Race Report: 2012 Hobbler Half Marathon
Being primarily a trail/ultra guy, I only race on the road once or twice a year. I actually quite like it, and wish I could do more, but choose to invest the bulk of my time and effort in running mountainous trails because I like doing that best. Plus, it would be a crime not to – living in CO and all.
About 2 weeks before a trip to Utah, I started scanning some race calendars and spotted the Hobbler Half Marathon. Score! This race would be taking place only a mile from where I would be staying.
I tentatively planned on giving it a go, but didn’t actually register until the evening before the race. That gave me roughly 10 days to train with any specificity. My running over the last 2 months has sucked, to put it bluntly. I stuck with it, though – grinding along from one day to the next knowing that staying consistent and keeping a solid base would be critical for the future.
I ended up doing 3 interval workouts in that 10 day period, with repeats ranging from .5 to 2 miles. On one of the 2 mile repeats one day, I couldn’t even hold the pace I had previously run for an entire marathon. Not particularly encouraging to say the least… I also did 2 x 8 mile tempo runs in the 7:20-7:40 pace range. The final one was on Wednesday prior to the Saturday race and ended up being a huge confidence boost because I felt great. Things were finally falling into place.
I’m taking the time to give this background to illustrate that even just a tiny amount of specific training can go a very long way. Especially when you have a good base to start from. These workouts were essentially the only ‘fast’ running I’ve done since last September. Back then I did a similar 2 week focus for a 5K race using my post-Leadville 100 fitness and was able to run a PR.
I have found that it is one thing to be fit, but that alone won’t get you far (I know I’m slow in the larger scheme of things, just trying to illustrate what can be done with this old man’s body). What really helps is working to improve the neuromuscular coordination that it takes to run at a faster pace, and to be able to do so efficiently. That’s what my limited workouts were targeted at developing (or at least shaking some of the rust loose).
Half marathons have been my most frequently raced non-trail distance, mostly because of the great event put on in Pueblo every December. Very reasonable price and it has usually fit into my schedule very well. I’ve enjoyed a nice progression over the past few years with times of 1:41, 1:37, 1:34, 1:31.
Given that background, I thought my A+ goal would be to break 90 minutes for the first time, and to hopefully finish in the top-20 (out of over 700 starters).
It was a super early wakeup to get to the staging area and loaded on a bus for transport to the start line. As we rode along in the darkness, I looked up at the sky and saw two planets (Venus & Jupiter) plus a bright star all arranged in a perfect line from top to bottom. I took this as a good sign!
The race report itself isn’t that long – I ran smart and conservative. I took in a gel at miles 4 and 8. I stopped for water at 2 aid stations as it was a hot day and I wanted to make sure and get some fluids in me without spilling everywhere on the run.
I was steadily passed in the early miles before reaching a sort of equilibrium, and then picking people off until the end. I passed 5 people over the final mile and the next finisher ahead of me was over a minute away so I feel I did everything I could at the end of the race to secure my placing.
I ended up in 19th place overall with a time of 1:29:30. Barely, but still solidly, meeting both goals. It was one of my most satisfying race efforts. I struggled a little over the final two miles, but felt like a machine for the rest.
I’m very happy with my even pacing. That was my key to success. My fastest mile was a 6:37, which was only 10 seconds faster than my average over the entire race distance. I showed some good restraint early and then held pace to the end. A+
I think I could go a fair bit faster given some more specific training, mostly to work on the quick light efficient stride, but I’ll bask in this one for a while and head back to the 10 min/miles of life on the trails.