Saturday, September 28, 2013

International Peace Half Marathon - September 2013


This was my second time running the International Peace Half Marathon, after having finished 3rd place overall last year.  I am still training for the Philadelphia Marathon, and this weekend I was scheduled to run 16 miles with 12 of those miles at marathon pace.  So, I decided to use this race to complete that training run.  My marathon pace is obviously slower than my half marathon pace, so I would not be running this race at an all-out half marathon effort.  But it is a challenging workout, so I figured that it would make it a little more fun if it was built into the context of a race.  Plus, even though I wasn't going all out, I still thought I had a good chance to win an award - after all, I did finish 3rd last year.  This is a good race to do as a training run too, because it is pretty low key - usually only a few hundred runners, and very cheap compared to other half marathons.

The race course is pretty simple, being entirely on the C&O Canal Towpath.  The towpath is a dirt/gravel path that starts in Georgetown and runs for hundreds of miles, all the way up to Cumberland, MD.  For this race, you start at Fletcher's Cove, run north towards Carderock for 6.55 miles, turn around, and head back to the finish.  I like the course because I do almost all of my long runs on this trail, so it almost felt like a "home meet" for me. 

There were a few changes to the race this year.  One change was that they added a full marathon, so you could choose which distance you wanted to race.  If you were running the full, you just ran the half marathon course twice.  Most runners opted for the half.  Another change, was that the race start was about a mile farther down the trail, at Fletcher's Cove, which allowed for more (free) parking options than last year when it started right in Georgetown.  One change that I didn't like was that they moved the start time to 9:00 am instead of 8:00 like it was last year.  Luckily it was a nice, cool morning with temperatures in the mid to high-50s.  But waiting from 8 to 9 can be a big difference in early September, and even on the race day, the temperature was a few degrees warmer at 9.  Hopefully they will change the start time back to 8:00 next year.  The race director did give an option to runners who wanted an early start at 8:00, but if you did the 8:00 start, you were not eligible for any awards.  I think the early start was mainly meant for slower runners who would take a long time to finish.  I actually would have done the early start in order to benefit from a slightly cooler racing temperature, but I thought it was pretty likely I would win an award, so I chose to just wait for the regular 9:00 start.

This race always falls around 9/11, and the race director does a cool thing before the start.  He rings a bell 184 times to honor the 184 people who died in the attack on the Pentagon on 9/11/01, and the runners count the bell chimes along with him.  When he did it last year, I remember wondering how long it would take him to ring the bell that many times, and just wanting to get the race started.  But once he gets about half way through, you start thinking about the bell chimes, and how they each represent a life that was taken too early, and with an understated simplicity, it actually is a pretty moving and powerful tribute.

Michelle and Dante came to cheer me on!

After the ceremony, the race began.  My plan was to run all my miles at my goal marathon pace (6:50 to 7:00/mile), or at marathon effort, which would mean keeping my heart rate below my lactate threshold rate of 172 bpm.  I like to gauge workouts by heart rate more than by pace many times.  I started off a little quick with a 6:39 first mile.  But this was good, because the C&O Canal Towpath is somewhat narrow, so I wanted to get out ahead of the crowd and establish position.  By the one mile marker, I was in 10th place - it looked like this race would be more competitive than last year's when I just stayed in 3rd place the entire way.  But I wasn't too concerned about place, just getting in a good workout with a reasonable effort level.  I settled down after the first mile into the 6:50s.  Here are all my mile splits (and average heart rates for each mile).

1  - 6:39 (154)
2  - 6:56 (158)
3  - 6:58 (158)
4  - 6:53 (161)
5  - 6:49 (163)
6  - 6:58 (164)
7  - 6:44 (167)
8  - 6:37 (167)
9  - 6:42 (168)
10- 6:46 (169)
11- 6:51 (170)
12- 6:34 (174)
13- 6:05 (182)

Georgetown Running Company
As you can see, I picked it up a bit in the second half of the race.  The towpath runs slightly uphill on the way out, and then it was (obviously) slightly downhill on the way back.  So, even though my pace picked up, my heart rate stayed in the 160s, which was good.  I started picking off some people in the second half of the race.  I passed one runner right before the half way point, and another right after the turn around.  A couple miles later, after leaving behind two more runners, I found myself in 6th place.  During the 12th mile, I noticed another runner a good distance ahead of me.  So, I decided to pick it up a little bit and see if I could catch him - which is why my 12th and 13th miles were so fast. He ended up finishing about 10 seconds ahead of me, but I did run my 13th mile in 6:05, which was awesome! I finished in 1:28:06 (6:45/mile pace), taking 6th place overall out of 245 runners, and 2nd place in the 30-39 age group. (Race Results)  My age group prize was a gift certificate to Georgetown Running Company.  I actually went right after the race, and used it to get some Balega running socks - which are excellent by the way.  At that point, I was only a couple blocks away from Georgetown Cupcake (which is featured on the TV show DC Cupcake), so I headed over to get some cupcakes to bring home and "refuel" from the race. 

Georgetown Cupcake
This race went very well for me.  I got in a great workout, and maintained a solid pace without working too hard.  I plan on running the Philadelphia Marathon in about 7:00/mile pace, so to be able to average a 6:45 pace here so easily was a good sign. As for the shirt and medal (pictured below)....well, let's just say that you shouldn't do this race solely for the shirt and medal. :)  My next race will be the Wilson Bridge Half Marathon.  That one I will be racing all-out, and trying to beat my PR of 1:25:33, which I set there last year.

Shirt and medal

No comments:

Post a Comment