Sunday, September 27, 2009

Niantic Bay 1/2 Marathon

I started this blog when I was getting ready to run Mystic back in 2006. That's what the Niantic Bay half-marathon started out as- Mystic Places Marathon.

The race is a good three weeks earlier than it used to be, and it utilizes only a small part of the course the whole marathon used.

I was standing at the starting line- the 5K had already gone off and we were waiting for them to get far enough out into the park to start. Next to me, one of the runners says to the eventual race winner Jeff Wadecki 'I ran 115 miles this week. I'll be i up to 120 next week.'

Huh ? I thought doing a 3 hour ride yesterday from 3-6 pm and riding 100 miles in two days plus running put me at the wrong end of the race prep spectrum and this guy had run 115 miles in a week coming into the race?

The race started a little late and it was still raining lightly. I wanted to go out hard the first two miles, then settle in and wait for the second loop. So it's no surprise that I found myself sitting just behind the EKG team and few other top runners thinking the same two things that I'm always thinking in these races. 'This doesn't seem hard at all,' and 'Man, you are running way too fast.'

Then the third thought creeps in and that's the accurate one ' you are about to get dropped like a rock.' And that's what happens. The quality runners leave me behind like a bad date (truth is, I may smell bad by a mile or so).

I was already starting to back and forth with some people by a mile.

You run a little over two miles in the park and I think this was about when I got passed by the leading woman. It wasn't too long before I was back in 15th or 16th place. The EKG guys and the usual other top runners were running away and there was no one else from Hitek, so I was running both for myself and as the lead runner for the team. Ouch.

There was a little wind in our face on the way out after we got out of the park and I felt like I was still jockeying with other people. The course is pretty flat but every elevation change reshuffled the deck. There's one real climb on the course, between mile 3 and 4. I took a Clif Shot in here and fond myself losing ground to a larger guy in white, a guy in his 30s in black and the lead woman. I tried to be patient as we passed the mile marker. Then another runner settled in behind me.

Right behind me.

I don't like someone using me as a wind-block, especially when he's about a foot taller than me. I started running on the yellow line, which was coned. That's probably, well, just dickish, but I don't like being tailed. I then picked up my speed and closed the gap between me and the three people I'd been losing ground on. I made up about 75 yards and when I'd dragged this guy across the gap he settled in on the back of someone who wasn't dodging cone.

We went back in the park and all four people started gapping me. The uneven effort had taken its toll. I passed six and just stayed focused, but I was losing ground. I hit the turn-around and Dick Korby said afterwords 'Yeah, you, uh, didn't look too good there.'

But I felt good and as we went out of the park, I settled in and started closing the gap slowly. once I passed the seven mile mark at the turn-around my plan had been to pick it up, and I did.

I closed down about half the hundred yards I'd dropped on these people by mile 8 and then I turned it on, opening my stride. I made a pass of the group- minus the guy in white- who would elude me the whole race- just at the 9 mile mark. I was running really well for me and the best moment of the race was when I went by and one of the runners looked at me and said 'Jeesh.' That felt good.

As we got into the back section of the second loop I saw a runner in a blue t-shirt in front of me. It looked like Steve Swift, but of course I knew it couldn't be. But it looked like him. But it couldn't be.

But it was. I'm sure Steve was coming off a big training week or that coaching is taking its toll on training time. I made the pass and then just ran hard.

I missed the mile 10 marker entirely. I saw 11 and I knew I was in good position. I had a good long stride going, I was dumping water over my head at the aid stations and took another Clif Shot. Once I hit Mile 12 back in the park, I tried to close down the people in front of me- the guy in white and Natali from Guilford.

That didn't happen. But I held my gaps on the people behind me, finishing up to two minutes in front of people I'd only passed at Mile 9.

I definitely had a really solid back half of the race and although my 1:23 was not a great half-marathon time, my run in last 4-5 miles and my 16th overall place were both things I was really satisfied with. I can honestly say that I was really happy with my effort, especially being the fourth 'long' race in 21 days.

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