2009 The Texas Half Marathon


This seems to be a habit of mine: running such events with very little preparation. Coming into the race I expected it to be a real challenge. I spent five of the last seven days doing some running training, with the longest of those runs being shy of 7 miles. Prior to this, I really hadn't much of anything in the past month. Between Christmas vacation and then a series of medical complications, I have been far from the training course, be it the pool, road or trail.

Thus, I had to manage my expectations. My previous and only other half marathon to date was the DRC Half Marathon on November 2, 2008. I somehow managed to finish in 1:38:00, averaging 7:30 min/mile, despite my lack of preparation. However, that lack of preparation pales in comparison to the complete and utter lack of preparatory work I did before The Texas Half today. Since November, my goal has naturally been to complete my next half marathon in a faster time. Leading up to today's event, I knew that wasn't in the cards.

It was surprisingly warm today given the time of year, even by local standards. The high today was supposed to be about 80 degrees, and during the race the temperatures ranged from 60-70 degrees - too warm for a race this long in my opinion. On top of that, it was a blustery day, though (thankfully) not as absurdly windy as the Dallas White Rock Marathon last December. Speaking of White Rock, that's exactly where this race took place. It had to be the flattest possible stretch of 13.1 miles you could find in that area. Below is the course map.
RUN: 13.1 Miles

I thought a realistic stretch goal (if that makes sense) was to try an average 8:30 min/mile. My training over the past week would say that wasn't possible, but I was going for it. This would be a full minute slower every mile than my last half marathon. It was tough for me to accept that I just don't have the stamina right now. Something else different about the game plan for this race was to try and maintain a nice consistent pace throughout, moving into negative splits by the last two miles. Standing as a sharp contrast to my last to run-only events, I was largely able to accomplish this goal.

Mile 1
As the clock neared 8:00 AM, I made my way over to the starting line so that I could get a spot near the front. That way, I wouldn't have to try to run past as many people that were moving slower. Thankfully, there were far less people competing in this race than others I have done, so I felt I had better breathing room. Just before we began, I looked down at my heart rate monitor. My heart was beating at 129bpm just standing still! As usual, I got off to fast start. What I find interesting was that the race started us immediately on a curved downhill run (at this point I was already wondering if we'd have to run up this hill at the finish). The downhill naturally gave everyone a boost in their speed. At the bottom of the hill I was cruising along at slightly above 7:00 min/miles - much faster than I wanted to go. I attributed the pace to the hill and tried to remain calm. This first mile was spent largely dodging in and around bodies and gradually falling into my race pace. I was trying to find some people that were running a similar pace to tag along with. By the end of the first mile, my heart rate had reached 179bpm - I was worried.

Mile 2-5
I tried to remain calm, keeping nice soft and fluid foot strikes to ease my nerves and lower my heart rate. Mile 1.5 to 2.5 was a dead straightaway, very flat. It was at this point that I realized how familiar I was with this running course. This was my third time competing here, and my fourth run overall. It felt like home and was refreshing that I could visualize the upcoming turns and slopes. My heart rate was toying with 180 until probably mile 3. From that point until the last mile of the race, my heart rate would largely fluctuate between 180 and 185. I had been switching back and forth from my normal style of heel-strike running to a forefoot strike, just as I had practiced in my Newtons. I was continually feeling more and more comfortable running that way, and I enjoyed the rest my body got when I changed running styles. At mile 4 I found myself running with the same three or four people for quite a while. We were already running just over 8:00 min/mile and we seemed to help keep each other on track. However, I moved to the inside of a turn between miles 4 and 5 and used that as my moment to pull away. During the fifth mile I found myself running with two other people who were just ahead of us

Miles 6-9
Moving close to six miles, I was feeling decent. I was proud of myself for maintaing a very consistent pace. Though I did not know my exact average, I would have pegged it between 8:00 min/mile and 8:20 min/mile. The part leading up the mile six and beyond had us on another long straightaway, this time off the lake and on the surrounding road. I used this straightaway to pick up some momentum. I had passed two more running partners and was looking to catch the people ahead. As we pulled off the road back onto the street/path around the lake, I made a conscious effort to be smart by taking the inside of all turns. The path was very wide at this point, and an outside turn could add a significant amount of distance onto the total race. Passing the halfway point is always both refreshing and unnerving: refreshing because you are half way there but unnerving because there is still a long way to run. From here on out I was doing most of the passing with very few people passing me - such a difference form my previous two running races. The wind was also becoming a factor at this point. Miles 7-9 were largely into the wind, so my body had to work harder to maintain my pace.

Miles 10-12
At mile 10 I had reached the lodge at Winfrey Point where our journey had begun. I figured we had to do an out back loop at this point, but wasn't sure just where or how far. It was also at this point that real fatigue began to set in. My body was very tired and the wind was picking up. I rarely had another person around me as people were spaced very far apart at this point. Now I was anxious to finish the race. My body was hurting and my mind began become dizzy. As I went past mile 11, I could see in the distance across the lake an orange cone that people were turning around. Now I knew just how far I had to go before turning around, and at that point I would know just how far it was to the finish line. To my left were the faster runners on a separate path who had already made the turn. I envied their ability and wanted to be as close to home as they were. From mile 11 to the end, no one passed me - no one was even close. As I came up on the orange cone, I saw an older woman make the turn only to have a cyclist run into her. She was startled and foaming at the mouth. I stopped to ask if she was alright, not so much because of the bike, but because of the foam. She said she was. I ran with her for a while to make sure she was steady on her feet, and then pulled away. Suddenly, I was at the Mile 12 sign, meaning I had just 1.1 miles to go.

Mile 13
My legs began to really move and I saw my pace lose a full minute/mile. I could see four individuals ahead of me the rest of the way as it was a straight an open clearing. Right then I made it my goal to pass everyone of them, even though the one was very far ahead. I did not look down at my watch for the majority of the last mile. I did not want to see my heart rate and I was afraid it would worry me that I was going to collapse. I just kept on pushing and praying to God for strength. By the time I had reached the final uphill curve - the place we had started - only one of the four people I mentioned was still in front of me. As soon as my feet could sense the beginning of the hill, I just threw it into high gear. I sprinted up that hill with everything I had left and more, passing the fourth person, finishing at 1:47:36 with an average pace of 8:04 min/mile, beating my goal.

Time: 01:47:36
Distance: 13.3 miles
Average Heart Rate: 182
Max Heart Rate: 200
Average Pace: 8:04 min/mile
Max Pace: 5:44 min/mile
Average Speed: 7.4 mph
Max Speed: 13.9 mph
Ascent: 100 feet
KCal: 1512
Average Temperature: 75 degrees

Run Curve
The chart below depicts the distribution of pace, heart rate, speed and altitude throughout the duration of my run:
Lap Times & Markers
The chart below depicts my max heart rate, average heart rate and pace for each mile throughout the duration of my run:
The chart below depicts how much time I spent in a given heart rate range:

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