, though my next event is closer to a road event (a 12 hour fixed-time event, coming up in three weeks).
  • A friend pointed out that I didn’t specifically train for this, unlike my 50 mile event.

So that’s where I am tonight. I’m glad there are hard things I can do, but a little discouraged that speed may never be my thing.

I’m considering running 50K trail races three weekends in a row in December. There, I’ve said that out loud. It’s probably a bad thing that it doesn’t seem that scary…